Monday, May 13, 2013
The Madness of Crows: Part Eight
THE CAILLEACH OIDCHE'S FACE was a Kabuki mask, white-skinned and red-lipped, the white hair that spilled over her shoulders streaked with brunette. Her eyes were not gold, but the silver of the otherworld.
Annie stepped back from the cold hate she saw in the owl girl's expression,, even knowing it wasn't directed at her, but another. She breathed out, "I'm sorry about Nathan Clare, the boy who lived here, about what happened to him. I know he was Jack's friend. And Jack..."
The Cailleach Oidche bowed her head. "It was the Wolves killed my Nathan, little rabbit. Now listen carefully to what I tell you. First, armor yourself with things from loved ones..."
Go to his place of power. You must confront him in his domain. If you are drawn Between, touch one of your talismans. You mustn't stay long, or you will be lost. Your girl will be disguised but in plain view. Touch her and speak her name.
The children of nothing and night had wanted Annie to feel helpless.
In her room cluttered with second-hand books, earth-scented candles, wind chimes, sunflowers, and crosses of iron, silver, and oak, Annie prepared for battle. She chose a T-shirt painted with a silver unicorn, a gift from her friend Sylvie Whitethorn. The jeans sewn with pearl buttons up the sides had belonged to her sister, Angyll. She fastened Tess's chain of plastic daisies around her left ankle. Around one wrist, she knotted a bracelet of silver charms given to her by a girl named Finn, who'd had her own encounters with the others and who was now like an older sister.
The Fata, the loas, the spirits found power in mortal poetry, so words would be Annie' s weapons.
It was called MoonGlass and it was one of several abandoned mansions on the Hudson, a collection of fairy-tale towers and stained-glass windows with lunar themes. A moon face smiled above the doors. The gates before the tangled lawn were made of bronze, not the iron that would have kept Them out. MoonGlass was one of the places used by Them, the perfect setting for the world Tess had imagined, and Annie could think of no other place in which Tess's particular Fata would nest.
"Atenoux." In Celtic, Atenoux meant 'returning night'.
As she moved up the path toward the house, she tugged a tiny, wooden box from one pocket of her coat. The Cailleach Oidche had given her something to help her into the Borderlands. She took from the box a mushroom the color of new snow and placed it on her tongue.
The true world melted. Weird shadows slanted across the trees to either side. She heard a sound like the tick-tocking of a gargantuan clock. The evening was painted with purple, the air tainted with the fragrances of an alien land.
She flinched as a massive beast seemed to emerge from the night -- the statue of a horse, its black marble hide reflecting the red sky. Beyond it, the doors of the house were open, revealing a lamplit hall with a chessboard floor. As Annie moved up the stairs, she saw who waited for her within.
Seated in a red chair was Nadine, and she was flanked by her Magpie Knights, their ivory blondeness radiant.
"Come over the threshold," Nadine called, "Annie Weaver."