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“Thian is a world with magic.” Bastien stood, making his way over to the window. “It’s the reason we’re here.” He thought back to his own arrival, and how complicated it had been. Lottie seemed to be taking it all much better, but then there was no way for him to know what she was truly thinking or feeling. “Someone who’s given the chance to call Thian home is here because the world wanted to give them another chance to live out the life they should have had.” Running his tongue over his lips he turned to look at her. “You do know how you’re here, don’t you?”

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Travelling from one world to another is something I have never much enjoyed. People judge me based on what they see, and, of course, what they see is only a tiny part of who I am. My clothes might not be the newest fashions, but they keep me safe from the things I know I’ll be dealing with when I finally get to Deotis. I’d rather be protected than look good. Of course that tells them I’m a treasure hunter, which means, obviously, I have no morals. I am willing to do whatever I have to in order to get whatever it was I was hired to get. Yet, to me, that defines a thief, and I’m not a thief. I would say I’ve never stolen anything from anyone, but that would be a lie. I have to admit I have stolen, from the bodies of people who would have killed me had I not killed them first, and I don’t have any regrets about that choice. Sometimes it’s been the only way I was able to survive.

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There were two things Claire noticed as she made her way around the hotel – it was empty of guests, and it was far bigger on the inside than it was on the outside. Knowing the fae the latter was to be expected, but the former was unsettling. Earning a living from something like a hotel meant having guests, although it was possible Bran’s death… the story he’d told her wasn’t easy to believe, and yet it was one she’d heard so many times. People who’d never thought for a moment they might have fae blood were finding that, actually, something had happened in the past that had led to that being a possibility. Sighing, she raked a hand through her hair. Her blood meant she was the one to inherit the hotel. Her blood meant she was probably going to be stuck with the place until she died.


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With Riordan gone Tegan looked at her parents. They looked back at her, and it was easy to see the worry in their eyes. She hadn’t been careful enough. If she had been she never would have been found, but there was nothing she could do to change what had already happened. It was done. All she could do was accept it, while trying to work out what her next step was going to be, because the one thing she knew for certain was that the fae were not going to be happy about the existence of those who could walk the worlds. Everyone knew they hated not being in control. Anyone who knew anything about the Web of worlds was certain they were never going to be in control. They’d used magics they didn’t truly understand, and those magics were already changing on them.

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There was only one person who would knock on my door at 3am. For a moment I lay in bed, hoping he’d go away, but then he knocked again. “Lily.” His voice was little more than a whisper, but I could hear him like he was right beside me. “Come on, little sister. I need you.”

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When Nate walked in with Adrianna on his arm I knew exactly what he, and his brother, were doing. Had it not been for Richard Nate would never have known who she was. That would have been better for everyone involved. Seeing the pain in her eyes when she realised the man she loved was betraying her… had I been anyone else I would have been able to comfort her, but I wasn’t. She didn’t trust me, and that I understood. I was the Duke of West, a title that came with certain connotations that I’d done nothing to dispel when I inherited it, knowing that they would help me in the future. People who looked at me saw my father’s son. People who got to know me quickly realised I was nothing like my father. Adrianna didn’t know me. There was a chance she would never see past the person I pretended to be.

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As the House came closer Diggory slowed. Emmett glanced at him, before turning his attention back to the woman they were mostly carrying between them. Even though Diggory had the strength to carry her alone it was better that he didn’t, because the wound was enough for him to want to feed from her, and after all the hard work they’d done neither of them really wanted him to do something he would later regret. “We made this decision together.”

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No matter how strong you were dealing with the walking dead was never a simple proposition. I fought, the way I always had, but I was tired. Being tired was what had killed my companions, and I wasn’t going to join them. Killing all of them, which might not even be possible, wasn’t something I needed to do, but creating myself a path was. With every kill I took another step forward, another step out of the pack I’d found myself trapped in the middle of. I felt like I was going to get out, at least until some of the fallen stood again. Of course they did. Right when I was close to freedom. For a moment, I’ll admit, I thought about giving up, but I couldn’t. I had to keep going.

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Every report Thomar read seemed worse than the one before. Sighing, he looked out of the window, seeing his city untouched by the illness, and realised, the same way his parents and brothers must have, that their only hope was the Magi. Convincing the Magi to help them seemed impossible. It had been centuries since the Magi had been kept as slaves, yet they still hated the Carne for what their ancestors had done. He didn’t know how he’d feel if he was in their position, even though he hoped that he would have been able to forgive and forget, but he accepted their hatred because he could easily imagine hating the Magi if things had been the other way round.

