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Chapter 33: In Which The Wings of a Moth Conclude the Storm

I was not surprised to see that the room was round, with two round sleeping mats on the white marble floor, and one high round window overlooking the night sky. I noted the bars at the window – they were not round at all.

Each girl placed her orb by her bed. I quickly burrowed my way underneath what was Fizz's sleeping mat, sticking my head out just enough to be able to see and hear what was being said and done.

The other girl was bigger than Fizz but probably not much older. She wiped sweat off her face as she removed her white robe and unbraided her hair, putting on a white sleeping gown. She slipped into her mat with a sigh.

"It's so hot," she murmured in the voice of someone talking in her sleep. I could see the light blue ribbons of magic crowding around her eyes and ears, coiling about her throat. Life had been turned into a gauzy dream for the novices of the Goddess of Dreams.

Fizz did not respond for a while. I could hear the sound of rustling fabric as she too undressed. The mat on top of me became heavy when she lay down on it and I moved to avoid the weight of her body. "At least it's better than the winter," she answered after I had stopped expecting her to. The sound of her voice, so familiar, made my heart beat ten times faster.

"Autumn, then winter and finally spring," the girl from the other mat chanted dreamily. "I can't wait for the Tournament. Did you hear? They're going to let us all watch the important competitions."

"I don't care about magic," Fizz replied. "But I'll enjoy seeing things that aren't round."

They didn't speak any more, and neither of them moved. I listened to their breathing and after several moments finally decided that it sounded like they were both asleep. I slipped out of my hiding place and padded over to the other girl. Gently and carefully, I wove my own magic into the spell she was under, making her sleep deeper, making her unable to hear or see me. Then I turned myself back into a boy and carefully crawled toward Fizz.

I examined her sleeping face. She looked peaceful, her cheeks somewhat fuller than they used to be – at least she was eating well here. But I knew Fizz better than anyone else, and even if she gained a warm meal every day, she would never sell away her freedom. I then watched the spells that latched on to her, an octopus of transparent blue ribbons moving about her eyes and ears, tying around her throat, and from her throat, one thick ribbon went onward, through the wall to somewhere, to someone, deep within the temple.

I couldn't rip the spells away without causing Fizz harm and alerting whoever stood at the controlling end. I could only shift them aside as best I could, and then plant a spell of my own among them, a spell that would slowly, and surely, free her from all the others.

I gently stroked her cheek, my throat suddenly unbearably tight. "Fizz." I whispered.

To my surprise, her brown eyes fluttered open almost at once and she looked directly at me, wide awake and recognising. "Rat," she said, sitting up with a smile, "you came."

I drowned in relief. My smile felt so large my head nearly tore in half. "Fizz, let's get out of here," I whispered, my hand still on her cheek.

"You didn't come for so many nights," she said, placing her small hand on the back of mine. "I thought you weren't coming."

Had she waited for me for two years, hoping every night I would come to her? The tightness in my throat intensified, making it hard to breathe. "I didn't know where you were," I said, ashamed at how much that sounded like an excuse. "I thought you were dead."

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