THEY had just finished sparring. Ora crouched at the edge of a tidal pool and prodded speckled anemones with a smooth piece of driftwood. The air smelled crisp, almost sweet. The tide would be coming in soon, and the ocean would swallow the small puddle of marine life. On a nearby rock, Lupin smoked his pipe and watched the waves. He had been quiet since she returned but so had she.
A few days after reappearing, she had visited Lupin in his cabin to talk about the fae without her ma overhearing. When he first told her how he found the sword and no other trace of the Widogast siblings, a deep sadness filled his gaze. He admitted that he feared she would never be found, and the weight in his voice brought tears to her eyes.
After that, Ora spent an agonizing month trying to return to normalcy, but a longing had rooted itself in her chest. She craved magic. At night, she would brush her fingers across the amulet Elder Kavyn enchanted just to feel the power emanating from the crystal. There was also Hademar’s brush pig cloak. He would not part with it, and when he stood near, an intoxicating force charged the air around him. She asked if she could wear the cloak, but he sheepishly told her no.
Several times, she tried to sneak off on her own to practice featherweight, but neither her ma nor her brother would let her out of sight, unless Lupin was at her side. They were made nervous by her silver eyes, the pearly nub where her pinky had been, and the distracted, cool demeanor that she had adopted since returning.
For once, she was grateful for her mother’s anxious nature. On several occasions, Nel had opened her mouth as if to ask Ora a question but could never manage more than a bit of unintelligible mumbling. The rest of the time, her ma seemed content to have her children back, even if they had returned somewhat different than before.
Only Lupin knew the true story, but Ora had left out one detail. He did not know about her magic.
The truth weighed on her. Perhaps, he would understand, and then she would be able to practice a spell or two. It would be no different than their secret sparring.
The sea wind tore at Ora’s braided hair, and she found herself wondering what sort of magic could be woven from the chilly gale, from the waves, from the battered rocks beneath her feet. Eiko had said power could be drawn from the elements.
The longing felt like a coil twisted around her chest. She could take it no longer. She tucked a few curly strays behind her ear, picked up her sword, and rose to her feet. “Uncle Lupin,” she said, pulling his attention away from the glittering horizon. “While I was in Tirnan, I discovered something.”
She felt almost light-headed at the idea of telling him. Her heart quickened.
When she did not go on, he said, “I imagine you discovered a good deal.”
An anxious, breathless laugh passed through her lips. “Yes, but this is different. This is something about me.”
His brow rose, but he looked past her. Confused, she glanced over her shoulder and saw a stranger approaching them.
“Do you know him, uncle?”
“No.” He got up from the rock and tucked his pipe into his coat pocket.
They waited. The stranger drew closer. He was a tall, dark-haired man and carried a small satchel over one shoulder. He could have been a Nor, but there was something off about him. When he reached them, she understood why.
Ora drew the silver sword from its sheath. “Who are you? And do not lie. I can see your glamour,” she said, more than ready to take a swing if he proved to be an enemy.
But the man smiled. “Hello, little twig.”
In shock, she lowered the blade. “Berengar? How did you find me?” She could not hide the high-pitched twinge of fear in her words. If he could find her, how simple would it be for any other fae?
“Your innkeep, Mathilde, was kind of enough to point me in the right direction.”
“You used her name?”
“It was necessary.” He glanced at her uncle. “Are you kin?”
“Yes, we are kin,” Lupin growled. “If you are fae, and I’m guessing you are, you had better have a good reason for coming here.”
“Yes, I think I do.” He held Ora’s gaze and slipped into the fae tongue so only she would understand. “Tyg Marigen is now queen and Valor. She has vowed to destroy you and all magic in Himil.”
The world felt suspended for a breath, and Ora felt a buzzing sensation spread through her. Recognizing the first prickling of magic, she swept her hard gaze out to the ocean and drew in several, slow breaths to calm herself. Eiko had been right when it warned her about returning home, but she did not want to contend with the idea that she would no longer be safe in Fel. Leaving would be an impossible subject to broach with her family.
Berengar went on, the fae language a familiar lilt. “I have been allowed to join the Yewolyn mages. I must return—”
“Whatever you have to say, say it in Norrish,” Lupin interrupted, voice rising over the pounding waves.
“It’s alright, uncle,” Ora said, returning her gaze to Berengar. “I can understand him. Go on.”
Despite Ora’s reassurance, Berengar gave a swift, Norrish apology before continuing in fae. “I have friends here in Himil, sylv in exile. They have hidden themselves well. I will tell you how to find them, but the rest is up to you.”
She nodded once.
“They are to the south, in Galgoa. Seek out a tribe of nomads. The locals call them wind walkers, but they are sylv.” He reached into his pack. “You will need this to see them. They use strong wards to stay hidden.”
Right away, Ora recognized the object he held. She sheathed her sword. “A speculademain?”
“Ah, you must have seen it in Elder Kavyn’s shop. There aren’t many left.” He held it out and winked. “I doubt you’ll have any trouble using it.”
“Were you planning on telling me how it works?” she asked as he placed it in her outstretched hands. The rush of magic at her fingertips made an unbidden smile spread across her face.
“Let’s see. It’s really just a matter of finding the right spot.” He felt along a seam in the copper, then gave it a twist.
Air hissed out of the hollow device. The pentagonal faces began to unfold, and she shifted her hands to give it more space. When finished, it lay flat. From the glass oculi rose a ghost-like landscape of dark trees and mountains.
“The Hy Borea,” she said in awe. “Uncle Lupin, look.”
He shifted closer, still cautious of Berengar. “It’s remarkable,” he said. “What is it for?”
Berengar answered in Norrish. “It will always show the world as it truly is.” In fae, he added, “It will reveal the wards that hide the sylv. It does more, but you will have to figure that out on your own. I must leave.”
He tapped the center twice, his finger sinking into the trees. The glass and copper faces began to fold, and Ora watched on in fascination.
“Thank you, Berengar,” she said as the last panel clicked into place.
“I hope to see you again, little twig.”
His words made warmth blossom in her cheeks. In their short time together, she had grown fond of him. She wished he would stay so that she could at last ask him to teach her alchemy. Pushing aside these thoughts, she gave a deep nod. “And I you.”
“Be safe.” These were Berengar’s final words before he parted, leaving the two Widogasts where he found them.
Lupin cleared his throat. “Would you like to explain to your old uncle how you came to see glamour and learned the fae tongue so quickly?”
“It’s what I was about to tell you.” Ora’s eyes followed Berengar as he made his way back up the beach. The speculademain felt powerful in her hands, and the energy washing up her arms made her light-headed. Already, her mind turned with the possibilities of what such a device could do. Before her thoughts could drift any further, she tore her gaze away from Berengar and met Lupin’s incredulous stare. “You see, Uncle,” she said. “It’s a complex enchantment.”