Chapter Sixteen: I’m Nobody! Who Are You?

Eastmere, Mjimeri, Central Isle

Fawkes hated the daylight, partially because he couldn’t see as well. It wasn’t because of Eastmere’s twisting fog or faded monotones. Even in Niki, a place he’d heard was bursting with color, he hadn’t been all that impressed. Sure, the ocean and the soaring, forested cliffs were magnificent, but the color wasn’t as vivid as he thought it would be. The island held the same greens and reds he had always seen. The ocean was a tad more teal, sure, but the flowers were still just rusted red or dusty orange.

In the night, objects truly appeared interesting. Shapes took on a much sharper quality, and everything was left up to the imagination. Windows that during the day appeared blackened and broken could, in the night, seem like intricate stained glass in a Northmere mansion.

But mostly, Fawkes loved the night because a thief could slip into the shadows. Night was a guardian for those who needed to sneak, to hide, to escape. If Fawkes were being at all honest, the only redeeming quality of day was the sound. True beauty was in the slow cadence of mourning doves, the tat-tat of polished shoes, the wheezing of the wind. Even now he tapped his foot to the music of the dawn, watched as swollen green waves crashed against the darkness of the still shadowed pier. It wouldn’t be long before it was full-on daylight. Fawkes glanced up and caught the first shred of sun peek out over the city before it sliced across the rooftops and puddled on cobblestones below.

Shoving his hands into his pockets, Fawkes flinched at how warm the necklace was. Sure, he’d kept it snug in his coat for most of his trip, but it shouldn’t have been boiling hot. He wrapped his fingers around the glass in defiance. Magic. It was magic. He couldn’t help but think about Camille. He shut his eyes, trying to block out the memory of her scream, that ear-splitting screech that matched the highest note of a flute.

He’d never touch magic again. It was dangerous and unreliable, something that amounted to nothing but suffering. Besides, he had to be clever to do without magic, and that gave him something to boast about. But an object imbued with magic always sold for a better price, so he still stole them.

“Enjoy your trip to the Southern Isles?” Twyla separated from the shadows, birthed from the undercurrent of it. Though she was silent, Fawkes imagined a sound to accompany her all the same. Perhaps it would be like the chimes sold in the Northmere market, a series of shimmery clinks and clangs—a smooth sound—because Twyla moved like water.

Fluid even now, she gracefully glided up beside him. She didn’t look like water. Well, okay, maybe the murky, salty water that gathered after a downpour on the streets of Westmere, the most industrial part of Central—dark and dirty.

Though she claimed she was a performer, in truth, she was a thief. In order to slip between the shadows, she had to blend in: she always wore dark tones and constantly had to dye her red hair black as pitch, black as death, black as the color of her soul. Her words. Not his.

“Too humid for my liking, love.”

“You missed Central, didn’t you? Missed me?” The cadence of her voice was disjointed and jarring. She liked to play with inflection, and he appreciated her for it. In fact, it had inspired him to experiment more on his violin, even if her voice sounded nowhere near as colorful and expressive. No matter how much she’d told him, she still held back her true feelings. She said he hadn’t earned them yet. Whatever that meant.

“No, I’ve brought a trinket.”

“For me?” She narrowed her eyes and leaned in close. “Fancy gifts won’t win my heart, but you can damn well try.”

Fawkes snorted and shook his head. Twyla took a sharp breath before releasing it in a gust of a sigh. Whatever Twy wanted to believe, she wasn’t that great of an actress. He could read her emotions just by her playful smile, but, even more than that, he could hear it in her voice. The notes of her sigh fluttered too much, were held for far too long. Fake.

“For the troupe, Twy.” He tried to shift his mouth from a relaxed frown into a lazy smile. He couldn’t manage it. He always got nervous around her, and it made his facial expressions jumpy.

Nodding, she brushed back her coal-black bangs with gloved fingers. It reminded him of that island girl. He swallowed a knot of guilt and instead thought about how truly special Twyla’s gloves were.

They were pretty but worn, made of brown leather with intricate stitchings. Those designs weren’t just for show. The magic in them gathered the shadows and made it easier for her to hide in their safety. They stole the shade from nooks and crevices and concentrated it in one place.

