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The girl who worked at the candle shoppe looked up at him and slowly blinked her large grey-blue eyes.

“What did you say?” she whispered.

“I’m escorting you to the festival.” Darius smiled at her. “Don’t you recall? You promised me a dance.”

He watched the realization play across her features, from the memory of the words to who she had spoken them to. “I can’t dance,” she stammered.

“I’ll teach you.” He leaned forward on the counter. Her expression softened and he felt her gaze drag over his face, taking him in. He was close enough now to see the light freckles on her nose, the slight trembling of her pink lips, the heavy cadence of her breath—

There was a sudden terrible sound: someone clearing their throat. He didn’t even turn. He wondered if anything in this world could distract him now from the girl in front of him.

From the corner of his eye, he noticed the young customer from earlier walk up beside Vivian and grab her arm. “Viv, darling, I couldn’t have possibly heard that right. Are you hosting the Prince of Andúrigard?”

“Get out,” Vivian said. She did not look away from him. “Leave my shoppe. We are closed.”

“But Viv—” the girl protested.

Darius gave an annoyed sigh. He’d heard how these customers had been talking to her before he’d revealed his identity. Now they were pretending to be friends with Vivian to get closer to him.

“The lady asked you to leave,” Darius said, and because he was annoyed, added: “My guards are outside. They’d be happy to escort you, if needed.”

He could already hear Setviren’s lecture over threatening a wealthy citizen of Andúrigard…but it had been worth it to see the shock on their faces.

The chime of the door as the cruel girls departed brought him back to the present. “Thank you for staying open for me. I won’t be long.” He straightened and stepped back. He couldn’t keep staring at the girl, otherwise he might be tempted to do something even more rash. Instead, he turned his attention to the various candles lining the wall.

“I returned for more than just taking you up on your offer. I’m of a mind to purchase two gifts, and then something for myself,” he continued. It wasn’t a complete lie; he had wanted to get something for Carmilla and Khalid. And it certainly sounded better than the truth: he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her since he’d caught that damnable blue ribbon.

Her soft footsteps crossed the old wooden floors. “The selection is slim. We were very busy today with the festival, Your Highness.”

“You mean the stupid festival?” he said, then laughed. “Please, call me Darius.”

“Darius.” He wanted to memorize the way it sounded on her lips. Then she said: “I’m Vivian.”

He’d overhead her name before, but now she gifted it to him. “Vivian.” It sounded right in his mouth, and he liked the way she trembled as she said it, how she seemed as fixated on his movements as he was on hers.

“Is it true what you said?” Vivian asked. “There are guards outside?”

Darius looked out the window to where two of his Celestial Knights stood. “Princes don’t have the luxury of going anywhere alone.” It had been a miracle unto itself that Khalid had managed to get him out of the castle.

“They didn’t feel the need to accompany you in here?” she asked.

“Are you dangerous?” Darius smirked.



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Updated: Nov 8, 2021

Marion had called it a special skill, his ability to fall asleep anywhere. He’d been able to take a nap splayed out in the lavender field, squished between his sisters in their giant bed on the farm, and even the ratty couch at their apartment on Enola Avenue hadn’t posed a problem for him. He’d even fallen asleep in the bakery from time to time. That has caused Lingrint a great deal of grief….

But now, in this soft plush bed, with the roar of the fire, the light of the flames dancing across the white sheets…Timothée didn’t think he would ever sleep.

Something had crept into his mind and refused to leave. Something had taken root since the square. He’d pushed it back as soon as the rain began to plop over his blood-streaked hair.

But now, alone in the darkness, he couldn’t push it away anymore.

A terrible awareness crept over Timothée. It was such a feeling he knew his life would never again be the same. Some sort of terrible destiny had claimed him when he and his sisters glowed in the square. When the Dark Prophet gazed at him. He knew it was a gaze, even behind that sharp angled obsidian mask. And that monster had spoken a word that broke flesh and bone and blood and descended all the way down to Timothée’s wicked core.


The way he’d spoken the name, a splintered sort of sound…it was the sound of utter agony, though Timothée couldn’t explain why he thought that.

He couldn’t stop replaying the night over and over in his mind’s eyes until some parts sharpened to focus so clear it was if he were there now. The fluid way the Dark Prophet had moved, the deep richness of his black sword made of gravastarium, which swallowed light instead of reflecting it.

And he thought of the prophecy the Dark Prophet had foretold – the words echoed in his head.

The God of Shadows will return.

Mountains will crumble, rivers run red, and the sky will weep.

Timothée rolled over, covered his head with a pillow, but the voice only grew louder and louder and louder.

Noctis and I stood side by side, as we did at the start of his world.

Twice the Dark Prophet had said that name… the first time spoken with such reverence. But the second time, when the Dark Prophet had looked down at him…the word was agony. Reverence and agony. What did it mean?


Reverence and agony.

He had called Timothée, Noctis.



Noctis was the son of the gods. And Setviren and the people were calling the Greywicks the children of the gods.

Was he really the brother of a god? The son of them? Hot tears streamed down his cheeks as the thought washed over him. It made him question his own belief — he realized he’d never truly tried to make sense of it all: the making of the world, the vast skies, the magic, and the stars that fell…

He’d spent the last nineteen years dreaming of destiny, and now that it had befallen him, he found himself drowning under the vast awareness of what it could mean. A part of him found himself understanding Marion, her desire to shuttle them away to a simple life. And he knew in that moment that his sister had felt it too, that vast purpose of what it all could mean. That was why she ran from the terror of it all: the unimaginable spread of the universe before them.

His fingernails dug bloody circles into his palms. Another part of him – that deep dark seed – knew there was no place in all of Thraina they could run to now.

Laugher sounded in the hallway and Timothée bolted up, gasping. His body and limbs felt heavy, like the shadows of his waking dream were pulling him back down to the bed.

He shook his head. His mind felt foggy, distant. He needed to sleep and rest. But if these thoughts plague me during awakeness, what nightmares wait for me in sleep?

Slowly, he stepped out of bed and padded across the floor. Slivers of sunlight crept from underneath the long curtains. It was day then. But this was when stars slept. This is when you sleep.

Another laugh, and this time he recognized it at Vivian’s. It was a strange realization. How long has it been since I heard your laugh, sister? He realized with great sadness that he did not know.

He pushed the door open a crack and peered into the hallway. Vivian stood out there, back against the wall as the Prince leaned over her. Yvaine sat happily in his arms.

