Summer's Crossing

By: Julie Kagawa

Chapter One


And as I am an Honest Puck




Names.

What’s in a name, really? I mean, besides a bunch of letters or sounds strung together to make a word. Does a rose by any other name really smell as sweet? Would the most famous love story in the world be as poignant if it was called Romeo and Gertrude? Why is what we call ourselves so important?

Heh, sorry, I don’t usually get philosophical. I’ve just been wondering lately. Names are, of course, very important to my kind. Me, I have so many, I can’t even remember them all. None of them are my True Name, of course. No one has ever spoken my real name out loud, not once, despite all the titles and nicknames and myths I’ve collected for myself over the years. No one has ever come close to getting it right.

Curious, are you? Wanna know my True Name? Okay, listen up, I’ve never told anyone before. My True Name is…

Hahahaha! You really thought I would tell you? Really? Oh, I kill me. But, like I said, names are important to us. For one thing, they tie us to this world; they ground us in reality somewhat. If you know your True Name—not everyone in our world finds it—you’re more “real” than if you don’t know who you are. And for a race that has a tendency to fade away if we’re forgotten, that’s kind of a big deal.

My name, one of many, is Robin Goodfellow.

You may have heard of me.



Once upon a time, I had two close friends. Shocking, I know, given my natural charm, but there are those who just don’t appreciate my brilliance. We weren’t supposed to be friends, the three of us, or even friendly with each other. I was part of the Seelie Court, and they…weren’t. But I’d never been one for following the rules, and who knew Queen Mab’s youngest son could be such a rebel as well? And Ariella… I’d known Ash a long time before Ariella came into the picture, but I never begrudged her presence. She was the buffer between us; the one who could calm Ash when he slipped too far toward his ruthless Unseelie nature, or advised caution when one of my plans seemed a little…impulsive. Once upon a time, we were inseparable.

Once upon a time, I did something stupid. And lost them both in the process.

Which brings us to…now. Today. Where, once more, it was me and my former best friend, getting ready to head off on another adventure. Just like old times.

Except, he still hadn’t forgiven me for what had happened all those years ago. And he hadn’t really invited me along, either. I sort of…invited myself.

But if I made a habit of waiting for an invitation, I’d never get to go anywhere.

“So,” I said brightly, falling into step behind the brooding prince. “Grimalkin. We’re going to find him, right?”

“Yes.”

“Any idea where he is?”

“No.”

“Any idea where to start looking?”

“No.”

“You do realize that doesn’t constitute much of a plan, right ice-boy?”

He turned to glare at me, which I considered a small triumph. Ash usually ignored my goading. Anytime I could poke through his icy indifference was a victory. Of course, when poking the Winter prince, one had to proceed with caution. There was a fine line between irritation and having icicles hurled at your face.

He glared at me a moment longer, then sighed, raking a hand through his hair—a sure sign that he was frustrated. “Do you have any suggestions, Goodfellow?” he muttered, sounding reluctant to even ask. And for just a moment, I saw how lost he was, how uncertain of the future and what lay ahead. Anyone else wouldn’t have seen it, but I knew Ash. I could always catch those tiny flashes of emotion, no matter how well he hid them. It almost made me feel sorry for him.

Almost.

I grinned disarmingly. “What? Are you actually asking for my opinion, ice-boy?” I taunted, and that doubt vanished, replaced by annoyance. “Well,” I went on, leaning back against a tree trunk, “since you asked, we might want to check if anyone around here owes him a favor.”

“That narrows things down,” Ash said sarcastically. I rolled my eyes, but he did have a point. If we started naming everyone that might owe our feline friend a favor, the list would fill several books.