The sky was getting bright, but the sun had yet to rise as Cole carried his saddle pad to his horse. He tossed it over Ranger’s back, but the quilted pad fell through the horse to the ground.
Cole whirled. “Dalton?”
His friend stood a short distance away, arms folded, leaning against a tree trunk. “Not bad?”
Cole picked up the saddle pad and shook off the dirt. “Really good, actually.” He swiped a hand through the horse, feeling only a vague, cobwebby sensation. “That looks perfect.”
“I moved Ranger last night after you conked out,” Dalton confessed. The illusionary horse disappeared.
“Couldn’t sleep again?” Cole asked.
“I tried,” Dalton said. “I couldn’t shut down my brain. It took some time.”
“Dalton!” another voice called. Taller than Cole and Dalton by a few inches, though not much older, Jace stormed over to them, his deeply tanned face flushed. “Where’s my saddle?”
Dalton cracked a smile. “Isn’t it over there?” he asked, pointing.
Cole followed his finger to where Jace’s saddle leaned against a mossy log.
“Ha-ha,” Jace said. “I already tried to grab it.”
The saddle vanished.
“That’s two really good seemings at once,” Cole said. “How long did you maintain them?”
“Since right before you two got up,” Dalton said. “Fifteen minutes or something.”
Jace huffed. “Good for you. Maybe you and Skye can set up your own dazzle show. Now where’s my saddle?”
Dalton looked around innocently, then craned his head back. Cole tracked his gaze up into a tree where a saddle straddled a high branch, and a laugh spurted out before he could hold it back.
“That better not be real,” Jace threatened. “I’ll drop it on your head.”
The saddle disappeared.
“Three seemings at the same time?” Cole asked.
“It’s over by that stump,” Dalton said, nodding toward the one he meant.
As Cole watched, the scarred old stump melted away to reveal Jace’s saddle. “Four,” Cole said. “And they all looked great.”
“Nice waste of time, Dalton,” Jace complained. “We’re on the run.”
“You’d do the same thing if you could work seemings,” Cole said.
“I’d make you two walk off a cliff,” Jace said.
“You’d kill us?” Dalton exclaimed.
“Into a lake,” Jace said. “I’d get two of the highest screams ever.”
“We’d cannonball in and make two of the biggest splashes ever,” Cole said. “Then we’d come for you.”
“I’d be pretty scared,” Jace said with a snort. “You guys better hurry up and get ready. We’re moving out.”
Cole turned to reach for his saddle, but Dalton restrained him. “Wait for it.”
Jace hoisted his saddle pad and saddle together, marched over to his horse, and flung them onto its back. The saddle fell through the illusion to the dirt. Jace turned and glared.
“Pick up the pace!” Dalton called. “The horsesTrapped in a world where magic is powerful and dreams are real, Cole continues his quest in book three of a “fanciful, action-packed adventure” series (Publishers Weekly, starred review), from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fablehaven and Beyonders series.
Cole Randolph ventures to a new kingdom as he continues his search for his friends—and also pursues his quest to mend what has gone awry with the magic in The Outskirts. Can he overcome the challenges ahead, or will he be stranded forever in a world between reality and imagination?