Traitor. He had thought himself a special sort, with Yvaine taking a liking to only him, and tolerating his sisters. But he couldn’t blame her for liking the Prince. He was handsome and brave—braver than anyone! He had stood against the Dark Prophet and survived.

“I really should let you rest,” the Prince said to Timothée’s sister. He ran a thumb over her cheek, an intimate gesture.

Something tightened in Timothée stomach. He had been with many more people than his sister. It wasn’t hard because she’d never even kissed anyone. But no one had looked at him the way the Prince was looking at her.

And no one ever will. He couldn’t stop the dark clouds of his mind. Not when you’ve got such a wicked heart.

Then the Prince pulled Vivian up against him, kissing her. Timothée began to shut the door when he caught Vivian’s closed mouth smile as she pulled away.

She’s happy, he thought. Happy but scared.

He knew that expression. He hated to interrupt her, but this was for her own good. Drat, he thought. I sound an awful lot like Marion.

Timothée stepped back from the door, then started to call loudly for Yvaine. A moment later, he heard a little meow, a scuffle, and then Vivian—Yvaine clutched in her arms—crept through the door.

“Sorry,” Vivian said. “She followed me through the castle and…” She trailed off and narrowed her eyes at him. “But you already knew that. You were watching me.”

Timothée realized he was grinning. He skipped over and Yvaine immediately jumped to his shoulder. “I had to save you.”

“Save me—”

“Your fangs are out, aren’t they?” He reached for her mouth and pulled back her cheeks. Sure enough he saw two white fangs. “But you’re not hungry, are you?”

“Stop it—” She swatted his hand away. “You only know that because of all those terrible banned books you charmed Jenny Cotswood into giving you.”

Timothée laughed. This felt like the best revenge for all the times she’d teased him about the boys and girls he saw around town. “Hey, those books were packed full of information that has helped us along the way. Like if you get enough blood, you can eat real food and—”

Vivian crossed her arms. “Yes, that’s why you read them. To get information to help me.”

Timothée shrugged. Vivian was in a good mood. It had been a long time since he had been able to joke around with her like this. This was how the two of them dealt with what she was, through jests and jokes. But when Marion was around, not a word was uttered about Vivian’s illness. For her, it became too real, the terribleness of it brought forth in stark colour.

With his sister here, hearing the lightness in her voice, the dark thoughts from earlier felt further away. Or deeper down.

“But the fang thing,” Timothée smirked, “that’s true, huh? You also get them when you feel desire?”

She smacked his arm. “I’m not talking to you about this.”

“Come on, I know you want to tell me. He kissed you?”

“I kissed him.” Vivian looked down, bit her lip. “I just wanted to…I needed to know what it was like before…”

Timothée felt it, the necessary hard conversation, lingering just on the edge of their laughter. Soon the two of them would have to sneak out and meet Marion. They’d creep through the streets and go to who knows where.

“It’s for the best,” Vivian said sadly, giving a finale to the unspoken words.

“No, it’s not,” Timothée said. He suddenly felt a great unfairness was occurring to his eldest sister, an unfairness from this whole world. “He loves you and you love him.”

“Timothée.” Vivian stumbled back.

“I’ve read hundreds of books, and none of them ever came close to describing how Darius looked when the Dark Prophet had you.” He ran a hand through his hair. “And when you ran out to him…you were like the hero of all those stories. You can’t just leave him.”

Vivian took his hand, squeezed it three times. “Even if that’s true, he doesn’t truly love me. He can’t. He doesn’t know me.”

He gave his sister a sidelong glance.

She smiled sadly. “Fangs, remember?”

“But what if love is enough for him to—”

He broke off as they heard a commotion at the door, and a great deal of squawking and bickering.

The two of them crept forward where they heard Marion.

“What is she doing back?” Vivian looked over at Timothée who shrugged.

“I am perfectly fine making it to my corridors on my own.” Marion’s voice carried through the door.

“I was just trying to be a gentleman.” Timothée recognized the smooth-talking cadence of the Medihsan ward, Khalid Ali Bagheeri.

“You being a gentleman is like a rat calling itself a wolf,” Marion said.

“I’m wounded! That’s the third time this moon I’ve been compared to a rat, but never so viciously as you’ve delivered.”

“Good night, Mr. Ali Bagheeri,” Marion said firmly.

“Good day, actually.”

“Well,” Marion’s voice suddenly got lower, breathier, “good day, then.”

“Good day, Ms. Greywick.” Khalid’s voice pitched so low, Timothée could barely hear it through the door.

“Oh stars,” Timothée mouthed over at Vivian, who was looking back at him with wide eyes.

What was happening behind the door?

Suddenly, there was a high-pitched yelp—but it wasn’t his sister. Marion said: “Good NIGHT!” The door flew open and Timothée caught a single glance of Khalid rubbing his nose before Marion slammed the door.

Marion studied them. “What are you two doing?”

“What are you doing?” Vivian said. Her fangs had retracted, so at least she wouldn’t have to explain anything to Marion right away. “We didn’t expect you to come back.”

Marion dropped a large bag by the door. Her usually well-kempt hair looked tangled, and the buttons on her bodice were done up askew.

Timothée and Vivian exchanged a look.

“What?” Marion snapped, shuffling over to the chairs by the fire. She slumped down as if carrying a great weight. “I ran into Khalid in town. I was getting information out of him.”

Vivian crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. “Is that all you got from him?”

“Shut up,” Marion grumbled and tore her fingers through the knots in her hair.

“Everyone’s having a good time with the royalty, and I’ve just been stuck here in the room!” Timothée lamented. “Should I try to seduce Carmilla? She frightens me.”

“Good luck.” Marion snorted. “Besides, Khalid isn’t royalty. He’s…” She shook her head. “Doesn’t matter. The situation has changed.”

Timothée and Vivian exchanged a glance before sitting on the long couch across from her. She looked them both square in the face and gave a long sigh. “I think we should enroll at the Academy.”

Timothée’s heart leapt in his chest. But he forced his face to remain neutral. His hopes had been dashed so many times before. “Why do you think that?”

Marion took a deep, shuddering breath. “Khalid knows about Vivian’s illness. I don’t know how, but he does. And he says…he says there’s a great power at the Celestial Academy. And we could use it to create a cure.”

“He knows what I am?” Vivian started shaking, and Timothée put an arm around her shoulder. “And you still want us to go there?”

