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“It hurts,” he whispered.

“What does?” asked Kate.

“Being. Not being. Giving in. Holding out. No matter what I do, it hurts.” Kate tipped her head back against the tub. “That’s life, August,” she said. “You wanted to feel alive, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re monster or human. Living hurts.”

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Whatever he was made of — stardust or ash or life or death — would be gone.

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

In with gunfire and out with smoke.

And August wasn’t ready to die.

Even if surviving wasn’t simple, or easy, or fair.

Even if he could never be human.

He wanted the chance to matter.

He wanted to live.

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Corsai,Corsai

Tooth and claw,

Shadow and bone

Will eat you raw.

Malchai,Malchai,

Sharp and sly,

Smile and bite

And drink you dry.

Sunai,Sunai,

Eyes like coal,

Sing you a song

And steal your soul.

Monsters,monsters,

Big and small,

They're gonna come

And eat you all.

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We are not servants. We are not slaves. We are wolves among sheep. Monsters among men. And we will rise.

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He wasn't made of flesh and bone, or starlight.

He was made of darkness.”

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He could be the monster, if that kept others human.

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“It was a cruel trick of the universe, thought August, that he only felt human after doing something monstrous.”

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I live in a world where shadows have teeth. It's not a particularly relaxing environment.

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I read somewhere," said Kate, "that people are made of stardust."

He dragged his eyes from the sky. "Really?"

"Maybe that's what you're made of. Just like us."

And despite everything, August smiled.

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But the teacher had been right about one thing: violence breeds.

Someone pulls a trigger, sets off a bomb, drives a bus full of tourists off a bridge, and what's left in the wake isn't just she'll casings, wreckage, bodies. There's something else. Something bad. An aftermath. A recoil. A reaction to all that anger and pain and death.”

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