Somehow or other the red star had reappeared, burning a hole through the curtain of rain and darkness. Bigger, brighter, and closer it grew until I no longer had any doubt as to what it was. I recognized it as the Firebird returning.
I bit my lip as tears began to run down my cheeks, mingling with the flowing raindrops. “There must be another way!” I cried, craning my neck to look at the small gray bird. But the small gray bird had disappeared. In his place I saw three different birds occupying the spot of ground where the three ladies had so recently stood: the first, a raven; the second, a rose-red dove; and the third, a little brown sparrow.
“Use your cloak,” said the raven, and off she flew.
“Use your lamp,” said the dove, and she too fluttered away.
Use your apples – and use them wisely,” chirped the sparrow as the wind bore her out over the ocean.
I looked up just in time to see the Firebird stooping down upon me. I fell back a step, expecting to be snatched up in its powerful claws, as its hot breath swept over me. But it passed me by like a whirlwind of flame and flew circling out over the valley of the Watchers. I spun around to face it. Bending into a steep dive, it bore down upon me again. Nearer and nearer it came. I cowered, stumbled backward, and then I was falling, over the edge of the cliff, down through the swirling mists, straight into the terrible darkness of the crashing sea below.
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