“I do,” Marion said, though it sounded like the words were hard for her to say.

“You must really trust him, huh?” Timothée placed Yvaine down.

“I…I do,” Marion said, and those words sounded even harder.

“What if he tells Darius?” Vivian said.

“He won’t.”

“You’re so sure?”

Marion looked down. “I’m not sure about anything. But you were right earlier. We can’t go on like this. I need to get you better, Viv. And I don’t know any other way.” Her eyes were shiny but her back straightened like a rod.

She is truly desperate. Timothée thought of the vampire he’d seen in the streets. With his protruding, paper-thin wings, and ashen skin. Maybe we have to be desperate. For Vivian.

Timothée and Vivian stood, and crossed to squeeze into the chair with Marion, wrapping their arms around her.

“We won’t just be students there,” Marion said, voice fighting for some bit of control. “Our purpose will be to find a cure.”

“To find answers about Dad,” Timothée added. If that’s even who he was…

“Yes,” Marion agreed. “We can’t get caught up in all this Star Children nonsense. These people love their legends. If we can use the story to our advantage, fine. But until proven otherwise, it’s just that. A story.”

“Right,” Vivian said. “Eyes and ears open. We do this together.”

“Together,” Marion said.

And as she said it, as it became final, Timothée felt something coil inside him, a darkness tightening, like a key sliding into place, unlocking a door that should not be opened. And he saw the smile of the Dark Prophet, though he did not know how a mask could smile. Some ancient instinctual memory took over his mind, hurtling images at him in sharp flashes: the Celestial Academy devoured in shadows, great curls of darkness lancing through the trees, and around the pillars, shattering the Glass Cathedral, and the Dark Prophet was with him hand-in-hand—

“Timothée!” Vivian was shaking him.

“You look like you’re about to be sick,” Marion said.

Timothée shook his head, realized both his sisters were staring at him, and he was wavering in place. He ran his hands through his wayward hair and took a couple deep breaths. “I’m alright. Just tired.”

He was just tired, and still a little scared from the events earlier. That’s why those images wouldn’t stop replaying in his mind. He’d keep telling himself that until he believed it.

“By the way,” Marion looked between them, “what were you two doing when I came in, looking so suspicious?”

Not wanting to let Marion know he was spying on her, Timothée just shrugged and said, “Vivian kissed the Prince.”

Marion let out a long sigh. “Oh bother.”


The waning crescent moon hung like a lantern in the sky, backed by thousands of stars. The night air had the crispness of autumn, and brittle leaves crunched under Timothée’s feet. Fog thick as soup wound its way around the castle grounds, turning statues into gargoyles, and trees into monster’s limbs.

Timothée bundled the heavy wool jacket he’d been given tighter around himself and followed closely behind his sisters, the Prince, and the wards of the kingdom.

Setviren, the loremaster, held an oil lantern from his leather gloved hands. The warm orange glow barely cut through the murk, and instead formed a circular ring around him.

Timothée had thankfully fallen into a dreamless sleep, comforted by the presence of his sisters. He tried to leave no room in his mind for the Dark Prophet, or prophecies, or Noctis.

They’d been awoken in the early evening with a tray of breakfast outside their door. “Breakfast in the evening, I’ll never get used to this,” Marion had complained, while shoving an entire piece of jam toast in her mouth.

“It’s when the Starlings wake up,” Vivian had said as she sucked on a frozen leech. If she ate three a day, they had discovered, it was enough for her to be able to keep her fangs down and eat bites of normal food.

Well, it had been enough for a while. She hadn’t eaten normal food in ages, and Timothée knew she wasn’t sleeping well.

That’s why we’re going to the Academy, he had reminded himself. For Vivian.

The rest of the evening had been a flurry as they prepared for their departure to the Isle of Argos. They would fly up at midnight to the Celestial Academy for Fallen Stars.

Now, they passed through a maze of hedges and flowers that all looked black and grey and thorned in the gloom. They came upon a large open lawn within the palace walls.

Lined up were many metal contraptions. They looked like thick canoes, made of shimmering sheet metal. Wings stretched out on both sides of each contraption, making them look like chubby silver birds. At the front of each was a hub with thin blades attached. A Celestial Knight leapt into one and a moment later, the hub began to rotate, the blades swinging around and around in a deadly whirl. Sky skiffs. Timothée had seen them dot the sky over Wolfhelm and always wondered what it would be like to fly in one.

Beside the skiffs was a large wicker basket, and something attached to it by thick ropes. A huge sheet of canvas…

“Is that,” Timothée gasped, “a hot air balloon?”

The Prince turned around and grinned at him. Well, he was probably grinning at Vivian beside him.

Setviren gave a long sigh. “In case anyone wants a more practical, time-efficient experience, you may ride in a sky skiff with me. Why the Prince decides to fly on that boorish contraption is a wonder.”

“Oh, come on, you old kook,” Khalid jeered, slapping him on the back. “The Star Children are riding with us.”

Setviren winced, his lantern swinging back and forth. “So be it. If I was in charge, you’d all be riding in sky skiffs.” He gave a long sigh. “Alas, until we return to the Academy, I defer to you, Your Highness.”

Darius was barely listening to him, his concentration on the large canvas sheet. “Khalid,” he called, “I could use some light over her.”

Khalid shrugged. “Duty calls.”

Something tickled the back of Timothée’s mind when he looked at Khalid. Something in the keen glint of his green eyes. He was sure he had never met the Medihsan before and yet…

“Is that really how we get up there?” Marion said warily, looking up into the inky depths.

The words shook Timothée from his thoughts. “It’s in the sky. Did you think we were going to walk?” He gave Yvaine a reassuring pat as she lay coiled around his neck. Setviren had begrudgingly allowed Timothée to keep her. One animal companion was allowed per student. Setviren had pleaded to let him find Timothée a more aesthetically pleasing pet, but of course, Timothée had refused.

A warm glow emitted from around where Khalid and Darius were setting up the balloon, though Timothée didn’t remember Khalid having a lantern.

Carmilla walked up beside him, grabbed his arm. “Come on, kids. The boys want to show off.”

Timothée was glad the cover of night hid his burning cheeks. Carmilla was so beautiful…and equally as frightening. They walked over to the wicker basket, which lay on its side. Thick rope attached the balloon to the basket, but there was a strange metal contraption affixed to it.

“Good. You’re here.” Darius straightened. “Stand close to the basket and get ready.”

