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Sacred Scars

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Sacred Scars

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Author: Kathleen Duey
Publisher: Atheneum, 2009
Series: A Resurrection of Magic: Book 2

1. Skin Hunger
2. Sacred Scars

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
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Sadima, Franklin, and Somiss, driven out of Limòri by a suspicious fire, are living in a cave hidden within the cliffs that overlook the city. Somiss is convinced the dark passages of the caves were the home of ancient magicians, and his obsession with restoring magic deepens. Sadima dreams of escape -- for her, for Franklin, and for the orphaned street boys Somiss has imprisoned in a crowded cage. Somiss claims he will teach these boys magic, that they will become his first students, but Sadima knows he is lying.

Generations later, Hahp is struggling to survive the wizards' increasingly dangerous classes at the Limòri Academy of Magic. He knows the fragile pact he has forged with his secretive roommate, Gerrard, will not be enough to put an end to the evil. It will take all the students acting together to have any chance of destroying the academy. Building trust, with few chances to speak or plan, will be almost impossible, but there is no choice.

The worlds of Sadima and Hahp move closer together in the second compelling installment of Kathleen Duey's brilliant trilogy, which began with the National Book Award finalist Skin Hunger, praised by Holly Black as "beautifully written, fierce, and unforgettable."


- 1 -

Sadima sat cross-legged on the cold stone, just outside the cage. She was holding her slate so the boys could see the symbol she had drawn. Most of them were trying to copy it. Two stolen lanterns hung from the iron bars above their heads, held in place by some Market Square merchant's missing tarp hooks. The rest of the vast cavern was dark.

Sadima pulled at a loose thread in her ragged skirt, listening for the sound of Franklin's footsteps in the long entrance passage on the far end of the big chamber. Somiss had no coins to spend, and they needed everything, so Franklin had become a thief. He left the cliffs at dark and returned at dawn, carrying sacks of stolen goods, swaying like a farm mule under the weight. He was nearly always exhausted when he got back, ready to collapse on his blankets.

Sadima pushed her hair back over her shoulder, wishing Franklin would come, trying not to imagine him running, king's guards close behind him. Thieves were often hanged. If the guards realized who he was, it would be worse than that. Much worse.

Sadima tucked her skirt between her bare feet and the cold stone. She had shoes, but they were buried in a box in the woods. She had meant to go get them long ago, before winter closed in. But Somiss had forbidden her to leave the dark passages inside the cliffs, and she knew that if she disobeyed him, he wouldn't punish her. He would punish Franklin. Sadima lowered her head to keep the boys from seeing her fear -- and her anger.

Somiss was clever. He was used to servants, silk, delicate pastries, the endless round of entertainments in his father's royal house. So was Franklin, in his own way. Neither one of them had understood what it would mean to live in the caverns and tunnels they had found inside Limòri's cliffs. Neither one had even thought of blankets.

Somiss had been violent at first, raging at Franklin, at the cold, the darkness, his own hunger and thirst. But night by night, Franklin had robbed the rich of their heavy woolen comforters until there were enough for all to sleep upon and under. Then he had brought lanterns, water buckets, food, paper, ink quills -- and everything else.

Sadima looked up. Most of the boys had stopped drawing. "Let me see what you've done," she said quietly. Six of the ten turned their slates toward her. Four had fallen asleep sitting up, chalk wedged between their fingers or dropped on the floor.

Jux's copy was nearly perfect, and when she smiled at him, he sat up straighter. "You're all getting better," she lied, looking one by one into the faces of the boys who had at least tried. Most of them avoided her eyes. The biggest boy, Mabiki, lay down, yawning and dull eyed. His dark, curly hair was filthy and tangled and when he reached to push it off his forehead, his slate skidded sideways. Jux leapt up and grabbed it, then passed it through the bars. Sadima set it aside, glad it hadn't broken. Jux and Mabiki. None of the others would tell her their names. Jux had explained it -- only the king's guards and magistrates had ever wanted to know. It scared them.

Sadima wiped her slate and drew another symbol. She held it up and the boys started over. At first they had jostled and argued; it had been hard to make them sit still for their lessons. Now they barely spoke, barely moved. They had come from hard lives; they were street orphans. It hurt Sadima to imagine that. No warm suppers. No one ever looking out for them. She was sure none of them had ever held so much as a lump of charcoal to draw a game of jump-and-stop on a boardwalk. Still, somehow, Somiss expected them to learn to fair copy.

Jux was looking at his slate, correcting a line. He was the only one who could draw the Gypsy symbols accurately -- and he was by far the fastest at Ferrinides letters. Sadima smiled at him again and he smiled back, lifting his chin. She nodded, then looked at the other boys in the cage to keep from staring at the terrible rose-and-putty-colored scar that crossed Jux's throat and disappeared behind his ear. How old was he? Seven? Eight? Someone had already tried to cut his throat. And now Somiss had put him in a cage.

Sadima thought she heard a sound and turned, hoping to see Franklin's lantern, a tiny amber star shining from across the darkness of the big cavern. But he wasn't back. Not yet. She drew another symbol for the boys to copy. Then another.

It was a long time before Franklin finally returned, his back bent under the weight of the supplies he was carrying. Sadima jumped up and walked toward the light of his lantern, leaving her own behind to have both hands free to help him. He kissed her. She closed her eyes to feel the touch of his lips more clearly. He would sleep all day, then be gone again at dark. Dawn and dusk; these were the only moments they had together now. I miss you. She started to say it, but he spoke first.

"Has Somiss come out of his chamber?"

Sadima took one of the heavy bags from him, hitched it over her shoulder. "No."

Franklin nodded. "Good. He's angry about something."

"At you?"

He shrugged. "I don't know."

But he did know. She could tell.

Copyright © 2009 by Kathleen Duey


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