Chapter 51: Another Name

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Soon enough, life had settled down, and even started to take on the everyday monotony characteristic of the Farmlands. There was a long trial during which Skai brought forth her knowledge of vicissm and its cause, and the orphans, Edgians, and Farmers, as well as some police and medical personnel, all testified against Madame Noire. The judges might have dismissed the stories if there weren't so many witnesses.

"A dragon! I really saw a dragon!" Little Braden Jamie had yelled at the top of his lungs.

Madame Noire's sentence? A year's worth of manual labour in the Farmlands.

Knox and I caught up over a short fishing trip, though I don't think he believed half the things I told him.

"Well, you do have a history of exaggerating," he admitted. Which I supposed was true enough. I ended up staying with his family, as he suggested all that time ago. Little Braden Jamie was beginning to seem like a younger brother to me.

The orphan with electric blue eyes turned out to be a great shot! Colton insisted on making his slingshot all on his own, with only direction from me; I wasn't actually allowed to touch it. Rumor had it that a caravan of Traders was on its way, and Colton was practically dancing with anticipation.

When asked what he would do now, Tom Thum quickly scaled Colton to alight on his shoulder and replied that he would be honored to have more adventures with him. I still planned to help him find another tiny (if giant people were called giants, what were tiny people?), but not yet. I wasn't quite ready for another adventure.

A full day hadn't passed before I claimed my clockwork bird. While I knew that every time I closed my eyes for the rest of my life I would see gray and smell steel, I could smile in the face of it. Because it turned out I didn't need flight to be free any more than that bird did. I just needed people who cared about me.

As for me and Skai? Well. . .

"Jack Peterson! Put me down this instant!"

So of course I did.

For a moment after I landed in the tree, Skai was speechless. "It is beautiful up here." She leaned forward, staring out at all the trees that made up our orchard. She wore a new all-gray outfit, this one in pristine condition. Even in a tree I couldn't find a speck of dust on it. Guess the work she'd been doing with the doctors and City smiths had its benefits. Aside from discovering that smearing zinc onto steel would protect it from weathering. Also, living in Peb's attic rather than in the grass and dirt helped.

I leaned back with a satisfied smile. "Did you ever doubt me?"

She looked over at me, eyes impish. "Only every five seconds."

"Skai Nicholson-" I started with mock severity.


I blinked. "What?"

She blushed. "You forgot my middle name."

A/N: Thanks for reading! Comment below: what did you like? Dislike? I'd love to hear from you!

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