Even though the gloves were different, Fawkes still couldn’t help but remember the island girl, Rhia. She was nothing like Twyla, who was trained lean muscle and shorter than most. Rhia was thin, her fingers spindly, delicate and adept. Part of Fawkes hated Rhia, all that innocence and emotion wasn’t useful. In fact, it usually got you killed. She never once suspected he’d reach for her necklace.

Though, there was a part of him that liked Rhia. He couldn’t help but smile at how she’d tried to slap him after he’d kissed her.

“Well, are you just going to stand there like an idiot, or ya gonna show me your prize? Remember, the troupe gets a cut, so I need to examine it first.” Twyla placed her hands on her hips and tapped her foot.

“Easy.” He laughed and dug around in his pocket to produce the necklace, its silver chain twinkling in the violent red of the rising sun. He noticed Twyla’s rapid blinks as the intrigue set in.

“Pretty.” He knew she didn’t want to give him the slightest indication that she was fascinated, that she was proud. She was supposed to be the leader, the expert, the head thief. Nothing she saw should surprise her. But she was, and he could tell. It was in the way she said that one word, like it was three syllables, three notes. One note was low and uninterested, the second dipped even lower, but the third note, ah, that one was shaky and thirsty and high.

“Let me see, vultno.” He hated when she called him fox, almost as much as when she called him Oliver. But she adored code names, especially for her little troupe. She had even given herself a name, the arula—keeper.

She removed her gloves and slid her finger along the surface, gasping as flesh met burning glass. Fawkes pulled the necklace back and stuffed it in his pocket.

“Not going to forget everyone, Twy.” Fawkes rolled his shoulders back and stood up straighter. “And I’m not stupid. You’ve even said not to trust you around shiny things.” Fawkes had known Twyla for five years, but it felt like much longer. And though his better judgment told him not to trust her, she’s a performer, never believe a performer, he couldn’t help but do just that. She’d gotten him a job when he needed it most, and though that job had been trouble the moment he’d started, at least it had nothing to do with the Oubliette. He’d die a slow, torturous death before he’d fall into work like that. Lucky for him, working for Twyla didn’t cause too much trouble for people. Stealing wasn’t slavery, right?

He’d been twelve when he’d first stumbled into Central, fresh off the docks. A boy with nothing, a boy who was nothing. A buzzing crowd had gathered not too far away, and when Fawkes had finally pushed through all those people, he’d seen Twyla dancing. All around her were signs announcing the Scarlett Daggers dance troupe, but all Fawkes saw was her. She moved in a flash of reds and oranges, crackling purple flames beneath her feet. She was twirling through it, yet it never once burned her.

Magic, Fawkes thought in awe.

He noticed she never once took her eyes off him. Almost in the next breath, she spiraled closer until she was within an arm’s length of him. But while Twyla twirled around him, he realized something else. Someone was attempting to steal from him. It wasn’t that Fawkes felt it. No, he heard the guy breathing, the slight hitch in his breath as he slid his hand into Fawkes’s jacket and nearly took the only piece of coin Fawkes had on him.

Fawkes turned, twisted the thief’s wrist, tipped him off balance, and pushed. Twyla had laughed then. It was the first time Fawkes had reveled in the sound of her. She was full of happiness, all molten hot and bubbling with emotion. One of the only times he’d ever heard her true feelings. He’d been in her service ever since.

“Atlas would pay a pretty piece for something like that.” Fawkes flinched, cursing himself for letting her surprise him. Twyla didn’t seem to notice though and instead ran her tongue over her top lip. “Mmm, that boy is quite handsome. What I wouldn’t give to—”

“Twyla.” Fawkes drew out the ‘la,’ folding his arms in front of his chest.

“Jealous, are we?” Snagging his chin between her fingers, Twyla turned him to her and winked, her green eyes bright with mischief. “Don’t worry, vultno. You’re adorable in your own right.”

“Adora—”

“Anyway, he’s the only one who’ll give you a fair price for it. Who else is going to think twice about purchasing something like—like that. Once you’ve made the trade, meet me at home.” Twyla touched her finger to his lips and ran her other hand up his cheek. “And Oliver?” He swatted at her, reveling in her tinkling laugh yet cursing her for using that name. The strange melody was chaotic and careful. It was fake. All fake. But still enticing. “Maybe this time you should tell Atlas the truth.” She dug around in her coat, only to produce a wrinkled square of paper. It was gray and crusted with dirt, but he quickly took hold of the edge.

“What the hell, Twy? Don’t touch my stuff.”

