The Great Adventure of Gregory Almes (excerpt)

This side story introduces a character you'll get to meet in book 2. His name is (you guessed it) Gregory Almes, and this is his love story. (Awwww…) It's also interesting because it explains more about two unique gifts: readers and feelers. But did I mention the love story part? Yeah, totally—read it for the love story!

— Lauren

Gregory Almes was thirty-one years old when Adventure decided to marry him.

Some people might consider thirty-one a little too old for her, but Adventure didn’t think so. She liked the way he frowned. She also liked the way he spent so much time in his library, and she liked how smart he was. He was a reader, and readers had a very intelligent way of looking at the world.

They also hated everyone, which Adventure found amusing.

Gregory constantly griped about this man or that man, and he obviously thought himself better than every person around him. It was wonderfully refreshing. Adventure found many things amusing about Gregory Almes, and when she told him they should get married, he spilled his tea all over his desk.

“I would never marry a feeler,” he told her straight out and gave her one of his severe, endearing scowls. “If you ever mention this again, your family could lose their position in my home.”

We’ll see, she thought and flounced away, knowing he would do exactly what she said. He hadn’t said, “I would never marry a servant.” He had said, “I would never marry a feeler.” That was an important difference. It must be that he didn’t mind she was from a poor family. She knew he was arrogant—he was thoroughly arrogant—but it had nothing to do with his wealth. It had to do with his mind, and she already liked that part.

The only thing that bothered him was that she wasn’t a snotty-nosed reader, like he was. And, well, there were ways to get around that.

Having made up her mind, fourteen-year-old Adventure started reading. Every book. Every free hour. All the time. She went to his library and chose a bookcase and a certain shelf on that bookcase and started left to right. Gregory allowed his servants and the families of servants to read whichever of his books they wanted. The books couldn’t be taken out of the library, of course, but that was all right, because Gregory used one corner of the massive room as his study. This meant Adventure would be able to keep an eye on him...

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The Night Hamal Delivered the Baby (excerpt)

This is the story of how Hamal meets Cally the flamemaker and goes with her to live with the flamemakers in South Barrow. I love this story because it shows what Hamal looks like from someone else's perspective…and it also shows how cool he is! Did you know he has a lot of experience delivering babies?! Neither did I!

— Lauren

As she mopped the sweat from her sister’s brow, Cally eyed the healer standing on the other side of the bed and tried to think positively. It wasn’t the boy’s fault he was young. Nor was it his fault that the healer they had carefully saved for—taking extra jobs, going without sleep and food and repaired boots to pay for—was nowhere to be found the night they needed him.

Ruby had gone into labor last night, but when they sent for the healer they had “purchased” to come as agreed, no one had been able to find him. After a desperate search, Essek had sprinted to the mission for another healer and found only one: this child. Was he a talented healer? No, he was a boy who wasn’t trusted with the hard cases—he had actually volunteered that information on the way to the public birthing house. He did only small healings at the mission, like broken fingers. Scrapes and bruises.

His name was Hamal. And he barely looked capable of putting on his boots...

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