—Do you know what those stones are? Why, they could be anything. Sentinels over a sacred place, forgotten long before the world remembers to forget you. They could be the guardians of some terrible or great secret. Or perhaps—they are the standing graves of the chieftains who have gone before us, kings and queens rotting under the earth—
“Now you’re being morbid,” said Molls wearily. She sat down next to one of the stones, letting her back rest. “We’re never going to find my sister or the others, not in this mist.”
The Festival of Shadows was a memory. And like a memory, it could be frightening.
The girl watched the spectacle of dancing monsters, the giant, the scavenger, a man and a child, all theatrically presented in exaggerated flare. Aasfresser, that was the name for the scavenger. Sekr, the giant. She did not remember the man’s name.
It was traditional, not to say required, to be married before the stones. The people of the fields and drops of Little Boulding had kept to this tradition, not at all a requirement, since before anyone could remember. So of course it was expected that if they were to be married, even a goblin and a man ought to be married before the stones.
On this day, the happiest day, Gnarlas was trying to decide why the man wanted to marry her at all.
Jacob watched as Ray climbed through the window. He made it look so easy, like climbing from the second floor was the easiest thing in the world. But Jacob had been practicing. This time he was ready to go. As soon as the goblin disappeared, he slipped out of bed and looked down.
Ray was nowhere to be seen.
Jacob’s heart pounded as he climbed over the sill. He stretched for the elm branch. Everything looked so different in the dark, less certain, more dangerous. For a moment he thought maybe he should go back. But he reached out anyway and felt the elm tree’s rough bark.
No, not flowers. He liked flowers, but it didn’t seem right.
She sat, looking down at the quiet ground that was so unlike him. Davy had never been quiet. He had never stood still. Even in sleep, he was always tossing and stealing the blankets for himself. Peg’s mouth crooked in a smile. Darn it, she missed him.