“They’re acting like they haven’t done this before.” Carmilla leaned closer to Timothée. “I think your pretty sisters make them nervous.”

“Alright, Khalid.” Darius threw back his hood, running a hand through his blond hair. “Ready?”

“Always, Your Highness.” Khalid cracked his knuckles. “Timothée, hold onto Marion. I don’t want her swooning.”

Timothée stepped closer to Marion, who groaned and shoved him away.

“These children used powers strong enough to chase away a coven of vampires,” Carmilla drawled. “I doubt they’ll be impressed by your party tricks.”

“But did they do it looking quite so dashing as me?” Khalid effected an expression of genuine hurt. Then he flicked his gloved fingers. An orange flame sprouted from his hand. It caught on the metal piece attached to the balloon and hissed into a ball of fire.

“Morning Star,” Marion whispered. “The power of creation.”

That must have been the glow Timothée had seen. Khalid could create fire.

The light of Khalid’s flame bounced off Darius and his hair looked like burnished gold. He drifted his hands in the air, and the flames grew bigger. The balloon began to expand as warm air rushed into it. The night pricked with magic.

Khalid walked backwards toward them, and then tipped the basket up as the balloon started to rise into the sky.

“All aboard.” He grinned and held out his hand. “Next stop: the stars.”

Marion purposely walked past him, but he caught her hand. They ended up in an awkward sort of tussle as they maneuvered into the balloon.

Timothée tightened his grip on his bag. Marion had packed him a couple outfits, his hairbrush, and his notebook. But she had also left most of their books, and the new cast iron frying pan they’d pooled all their money for three months ago. Nearly everything was behind him…

As Timothée stepped into the basket, he felt his feet would not touch the ground for a very long time.

Khalid closed the small swinging door behind them. It was crowded, and with Marion refusing to even be in the same vicinity as Khalid, Timothée was squeezed up against the Medihsan ward and Carmilla.

The balloon grew and grew, and he could make out the colours and pattern on it. Blue and gold with the silhouette of a snarling wolf. The sigil of Andúrigard.

He caught Vivian’s expression, as wide-eyed and wonderous as he imagined his own was. Her eyes were trained on Darius, who stood outside the basket. Magic crackled around him as the flame grew bigger and bigger.

Khalid and Carmilla started moving the ropes, and then Khalid threw something over the edge of the basket and Timothée felt a drop in his stomach as they lifted ever so slightly off the ground.

“Going to miss the ride, Your Highness!” Khalid called.

“Right!” Darius danced back across the field and leapt over the edge of basket. The balloon pitched and he fell forward, reaching for Vivian and wrapping his arms around her waist. Timothée was pushed tighter against Khalid.

The balloon swayed back and forth. The only sensation he could compare it to was the sway of stormy ocean waves. He looked over the edge, saw the tops of the trees and hedges grow smaller and smaller.

The tall turrets of the castle glistened in the starlight. Timothée craned his neck over the side of the basket and looked up—nothing but grey and navy clouds.

A wrrr sounded beside them as Setviren’s sky skiff fluttered past. Setviren gave a sharp angled look through ridiculously thick goggles, then disappeared into the clouds.

“He’ll make sure the cavalry is there to greet us,” Khalid said. “Or rather, greet you.”

“Do not fret about that.” Darius waved a hand, and the flame shrank. “Enjoy the ride.”

“You’re an…an Evening Star.” Timothée tried to sound confident in front of the Prince. He’d suspected as much after watching Darius fight the Dark Prophet, but this all but confirmed it.

“That’s right,” Darius said. “As long as Khalid creates the flame, I can make it bigger or smaller, hotter or colder.”

“Technically you could make it into any you wanted, right?” Timothée asked.

“Yes, in a way,” Darius said. “You start with the basics: ice to water to vapor. But those truly blessed by Xydrious could theoretically shaped the world around them to their will.”

Timothée’s heart flipped in his chest. Was he really going to learn all this, to be like the Prince, know magic?

“Blah blah blah,” Khalid groaned, tugging on one of the riggings. “Evening Stars can change, Morning Stars create. I thought we escaped Professor Kunuk’s lessons for a little while.”

Timothée laughed along with Khalid. He had a thousand more questions for them, but some could wait until they got to the Academy.

Clouds gathered around them as they rose higher, until Timothée could barely see his own hand. A black, heavy mist hung in the air.

“Morning Stars can create any natural element: water, air, earth, and,” Carmilla said, “in case you haven’t noticed, Khalid’s specialty is fire.”

“And Evening Stars can change matter,” Vivian said. “What do you excel at, Darius?”

Carmilla and Khalid exchanged a look then burst into laughter.

“What?” Marion asked.

“Darius excels at everything,” Carmilla said coolly. The glow from the flames powering the balloon licked at her smile.

A pink flush crossed Darius’s face. “Now that’s not true.”

“Whatever you say, your royal perfectness.” Khalid’s voice dripped with mock sweetness.

But Timothée remembered how Darius had fought against the Dark Prophet, created the sword out of stellarite. Perhaps the Prince was being too modest.

“There is still much to learn,” Darius continued. “I only caught my star last month. There are many ways you can specialize your magic. Some Evening Stars become physicians by learning the art of healing. They can mend broken bones or seal wounds. Many others become craftspeople. It’s vey common for Morning Stars to focus on perfecting the summon of a specific element. Our navy would not be as strong as it is without the aircrafters who ensure there is always a wind.”

“Or the Medihsan sailors,” Khalid said through his teeth.

“Absolutely!” Darius clapped him on the shoulder. “During our first year at the Academy, we learn the basics. Second years are given a chance to test out many specialities. Third and fourth year are used to hone your particular talents.”

“So, you really caught a falling star,” Timothée said, then, “What star did you catch, Carmilla?”

There was beat of silence and stiffness. Carmilla touched the black choker at her neck, an awkward gesture.

“Look,” Darius interrupted. “We’re almost out of the clouds.”

Carmilla weaved closer to Timothée. “Remember, there are three types of stars, Greywick.”

“There!” Darius pointed.

The clouds parted as they rose into a sapphire sky, which sparkled with the sliver of a moon. And there, in the centre of it all was the floating Isle of Argos.

It had always seemed so large in the sky, at times blocking the sun and covering the horizon. But now he realized how wrong he had been.

