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Waves drenched the deck.

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Another minute and the monster would capsize us, dragging us all down to the ocean floor. But it was like a hydra—each time I swung the blade, another arm appeared. The eyes. A thought. Why was I hacking at the limbs? With a grimace, I drew back the knife and plunged it hilt-deep into the bulbous head. A gout of black fluid washed the deck, darker than blood; the tentacles writhed like a nest of snakes.

One caught me across the stomach, flinging me back. Dazed and gasping, I stared up as the arms fell slack around me. Was that a patch of night sky through the fog? Relief came in a wave. If the mist was clearing, that meant we were nearly safe out of the Margins. As I lay there, the beast slid off the stern, limp and liquid, and sank into the deep, and the ship rose in the water.

Pushing myself to my knees, I sucked in a breath. Then I staggered to the rail, ready to pull Kashmir up from the ladder. He was gone. I stared, stupidly, at the empty ladder, at the churning wake, at the thinning fog. I vaulted off the stern, hitting the dark waves like a hammer. The shattered sea collapsed over my head, but I fought the water, struggling upward, kicking frantically, finally bursting into the murky air. I spat. The ship had slowed in the storm. Still, it was sailing on faster than a man could swim.

We were both still in the Margins.


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Salt stung in my wounds like the tail of a jellyfish; there must be blood in the water, and not only mine. Was there another monster lurking in the dark, drawn by the flesh and the fray? I swam in the opposite direction. Beside me, something large splashed on the surface.

I shrieked, but it was only a buoy thrown from the ship. I slid my arm through the center and carried it with me as I swam. How long was the rope? Glancing back over my shoulder, there was nothing; the Temptation had vanished in the tattered fog. I had to find Kashmir before I followed. Or had the creature taken him under?

I slammed my mind on the question, like the door to a tomb. It was only the rope, wrapped around my ankle. All around me, the fog was clearing.

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I ducked under to loosen the loop from my leg, and when I resurfaced, I heard his voice. I had to reach him, now or never. Throwing my shoulder forward, I cut through the water, dragging the buoy along. I dreaded a tug on the rope. What would I do if Kash had drifted beyond my reach? The answer came to mind immediately; I would let go of the buoy. If the Temptation left the Margins without me, I might never see her again—nor Bee and Rotgut, nor my father.

But I kept swimming, and at the top of the next wave, I saw him in the watery valley. The wave dropped and he was closer; he kicked toward me on the next swell and I toward him. I pushed the buoy into his hands and just like that, he was in my arms. The dark sea had calmed, but I held him fiercely.

We floated up the next wave and down its back. But the fog around us was melting into the night air, revealing the Temptation. My father was at the stern, hauling on the rope with all his might. Bee threw down another rope for Kash; I looped it around his torso before sending him up the ladder. Water sluiced from his clothes, and there was a long strand of seaweed wrapped around one leg. His arms, usually so steady, shook as he climbed, so I stayed close behind him, murmuring encouragement.

Near the top, Bee and Slate lifted him the rest of the way. He tumbled over the bulwark and landed flat on the deck. I started toward Kash, still needing him close, but the captain crushed me in an embrace so tight he squeezed water out of my clothes. His shirt was bloody and torn, his face waxy and pale in the dark.

And in his eyes, an infinite sadness. I swore, rushing to his side as his shoulders shook. Not Tahiti, then. But maybe that was for the best.

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Wadding it up, he wiped the blood from his tattooed flesh. Under the ink, it was pale as smoke. Who was he, without his opium? Had I ever known my own father? Oblivious to my scrutiny, Slate leaned heavily against the bulwark and spat into the water, wiping his mouth with his arm. Then he closed his eyes and put his forehead down on the rail.

I know my fate. My father loved my mother. I knew it like I knew the position of the stars, or the pitch of the deck. His search for her had defined the last sixteen years—the entirety of my existence, for her life had ended as mine began. She was his safe harbor. Giving her up would be infinitely harder than giving up the drugs.

His knuckles were pale as he gripped the brass. Was he trying to convince me, or himself? After a long moment, he gritted his teeth and pushed himself upright. Then he turned from the rail and swore. Following his stare, my stomach sank like an anchor. He still wore his nineteenth-century suit, very dapper once, though the hat he used to wear had gone missing somewhere back in Honolulu.

Billie trotted up to him, wagging her tail slowly, but Blake ignored her, staring at the electric gleam of the glass fantasy of Manhattan. Over his shoulder, the green copper figure of Lady Liberty raised her spotlighted torch; back in his native time, Blake would not have even heard of her. New York had changed a lot since then—so much so that some longtimers found it unrecognizable. But even they would have felt more at home in the city than a boy from a bygone kingdom.

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A speedboat roared past us, the prow painted with leering teeth, the laughing shrieks of the passengers drowned out by the motor. A helicopter whuffed overhead, seeking the latest news. We passed a garbage barge heading south; the stench wafted to us along with the screams of the gulls. And Blake stood dazed on the main deck as the salt of the Atlantic curled his golden hair.

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And where are all the stars? A myth came to mind: a man cast out of paradise. But would any god be so cruel as to throw someone from Eden into New York City? As I stood there, hesitating, it was Kashmir who took his arm. You should still be resting. He too had come aboard with nothing but the clothes on his back; now he steered Blake toward the hatch with a surprisingly gentle hand.