been out in the night.

Cal laughed for every time Sol mentioned blowing something up, which was a lot. The laughter sounded odd. Thus far, she’d been speaking Xaran slang in Lorraine’s accent, which was harsh and strange-sounding. Every ‘w’ was automatically converted to a ‘v’ sound. When she laughed, it was a blend of what must have been Lorraine’s laugh – soft, tinkling – and her own, which was louder and more genuine. The result was gentler than Cal’s usual expression of mirth but still sounded wrong from Lorraine’s perfect rose lips. She’d never get used to this.

At Danny’s question, the amusement slipped instantly away. Cal peered eagerly at the treeline, grateful for Lorraine’s divinity-enhanced eyes. The horselike silhouette had a spiky mane and a long, flowing tail… she squinted. Were those zig-zag stripes?

“Buddy!” She yelled, waving at the trees. The silhouette moved. After a moment, Buddy poked his head cautiously out between two pine trees.

“Your highness,” he said respectfully, dipping his head, “I have still been unable to locate my ker-fairy for you.” He paused, glancing at Danny, and hissed at him out of the corner of his mouth. “Hey, you seen Cal?”



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