Odd Voice Out
Coming to your e-readers in 2021, the fifth and final exciting instalment of the Shadeborn series, by K. C. Finn.
The bright summer sun seemed unable to pick through the layer of silver clouds that always sat atop the hidden town of Pendle. But Lily Coltrane had no time for the sky or the shadepeople who walked freely on its cobbled streets. She had only one place to visit this day. Lily had been ushered through the musty, tumbling stacks of the booksmith’s shop by the ever-helpful Baines, but then the smiling old man had left her at the door to the back room. No words, no explanation. He knew she’d be back, just as Forrester had decreed, and that it would be when the time was right.
Lily took a breath, staring at the old wooden door for a moment. She knocked softly, her knuckles quaking a little as they wrapped the heavy surface. The door was so thick that Forrester wouldn’t hear it if the shop was being robbed out here. So Lily placed her palms on the door, channelled a little extra strength into her veins by way of gravity magic, and opened the door to peer into her grandmother’s crowded little living space. The antiquated room was filled with a blinding white light, so vivid that Lily leapt towards it, suddenly on guard for some foul magic at play. But Forrester was sleeping peacefully in her rocking chair, and the bright white light had taken the form of a cloud. It emanated from the space around her grandmother’s head and, inside that pocket of light, figures were moving. The ancient shadewoman’s face was slack and soft.
Forrester was deep in a dream, and Lily could see it.
They moved in that translucent way that dreams sometimes did, where backgrounds lost their details and people blurred in and out of focus. Lily thought that she could make out an azure sky and brilliant red long-grass on the dream’s horizon, but the closer scene had deep, black clouds closing in on its edges. There was a figure in blue – or perhaps he was blue – who shimmered as he stood tall above a collection of other people. There was a boy who seemed to be made of words and a girl who looked like a ghost, and behind them stood an elegant figure whose head appeared to be silver.
And at the front of the party, there was Novel.
Lily was certain that she could see her beloved Lemarick in Forrester’s dream. His white hair shone atop his thin frame, a black suit making his arms and legs look long and spindly. Novel was facing the large blue figure at first, but he turned in a sweep of monochrome and seemed to gesture back towards the other people. Another figure, shorter and less slender, stepped forward. She had long, red hair that shone like the long-grass. Lily gulped hard at the image, trying not to see the resemblance to herself there.
There was a flash in the dream, and the whole of the bright light shook within Forrester’s room. Lily watched in horror as the dream-Novel cast wild lightning into the darkening scene, and the boy of words and the ghost girl fell to the ground. The silver-headed man tried to fight against Novel’s attack, but he too was swallowed and struck by bolts from every direction. Then, there was only the large blue creature, Novel and the thing which looked like Lily. Novel cast again, and Lily fell to the ground too. He loomed over the supine figure. The girl who would never get back up.
Lily cried out, and her voice echoed through the little room.
Forrester awoke with a start, and the bright dream instantly vanished into nothingness. Lily cursed at once, desperate to see the dream world again and know its meaning, and the little old woman in the chair gave her a chiding tut. One of Lily’s hands snapped to rub the back of her neck, pushing away the clammy beads she found there. Forrester folded her little wrinkled hands, opening her eyes wide enough that her bright blue irises sparkled out from deep sockets. She waggled a finger skinny as a tree stick at Lily.
“That’s no way to go. Cursing in front of your Granny.”
“Sorry.” Lily brought her hands together at her handbag, clutching the straps and fidgeting there. Forrester had said the ‘G’ word already, and that made the opening of their conversation so much easier to broach. Lily took a breath before she started. “So, you knew? You knew I was a Schoonjans when I came to you earlier this year?”
The ancient lady nodded, patting her knees. “I saw it in my dreams, a long time before you came to me, and I asked your Lemarick not to tell you at first. You had to be ready.”
The mention of his name stung Lily deep in her heart, but she swallowed hard until the shaking feeling in her gut passed. “Your dreams. I saw them, just now. Are you saying that you can predict the future when you sleep?”
Lily must have looked hopeful, for Forrester reached out for her granddaughter’s hands. She stepped closer to reach them, and they touched with warmth. Lily felt the old shade pat her palms gently. It was an oddly comforting sensation. But then Forrester heaved a little sigh.
“Not all of it, sweet girl. I’m sure you already know that the future is changeable. But all shades have a little gift of prophecy in their dreams, and it does improve with age. You must have had that feeling, sometimes, that you have already dreamed something that’s happening now.”
“Deja-vu.” The words left Lily’s lips softly as she nodded.
Forrester patted her palms again.
“That’s what the humans call it, dearie.” They broke hands, and the grandshade adjusted her silver nest of hair after her sleep. “Try not to heed my dreams, precious girl. They are mixed in with the addled imagination of a very old lady, after all.”
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