Blood of Empire
As the final battle approaches a sellsword, a spy, and a general must find unlikely and dangerous allies in order to turn the tides of war in this epic fantasy tale of magic and gunpowder by acclaimed author Brian McClellan.
The Dynize have unlocked the Landfall Godstone, and Michel Bravis is tasked with returning to Greenfire Depths to do whatever he can to prevent them from using its power; from sewing dissension among the enemy ranks to rallying the Palo population. Ben Styke's invasion of Dynize is curtailed when a storm scatters his fleet. Coming ashore with just twenty lancers, he is forced to rely on brains rather than brawn—gaining new allies in a strange land on the cusp of its own internal violence. Bereft of her sorcery and physically and emotionally broken, Lady Vlora Flint now marches on Landfall at the head of an Adran army seeking vengeance against those who have conspired against her. While allied politicians seek to undo her from within, she faces insurmountable odds and Dynize's greatest general.
Continue the epic fantasy series by the author whose debut novel Brandon Sanderson called "just plain awesome!"
Release date: December 3, 2019
Print pages: 672
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Blood of Empire
Ka-Sedial meditated in a pool of sunlight on the top floor of what had once been Lady Chancellor Lindet’s townhome in Upper Landfall. It was a gorgeous room, filled with art, astronomical instruments, rare books, and engineering puzzles; the playground of someone who views education with a passionate eye. He’d left it largely untouched since taking control, and he had decided that he quite liked the previous owner. He and Lindet would have a very long, interesting discussion before he cut off her head.
He sat on a cushioned stool, facing east through a great stained-glass window, his eyes closed as he enjoyed this moment of quiet. Quiet was, after all, a rare luxury. He wondered if it would cease altogether in the days to come. Most people thought that ruling was a luxury. He scoffed to himself at the very thought. Ruling was a duty, a terrible responsibility that few approached with any measure of real success.
A rap on the door interrupted his ruminations, and Sedial rubbed at the pain persisting behind his left eye before placing his hands serenely on his knees. “Come.”
The door opened to reveal the face of a middle-aged man with hard, angular features; a square jaw; and a military bearing. He was of middling height with a powerful frame wrapped in the black tattoos of a dragonman. Ji-Noren was, officially, Sedial’s bodyguard. In reality he was Sedial’s spy and military master, and one of about a dozen dragonmen that claimed loyalty to him rather than to the emperor.
“Yes?” Sedial asked.
“We found the girl.”
“The one you gave to Ichtracia.”
Sedial snorted at the mention of his treacherous granddaughter. “Bring her in.”
A few moments passed before Ji-Noren ushered in a petite Palo woman of about nineteen. She was very attractive, if Sedial had been young enough to still enjoy that sort of pastime. She trembled violently as Ji-Noren laid one hand on her shoulder. Plucked from among the poor natives in that immense slum, Greenfire Depths, the girl had been meant as a peace offering to Ichtracia, a slave to do with as she wished. Ichtracia had simply released the girl and ignored Sedial’s orders.
Sedial looked the girl over for a few moments, reaching out with his sorcery in an attempt to find even the faintest trace of his granddaughter. If they had spent any amount of time together, there would be something there, even if just a whisper.
He produced a leather wallet from his sleeve and unrolled it to reveal a number of needles and glass vials. He drew one of the needles. “Give me your hand.” The woman inhaled sharply. Her eyes rolled like a frightened horse, and Sedial almost commanded Noren to cuff some sense into her. Instead, he reached out and seized her by the wrist. He pricked a vein on the back of her hand, smearing the drop of blood with his thumb before releasing her.
He ignored the frightened sound she made and stared hard at the splash of crimson. He took a few shallow breaths, touching the blood with his sorcery, feeling it create a bridge between his body and hers, between his mind and hers. “When is the last time you saw Ichtracia?” he asked.
The girl’s bottom lip trembled. Sedial squeezed ever so gently with his sorcery, and words suddenly spilled out of her. “Not since the day you left me with her. She sent me away within minutes of you leaving!”
“And you have had no contact with her since?”
“Do you have even a guess at where she might be hiding?”
“I don’t, Great Ka! I’m sorry!”
Sedial sighed and wiped the blood from his thumb using a clean scrap of cloth from the table beside him. He returned the needle to his wallet and rolled it up, then flipped his hand dismissively. “She knows nothing. Return her to the Depths.”
Ji-Noren gripped her shoulder, but the woman refused to turn away. Her eyes locked on to his, her teeth chattering. “You…”
“I what, my dear?” he asked impatiently. “I’m not going to torture you?” He gave her his best grandfatherly smile. “Believe me, if I thought it would be of any help, you would be on the way to my bone-eyes at this very moment. But you are nothing more than a weak-willed bystander, and despite what you may have been told, I do not crush insects out of spite. Only necessity.” He gestured again, and within a moment the girl was gone.
Ji-Noren returned a few minutes later. He stood by the door, waiting in silence while Sedial attempted to slip back into that blissful meditation he’d been holding on to earlier. It didn’t work. The moment of peace had passed. His head hurt, the spot behind his eye throbbing intensely every time he used his sorcery. He gave a small sigh and struggled to his feet, crossing the room to a writing desk, where he lowered himself into the chair and began to sign a number of work orders redistributing Palo labor from the housing projects in the north down to a new fortress under construction in the south.
“We have no other way to find Ichtracia?” Ji-Noren asked quietly.
“No,” Sedial replied as he skimmed a work order before adding his signature at the bottom. “We do not. Mundane means have failed—we’ve interrogated everyone with even a tenuous connection with her.”
“And sorcerous means?”