It was not large—it was immense. Land and forest and water: a castle in the sky. The bottom of it was sheer cliffs, tapered like an upside-down mountain. Waterfalls fell off the edges, tails disappearing into a great skirt of mist. They floated higher and he saw a shadowy forest, and a huge sprawling field, and the white stone of a castle. There was the Glass Cathedral, reflecting every sparkling star. And there…there was the white-washed stone of the Academy.

Their balloon drew closer, and he saw the tiny movements of people, students. Starlings. They ran across the field, waving. So many gathered there. A sea of blue and gold uniforms. Setviren’s sky skiff had landed, and he stood beside it, all white robes and green hair.

“The Celestial Academy for Fallen Stars,” Timothée whispered.

“Children of the gods,” Carmilla said, “welcome home.”

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Table of Contents | Next Chapter ➡️

Updated: Nov 8, 2021

She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t get out of the balloon.

Marion Greywick’s foot hovered over the grass, but she couldn’t take the step. Vivian and Timothée had already exited the hot air balloon and were looking around wonderstruck as Setviren preened over them like a mother hen. Marion was the last one in the basket. All she had to do was step out.

But she couldn’t.

A castle in the sky…more like a kingdom in the sky. She has seen it from below, how it had blocked out the sun when it passed over and shrouded the land below. But to see the massive landform so close, to see it just hanging in the air…

It didn’t matter that a great green field stretched out before them, leading to a white campus. It didn’t matter that the basket sat on this grass, or that her siblings were walking around.

If Marion placed her foot on the Isle of Argos, she was quite certain she would fall through.

“If you find the grass so fascinating, just wait until you see the cobblestone.” It was Khalid, of course, bowing low before her, hand extended. It felt like mockery, a ward of the Prince stooping to her. She looked up only long enough to glare at him before returning to her hovering foot.

She had nearly let herself fall for Khalid back in the leech shoppe of Wolfhelm. But she had seen what he was firsthand on the trip here. He had lit the balloon with fire made from nothing.

No. Not nothing.

Made from star magic.

It was a revered and honorable trait in the kingdom, to be chosen to train at the Academy and swallow your own star, allowing you to wield its magic.

But Marion knew better. Father had told her. There was evil here, lurking behind the shine of the stars.

But she’d have to be brave enough to put her Three-damned foot on the grass before she found it.

“Are you alright?” Khalid tried to grab her hand and Marion slapped it away.

Her siblings walked ahead with Setviren, Darius, and Carmilla. Of all the humiliating, shameful things to be afraid of. Marion gritted her teeth. “I…I can’t do it. I can’t get out of the basket.”

Khalid looked from her to the ground. “Why not?”

“I don’t know!” Marion snarled in a harsh whisper. “I just can’t touch the ground.”

Khalid stroked his chin. “This is a thorny situation, isn’t it? Well, not to worry. I, Khalid Ali Bagheeri, am at your service.” With that, Khalid swept Marion into his arms.

She was so shocked, she didn’t even protest. At least until Khalid stumbled away from the basket, musical laugh chiming into the night, arms full of skirts and girl.

“Let me down!” Her arms wrapped tight around his neck.

“I’ll carry you for your entire time at the Academy, if that’s what you need,” Khalid said despite the bead of sweat forming at the tip of his brow.

“You fool!” Marion broke out of his arms. Damp grass squished underneath her thin slippers.

But she didn’t fall through. She was still here.

Still fighting.

Khalid’s smile was brighter than the stars in the sky. Marion sighed. Curse the Three for making Khalid Ali Bagheeri so handsome. It was distracting.

“Quickly now!” Setviren called from ahead. “We don’t want to keep the Archbishop waiting.”

Khalid grabbed her hand and tugged her forward. She understood now why Timothée and Vivian looked so wonderstruck. A strong breeze whipped at her skirts and hair, blowing the crisp scent of the night. And when she looked up…

The sky was a blanket above them, quilted with inky tendrils. And the stars…

Marion reached up, swearing she could pluck them from the sky like juicy peaches.

Khalid smiled at her. “Beautiful.”

She dropped her hand, blushing. The way he looked at her…she didn’t think he was talking about the stars.

Ahead, the field melted into a courtyard made of shimmering, moon-frosted stone. Towering lamps lit by multifaceted crystals scattered rainbows of soft light over the ground. A massive ivory fountain spouted water in every shade of yellow, blue, and purple, and each gush was a different creature: this one a fish, the next a whale, the other a dolphin. Some sort of star magic trick?

Great fir trees decorated the courtyard in between the lampposts, casting vast shadows through the coloured lights. The courtyard itself was caged in by buildings with painted windows and bright doorways bursting with music. Marion caught sight of one sign: Crescent Cakes, Lunar Lattes, and Fengari Tea. A little town upon the island. Shoppes before the school. What a strange place this was.

She darted her head back and forth, trying to take note of each bit of magic that might attack her.

Movement flittered under the soft lamplight: shapes coming out of the buildings, wavering shadows against the trees.

“Are those…?” Timothée asked.

“Starling students,” Setviren confirmed. “Yes, of course. You’ll have time to meet your classmates later. Hurry now.”

Marion pulled her hand from Khalid’s and stepped in front of her siblings, as if to shield them. But there was no way to escape the stares. They were mice to owls. She pulled her hair over her shoulder, trying to hide herself as much as possible; ribbons of coloured light made her hair shine blue and red and purple.

The students clustered together, staring, whispering. Some had little lights floating around them, others carried candles or torches. They wore a mix of blue and golden uniforms, though none were quite the same. Some had long dresses, and others wore trousers with belted tunics and woven stars. There were capes or hoods and felt hats or gauzy veils. The only consistency were the colours: gold or blue. Marion knew from the balloon that it differentiated the Morning Star students from the Evening Star.

But there was a third house, Carmilla had said. The former imperial princess wore a purple uniform and a black choker around her neck. Where were those students?

“Back to class!” Setviren called, shooing away the students. But it did no good. More gathered, their eyes curious and questioning as the siblings shuffled through them like livestock heading for the slaughter.

Khalid threw his arm around Marion. “Guess word has already spread of the Star Children.”

Marion didn’t miss how bug-eyed and feverish the students got when Khalid casually touched her. She shrugged him off.

“Look ahead,” Vivian murmured. “Is that…is that really where Dad lived?”

Marion stared forward, knowing what was to come. She had seen it from the balloon. Could see it now, behind the buildings, trees, and lampposts.

