His books lined the shelves of his bookcase in perfect order.

The closet where she’d once been forced to hide stood open, its sliding door folded back to reveal the empty hanging bars.

As Isobel moved farther in, the plaster overhead began to crumble along the crack and fall like pebbles. She pressed forward, drawn to the open window, through which she could hear the crashing of nearby waves. She stopped in front of the open sash and peered out into the desolate expanse of the dreamworld.

There, in the distance, on the cliff’s ledge, stood a dark and solemn figure, his black hair windswept and wild.

She had waited so long to find him. . ..

Isobel pulled herself into the window frame. Straddling the ledge, she was about to climb out onto the top metal platform of the fire escape when a low feminine voice made her pause.

“You do surprise me.”

Already knowing who she would find, Isobel dared not look.

“I do not as yet know how you passed through the boundary between our worlds,” the voice continued. “And I certainly did not expect you would come this far. But I am impressed by your resolve.”

Reluctantly, Isobel glanced over her shoulder to the figure who stood in the doorway—Lilith.

Her face, again beautiful and covered by sheer veils, held a serene expression as she watched Isobel steadily with two large and unblinking eyes.


“Pity, though, to think that you came all this way and have endured so much for nothing,” she said. “Because I can promise that he will not go with you.”

“You don’t know him.”

“I do,” she said, “far better than you ever could. Well enough to know that he is at home here.”

“This is not his home!” Isobel spat. “You are not his home.”

“I think he would beg to differ.”

“I know what you’ve done—or what you tried to do,” Isobel said. “The things you showed him about me . . . and what you must have been telling him all this time. You may think he believes you, but he doesn’t.”

“Why tell him anything when he is perfectly capable of witnessing everything for himself?”

“I don’t care what you say,” Isobel snapped, and pulled herself through the window and onto the fire escape.

“When he sees me,” she went on, her voice steady with certainty, “when he sees that I came for him, that I kept my promise, he’ll know the truth.”

“Go then,” Lilith said, the corners of her lips turning up in a mocking smile. “We both know I can’t stop you.”

Isobel wasted no more words, and she did not look back again as she climbed down the fire escape. Reaching the last rung of the metal ladder, she dropped down to where the rocks flattened. All around stood the countless ruins of ancient stone structures, the sills of their hollow casement windows filled with ash.

Isobel swung around to face the cliffs. Even though she wanted to call out to him, she knew he wouldn’t be able to hear her over the din of the roaring waves or the hiss of the whipping winds.

With his back to her, Isobel could just make out the image of the white bird that blazed on the back of his long black coat.

As she approached the place where the rocks extended outward over the churning waters, the bluff tapering like a pointed finger, Isobel slowed.

Though he had not yet turned around, she thought she could sense that he knew someone was there, drawing closer. His shoulders seemed to grow more rigid. Hanging at his sides, his hands tensed, fingers twitching as though they wanted to become fists.

He didn’t know it was her, she thought. He only needed to see her, to look at her, to touch her and know she was real and really here, and then everything would be different.

“Varen!” she called.

Still, he did not look her way, and she began to wonder if this was just another trick, another twisting of her mind. Then she reminded herself that Pinfeathers was gone now, dead, if you could call it that, and there was no one left to assume Varen’s image in his stead.

Isobel ventured out carefully onto the overhang, her feet crunching over the craggy terrain that was growing ever narrower. She came to where he stood staring out across the ash-white waters, less than a foot from the cliff’s edge, stopping only when she reached his side.

Far below, the waves leaped at the rocks, hungrily licking at the flat face of the cliff.

When and where had she witnessed this moment before?

The wind surged stronger still, growing more and more agitated, the gales lashing at them, lifting Isobel’s hair in a maddening dance.

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