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Kid Rabbit

“I really thought she’d changed,” says See Me, watching as Dog drags the coffer away.

“She has her own path,” says the Princess coldly. “No one can choose it for her.”

“I wish Ratio Tile were here,” See Me mutters.

Workers are fitting Kid Rabbit into the brass-lined slot at the back of See’s proa, connecting its spring drive to the boat’s paddlewheel. Rabbit twangs excitedly.

“Seems a little beat up,” says the dock chief critically. “You want a new one?”

“Not on your life,” chuckles See Me.

“Hang on, Rabbit!” cries Blow the Skin. “You’ve got to come back!”

See Me

The Loveblind Bird kisses the tops of the waves.

“I can’t believe he’s gone,” mutters See Me.

The Princess Leaves pulls a blanket around his shoulders. “There wasn’t anything you could have done,” she says. “They’ll follow us–that’s the only explanation for the ease of our escape. But that’s only because he left them no other choice.”

See Me shakes his head. The Princess touches his cheek. Then his ear.

Dog Shouting is at the cabin door, unnoticed; she watches for a moment before she raps the frame.

“We’re not out of this yet,” she says, with hard blue eyes.

Ratio Tile

“Strike me down,” says Ratio Tile calmly. “I shall become more than you can imagine.”

Reaching the West Reaches drives his sword deep into the old man’s chest. Ratio’s hands scrabble on the blood-slick blade; he chokes and sags to his knees. Reaching the West Reaches draws back and raises the sword high.

“No!” screams See Me.

“Kid! Bolt the door!” screams Dog, pelting along the gangplank.

See fires wildly; the portcullis rattles shut. Reaching the West Reaches is behind it, but the Born Breathing are pouring onto the dock.

“Run, See Me!” thunders a voice in the waves. “Run!”

Ratio Tile

“Three gods once walked the earth as men,” says Ratio Tile softly. “But they were unused to human needs, and had to demand food of the animals. Fox gave them her food for fear of their power, as did Monkey.”

They’re rushing toward the cratered gray island, as if it were a sponge for all the sea. “Kid, get to the port rigger!” howls Dog Shouting. “Dragalong, get the wheel–”

“But Rabbit refused,” says Ratio, “so they threw him in a fire and ate him. The smoke of his body rose up and up, and blackened the face of the moon…”

Dog Shouting

The Loveblind Bird chases the little skiff with sails cracking, bow high, hydrofoils slicing the sea.

“A ship that size shouldn’t be this far out!” says Ratio Tile.

“Well, he won’t be around long enough to tell anyone about us,” says Dog Shouting. “Dragalong, man the bolter.”

See Me rummages through a casket for a set of brass oculars. “Maybe he was being towed by a bigger ship, snapped his line…”

“Gimme those,” says Dog, grabbing the lenses and peering. “We can still catch him before he gets to–there, that small waystation!”

“That’s no waystation,” murmurs Ratio. “That’s the moon.”