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The Never King: Epilogue


What will it feel like, having my shadow back?

It’s been so long that I think I’ve forgotten how it felt to be full and flush with magic. To be able to create anything out of nothing. To feel the island’s beating heart.

I am suddenly desperate for it and terrified of it all at the same time.

We’re back in the loft. Vane is at the bar pouring us all drinks. The twins are on the couch with Darling nestled between them.

I have done a great many terrible things in my life and believing that I can be so lucky to have a great many great things now seems naïve.

Vane brings the glasses over. He’s chosen an aged whiskey that smells like smokey wood and caramel. I test a sip, relishing the burn.

“We ready for this?” Vane asks as he drops into one of the leather chairs.

“Ready as we’ll ever be, I suspect,” Bash says.

“What does this even look like?” Darling asks. “Like, does it have shape? Or is it just a puff of smoke?”

“It will look exactly like a shadow should,” I admit. “But the real question is, did Tink tether it to something when she put it in the box or will it dart away when we open it?”

“We’ll be ready to spring,” Vane says. “You have our word.”

I take another pull from the glass and set it on the table between us, right next to the little box. There is a single latch on it, no lock.

My heart is beating so hard in my chest, I can feel it in my teeth.

We all take a collective breath as I reach forward and undo the latch, putting my fingers to the lid.

We’re all leaning forward now, the anticipation, the excitement a palpable thing.

This is it, this is what I’ve been waiting for.

I push open the lid…

…and two shadows leap out.


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