“Respect, my pet. Best learn it soon.” She held onto the paper a moment longer before she released it. “Tell him, Fawkes.”

He grunted in response.

“Gods, and don’t pout. Makes you seem three years younger, and we all know you can’t afford that. Though, I kind of like how vulnerable you look.” She winked before retreating and again sliding into the thin, twisting alleyways that lined Eastmere.

♦♦♦

“I will tell you for the fifth time, no. I will not.” Rat-face inched back from the necklace like it was a talisman of death. Fawkes didn’t believe in luck or gods or talismans of death, but this man did. That made this a thousand times more challenging. Was it just him or were people getting more superstitious these days?

“Rat—I mean, Mr. Lyonel, this isn’t anything cursed. Look at it! A young lady would pay a fine price for something so delicate.” Fawkes tried to smile at the man, a man with the most beady eyes he’d ever seen on a human being.

“It’s a thing with flourish energy.” You mean fiendish, Fawkes thought, watching as Mr. Lyonel’s long, pointed nose twitched ever so slightly. “I would not touch it with a five-foot stick let alone sell it to someone else. I am very sorry, Mr. Fawkes, but I will have to pass on this buy. Good day, my boy.” The man tucked his hand under his large, round belly and made to turn back to his paperwork, but Fawkes snatched his shoulder. Rat-face jerked back, his buck teeth pressed firmly against his bottom lip, his eyes wide and bright with fear.

“Wait.” Think, Fawkes. Think. He needed the money this time. Not for him but for Camille. He was so close to having enough money to help her get better. He couldn’t stand the thought of her figure lying still, soundless, in her sickbed. And if he could just sell this fool the damned necklace, Fawkes knew it would be enough this time.

Rat-face sneered. Air hissed through his teeth as he plucked Fawkes’s grip from his coat then knit his hands together on the table. “I know lately I have been buying from you, but this—this cursive jewelry, well something is coming, my dear boy, and you had best get rid of that thing.”

“What do you mean?” Fawkes took a deep breath and looked at Rat-face’s hands instead. He couldn’t help but stare at how long the man’s fingernails were. They’re practically claws.

Rat-face unclasped his hands and waved Fawkes closer. He had to hold his breath. He knew the man always ate soft cheese for lunch and could tell that lovely tradition continued.

“I-I’ve heard word, you see.” He licked his lips. “Th-There’s a certain trader th-that is, for lack of a better word, outerworldly.” The man sniffed and retrieved a handkerchief from his pocket then blew into it to produce a baritone pitch.

“What do you mean?”

“I-I, well, I mean not of this world.” Obviously. And the word you were looking for was otherworldly, by the way. “I am speaking of a series of men—well, perhaps spirits, that do not feel right. One man goes by the name of,” Rat-face paused and continued in a whisper, “One goes by Lord Oku. Then there is the strange case of Dr. Tensine. And let us not forget a man by the name of Mr. Locke.” Locke. Had Fawkes heard that name? He didn’t think so. Though, he’d been traveling lately, so he’d missed recent Central gossip. “You see, he has been collecting values like your little—” Rat-faced waved his handkerchief at the necklace clutched in Fawkes’s hands. “There is something about all of them. They make men do things they really should not be doing. They s-say things they really should not be getting away with saying. Yet all those men still do those bad deeds. And some say that what connects them all are their eyes, eyes that burn like a million god suns.”

“God suns, got it.” This man was a lunatic. Damn, and he really didn’t want to go to Atlas’s shop. Shrugging, Fawkes nodded and turned to leave, his hand shooting up to wave goodbye. He had to restrain himself from making any other gestures.

“I am not joking. You’d best just stick to stealing coins. That there necklace stinks of old magic, like the kind of magic your granny warns you about. If you are not careful, you will attract something much more deadly by holding onto it. Get rid of it, my boy!”

Fawkes rolled his eyes. Rat-face always tried to swindle him out of money anyway. But Fawkes had already tried five other shops before this one. All the shop owners had cringed at the magic oozing off the necklace. Guess when you traded in magic, you knew when something magical felt off. Even Fawkes could tell, and he didn’t even practice it.

As Fawkes wove through street vendors and the thick, bustling crowd, he snagged a few more coins. Too easy. Northmere was always too easy. Maybe if he stuck around here long enough, he could lift the rest of the money. The wealthy never suspected thieves as much as those in the seedier parts of the island. But even though he wasn’t superstitious, Fawkes still couldn’t help but feel uneasy about Rat-face’s warning to lose the necklace. He had not choice but to go there.

