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No more walking the road or wandering the grounds: she has three rooms, six books, embroidery and a closet for privacy. The books have lessons. Gnomon’s always a few silent feet away.

Her mother wakes her in the morning and her father tucks her in at night, warm and solicitous. They don’t blame her. She’s a child! She had an ordeal, and what matters now is her safety.

But Nightjar remembers the terrible freedom of the balloon, vulgar conversations, the danger of his hand on her arm. Remembers being an uneasy peer. Remembers Killington’s hat falling, in the spray of black.


There are no shadows here on the Canvas, Killington told her, but when they make camp the blank whiteness of everything doesn’t keep her from falling asleep. When she wakes to darkness–thick, heavy, like grit on her tongue–she’s frightened. She can’t remember the last time she was scared of the dark. Actually, she can.

She fumbles in a bag and finds the striker he used to light the balloon. “Nightmare?” Killington mumbles, stirring. “Wait–don’t–”

She’s clicking it, and the flare of sparks traces them both in shadow. Gnomon is there, then, behind her. His cane is a sword.


“I’m being abducted,” says Nightjar, “by someone named Killington?”

“Mmm,” says Killington.

“That doesn’t bode terribly well,” she says.

“You don’t need to be afraid, little girl,” he says, grinning a knockaround grin. “Think of it this way: you’d be in more danger if I were my parents.”


“They named me that.”


Killington plays with cranks and sprockets, and the fire below the balloon turns from blue to white. They rise slowly to pass between two loops of road.

“My parents,” says Nightjar, stumbling a little, “named me Nightmare.”

“I know they did,” says Killington, and his smile disappears.