Dreams of Gods & Monsters, p.48Part #3 of Daughter of Smoke & Bone series by Laini Taylor
“In happiness,” said Eliza, looking as though she knew what she was talking about, “the anima blooms.”
Issa nodded along with everything the women said, I told you so fixed firmly on her face. Of course she’d said the same thing herself, if not in quite the same terms. “It is your duty, sweet girl,” she chimed in now, “to be well in body and soul.”
Happiness has to go somewhere, Karou remembered, and she settled deeper into the water with a sigh. Some fates were difficult to accept, but this wasn’t one of them. “Well, okay,” she said, with mock reluctance. “If I have to.”
They washed, and Karou emerged from the pool feeling purified in body and spirit. It was good to be cared for by women, and what a group they were. The deadliest of all the chimaera alongside the deadliest of seraphim, with a Naja, a ferocious neek-neek in deceptively adorable human form, a pair of fire-eyed Stelians of unfathomable power, and Eliza, who had been the answer. The key that fit the lock. And also, just a really cool chick.
They brushed Karou’s hair and twisted it, still damp, into vine-tied coils down her bare back. They brought out light, silken raiments in the Stelian style and held lengths of cloth against her skin. “White won’t do for you,” said Scarab, tossing a dress aside. “You’ll look like a phantom.” She produced, instead, a whisper of midnight-dark silk, aglimmer with clusters of tiny crystals like constellations, and Karou laughed. She let it pass through her hands like water, and the past with it.
“What?” asked Zuzana.
“Nothing,” she replied, and let them dress her. It was a kind of sari gathered over one shoulder, leaving her arms bare, and Karou almost wished for a bowl of sugar and a puff with which to dust herself. An echo of another first night. The gown was so like the one she’d worn at the Warlord’s ball, when Akiva had come to find her.
“Do you want to keep your clothes?” Eliza asked, nudging the discarded pile with her foot.
“Burn them,” said Karou. “Oh. Wait.” She delved into a trouser pocket for the wishbone she’d carried with her all these months. “Okay,” she said. “Now burn them.”
She felt like a bride as they led her back outside. The rain had stopped, but the night was alive with its memory in drips and rivulets, and with creature trills and honey scents, the air balmy and rich with mist.
And there was Akiva.
Soaked to the skin and haloed in vapor where the heat of his body was cooking away the rain. His eyes were ablaze, he was furious with waiting. His hands shook and clenched, and then stilled when he saw Karou.
Time stuttered, or else it only felt like it did. No use, any longer, for those invasive seconds in which they weren’t touching. They’d had too many of them already, and made short work of these final few.
They flew together. Time itself leapt out of the way, and Karou and Akiva were spinning, and the ground was falling away. The island was falling away. The sky drew them up and the moons hid in the clouds, keeping their tears to themselves, and their regret, which belonged to the ended age.
Lips and breath and wings and dance. Gratitude, relief, and hunger. And laughter. Laughter breathed and tasted. Faces kissed, no spot neglected. Lashes wet with tears, salt kissed lips to lips. Lips, at last, soft and hot—the soft, hot center of the universe—and heartbeats not in unison but passed back and forth across the press of bodies, like a conversation made up only of the word yes.
And so it was. Karou and Akiva held on to each other and didn’t let go.
It was not a happy ending, but a happy middle—at last, after so many fraught beginnings. Their story would be long. Much would be written of them, some of it in verse, some sung, and some in plain prose, in volumes to be penned for the archives of cities not yet built. Against Karou’s express wish, none of it would be dull.
Which she would have cause to be glad of a million times over, beginning that night.
Flight through sifting mists, hands joined. An island among hundreds. A house on a small crescent beach. Akiva had spoken truly when he told Melliel it was a stretch to call it a house. He’d imagined a door once to shut out the world, but there was no door here, so that the world seemed an extension of the house itself: sea and stars forever.
The structure was a pavilion: a thatched roof on posts, snug against the cliff and sheltered by it, its floor of soft sand, with living vines trailing down from the cliff to make green walls on two sides. That much Akiva had done before today. And there were a table and chairs. Well, they were hewn driftwood, but the “table” had a cloth on it, finer than it deserved. And now a wooden bowl of fruit sat atop that, and a beautiful kettle, too, with a box of tea and a pair of cups. Lanterns hung from hooks, and lengths of diaphanous fabric made a third, gently billowing wall, transparent as sea mist.
Nightingale’s gift had been unwrapped and given its proper place, and when Akiva brought Karou to the home he’d made for her—a place out of fantasy, so perfect that she forgot how to breathe and had to learn again in a hurry—his wish had all but come true already.
On the bed: a blanket to cover them, a blanket that was theirs together. And some time in the night they met on it and faced each other across lessening space, knees curled beneath themselves and wishbone held between.
And they hooked their fingers around its slender spurs, and pulled.
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An ending is reached. It’s deeply satisfying, a little bewildering, and unbelievably sad to be closing this chapter of my life. A trilogy, completed! I’m still dazed. I’m also still waiting for Razgut to show me a portal. Because obviously Eretz is real.
What, you think I made this all up?
There is really no way to prioritize the thanks due to so many. I’m bursting with gratitude for all these wonderful people:
Readers! Deepest thanks to all the readers who’ve been rooting for me, and for Karou, since Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and who have kept me company on this entire journey. Thank you for being there, and for being excited, and for waiting. Series readers are the best readers. And thank you to the endlessly entertaining fandom, for art and humor and warmth.
Here it is! I hope you love it.