He watched the canal, all greens and browns except for a distant splash of scarlet. A girl with red hair and a heart shaped face made her way on a raft through the thick, grimy waters. She looked familiar. It took a moment before he realized where he’d seen her—Atlas’s shop. At least he wouldn’t have to bother with her and her sweet, happy disposition when he went by today. She was a thief in Fawkes’s eyes, and he’d never forgive her for what she’d taken.

♦♦♦

Fawkes wanted to drop the tiny crystal bird and watch it shatter into a thousand shards. That would get Atlas’s attention. But of course, Fawkes didn’t do it. Couldn’t. What if Atlas looked up and actually recognized him this time? What would he say?

Fawkes had debated whether he should come at all and had stood staring up at Atlas’s shop with its cracked bricks and faded sign for minutes on end. But eventually he had relented and trudged inside.

Atlas hadn’t even looked up. No, he’d merely grunted a hello and paged impatiently through a book stacked on top of three others, that stupid crow’s head coin running through his fingers.

He’s different today. Has something happened? High bleeding hells, like he cared. Why should he be concerned about his long lost brother? It wasn’t like Atlas had been there for Fawkes.

No, Atlas had left him when Fawkes was five. He’d woken up one morning to find that Atlas, the boy his parents had adopted, the boy that had become more important to him than his own deadbeat family, had deserted him. Fawkes had been all alone, left with his parents’ endless bickering and his father’s daily beatings. Fawkes had even tried to run away once, in an attempt to find Atlas. He’d survived on the streets, shivering and cold, for nearly two days before his father found him, dragged him home, and severely punished him. It had taken only five years before Fawkes had had enough and ventured out on his own to find a job and eventually a ship to sail far away. Back then, he hadn’t been bitter towards Atlas and had set out to find him.

It had taken him two years, but when he’d stumbled into that shop on Central for the first time and seen Atlas, he noticed something. He noticed that Atlas wasn’t alone. In fact, he had a beautiful redheaded girl beside him.

“Hello,” she said, resting her hand on Atlas’s shoulder as she did. He had been counting currency before he looked up and locked eyes with Fawkes.

Atlas stared straight at him and smiled so wide and bright Fawkes couldn’t help but grin back. Atlas remembered him! Well, of course he remembered him. They were brothers. And so, when Atlas came around the counter to approach him, it was without hesitation that Fawkes ran to meet him, burying his face into Atlas’s chest, the herbs and spices and old book scent much more concentrated in the threads of his shirt.

But as Fawkes’s eyes welled with tears and his embrace tightened around Atlas’s back, he felt his brother stiffen. Without warning, Atlas pried Fawkes’s arms open then swiftly shoved him back.

“Welcome,” Atlas said, anger rising in the back of his throat, making the last syllable rumble low and dangerous, before he slid back into his smooth, steady voice. “Sorry, do I know you?”

It had squeezed Fawkes’s heart into a shriveling black ball, and it was in that same moment that he noticed Atlas blush and glance at the girl behind him.

“N-no. I just—you looked like someone I know, is all.”

“Well, perhaps I can help you with that. I know quite a few people in Central, which explains why you don’t look familiar. New, are we? The island can be a frightening place the first time around.”

“Like you would know, Atlas,” the girl said before she giggled, a tinkling sweet voice that reminded Fawkes of a songbird. Not the kind of songbird one might put in a cage, but one that was free to fly wherever she chose. A songbird that had found a home. “What’s your name?”

“Me?” Fawkes felt a tightening in his throat. “I’m nobody.”

Who are you? Fawkes wondered.

“Do you need help?” Atlas looked past him as if searching for someone. “Is your family close by?”

Atlas’s words were like their father’s beatings, a heavy fist pounding straight into Fawkes’s gut. He couldn’t breathe, and there was a shrill ringing in his ears. Before he knew it, he was running out the door, past the bustling crowd and into an alley. He waited a few beats then peered around the wall to see Atlas and the girl speaking to one another. In fact, Fawkes stood there for what must have been hours, watching how careful he was with the girl. It was in the way he touched her, feather-like and subtle. It was in the way he watched her when she wasn’t looking, simple and pure. Had Atlas—had he found a new family?

