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Nightbane: Chapter 47

GONE

When Isla awoke that morning, she startled out of bed. Oro was next to her in a moment. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Not wrong,” she said, frowning. “Just . . . a development. The Wildling healing flower, the rare one?”

He nodded.

“It’s nightbane.” She said it like it was the biggest news in the world, but Oro just looked at her.

“What’s nightbane, love?” he asked.

Oh. She sometimes forgot that he wasn’t in her head. There was an entire life she was currently living internally that he didn’t know about.

She closed her eyes. Breathed. “Nightshade has fields of the Wildling flower.” Isla didn’t know what to do with this information; she just knew it was important. “I—”

Suddenly, her head was pounding. She bent over and felt Oro race to her side. She blinked, but she wasn’t seeing in front of her.

No. She was seeing a forest.

She knew that forest. It was right outside Wren’s village. There was a pull in her chest, a desperation, a call.

Lynx.

Somehow, she was seeing what he was seeing right at this moment.

Just as she wondered about the connection between bonded, she saw him.

Grim.

He was in the Wildling village. No. Fear gripped her chest.

Lynx leaped forward. He raced through the trees, to the village. Before he could reach any of the villagers, though, the vision vanished.

“I need to go to the Wildling newland,” Isla said, her voice just a rasp, her hands shaking.

“I’ll come with you.”

She portaled her and Oro to the village, the same way she had done almost every day for weeks.

Silence.

Isla portaled to another, smaller village, which had been filled with singing and laughter and the snap of weaving with wood and vines the last time she visited.

It was empty.

She went to another. Empty.

Every house was vacant. Crops that should have already been collected that day remained untouched.

She portaled back to the outskirts of Wren’s village, where the small patch of deep-purple flowers had been planted and extracted. It was where she and Enya had just finished cataloguing it all.

The healing elixirs that they had spent weeks producing were gone.

Gone.

“Isla,” Oro said, putting a hand on her arm. Lynx broke through the brush. His eyes were wide, angry.

No.

She’d finally faced her people, gotten to know them—

And they were gone.

It was in her room in the Wildling palace that she finally found a note. Its seal was as black as melted-down night sky, and bile rose up her throat. It confirmed what Lynx had shown her.

I’ve brought them to Nightshade, it said. They’re waiting for you, heart. We’re all waiting for you.

A chill dropped through her stomach. Darkness bloomed.

The paper disintegrated in her hands, blowing away in a few pieces of ash, and she raged. The stone in her room rippled with her anger. Her wooden door flew off its hinges, collapsing against the opposite wall. The spot beneath her was tinged with darkness.

Lynx made an angry sound as Isla broke down completely in front of Oro, sobbing into his chest. “He took them,” she said. “They’re gone. They’re all gone.”


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