Chapter 1

Looking at how the drizzling rain fell from the gray skies, Emonael felt her rage building once more. The thought of how only two months before she’d have been standing in the kitchen, making mulled wine while her teacher wrapped a shawl around her shoulders, muttering about the way the rain made her bones ache, then immediately discussing her next experiment… Emonael’s anger was almost impossible to express, and by all rights the rain should be turning into steam on hitting her, it burned so hot within her breast.

“They should burn. They should all burn.” Emonael whispered venomously, her gaze falling to the port just barely visible through the mists, torches and lanterns flickering in the distance. The sea was choppy, and that suited her purposes perfectly, turning to face the sea, and the ship slowly making its way through the narrow passage into the bay below the cliff, and she smiled, adding. “However, that would be too good for them. No, I won’t make them into martyrs. They’ll be laughingstocks… and Teacher wouldn’t want me to.”

That was why she was high on the cliffside, and had been working with her magic for several hours, carefully creating the thin, almost imperceptible cracks in the stone. It wasn’t enough to make the cliff collapse, but she was going to deal with that soon enough.

“Come on, Lord Elwyn. Your death is waiting.” Emonael said, knowing no one would be near enough to see her.

The ship continued its approach, not realizing that it was sailing to its doom.


Earl Cathan Elwyn tapped his fingers on the railing impatiently as they approached Phedreth, anxious as he always was about entering the bay. The high cliffs surrounding the bay made it an excellent anchorage with plenty of natural defenses, but he didn’t like how narrow the entrance was, barely wide enough for two ships to pass side by side safely. Worsening his mood were the whispered rumors he’d already heard making their way through the earldom.

Not only were the pirates around Elwyn Isle acting up more than normal, giving his ships more work than he liked, but now people were starting to notice that High Mage Northwood hadn’t been seen publicly in just over two months, and that was about the time that there’d been an attack on Pharos’s new Mage Association. That had galvanized Tethlyn’s neighbor into fortifying the border, and with everything he’d heard coming out of the country, it put Cathan’s teeth on edge.

Biting back the impulse to curse aloud, due to the nearby sailors, Cathan stepped to the side so that he was under the awning covering part of the aftcastle to hold off the rain. He wished that His Majesty had called for a meeting earlier or simply had made a decision on what to do, rather than calling him back to the capital to discuss what to do. The king already knew Cathan’s opinion, since he’d been involved in the plans to cripple Pharos to begin with. Even if it had ended in disaster.


The flash of light from above barely preceded the deafening blast of sound, and Cathan flinched, ducking his head as pain spiked through him, then shook himself, his exclamation barely audible over the ringing in his ears. “Gods fury, that was close!”

“That it was, milord!” Captain Seld called back, sticking a pinkie in his left ear to try to clear it. “I’m glad we weren’t at sea when it struck, might’ve taken the mast!”

“Agreed, that would make this trip far worse. Still, we can do with every bit of luck we can get—” Cathan began, but cut off as faint sounds finally registered over the ringing in his ears, the sounds of popping, and he demanded. “What is that?”

“Sir, the cliff!” a sailor called out, panic in his voice, and the captain glanced up for an instant before cursing loudly.

“Hard to port, hard to port!” the man yelled, as Cathan looked up, blood draining from his face.

The cliffside was moving, and as he watched, half of it sheared off and began to fall toward him. The ship was just barely beginning to turn, and Cathan knew, just knew, there was nothing he could do about it.

Even so, he turned to race toward the side of the ship, hoping he could make it overboard before the rubble fell on them.

He was still running when it hit, and everything went black.


Emonael watched in satisfaction as the entire rear half of the ship vanished into the churning, now brown-hued water, the forward section of the ship lurching and beginning to sink as well. She’d seen her target on the rear half of the ship, which meant that he was likely dealt with.

“And if he isn’t, I can arrange an accident later.” Emonael murmured, her gaze drifting over to the channel as well, and her smile widened still more. No ships were getting out of Phedreth’s bay until the channel was thoroughly dredged, which would help stoke unrest. That she was perfectly fine with.

“Well, I think that was a fine day of work. Lots of earth-shaping, followed by a single, well-placed lightning bolt.” Emonael murmured, then pain surged through her as she realized how she’d been about to finish, closing her eyes. Then she finished anyway, anguish tinging her voice. “She always did like precision. It’s a down payment, Teacher. Tethlyn has a tab to pay.”

With that she turned to leave, not watching as the remaining half of the ship caught fire from a smashed lantern. There would be survivors, of that she was certain… but no one would know what she’d done. No, they’d blame it on bad luck, and possibly Fate.

If it weren’t for Damiya, she’d have left them with even more fear. Emonael had grown soft, it seemed.

Chapter 2