And thank you to the team at Little, Brown for bending time and space so that I could finish this book the way I wanted and needed to, while still ensuring its timely publication. I’m profoundly grateful for the support. To Alvina Ling for the invaluable editorial feedback and crucial enthusiasm that was like fuel, always just when I needed it. And to Bethany Strout, Lisa Moraleda, Melanie Chang, Faye Bi, Andrew Smith, Victoria Stapleton, Ann Dye, Nellie Kurtzman, Tina McIntyre, Adrian Palacios, Julia Costa, Amy Habayab, Kristin Dulaney, Nina Pombo, JoAnna Kremer, Andy Ball, Christine Ma, Rebecca Westall, Renée Gelman, Tracy Shaw, and Megan Tingley: deepest thanks for creating such an exceptional publishing home.
And since I’m blessed to live in parallel worlds in this regard, to my second, amazing publishing home of Hodder & Stoughton in London: Thank you for always having such big, brilliant ideas, and for believing in me so wholeheartedly. To Kate Howard especially, who crossed an ocean and a continent for Karou, way back in the beginning. You really know how to sweep a writer off her feet! To Jamie Hodder-Williams, Carolyn Mays, Lucy Hale, Katie Wickham, Naomi Berwin, Veronique Norton, Lucy Foley, Fleur Clarke, Catherine Worsley, Claudette Morris, and Linnet Mattey: Thank you!
To Jane Putch, my so-much-more-than-agent: so-much-more-than-thank-you! It’s been a crazy year—a crazy five years, on this trilogy!—and I couldn’t have done it without you. Not even close. Here’s to the past, the present, and the future. Cheers!
And my family. First, to my sister, Dr. Emily Taylor, professor, researcher, and rattlesnake wrangler: Thank you for the science consul
Thank you to Tone Almjhell for the heroic last-minute read and sanity check.
And most of all, always, to Jim, who got me writing after I’d kind of given up—or at least had put it on indefinite hold—all those years ago, and who’s been my biggest cheerleader ever since. I’m so lucky. Here’s to three hundred more years!
Lastly, to Clementine, who was born a month before Karou (though Karou gestated longer), and who has known her all her life. Thanks for being a little trooper, always, best kid in the world.
1. NIGHTMARE ICE CREAM
2. THE ARRIVAL
ARRIVAL + 3 HOURS 3. CHOICE OF LIFE SKILLS
4. A BEGINNING
5. GETTING-ACQUAINTED GAME
6. BEAST EXODUS
7. A GIFT FROM THE WILD
8. BRUISE THE SKY
ARRIVAL + 6 HOURS 9. LANDFALL
10. TILT TO PANIC
ARRIVAL + 12 HOURS 11. BREEDS OF SILENCE
12. A WARM IDEA
14. THE LONGEST FIVE MINUTES IN HISTORY
ARRIVAL + 18 HOURS 15. FAMILIAR TERROR
16. WHAT PROMISES ARE WORTH
17. HOPE, DYING UNSURPRISED
18. A CANDLE FLAME EXTINGUISHED BY A SCREAM
19. THE HUNT
21. NITID’S HANDS
22. THE ABYSS’S MAD GAWK
23. THE WHOLE POINT
24. CUE APOCALYPSE
ARRIVAL + 24 HOURS 25. YOU, PLURAL
26. BLEED AND BLOOM
27. JUST CREATURES IN A WORLD
28. ANGEL-LOVER, BEAST-LOVER
29. A DREAM COME TRUE
30. NEARER AND TOUCHING
31. THE OPPOSITE OF SURVIVAL
32. CAKE FOR LATER
ARRIVAL + 36 HOURS 33. LIKE AN ALIEN INVASION
34. THINGS KNOWN AND BURIED
36. THE ONLY NON-IDIOT ON THE PLANET
37. PREOCCUPIED BY BLISS
38. AN EXCELLENT ACCIDENT OF STARDUST
40. ASSUME THE WORST
ARRIVAL + 48 HOURS 42. THE WORST
43. FIRE IN THE SKY
44. THIS JUST IN
45. CATS OUT OF BAGS
46. PIE AND DANDELIONS
47. THE BOOK OF ELAZAEL
49. AN OFFER OF PATRONAGE
50. HAPPINESS HAS TO GO SOMEWHERE
ARRIVAL + 60 HOURS 52. GUNPOWDER AND DECAY
53. EYEBROW MASTER CLASS
54. FAKE GRANDMOTHER
55. LUNATIC POETRY
56. MY SWEET BARBARIAN
57. FED TO THE LIONS
58. THE WRONG UGLINESS
59. SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY
60. NO ONE DIES TODAY
61. SUPERPOWERS WILLY-NILLY
62. THE AGE OF WARS
63. AT THE EDGE OF A KNIFE
66. SO MUCH MORE THAN SAVED
67. A SPRAY OF SPARKS
ARRIVAL + 72 HOURS 69. DON’T LET THE SKY-FLAP THINGY HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT
70. WHITE NO LONGER
72. THE SEVERAL DAYS’ EMPEROR
73. A BUTTERFLY IN A BOTTLE
74. CHAPTER ONE
76. WAITING FOR MAGIC
77. WE HAVEN’T BEEN INTRODUCED
80. A CHOICE
81. THE WISH POLICE
83. MOST THINGS THAT MATTER
84. THE CATACLYSM
85. AN ENDING
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 by Laini Taylor
Cover photo illustration by Sammy Yuen
Cover photography © Shutterstock
Cover design by Alison Impey
Cover © 2014 Hachette Book Group, Inc.
All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the publisher at [email protected] Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.
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First ebook edition: April 2014
For more about this book and author, visit Bookish.com.
Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods & Monsters
(Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone # 3)
Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor / Fantasy / Young Adult / Romance & Love have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes