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“We go to war,” Kitsune said, her voice low and aching. “In case one or all of us should die, I wanted you to have my apology. Nothing more needs be said. If fate is kind, once we reach King Hunyadi, we will never encounter each other again.”

Night fell over Atlantis.

On the spiral dome of the kingdom’s great library, the Walker Between Worlds perched precariously and stared out across the city that comprised the entire island. In one hand he clutched the fox-headed walking stick that had become like a totem to him, and with the other he held onto the spire. His dark cloak floated out behind him.

Wayland Smith narrowed his eyes to study the troops that massed in the circular plaza below, then gazed out to the water’s edge, where strange ships awaited the soldiers they would take to war. The ships were like spiral palaces set atop Moorish castles, but all made of many-hued glass whose surface billowed as though alive. They floated upon the water like jellyfish, but each had a dozen small masts strung with sails that reflected back the world like silver mirrors.

King Hunyadi would not be pleased.

There had never been any question that Atlantis would attack. But it had been some years since Smith had been to these shores, and he would never have imagined them capable of mustering such an attack. Each separate detachment of troops in the plaza had several sorcerers garbed in black and gold, and at least one Atlantean giant. To the west lay a mountainous, volcanic island shrouded in dark smoke that issued from vents and craters and hid the city of the giants from view. Smith had no idea how many of these ancient monstrosities still lived on that shifting, volcanic rock, but he counted twenty-seven on the main island of Atlantis, right there in the plaza. He hoped none remained behind the shroud of smoke as reinforcements.

Dozens of Perytons circled in the sky above the island. Their green feathers were black in the darkness, and when they passed across the face of the moon, their antlers seemed to claw the air. Had he been anyone else, they would have seen him already and attacked. But Smith was the Wayfarer—the Walker Between Worlds. He had eons of practice at being unseen.

But he had already known about the soldiers and sorcerers, the giants and Perytons. What troubled him the most were the other things—the beasts of the deep. A sea dragon rippled in the waves offshore, a thing of such length that he could only think of Jormungand, the Northmen’s so-called world serpent. Three gigantic squidike creatures lay within the harbor, half in and half out of the water. It ought to have been impossible, but it seemed barely surprising in view of the sharks and eels that undulated through the night sky, swimming through the air as easily as they would underwater. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of octopi hung like parachutes in the sky above the glass ships of Atlantis.

At some silent signal, the troops in the plaza began to move out, marching toward the harbor with giants and sorcerers at their side and Perytons flying above.

Smith swore in a language that had been old before the legends of this world had been born. But there was nothing he could do just now, not alone. This was not his world. Not his war. Atlantis could not be allowed to prevail because it might trap him in this one world forever, but his only power to stop them lay in his ability as a puppeteer. He might not have a role to play on the field of battle, but he saw the skeins of fate in every world, and knew when to pull those strings.

At least, he always had.

Straightening, keeping his grip on the spire, Smith reached out with the tip of his cane. He waved it once, twice, and a third time, then tapped downward. Though nothing but the night surrounded the spiral dome of the Great Library of Atlantis, the cane struck something solid.

Smith stepped away from the building and began to descend a staircase of sky. He did not need the cane to find each step, tapping ahead of him like a blind man. Instinct guided him, and power summoned the steps before the soles of his boots touched them. The Wayfarer followed the steps in a downward curve that led to a fifth-story window. He slipped between worlds for an instant and then out again on the other side of the window.

Inside the library.

His passage went unnoticed amongst the cases and shelves displaying thousands of scrolls from an age that Atlantis barely remembered—an age that even Wayland Smith could hardly recall. Glass and pearl architecture created a labyrinth of knowledge, but he navigated it easily. When he came upon guards, he paused. They did not see him, but beyond them, where scrolls had been laid out upon a table, a sorcerer—perhaps a member of the High Council—paused and glanced around, frowning deeply, sensing a disturbance in the air.

The Wayfarer withdrew.

He had seen all he needed, now. At the table, bent studiously over the scrolls the sorcerer had set out, there had been a young, olive-skinned boy with dark, serious eyes.

