Goodwitch Vidya looked up at her, just once, and in that moment Arati felt the great weight of generations press onto her back, the duty of witches long gone. A duty she did not want. A duty she was expected to uphold. She made tea with numb hands, let the woman cry onto her shoulder, and all the while the bees hummed from the cracks in the walls.
My aunt the roasted chicken to the table and laid it out in front of Lord Ning. It was an excellent supper, and I had helped her with the roasting. I knew that it was good, and at first, from the way Lord Ning started to wolf it down, tearing the chicken with both hands, I thought we would soon be rid of him.
Now, suddenly, there is a third path. An unknown path. Why do I share a face with this woman? And why had she come here? What does it mean to me—a lowly servant with far more power than is good for her—and to the small creature growing in my belly waiting to suck up my power at its birth? It seems impossible it could mean nothing.
Rory nods. The bullets are Lutean-made, salt and iron and whatever special magic they use to make them potent against rivers. Even clipped, the bullet will prevent the river from transforming, will lock nem in nir humanoid body until ne can find enough untainted water to filter out the taint of it.
Chester recites a silent prayer to St. Stockton. Prays for this trip to be a success. It had begun as a rescue, an escape from the seas and bondage. But now? Now he is a disciple. An acolyte to the rails. And this was to be their final pilgrimage.
As he sloshed to the side of the tunnel, toward thick strips of skin raised up like steps on a station platform, a foot or two above the river of hooch, I noticed that the embers of beard he’d wiped away had made sparks in spots where they’d fallen, red puffs of lily pad trailing far behind.
She wove the melody with her voice, but as she sang, her entire being vibrated with wonder as the serving dish gave her a glimpse into a flowering rose garden in the heart of a land so different from her own, it almost seemed to inhabit its own reality. Within the configurations of this garden she recognised enough to remember a time when she too was young, and curious enough to want to explore the world of humans in Terra Cognita.
Bit tucked his body sinking under the black water away into the corner of his mind and went to the other place, where there was no light and he was floating without water. Weeds like ropes caressed him. In the drowning, he moved by falling, feeling what direction he needed to go and letting himself tumble that way. The answers swarmed around his ankles in the dark, warm like fur and soft like mud under his hands.
She was quick to anger, her hands tightening around the book—this book of all books, this book was what he huddled over in his madman’s cave—but she did not yell. She had always kept a better leash on her emotions, and her composure was more upsetting to him than her rage. She knew it, and gods help her, she used it.