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“Did you get one? Never mind,” says Master Isaam, hustling the corner boy out the front door with an improbably large bundle on his head. “I’m leaving you to mind things, can’t be hanging about with that beast in the skies. You know enough not to burn the shop down? If the pirates don’t, anyway—well, there’s food laid in, I’ll be back when it’s safe. Don’t forget the mice!”

Silhouine’s mouth starts to form a question, but her mind supplies no appropriate words. She stands, lips half-pursed, an alley kitten squirming warmly in the rough sack under her arm.