Prince Tzajin lived.

Damia Beck lay on her bedroll inside her tent. The wind whistled like distant ghosts passing by outside. Far off she could hear the snort and neigh of horses and the low mutter of voices from the soldiers on watch and those who were unable to sleep. Her left shoulder burned where the Battle Swine had gored her, but a healing poultice had already done wonders. Still, her body ached. Sleep would have been a blessed gift, but it would not come easily, if at all.

A dog barked, off in the night, away from camp. She stiffened, wondering if it truly had been a dog, or the signal of some enemy. There were no dogs in camp. Likely it was some wild hound off in the woods or a house pet from one of the villages they had found abandoned on their march south. Three small villages had been evacuated, their residents taking shelter in the mountains or scattering to other towns where they might be safer. One had not been so fortunate. Most of the buildings had been burned to the ground. Old men had been cut down in the street. Women and children had been herded and then executed. Many of the corpses had been picked apart as though by vultures.

Every time Damia closed her eyes, she saw the bodies.

Yucatazcan soldiers had not done this. The Two Kingdoms had been at peace for a very long time. She had known and worked with southerners before. People were no different in other parts of the world, not fundamentally. They were all Lost Ones under the skin, all yearning for a home most had never known.

Whatever had happened in that village, she knew Atlantis must be at fault. Giants and Perytons must have broken away from the retreating Yucatazcan troops, the slaughter in the village a punishment of innocents, retribution for the humiliation they felt at being routed.

Smoke filled Damia’s nostrils, even now. She had bathed in the river near the ruined village, but the stink would not leave her. Perhaps it never would. And perhaps it never should. King Hunyadi might have been waiting for her battalion to arrive, but Commander Beck had been unable to simply leave the dead for animals and carrion birds to gnaw upon. They had lost most of a day digging a mass grave for the villagers. While the infantry dug, she had sent the cavalry out riding in search of any signs that the Atlanteans might still be in the area, but they had found nothing. The oni in her Borderkind platoon, Gaka, was an excellent tracker. His third eye saw things no one else would, and the trail of the giants led directly southward.

From the devastated village of Ashford, Damia had marched her battalion onward. They had lost most of a day and she wanted to make up some of that time. The commander did not halt her troops until long after dark to make camp.

Now they rested, as best they could. Damia wondered how many of them were having nightmares, tonight. Perhaps that explained why she could not seem to get to sleep herself. Dreaming might take her right back to the half-eaten dead of Ashford, lying in the street amidst the charred remains of their homes.

“Heaven help us all,” she whispered to the darkness of her tent, and the starry sky high above. She wished she could see the stars. Breathing the night air might help clear her mind. For a moment she considered leaving the tent.

Instead, she turned on her side and closed her eyes. Damia might be haunted, but she could not let her troops see. They had done the decent, honorable thing in Ashford, but for the sake of morale she had to appear confident and undaunted. They had to believe their commander had a hard edge to her soul.

Eyes closed, she saw the faces of the dead, and instead of drifting toward sleep, she felt more awake than ever. She listened to the wind outside, to the low garble of soldiers talking, and to the restless horses nearby. She caught herself waiting to hear the bark of that lost dog again, searching for its owners.

The night softened.

Instead of that distant bark, she heard a quick fluttering, as though of wings. A frown creased her half-conscious brow. The wind against the entry flaps of the tent—it must be. But the sound came again, and this time she knew it was not the wind at all.


Then there came a gentle sound that might have been the entry flaps parting and a light step as someone entered the tent.


Her sword lay in its scabbard. Guns were faster. She lunged from the bedroll and snatched one of her guns from its holster, rolling as she moved, then came up onto her knees and took aim at the entrance to the tent. A dark figure stood there, silhouetted in the opening by starlight.

“I’ve been shot before and it hurt like hell,” a voice said. “Could you point that somewhere else?”

A breeze blew into the tent and the feathers braided into his hair swayed.