A great citadel of white stone. Two massive mahogany doors, rich as blood, marked the entrance. The doors were carved with intricate runes and strange animals. Each immense tower or turret had gaping windows, where soft white light radiated outward. And the roof…the entire roof was made of glass.

“To let the starlight in,” Marion murmured to herself.

The Celestial Academy for Fallen Stars.

Their new home.

No, Marion thought. Not my home. Never my home. I don’t belong here.

Setviren looked up at the position of the moon and then turned to the Prince and his wards. “Look at the time. You’ll all be late for class.”

The three let out a collective sigh of disbelief. “You’ve got to be kidding, Teach!” Khalid cried. “We almost got assassinated last night and we still have to go to school?”

“We’ve only just arrived.” Carmilla kept her voice calmer than Khalid’s. “Surely, there can be an exception—”

“There are no exceptions for members of the courtly house or even princes.” The loremaster gave an adoring look to Darius. “Hurry now. Your professors are waiting.”

“Come on.” Darius laughed and placed a hand on each of his friend’s shoulders. “We have to set a good example for the new students.”

“I’m always a shining example.” Khalid winked.

Marion didn’t miss the way the Prince grabbed Vivian’s hand, the lower pitch of his voice as he said only to her, “Setviren will take good care of you. Enjoy your first night at the Academy. There’s truly nothing like it.”

“This place is so…vast.”

“You’ll be fine.” Darius unclasped his heavy blue cloak and draped it around Vivian’s shoulders. “Although the wind can bring quite a chill this high up.”

“Will I see you soon?” Vivian touched the cloak’s clasp under her neck: a wolf made of silver.

“I’ll find you after class.” He held up his wrist, exposing a ribbon of blue. “I always do.”

Marion jumped as a warm voice caressed her ear, shocking her out of her eavesdropping: “Would you like a romantic send-off as well?”

Marion merely rolled her eyes at Khalid.

“I’d give you my cloak, but my Medihsan blood doesn’t handle the chill that well.” He placed a hand on her waist and swung in front of her. His jade eyes twinkled beneath the coloured lights. “If anyone gives you trouble, remember,” he leaned close, his lips upon her ear, “you belong among the stars.”

Marion’s heart stuttered against her chest. He was gone as quick as he had appeared, a shooting star. He was back with his friends, throwing his arms over Darius and Carmilla’s shoulders. “Be good, little Greywicks!” Khalid called as they melded into the night.

Marion touched the side of her face, where his warm breath had been just a moment ago. She shuddered.

She suddenly felt exposed without Khalid and his friends. Even though they were dangerous. Even though Darius was the damned prince of the whole kingdom. Even though Carmilla looked at her like she was evaluating her every movement. Even though Khalid made her want to simultaneously smack him and ask him what his favourite food was. She couldn’t deny there had been something comforting about their presence.

Now, the siblings were out in the open, where Setviren could shred them apart and lay out their pieces to examine.

A huge bridge lay before them, leading to the school. “This way,” Setviren said. “The headmistress awaits.”

Marion followed after Setviren and her siblings. Timothée and Vivian looked all around, their heads on swivels, taking in every stone, every sound. Marion could still feel the eyes of the Starlings back in the courtyard. Khalid was wrong about her. She didn’t belong here. Maybe Timothée and Vivian did, but not her. She belonged firmly on the ground.

The massive blood-coloured doors opened with a wave of Setviren’s hand. “You will be meeting with Lady Kassandra, the Archpriestess of the Celestial Church and the headmistress of the Celestial Academy for Fallen Stars.”

He walked swiftly ahead of them, but the triplets stopped all together in a line. As if they all had the same feeling.

“You may refer to her as ‘Your Holiness’, ‘Holy Mother’, ‘Your Eminence’, ‘Your Grace’, or ‘my lady’. Is that under—?” His voice echoed as he stepped into the entrance atrium. Setviren turned, noticed the triplets weren’t following him. “Whatever is the problem?”

The triplets held hands, their toes just reaching where the white brick of the bridge became the black stone of the Academy. The feeling sung in Marion’s heart, and she knew it sung in her siblings’, too.

A terrible destiny.

To take one more step…to enter the Celestial Academy for Fallen Stars…it would ignite a change within them that could never be undone. It would be to accept this terrible destiny, to give way to whatever wickedness sat dormant within their hearts. It would be to leave the earth for the constellations, never knowing if they would come down again.

With one hand, she held tight to Timothée, and with the other, Vivian.

A breeze rustled through their hair, slowly playing with the strands, and wafting through their clasped fingers. The breeze…

“Is that...?” Timothée asked.

“Lavender,” Vivian confirmed. “And salt air.”

For Father. For Vivian. Marion squeezed her siblings’ hands three times. They would face their terrible destiny together.

The Greywicks stepped through the doorway.

It was like stepping into a dream. The atrium was immense and felt like walking on the sky itself. Opulent navy rugs covered dark stone. Grand staircases led this way and that, leading up, up, up. The walls were decorated with shimmering constellations in the shape of winged horses, and giant bats, and flame-shrouded phoenixes. And the sky…starlight shimmered in from the glass roof. Marion felt it dance on her skin.

“Chop chop!” Setviren had a renewed confidence upon entering the Academy. “The Archpriestess has been waiting a long time to meet you.”

They followed dutifully behind the green-haired loremaster. “Lady Kassandra is a disciple of the goddess Rhaemyria. That makes her a Morning Star, and the most powerful one in Thraina. You’ll mind your manners around her. Don’t speak unless spoken to. If she offers you her staff, kiss it. Oh, and of course, genuflect!”

“What does genuflect mean?” Timothée whispered.

Marion shrugged.

Setviren led them down a dark blue carpeted hallway until they came upon two mahogany doors with no handles. They slid apart with a whish of his hand. Marion’s skin pricked with the magic.

“Please enter.” He motioned them through the doors. It led only to a small room, slightly bigger than a closet, carpeted in the same night blue.

“There’s nothing here—” Marion began, when Setviren stepped in with them. The doors whooshed shut with another flourish. “Wait, are you locking us—”

The loremaster rose his arms upward, white sleeves waving like an albatross’s wings. And the room…it moved. Upward! The triplets shrieked and held on to one another.

“Heavens me, I wouldn’t ask you to walk all the way up on your first night,” Setviren said as if the moving room were the most normal thing in the world. It surged up, up, up, and the prick of magic was so strong, tugging at the hairs on the back of Marion’s neck.

Setviren was doing this. Marion concentrated on his rising hands. Somehow, he was using star magic to move them.

