“Sometimes justice was all about the small victories.”
“It wasn’t freedom she wanted. It was belief in something—a prize big enough to run for and to fight for and to keep on reaching toward no matter what.”
“I hate this. Both the storm and the plan. Why does it have to be ‘we’? Why not just me?"
“Because ‘just me’ isn’t who we are,” Iseult hollered back. “I’ll always follow you, Safi, and you’ll always follow me. Threadsisters to the end.”
“They aren’t for disguise at all. You just didn’t want to leave behind your favorite book.”
“If you wanted to, Safiya, you could bend and shape the world.”
“Where’s your hair?” she shouted. “And what happened to your arm?”
“Cut my hair and got shot with an arrow!”
“Gods below, Iseult! A few hours away and your whole life tumbles through the hell-gates!”
“I might say the same to you,” Iseult shouted back—though it was getting hard to scream and ride. “Four opponents on your tail and a ruined dress!”
“those who win wars are those who write history.”
“I guard the light-bringer,
And protect the dark-giver.
I live for the world-starte,
And die for the shadow-ender.
My blood, I offer freely.
My Threads, I offer wholly.
My eternal soul belongs to no one else.
Claim my Aether.
Guide my blade.
From now until the end.”
“If you were that sort of girl, then…” Merik lifted a hand to her jaw—tentative at first, then more confident when she didn’t pull away. “Then I would start here and move down your throat.” His fingers whispered over her neck, to her collarbone—and Merik was pleased by how punctuated her breaths grew. How much her lips trembled.”
“Allow me to serve you, Safiya. We have spent too many years apart.” “And I have spent too many hours between meals.” A glare. “Give it to me now, Polly, or I shall castrate you with a fork.”
“Who the rut is that Nubrevnan Windwitch? And: He should really learn how to button a shirt.”
“Yes," Safi breathed, swaying into one of the men holding her up. She flashed a grin at him and said, "I'm Safiya fon Hasstrel, and I can do anything.”
“It was the circle of perfect motion. Of the light-bringer and dark-giver, the world-starter and shadow-ender. Of initiation and completion. It was the symbol of the Cahr Awen. Cahr Awen.”
“How is that for service? Do you know how many men onboard would kill for the use of a spoon?"
"And do you know," she retorted, "how many men I can kill with a spoon?”
“Their other hands flipped up, palm to palm, and Merik’s only consolation as he and the domna slid into the next movement of the dance was that her chest heaved as much as his did. Merik’s right hand gripped the girl’s, and with no small amount of ferocity, he twisted her around to face the same direction as he before wrenching her to his chest. His hand slipped over her stomach, fingers splayed. Her left hand snapped up—and he caught it. Then the real difficulty of the dance began. The skipping of feet in a tide of alternating hops and directions. The writhing of hips countered the movement of their feet like a ship upon stormy seas. The trickling tap of Merik’s fingers down the girl’s arms, her ribs, her waist—like the rain against a ship’s sail. On and on, they moved to the music until they were both sweating. Until they hit the third movement. Merik flipped the girl around to face him once more. Her chest slammed against his—and by the Wells, she was tall. He hadn’t realized just how tall until this precise moment when her eyes stared evenly into his and her panting breaths fought against his own. Then the music swelled once more, her legs twined into his, and he forgot all about who she was or what she was or why he had begun the dance in the first place. Because those eyes of hers were the color of the sky after a storm. Without realizing what he did, his Windwitchery flickered to life. Something in this moment awoke the wilder parts of his power. Each heave of his lungs sent a breeze swirling in. It lifted the girl’s hair. Kicked at her wild skirts. She showed no reaction at all. In fact, she didn’t break her gaze from Merik, and there was a fierceness there—a challenge that sent Merik further beneath the waves of the dance. Of the music. Of those eyes. Each leap backward of her body—a movement like the tidal tug of the sea against the river—led to a violent slam as Merik snatched her back against him. For each leap and slam, the girl added in an extra flourishing beat with her heels. Another challenge that Merik had never seen, yet rose to, rose above. Wind crashed around them like a growing hurricane, and he and this girl were at its eye. And the girl never looked away. Never backed down. Not even when the final measures of the song began—that abrupt shift from the sliding cyclone of strings to the simple plucking bass that follows every storm—did Merik soften how hard he pushed himself against this girl. Figuratively. Literally. Their bodies were flush, their hearts hammering against each other’s rib cages. He walked his fingers down her back, over her shoulders, and out to her hands. The last drops of a harsh rain. The music slowed. She pulled away first, slinking back the required four steps. Merik didn’t look away from her face, and he only distantly noticed that, as she pulled away, his Windwitchery seemed to settle. Her skirts stopped swishing, her hair fluttered back to her shoulders. Then he slid backward four steps and folded his arms over his chest. The music came to a close. And Merik returned to his brain with a sickening certainty that Noden and His Hagfishes laughed at him from the bottom of the sea.”