Fawkes slunk off to an alley, one of the twisting, snake-thin alleys of Eastmere, the fog still creeping low on the ground, the shouts of a quarreling couple as background music. Their voices were a jumble of anger and guilt and regret. He could relate.

The man shouted a last insult and left the woman in tears. She cried, a shrill and powerful sound that echoed in the empty street, and that was what broke him. He began to cry, too.

His tears made everything a blur of greys. He dimly remembered seeing the sun’s dying red glow film over his vision until the light faded into black. He closed his eyes and cried some more until the only thing left was the short, quick sobs deep in his chest and the thin trickle of tears still leaking from his eyes. He hated himself then. Hated himself for caring so much, and it was in that moment that he wiped the tears from his dirt-caked face and set about reinventing Oliver Fawkes.

I’m stronger now, Fawkes thought as he placed the crystal bird gently down on the wooden display block. Fawkes drew in a long, shallow breath, nervous already, and approached the counter. He knew Atlas wouldn’t recognize him this time either. He never did.

“‘Scuse me.” Fawkes laid his elbow on the counter and rested his cheek on his fist in one fluid motion. Atlas didn’t even look up. Strange, he was normally so attentive. Drumming his fingers on the counter, Fawkes tried again. “I said, ‘scuse me.” Atlas raised a brow and let his eyes flick up to fall on Fawkes for just an instant before they drifted back to the book.

“Yeah?” His voice was amusing, melodic and familiar. Fawkes had tried to recreate it many times. He’d used the whimsical music of a guitar. Had almost found the right notes but every time he’d come close, he’d snap the damned instrument’s strings.

Fawkes slammed his fist against the cherrywood of the desk, reveling in Atlas’s jump. He had the attention of those strange green eyes. Atlas’s dark brow rose sharply as if to say, What? Smirking, Fawkes drew the necklace from his pocket and let it dangle from his fingers. It swung slowly in front of him, the liquid inside the glass sloshing lazily back and forth with the movement of his wrist, like the pounding of wave against docked boats. Seeep-buud. Seeep-buud.  

“Here to sell a trinket, mate?” Atlas asked.

Fawkes tried not to hope. Mate could mean friend, could mean customer, could mean brother. Fawkes wanted to tell Atlas so badly, but wouldn’t. He wanted Atlas to figure it out on his own.

Atlas cocked his head to the side as he looked at the piece. It was a slight movement, as subtle as a blink. His gaze followed the precious object as Fawkes lowered it onto the table.

“Atlin, was it?” Fawkes asked.

“Atlas,” the shopkeeper corrected, his attention solely on the necklace.

“What say you?” Fawkes asked, his fingers still on the necklace chain. “Do we have a deal?”

Atlas’s head was cocked, his finger tapping against the counter. Was that a look of recognition, perhaps?

“Two pieces of silver. Five, if you can prove its magic.”

No. Not recognition. He could probably feel the magic coursing through the damned bauble. Even Fawkes could feel it and he didn’t even practice magic.

“Five if it’s magic, you say?” Five pieces of silver would be enough. “Let me tell you a little secret.” Fawkes leaned in close, close enough to give Atlas a better view of his face. Surely he’d recognize his freckles. No, no he wouldn’t. Fawkes wasn’t five anymore. He wasn’t the boy Atlas remembered. Never would be again. Atlas didn’t budge, just had that maddening quirk of a smile. “This here is a magical Southern Isle necklace. A piece of phenomenal power.” Heck, the magic was practically rolling off of it. “Don’t tell me you can’t feel it?”

But Atlas was examining him now, narrowing his eyes. Like he remembered him. Fawkes pushed the piece at him then, and Atlas picked it up. He winced at what Fawkes supposed was the necklace’s heat.

“See? Magic.”

But Atlas didn’t reply, instead his fingers ran over the piece, careful and delicate as a thief’s. No surprise. Atlas had taught Fawkes how to work the picks and hit the pins and tumbler just right to open Mr. Winster’s shop. A door with the most complicated lock on their little island.

Wonder if I can pick a lock faster, thought Fawkes.

While Atlas examined the object, Fawkes busied himself by examining the shop, letting the smell of musty tomes, dried herbs, and ancient knickknacks fill his nostrils. He remembered Atlas’s room when he was younger, all those books piled like wobbling towers around his bed. He remembered the way Atlas’s voice sounded like a song as he read to Fawkes.