“Steady now. Here we are.” With a jolt, Setviren lowered his hands and the room shuddered to a stop. The triplets were nearly on top of one another, sweating and shaking.

“Somehow, that was worse than the hot air balloon.” Vivian touched her forehead.

“Prepare yourself.” The doors slid open at Setviren’s command. “This is her office.”

The triplets stepped out of the moving closet. The office was a circular room made entirely of glass. It was like standing in a great orb. They were so high up, they seemed closer to the stars. Marion felt like she was sitting in the heavens upon a moon-carved throne, or swimming in a sea of starlight.

The room’s floor was shimmering gold, with a large ivory desk inlaid with gold leaf. The legs of the desk were two golden wyvern claws. White wooden easels held up strange maps of places Marion didn’t recognize. Crescent-moon bookshelves held tomes with runes instead of letters on the spines. A massive pearl statue of a phoenix, wings outstretched, body ensconced with fire, shimmered with nearby candlelight. And everywhere, everywhere, the stars watched, and waited, and—

From behind the phoenix statue, stepped out a creature.

Calling her a woman seemed an injustice, for her beauty was so immense. Marion’s heart stuttered in her chest.

“My lady,” Setviren rasped and the reverence in his voice made Marion’s spine tingle.

This woman…she looked like one of the elven princesses from Vivian’s favourite fairytales. Her hair was white-gold like moonlight, her skin an alabaster than seemed to shimmer as she walked. Her eyes were pale, two diamonds twinkling. She wore great white robes with golden trim, heavy and billowing enough to hide her figure. The robes were adorned with hundreds of tiny bells so she tinkled as she moved. In one hand, she held a black staff. Marion found herself nearly unable to look at her, she was so beautiful. And yet, she could not look away.

Setviren fell to a knee and bowed his head. Then he looked back at the triplets, standing dumbfounded. “Genuflect,” he snarled under his breath.

Clumsily, they all knelt. Marion was thankful she was forced to look down.

With slow, deliberate steps, the woman approached. Her feet were silent, but Marion could feel her presence as it neared.

“My dearest Setviren.” The woman’s voice was like an orchestra of every harp, every sweet bird song, every lullaby. “Is it true? Have you brought me this mighty gift?”

Marion peered through her golden sheath of hair to watch the woman extend a hand to Setviren. He looked up at her with a fervorous gaze. Something wilder than love, deeper than reverence. Complete and utter loyalty.

He accepted her hand and stood. “Yes, yes, Your Holiness. I have brought them. It is true. I saw it with mine own eyes.”

The Archpriestess walked over to them. Quickly, Marion looked down again. Her heart leapt like a rabbit.

“Look at me.”

Marion obeyed.

Lady Kassandra gazed down at the triplets, her diamond eyes drifting from one to the other. Her face was stoic. Standing above them in her immense white robes, she looked like a statue, carved of marble, forever staring. Marion felt tiny beneath her.

Eternity seemed to pass by as the Archpriestess watched them. Finally, she spoke: “Who is the eldest?”

Marion wanted to cry out, to lie and claim it was her. But Vivian’s voice rang strong: “I am.”

Lady Kassandra walked before her. “What do you call yourself, child?”

“Vivian. Vivian Greywick.”

Another beat of eternity passed before Lady Kassandra held out her staff to Vivian. Behind the Archpriestess, Setviren mouthed: “Kiss the staff!

Marion had a better view of it now: it was the strangest thing, long and straight, but made of a curious black metal. It almost seemed as if the metal were moving. Trapped shadows, misting up and down its length. And at the tip, caged in by metallic tendrils, was a large black gem. It certainly wasn’t any gem Marion would have chosen to adorn a special staff; this was lumpy, and the colour of coal except for a few veins of purple. The whole thing seemed entirely out of place for the lady’s starlight-white office.

Vivian looked anxiously from Setviren to the staff and then placed a tentative kiss upon the gem. When she removed her lips, her eyes were wide and questioning.

“You wear the Prince’s cloak.” The Archpriestess eyed Vivian.

“He placed it over her shoulders himself.” Setviren scurried forward before Vivian could answer. “And he was vehemently protecting her during the Dark Prophet’s attack.”

Marion had to stop herself from rolling her eyes. How about when Vivian had saved him?

“As your report stated,” the Archpriestess said.

“He met her before the festival, Your Grace,” Setviren continued. “It seems fate had already led him to a child of the stars. Perhaps it’s as we’ve discussed. The young prince may be the one—”

“I am well aware of your thoughts on the heir to Andúrigard, loremaster. Now,” the Archpriestess turned back to them, her robes filling the air with a musical chime, “who is the second eldest?”

Marion took a deep breath, wishing she could smell the lavender and sea spray from earlier. It had given her courage. She looked up and met the priestess’s diamond eyes. “I am.”

“What do you call yourself?”

“Marion Greywick.” Her voice was steady.

And then the gem was before her, that hideous rock, like smoke trapped in hardened soot.

Kiss it!” Setviren hissed.

The room began to spin. The rock and starlight, mixing together in terrible destiny. All she needed to do was place her lips upon it and the sky would stop swirling and she wanted to, desperately wanted to—

A shadowy writhing in her heart yearned for the rock and she had an image of yanking the whole staff out of Lady Kassandra’s hands—

“KISS IT!” Setviren’s shrill voice cut through the image.

Marion placed a kiss upon the gem.

A voice hissed inside her mind, Maaarionnn.

She looked up, startled. Who had said her name?

Lady Kassandra had already moved on to Timothée. She stood above him while he quivered. Marion longed to rush to him, but fear held her still.

“What is your name?” Lady Kassandra asked tentatively.


“Timothée.” The way the Archpriestess said it…it sounded like a snake’s hiss, a winter’s wind. The priestess looked at Marion. “This is your brother?”

“Yes,” Marion said. Who else would he be?

Lady Kassandra bent down, examining Timothée like a precious metal. “Child, tell me. Do you glow during the moonless nights? Like your sisters?”

Marion could see the fear and courage warring in her brother’s eyes. Her dear brother. He was always so foolhardy and brave. “Yes, ma’am—Your Holiness.”

Lady Kassandra stood, looked at her staff, but did not offer it to Timothée for a kiss. “Very well.” She returned to her desk and placed the staff down. “Rise, Greywick children. Rise and stand before me.”

With shaking legs, Marion obeyed. Her siblings stepped closer to her, and they huddled together, cowed beneath the Archpriestess’s presence.