Damia stared, letting the gun fall to her side. She strode over, grabbed Blue Jay by a fistful of his shirt, and pulled him into the tent even as she covered his lips with her own. His arms went around her, holding her gently, but Damia did not want tenderness. Not now. She pressed her body against him just as fiercely as she did her mouth. Idly she tossed her gun onto the bedroll and kissed him until they were both breathless.

Only when he broke the kiss and drew back from her, when she saw the powerfully hewn lines of his face in the slight illumination that came through the slit between entry flaps, did she see the concern in his eyes. Damia nearly asked him what was wrong, but then she felt the moist heat on her cheeks and tasted salt on her lips, and realized she had begun to cry.

Any other night, with any other person, she would have been mortified. But this was Blue Jay. Damia smiled and wiped away her tears.

“I missed you,” she whispered. “Especially today.”

She told him about Ashford, about the people who had been butchered there and the children whose bodies had been stripped of flesh by hungry Perytons.

“This war’s about so much more than a broken truce,” she said.

Blue Jay brushed his fingers through her long, wild hair. “For my kind, it always has been.”

She nodded. “I thought I understood that before, but I didn’t. Not really. Victory is the only possible outcome now, isn’t it?”

His eyes darkened. “The alternative is unthinkable.”

“How are you even here?” she asked, gazing at him as though she had just discovered some lost treasure. She could not take her eyes off of him.

The trickster took her face in his hands, studying her just as she had done with him, as though to make sure she was not some illusion, some beautiful mirage in the midst of ugly times.

“It’s a long story,” he said. “Best told on the road, I think. Truth be told, darlin’, it’s fortune that brings us together tonight. We got out of Palenque through the sandcastle and have been heading south to join Hunyadi, just like you. I’ve been scouting ahead from the air and saw your camp, came down to talk to the commander. I had the strangest feeling it would be you, here, but I brushed it off. I’ve never been a clairvoyant. Not one of my skills. But here you are. There’s no magic to it, really. We’re all on the road to war.”

Damia felt her breath stolen from her again as his hands slid down over her body.

“You don’t have enough trust in fate.” A smile spread across her face. “There’s magic in this, all right. All sorts of magic. But you said ‘we.’ Who else is with you?”

Blue Jay nodded, mischief returning to his eyes. Even in that near darkness, she could see its spark. “More than you’d think, and all camped just a few miles away. Li, Cheval, and Grin all came back from Palenque with me. But now we’ve got the gods on our side. Some of them, anyway. Ares and Mercury and half a dozen others or so from Perinthia. Fuck, there’s a Titan, too. Cronus. Wait till the Atlanteans see him. Then we’ve got dozens of Harvest gods with us. The roots told them about the war, they said. Whatever it is, they know what’s going on and they’re helping.”

Damia laughed in disbelief. “That’s incredible. Almost gives me hope. The king will be very pleased. Did you round them all up yourself?”

He arched an eyebrow. “Me? No. It’s all Kitsune’s doing. Hers and Coyote’s. They’ve had a hell of a time. The Sandman’s out and about, hunting for her and for Oliver, apparently.”


“We thought he was dead? Yeah. We did. Looks like we were wrong. Maybe the Sandman can’t be killed. I don’t know. But, yeah, he’s still alive. He took one of Coyote’s eyes at the Atlantic Bridge and would have killed Kitsune had Coyote and Cronus not driven him off.”

Damia shivered. “Do you think he’ll come back?”

Blue Jay’s eyes went cold. “No question. But we’re on guard, now. For both Kitsune and Oliver.”

She froze and stared at him. “You’ve got him? Oliver’s with you?”

“And Julianna as well. Collette’s off with Frost somewhere, but we’ll catch up to them eventually. The important thing is that we’re bringing Oliver to Hunyadi. A few months ago, they were hunting him. Now the king will put him up in front of the troops and tell them the Legend-Born has come. That ought to boost morale.”

“We’ll need it,” Damia replied. “So, you really think the Bascombes are Legend-Born?”

Blue Jay stroked her arms. For a moment, his gaze seemed distant. Then he nodded. “They are. There’s power in them like nothing I’ve ever seen. Magic I’m not even sure they understand yet.”