One more story, please. Fawkes would beg until his face turned blue.

Atlas would sigh and lay his hand on Fawkes’s head, Okay. One more, Ollie.

“Five pieces it is.” Atlas righted himself and turned. “Give me a moment.” He’d left the necklace on the counter. While Atlas went to retrieve the coins, Fawkes had time to let out a breath. Disappointment swelled in his chest. Even after all these years, he could still be let down. He didn’t know why he kept doing this to himself.

“Here you are.” Five glistening silver pieces dropped into Fawkes’s palm. He clenched them in his fist, feeling satisfied when the coins bit into flesh. “Haven’t seen you in awhile.”

“You—you remember me?” And it felt like Fawkes’s chest was tightened violin strings.

“You’ve been coming here for the past few years. How could I not?” Atlas flashed Fawkes an all too friendly grin. Shades’ hell, he was going to be sick. He resisted the urge to punch the bastard’s face in. Then he could yell and spit words like, Why did you leave me with father? All those empty promises of taking me away. Liar. LIAR. LIAR.

Instead, he’d settled for, “How perceptive, Cyrus.” And stormed out before Atlas could catch what he’d said.

♦♦♦

Fawkes watched closely as his violin’s long and low warbling made the grains of sand jump on the plate. He dragged out the vibrato, shutting his eyes and smiling at the sheer beauty of it. He played the melodies he’d been gathering all day, a string of loose fitting sounds that somehow worked in an uplifting airy sort of harmony.

Whenever he came to Central, he resided with Twyla, in her little hovel in the middle of this cursed, dust-caked city. By tomorrow he’d be gone. He’d counted his coins, found that he had enough at last—enough to save Camille. And tomorrow he’d fix what he’d started and never return to Central again.

Though, he was going to miss Twyla. Well, maybe not all of Twyla, especially when she brought company home. He had his own room, but it wasn’t enough. He could still hear Twyla’s moans through the walls whenever she’d bring home one of her partners. Playing louder and faster, he would get so lost in the music that he’d forget everything and everyone, even himself.

And afterwards, she’d shake her head and say, “Dear, dear Fawkes. Still a boy,” then kiss his cheek and giggle at how red his face would turn.

Speaking of which, where was Twy? She should have come back by now. It wasn’t like her. Damned woman hated to be late. She was one of those people who arrived at least a half hour before she was supposed to.

The click-shft of a latch startled Fawkes from his thoughts. Was that the front door? He stopped playing and listened. Heard the door squeak and shut. “Twy?” Strange. Usually she made a grand entrance, a sharp laugh and loud greeting.

He slipped the violin back into its case and made for the hallway. “Twy, this isn’t funny. I heard you come in.” Fawkes sighed. Twyla was trying to scare him again—something she tended to do on a daily basis because she thought it was hilarious.

So it came as quite the surprise when Fawkes rounded the corner and saw Atlas in the middle of the hallway, breathing heavily. He was leaning one hand against the wall. His fingers, a thief’s fingers, were splayed out like daggers against the brick. Look at his fingers, his feet, anything but his face.

The moment made Fawkes shrink into himself, his heart beat fast and true against his chest. He imagined he could hear its rhythmic drum, a fluttering thump-th-thump that picked up and exploded into a staccato, his heart a quick, chaotic succession of discorded beats. He’d written a song that sounded like what he felt at this very moment. It had been a long time ago, but he thought he had titled it The Return.

Strange. He had imagined this reunion happening five years ago, in that dusty old shop without those herbs and books, without that girl, without Atlas’s anger and confusion. But the waiting was worth it, or would be if Fawkes could just look up and make this real.

His vision blurred with the tears he’d been holding back for five years now. You found me, C. Knew you would. He still couldn’t see Atlas’s face properly. His brother was just a smudge of black and white, candlelight yellow swirling into everything. Damn tears.  

He swiped the back of his hand over his eyes and dared to stare up at Atlas’s face. But he saw not the look of a returning brother but a stranger. The stranger’s jaw muscle jumped, his nostrils flared, his dark brows pressed low against his eyes. Fawkes’s heart dropped and hit a violent stop, a musical rest. It felt like his throat was like a flute when all its holes are plugged. I’m still nobody to him.

“Y-yes?” Fawkes managed.

“Where in the depths of the shadow hells did you find this?” Atlas lifted his arm, Rhia’s necklace dangling from his fist.

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