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Dedication


For Emma.


Acknowledgment


Terri Windling set the stage, then let me bring on my troupe of players. I am eternally grateful.

Chapter 1—On the Elflands Express


I knew I was in the Nevernever when I saw a wild elf through the train window. Maybe I said something. Maybe I just stared like a tourist. The armless kid in the seat across from me said, “First trip to Bordertown?”

“Did you see—” I began. Then I caught her tone of voice. “Yeah. Big deal.”

I tugged up the collar of the too-big jeans jacket that I wore and scrunched down in my seat. We passed oaks and elms and sequoias, huge things that would’ve been made into tables or newsprint in the World. Two ravens flew overhead. I saw natural roses in bloom, the color of lips. Through gaps in the trees I could see the red waters of the Mad River. I didn’t see any more slim half-naked people with long white hair and pointed ears.

“It is,” the armless kid said. When I glanced at her, she added, “A big deal. If you believe in omens, it’s probably a good one. The nature types rarely show themselves near the train.”

“Yeah. They don’t like iron.” I didn’t care if the folklore was true. I wanted her to be quiet so I could watch the woods for signs of magic.

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