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“Yes,” she said, sneaking a look at him. “Very strange, indeed.”

Oliver was looking around carefully, his eyes darting every which way. It was as though he was seeing something she could not, something he was afraid of.

“And now?” she asked. “Where do we go now?”

“We don’t go anywhere,” he said. “We wait for the sun to sleep.”

Alice wanted to believe Oliver was joking, but she couldn’t suss out the humor in his words. “Oh?”

Oliver nodded. “Though we won’t wait too long, I hope.” He squinted at something in the distance. “The sun in Slumber is terribly lazy and always forgetting the time. It naps so frequently that its people have stopped waiting for sunshine. Their village only appears in the dark.”

“Oliver,” said Alice, “are you being deliberately absurd?”

It was odd, but for a girl born and bred in magic, Alice could be disappointingly unimaginative. But then I suppose there was good reason for her reaction. After all, the people of Ferenwood had always used magic in the same steady, reliable ways, and Alice had never known magic to be manipulated frivolously; she’d no idea what a little recklessness could do. The magic of Furthermore was entirely foreign to her.

But Oliver still hadn’t offered an answer to her question. He was rifling through his bag again, and this time Alice heard the unmistakable clink of coins.

She narrowed her eyes and poked him in the shoulder. “What else have you got in there?”

Instead of responding, he unhooked their hands and folded himself into a seated position, settling in for a wait. Alice very cautiously followed suit, and she was just about to ask another question when Oliver tugged something out of his bag. It was a small notebook.

“Right,” he said, perusing its pages. “I nearly forgot.”

“What is it?” Alice asked. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing’s the matter yet,” said Oliver. “I’m just checking things. Making certain and so forth.”

“Making certain of what?”

“Oh, just sun cycles and such.” Oliver was reading with great focus, following a few scribbled sentences with his finger. “Mmm,” he said. “We should only have to wait here a few moments longer.” He looked up. “What sensational luck. If we’d arrived any later, we’d have had to wait at least a good hour for the sun to sleep, and it would’ve been the most anticlimactic introduction.” He turned back to his notebook. “This first bit of the journey can be terribly boring, you know.”

Alice frowned. “Oliver, what—”

“Oh, ho!” Oliver jumped up with a start, squinting up at the sky. “There we are.”

“What?” Alice asked, scrambling to her feet and looking around. “What’s happening?”

Oliver nodded at the sun. “There. He’s just about to take his nap.”


“Now give us a second, Alice,” Oliver said impatiently. “It takes him a moment to roll over.”

Alice blinked, and the world went black.

Alice had never in her life seen such darkness. Back home they had moons and planets and so many stars that the nighttime was never really night. Not like this. This was something she could not adequately describe. They had been plunged into a sky where everything had been snuffed out. She blinked and blinked and the blindness sent a chill through her heart she could not shake. A fear of the unknown, of the unseen, of what could be waiting for them here in this new world—it would not leave her.

“Oliver,” she whispered.


“Why didn’t we pass through when the sun was awake? Wouldn’t that have been safer?”

Oliver shook his head. “Slumber is the entry point into all of Furthermore, and as such, the security measures are severe. Any visitors foolish enough to enter at sunlight are seen and snatched up in an instant.”

“But why?” Alice asked. “Snatched up for what?”

“Snatched up for what? Are you quite serious?”

“Oh, and you’re surprised, are you?” Alice crossed her arms, irritated. “Surprised I know not a single thing about this land I learned existed only a moment ago?”

Oliver was slightly mollified. “Right,” he said, and sighed. “My apologies. It’s just that it seems so obvious to me.”

“Well when will it be obvious to me?”

He squeezed her hand. “Soon, I’m sure.”

“But how soon?”

“Patience, Alice. Best to introduce yourself to patience now, so that it might find you when you call upon it later.”

“But I have so many questions,” she said, tapping his shoulder very hard. “Why would they want to snatch up visitors? Is that what happened to Father?”

Oliver smiled at her in the dark. “Not exactly, no. Your father is ten steps smarter than all that.”


“While I’d like to answer all your questions,” he said lightly, “we’ve little time to spare and many appetites to avoid. I won’t be the reason you end up in someone’s stew tonight.”

Alice had not a single idea what he was talking about and she told him so.

“Well,” said Oliver, “if you don’t already know what to fear in Furthermore, I can’t imagine you’d want to change that now. Perhaps it’s best to be ignorant just a moment longer.” And then he held up a finger and peered up at the sky.

A moment, it turned out, was all it took.

The sky exploded with light, shot through with so many stars and moons and glittering planets that it was blinding in a whole new way. It looked as though the night sky had tried to snow but the flakes had fallen upside down and gotten stuck.