Eudora and her admirers seemed in no hurry to end their discourse, so Hinck
the corner opposite the dais and waited.
More people entered, all masked. The chatter grew until a gong silenced it.
located the bronze disk on the back corner o
pulsing. The crowd parted as a man wearing a white bird mask made his way
White Raven, you disobeyed a direct order, Moon Fang said. Do you deny
No, Oli said.
You will be fed tonight, but you will not be cleansed. Do you understan
mouth. He tripped on his own feet, and a single drop of milky pulp slid down
like a shard of ice. He spit out the rest immediately, but it was too late. What
had he done?
He grew frigid inside, as if ice had melted into his veins. Every nerve t
Hinck suddenly wished he had heeded Olis warning and fled. Everyone here
recognize him, yet he knew only Oli. How was that fair? How could he tell
was involved in this cult when he could not see their faces?
The smell of lavender gusted ov
over the side, and he plunged headfirst into the sea.
Underwater, Kal could still hear the low rumble of the avalanche, but more than
felt it. Deep, powerful vibrations surged through the water around him. He
eyes, and the saltiness st
myself as High Queen.
Immense relief washed away shame. Qoatch stood before hera trained
to take her lifeand again she had granted him mercy. Humbled, his heart
bowed and departed, eager to please his Great Lady.
He would be dev
Jeruka! he yelled, relieved to know they would not sail off the end of a cliff.
We must be
nearing the bay.
Sand sprinkled down the cliff walls here and there like tiny waterfalls. The
straight ahead, but in the distance it narrowed and turned.
Ulrik, was that wise? Inolah asked.
Ulrik turned his delighted expression on Inolah. I cannot be certain, Mother,
but I am
beginning to think the priestess likes me more than she lets on.
The next morning, the fleet began to set out. The council had decre
priestess alone. It was incredibly foolish. The woman could have found a new
evenroot by now. She could kill Ulrik for his attempt to force her hand.
The door was not closed for long. Priestess Jazlyn shot out like a hawk, the door
banging in he
Qoatch turned the gown inside out and helped Jazlyn into it. The dress hung off
shoulders and pooled on the floor at her feet. Jazlyn lifted her arms to the side
and the girl
set to work.
Im sorry for your loss, Your Highness, the girl said. It must b
Im the prized heir of my family, Oli said, louder. My life should delight
Dont be daft! Olis father, Zeteo Agoros, ran out of the crowd. He gripped the
of Olis tunic and dragged him back from the king. Get on your horse, fool!
Oli fell to hi
Gells and the third pikeman walked on with Harton and Oli. Hinckdan crouched
Wilek. The earl grabbed his arm and helped him stand, slipping something cold
up Wileks right sleeve.
Sorry I can do no more, Your Highness, Hinckdan whispered.
Im certain there is a Tennish gown in the palace, the dressmakers maid said.
from High Queen Tahmina for the empress. But she could not recall what had
So Qoatch carried his dismal clothing options to his ladys chambers and
scraped against the burn like a razor. Hinck arched his back and whimpered,
trying to get
Oli did not coddle him. Now the tabard. Come on.
Hinck gave in and allowed Oli to dress him.
There will be a moment where you can spit it out, Oli said, cinc
No! People lunged up from behind, grabbed his arms, pushed him down on
The stone was cold against his chest and arms. He struggled against those
terror making him desperate. Stop! I changed my mind. I dont want it.
You have given y
the boy just as movement above captured his attention. Avalanche! he yelled.
They swept into a shower of sand and rocks. The wagon bashed against another
boulder in the rapids. A stone hit Kals shoulder, another his knee. Water was
physical trial in order to receive mystic wisdom. Do you accept?
There was more? I do, Hinck said, and hoped he would not regret it.
Remove your tabard and tunic and kneel at the altar.
Hinck stared at the man, then glanced over his shoulder at the wall o
Not luck, Onika said. Providence. And now I have a second protector.
might lose you for a time, Sir Kalenek, you will return to me someday. Never
Kal pondered her words as he swam slowly toward the others. Everyone had
you worthy, Hinckdan Faluk. A hundred souls agree. You have been given the
call. Do you
The room was silent.
Hinck swallowed. I do.
The Veil that hides the Sanctum of Mysteries is drawing aside. Will you
What kind of a game were these pe
The day passed in a blur. Ulrik assigned Sir Kalenek and his band to the
emperors warship. He asked the High Shield to help him keep an eye on
whom Ulrik had assigned to the same ship.
Inolah stood on the bow of the Baretam
she will do what is bestwhat is most prosperousfor her people.
Inolah relaxed, glad to hear Ulrik speak some sense regarding the priestess. She
was uncertain they had done right in keeping secret Jazlyns involvement in
Lhaten and killing
Jazlyn growled and strode back to the window. I want to go home. I am tired of
like a vagrant. I have begun to shake from the lack of consistent evenroot. Those
tails did little for my appetite.
Qoatch nodded. He would have to find his lady
has set aside a special place of torture for Rogedoth and his son.
Janek smirked. I am not his son, you fool.
Silence! Father waved to Gells. Circle the pole!
Will you stand, Your Highness? Gells asked Wilek.
Wilek and Harton leaned together, used each ot
Wilek ran to the right. The creature twisted to look for him. Wouldnt Barthos
Was this a god or an animal?
Oli clubbed the side of Barthoss head with the leg bone, which splintered,
top half of the bone hanging limp from
swiveled his head around and roared. Wilek seized the moment and ran.
God or not, they could never kill the beast, not like this. They were like two
fighting a desert cat that could swallow them whole.
Oli screamed in agony. Wilek glanced back and sa
sucked them into the ground, straight to the Lowerworld.
Are there any others who would give their lives to the god of the soil? Father
His anger against us burns. He continues to shake the earth, so we must honor
he might let us live. Go
The rattling swelled into an ear-piercing cackle. How Wilek hated that sound!
backed against the chute bottom, holding out the dagger.
Oli came to stand beside him. I have a feeling your dagger and my bone are
to make Barthos angry.
very hour. Do not make light of her words.
The prophetess had clearly won Kals support. Inolah wondered if he had
the pale woman. She was at least ten years his junior, but Inolah couldnt deny
was alluring in an alien sort of way.
canyon. Barthos crept upon him and roared, blowing hot, rancid breath into
Wilek gagged, gripped the knife tightly, and prepared to fight for his life.
Behind Barthos, a green light brightened the night. Wilek wanted to look to see
fell upon the woman. Her wails intensified, then quickly silenced.
People continued to dance. Some fell to the ground and thrashed about. Others
and went on dancing. The creatures continued to reach out, and Hinck denied
In the mids