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Jared watched the window. “We shouldn’t be doing this.”

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Everyone heard the post come through the letterbox. No one moved for several minutes. It was another day that would change the lives of multiple people. On the other days I’d been lucky. There hadn’t been a letter for me on the doorstep, but we knew it might not last, and finding it was something none of us wanted to do. When far too much time had passed I stood. I couldn’t wait any longer. I needed to know. Before I was anywhere near the pile of letters I could see it. People had posted what it looked like for others, so I knew it was there. What I didn’t know was which of us it was for. Even though it would be hard I wanted it to be for me. Having to watch my baby sister step onto one of those ships was something I really didn’t want to do. We all knew it was just the World Government clutching at straws. Nothing else they’d done had worked the way they wanted it to. That, for some reason, led to them thinking they should send some of us out there, to find new worlds to colonise. Like we believed it was actually going to happen.

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Clouds filled the sky. They’d been disappointed too many times before for Kaori to let herself get excited, even though she couldn’t help hoping it might finally happen. She watched closely. When something fell from the sky, something that definitely wasn’t rain, she smiled. Relief flooded her body as she ran the bell to tell everyone to get inside. Instead of it being rain it was what they’d needed for far too long. In not time at all the streets were filled with nuggets.

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Without opening my eyes I rolled to turn my phone alarm off. Instead of finding my phone, in the place where it should have been, my fingers hit a lamp. I lay still for a few seconds, my fingers on that lamp. It was real. I could feel it, even though I wished I couldn’t. The familiar sound of my alarm continued, as I accepted the fact it had happened to me, because I didn’t have any other option. Everyone had heard stories about people who’d found themselves living out the storyline from one of their favourite books, becoming a part of one of the T.V. series they watched, or learning the truth about a game they’d played. No one ever really thought it would happen to them until it did. I’d never once thought I would be one of those people, only I was, so I needed to work out where I was… and who I’d become.

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There had been nothing written about what would happen if a man reached black level. Some had said that their lack of knowledge put them at a disadvantage and it turned out they were right. Ixia looked back at the building she had called home for her entire life. No one had been sure that he could even become a black mage. Very few people actually managed it. Everyone knew that if he did it would change the world forever. She sighed, holding tightly to her bag strap. They just couldn’t know how it would change and she didn’t think it had ever crossed anyone’s mind that he would learn death magic.

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Looking around the room gave Silvana an idea of what she was up against if she was going to try freeing her people from the Carne. She knew everyone was there because they believed in her, but she wasn’t sure if she believed in herself. At least a hundred pairs of eyes stared at her and she wanted to give them something they’d never had before, as they’d all been born in servitude, but she was scared. Every one of them depended on her to find a safe home and food for them all, when she had no more of an idea of what faced them than anyone else.

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For a long time all Lottie could do was stare at the options in front of her. It definitely wasn’t what she’d been expecting. She’d read about the light, and the door, and all sorts of other things, but she’d never once heard about someone who’d died being faced with the choice of pressing one of three buttons. Heaven sounded boring, to be honest. The last thing she wanted was to end up somewhere that was meant to be perfect. Hell… well, she’d heard a lot about hell, and she couldn’t be certain that any of it was true, but that didn’t meant she wanted to put herself in danger of being tortured for the rest of time. After thinking it through it seemed like the only thing she could do was press ‘New Game’ and hope for the best.

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The day had begun the same way Electra’s days always began. Once she was out of bed and sitting at the table with her breakfast she went through the list of jobs she had to do. Most people came to her because she could repair creatures created with living clay, but there were a couple of orders for new creatures. Brendan had sent her another auction brochure, wanting to know her opinion on some of the creatures that were being sold, and Menolly was working on a new board that needed testing. As they were Electra’s siblings, and they were in business together, she knew she would make time for them, even though it took her away from the things she loved doing.
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It was late, much later than I’d normally be walking home, but things had taken longer than I thought they would. After trying on what felt like hundreds of dresses, drinking a couple more glasses of wine than was usual for a Monday afternoon, and having a long chat with my helpers (my mum, my younger sister, and my best friend), time had flown by, and instead of heading home at four in the afternoon, which would have been quite late enough as the days got shorter, it was seven in the evening. While I was walking I was watching the sun set and hoping that I’d be home before too many vampires woke up.

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The Many Worlds of K. A. Webb

July 2017

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