“He was good. The best fighter she’d ever faced. But Safi and Iseult were better.”
“You’re chained up.” A wince pulled at Safi’s eyes. “I upset the Admiral.” “Of course you did.” “It’s not funny.”
“I’ll strip with you,” Safi offered, grabbing for her shirttails. “If anyone shows up”—the shirt slid over her face, muffled her words—“I’ll dance around and distract them.”
“Oh, the Bloodwitch named Aeduan was no longer bored. No longer bored at all. And now he had work to do.”
“he was pleased to find he’d left a trail of muddy boot-prints throughout the house. Sometimes justice was all about the small victories.”
“Merik turned away, pretending not to hear. Not to care. But the truth was, he did hear and he did care.”
“I'll be fine, Safi. You forget that I taught you the art of evisceration.'
Safi scoffed, but her Threads flared with with amused pink. 'Is that so, dear Threadsister? Have you already forgotten that it was me they called The Great Eviscerator back in Veñaza City?' Safi flung a dramatic hand high as she twirled toward Ryber.
Now Iseult didn't have to fake a grin. 'Is that what you thought they said?' she called. 'It was actually The Great Vociferator, Safi, because that mouth of yours is so big.”
“The shanty soon ended, but Ryber kept pounding the drum and hollered, “‘The Maidens North of Lovats!’”—which Merik knew was her favorite song, since she was a maiden from north of Lovats.”
“Safi was sick of dancing. Literally, she felt ill from all the spinning, and her breath—she’d not had a single moment to catch it since … Merik. Prince Merik. The man who couldn’t dress himself properly had turned out to be royalty.”
“Of course, the three men in the tavern who’d decided to attack Iseult had never made it back home at all. At least not with intact femurs.”
“But he could smirk at her—and wave too. A flicker of his right fingers and then a tapping of his right palm.”
“that you have learned how to work a button.”
“I can feel their Threads waiting.”
“Each Well was linked to one of the five elements: Aether, Earth, Water, Wind, or Fire.”
“كل عمل يتميز بنواياه وكل نية تتميز بعملها . الفارق بين القبول والاغتصاب قد يكون كأسا واحدة أو كلمة واحدة.”
“Abstinence is perfectly reasonable in theory," Gregory said, "It just doesn't work in practice. It's like dieting. You can go a day or two, maybe even a week. But eventually that pizza just smells too good.”
“When we met, we were two injured souls. But keeping the real out of our lives for fear of what we might find. But nothing could have kept us apart. I never believed in destiny. Thought that was a bunch of crap for people who read too many books. Until you.”
“To have her respond in kind, unhindered by the Elder, was an ecstasy I wanted to lose myself in forever.”
“Parents, she thought, learned to survive touching their children less and less. As a baby Pearl had clung to her; she’d worn Pearl in a sling because whenever she’d set her down, Pearl would cry. There’d scarcely been a moment in the day when they had not been pressed together. As she got older, Pearl would still cling to her mother’s leg, then her waist, then her hand, as if there was something in her mother she needed to absorb through the skin. Even when she had her own bed, she would often crawl into Mia’s in the middle of the night and burrow under the old patchwork quilt, and in the morning they would wake up tangled, Mia’s arm pinned beneath Pearl’s head, or Pearl’s legs thrown across Mia’s belly. Now, as a teenager, Pearl’s caresses had become rare—a peck on the cheek, a one-armed, half-hearted hug—and all the more precious because of that. It was the way of things, Mia thought to herself, but how hard it was. The occasional embrace, a head leaned for just a moment on your shoulder, when what you really wanted more than anything was to press them to you and hold them so tight you fused together and could never be taken apart. It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.”
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