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Pearson Mary E, “The kiss of deception”, public translation into English from English More about this translation.

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“Yes, there’s always magic,” I said, cynicism heavy on my tongue.

She placed my bandaged hands back in my lap. “All ways belong to the world. What is magic but what we don’t yet understand? Like the sign of the vine and lion you carry?”

“You know about that?”

“Natiya told me.”

I sighed and shook my head. “That wasn’t magic. Only the work of careless artisans, dyes that were too strong, and my endless bad fortune.”

Her old face wrinkled with a grin. “Maybe.” She picked up her pail of medicinal water and stood. “But remember, child, we may all have our own story and destiny, and sometimes our seemingly bad fortune, but we’re all part of a greater story too. One that transcends the soil, the wind, time … even our own tears.” She reached down and wiped under my eye with her thumb. “Greater stories will have their way.”

CHAPTER SIXTY

I was up early, hoping I’d beat Malich to a hot cup of chicory before he stirred from his tent. I hadn’t slept well, which was no surprise. I startled awake several times during the night after seeing the wide-eyed stare of a bloody-jointed puppet and then, as I hovered over it, the face would transform to Greta’s.

Those dreams were replaced with ones I’d had of Rafe when we first met, partial glimpses of his face dissolving like a specter in ruins, forest, fire, and water. And then I heard the voice again, the same one I’d heard back in Terravin that I had thought was only a remembrance. In the farthest corner, I will find you. Except this time, I knew the voice was Rafe’s. But worst were the dreams of Eben walking toward me, his face spattered with blood, an ax in his chest. I screamed, waking myself, sucking in breath with the word innocents still on my tongue. Get used to it. I would never get used to it. Was Kaden feeding me more lies? Deception seemed to be all he knew. When I woke in the morning, I felt as if I had tussled all night with demons.

The birds of the forest were just beginning to call in the predawn light when I stepped out from the carvachi, so I was surprised to see that my depraved Vendan companions all sat around the fire already. I refrained from gasping when I saw them, but they all looked like they had wrestled with a lion. The scratches had darkened overnight and were now angry bloody welts striping their flesh. Malich was the worst, his face mauled and the skin under his left eye shining blue and red where I had punched him, but even Griz had a slash across his nose, and one of Finch’s arms was riddled with lines. Malich glared as I approached, and Kaden leaned forward, ready to intervene if necessary.

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