The stoic expression upon Lady Kassandra’s face melted, and she offered a strange smile. Her sparkling eyes grew watery, and she placed a hand to her heart. “It is true. My children have returned to me. After nineteen years, my children have returned!”

She rushed to Vivian and brought her hands to her lips. To Timothée, she grabbed his shoulders, almost as if she would pull him into a hug. He stood stiff and offered an awkward smile. Then she looked at Marion and gave a shuddering breath. The Archpriestess placed a palm upon her cheek. It was cool and smooth as a rose petal. Marion felt herself lean into the touch.

“This must be so strange for you,” Lady Kassandra murmured. She ran her long fingers through Marion’s hair. “All your life, not knowing who you are…”

“We know who we are,” Marion said. “We’re the Greywick children.”

Your Holiness,” Setviren said under a cough.

“Y-your Holiness,” Marion added.

Lady Kassandra smiled. “Of course you are.” She dropped her hand and stepped back. “Do you know who I am?”

The Greywicks looked at each other.

Timothée said, “Y-you’re Lady Kassandra, the Archpriestess and headmistress here, My H-Holy Graceness.”

Setviren slapped a palm against his forehead.

Lady Kassandra smiled graciously. “Yes, my child. I am charged with the wellbeing of all the students of the Celestial Academy for Fallen Stars. But my greatest blessing…is the three of you.”

Marion felt a hollow pit open in her stomach. Lady Kassandra kept looking through each of them, this strange, longing expression on her face. And she kept raising and dropping her hands, as if she wanted to touch them but couldn’t. Marion crossed her arms over her chest.

“Setviren has told you the story. That you are the Lost Star Children. You were made in the heavens and gifted to Thraina.” Lady Kassandra’s lip quivered. “You are the children of the gods.”

The head of the whole bloody church believes this nonsense, Marion thought. Could this help us find Vivian’s cure…or hinder us?

Lady Kassandra turned away, a hand to her heart. “I was given life in this land to be a messenger for Rhaemyria, to pass on her teachings, and lead the flock in celestial righteousness. For this mission, I serve as Archpriestess and headmistress. But no role is so important as the one Rhaemyria gifted me nineteen years ago.” She turned back to them, jewel eyes flashing. “The role of mother.”

Setviren gave out a reverent sob.

“Rhaemyria sent you to me, so I may raise you in her stead. But I failed. You were stolen…” And then if she could not hold herself back, Lady Kassandra surged at them, grabbing their hands, touching their shoulders. The triplets stiffened in unison. “Now you have returned. Three babies of Rhaemyria and Xydrious! A union not seen since…since the time of…” Her eyes shimmered. “A power not seen in an age.”

“But, my lady,” Vivian said quietly, “we have no power. We just…glow. And only on moonless nights, at that.”

She smiled and stroked a gentle hand down Vivian’s face. “Of course, dear one. Your powers lie dormant within you. We must ignite them.” She turned to her desk and snapped a finger. “Setviren!”

Like a flapping bird, he was behind her. “Y-yes, Your Eminence!”

“There is to be a star shower tomorrow. Rhaemyria’s kin will not go a moment longer than necessary without their celestial fires burning within. Begin the arrangement immediately.” She sat behind her desk in a flourish of white robes. “Tomorrow night, the Greywick children will swallow their stars.”

Like an arrow to the heart, Marion stumbled backwards. Of course, this would be a requirement of attending the school. It was for Starlings, after all. But tomorrow…

To have that magic inside of you was to have it forever. And Father…

“No.” The word was out of her mouth before she could stop it.

Setviren gasped and nearly swallowed his lip. Even Vivian and Timothée gaped at her. But Lady Kassandra’s only betrayal of emotion was the barest quiver of her shoulders.

Marion stuck her chin in the air. I will not fear these people. “If we are the children of the gods, as you so claim, then why should we need to swallow a star to wield magic? We glow all on our own just fine.”

Slowly, Lady Kassandra rose. “Dear one, how do you think your mother Rhaemyria got her power?”

From the legends of desperate fanatics, Marion thought.

“Even the gods get their powers from the celestial bodies.” Lady Kassandra smiled as if she were explaining how to button a coat to a child. “It is what can be ignited within that marks the power.”

Fear and rage blazed through Marion in ragged breath and tightening fists. “And what if nothing ignites? What if it burns us from the outside in? Don’t lie to us! We know it can happen!”

An unspoken horror: every year hundreds of hopefuls attempted to catch a star upon the Isle of Argos. To swallow a star and be chosen meant attendance at the school, prestige and wealth, and a life in servitude to the church as a Starling. To fail to catch a star at all, as was destined to happen to most, meant returning home to whatever dull vocation you could acquire.

But to catch a star, to swallow it, and welcome the celestial flame into your body…but for it not to choose you…

Marion had seen the bodies returned from the Isle of Argos. The charred corpses. The screams imprinted upon the scorched skin.

Kassandra kept her soft smile as she walked to Marion, dragged a hand through her hair as if soothing a petulant dog. “Of course, it can happen. And it does. For if there is nothing to ignite, the star will feast instead. But you, child, were made in the heavens, crafted by the First Mother and the First Father. You were given life so as to save life. You were made to be ignited.”

No, no, she wasn’t made. She was a Greywick, born in Seagrass, a farmer’s daughter. “But Father said—”

Kassandra’s face shifted in a moment. Such loveliness changed into a vicious snarl. Terrible and beautiful, like a crack of lightning. “The man you call Father was a thief and a traitor. He has filled you with fear and poison. It is my greatest regret that he was able to smuggle you away from me.” Her hand tightened painfully in Marion’s hair. “And I will never lose you again.”

Then in an instant, her hand was lovingly petting Marion, and she smiled a soft and sunlight-bright smile. “Now, you must be very tired. Setviren, have them stay in the infirmary until we determined their houses and proper rooms can be prepared.” She turned, but said with a half-lidden gaze, “Children, I’m so very glad you’re home.”

The triplets followed Setviren out of the office and into the moving room. They stood in silence as it sailed downward and stopped in another strange, sumptuous hallway. Walked in silence as Setviren led them deeper within the academy.

Great fear gripped Marion with every step. But so did great determination.

She would meet this terrible destiny. She would meet it for her sister.

And if that meant she had to swallow a star, so be it.

No star would burn Marion Greywick from the inside out.

She was already on fire.

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