“Dynize Privileged learned to hide themselves from bone-eyes long ago. Even our family blood is not strong enough to allow me to crack her defenses.”
“What about the spy, Bravis?”
Sedial looked down at the bruising on his wrist. The bruising from one granddaughter—from Ichtracia’s sorcery—the pain behind his eye from the other. “Ka-poel is protecting him,” he said quietly, raising his gaze to a little box up on the shelf. The box contained the spy’s finger, as well as several vials of his blood. They had proven useless, but he kept them all the same.
“I’ve widened the search to three hundred miles,” Ji-Noren said. “We will catch them.”
The reassurance just provoked a spike of fury in Sedial’s chest. He pushed it down, signing his name on a work order and pressing it with his official seal. He shouldn’t need soldiers combing cellars and ransacking attics to look for his granddaughter and that filthy spy. He was the most powerful bone-eye in the world. Finding them should be as easy as a thought.
The spot behind his eye throbbed. Second most powerful bone-eye, anyway. Despite his pained state, he felt a sliver of pride for Ka-poel. She would have made an amazing pupil—or a powerful sacrifice. She may still prove to be the latter.
“Ichtracia and the spy are either already on the other side of the continent, or they are hiding just beneath our noses. Continue to focus your efforts on the city.” He rose to his feet again, knuckling his back and giving Ji-Noren a grin. “Ka-poel has spread herself thin. She protects dozens with her sorcery, instead of using it as a weapon. If she was not so distracted, she would have killed me.”
Ji-Noren frowned, as if wondering how this could possibly be good news.
Sedial patted Ji-Noren on the shoulder. “She will continue to make the same mistake. Eventually, it will weaken her against my attacks, and I will break her.”
“Ah. Do we know where she is?”
“To the west, still. I can’t be entirely sure where, but I imagine she’s looking for the last of the godstones.”
“She doesn’t know we already have it.”
“No, I don’t think she does.” Sedial turned to the dragonman. “You’re still frowning.”
“We have many enemies in this place,” Ji-Noren commented.
“As we expected.”
“More than expected,” Ji-Noren said. “And far more powerful. Have you read reports about what those two powder mages did to the army we sent after Lady Flint?”
Sedial ignored the question. One thing at a time. “Don’t worry yourself, my friend,” Sedial said as he crossed the room toward the door. It was nearly teatime, and he might just be able to enjoy it before another messenger arrived with some ridiculous problem that needed fixing. “We’ve won almost every battle we’ve fought on this accursed continent. We possess two of the godstones. Once we’ve broken Ka-poel’s sorcery on the Landfall godstone, we will be in position to act.”
“And Lady Flint, with that new Adran army up north?” Ji-Noren insisted. “They have the third godstone.”
“But they have no idea how to use it.” He paused, then added reassuringly, “They have, what, thirty thousand soldiers? We outnumber them four to one in that region alone.”
“They have Privileged and powder mages now.”
“We’ll buy them off,” Sedial said. “The Adran delegation will be far more pliant than Lady Flint’s stubbornness. She may have gained an army, but she also gained the politics of the Nine. I suspect she’ll find the latter much harder to wield than the former.” He rested his hand on the door just as he heard footsteps pounding urgently up the stairs. He rolled his eyes and opened it just in time to see a messenger, covered in sweat and road dust, come to a huffing stop. “What is it?” Sedial demanded.
“We’ve done it, sir.”
Sedial was taken aback. “Done what?”
“The godstone, sir. The Privileged and bone-eyes say that they’ve solved it.”
It took a few moments for the thought to register. “They’re certain? They’ve broken my granddaughter’s seals?”
“Yes, Great Ka. Absolutely certain.”
Sedial felt the grin spread on his face. He let out a relieved sigh and gave the messenger one curt nod before closing the door and hobbling back to the writing desk. “We’ve done it, Noren,” he breathed.
“Congratulations, Great Ka,” Ji-Noren said warmly.
Sedial reached beneath the writing desk and produced a small cigar box marked with his Household crest. It pulsed with sorcery as his fingertips touched it, and continued to grow warmer and warmer until he managed to prick his own finger and press the blood to a special knot on the bottom of the box. The box sprang open, revealing several dozen prepared envelopes layered in protective wards. He drew them out almost reverently and handed them to Ji-Noren. “Send these back to Dynize immediately.”
“Are we sure we’re ready for this?” Ji-Noren asked with some surprise.
“It is time to strike. Begin the purge.”
“What of the emperor?”
“The emperor is just another puppet. He’ll think that the purges are being conducted in his name.”
Ji-Noren looked down at the orders. For a moment, Sedial thought he saw a flicker of hesitation. Understandable, of course. After such a long and bloody civil war, most Dynize were loath to spill the blood of their kin. Yet this was unavoidable. Enemies needed to be destroyed, both foreign and domestic.
“Can I trust you to stand beside me, my friend?” Sedial asked.
Ji-Noren’s gaze hardened. “To the death.”
“This is how it begins.”
“No,” Sedial corrected gently. “It began decades ago. This is how it ends.”
Michel Bravis stood in the doorway of a small Kressian chapel, sipping cold morning coffee while he watched Palo fishermen pass him in the street, their early haul hanging from long poles balanced on their shoulders. He examined each man and woman carefully, ticking them off mentally as he watched for new faces or suspicious glances or any amount of curiosity tossed in his direction. They bragged to one another about their catch or tagged along in sullen, unsuccessful silence, but not one of them gave Michel a second glance.
He’d grown and shorn the blond dye out of his hair over the previous month, and he’d made sure to spend plenty of time in the sun each day to allow the natural strawberry red to come out in both his hair and his beard. A starvation diet had allowed him to lose nearly two stone, and every shop-window reflection reminded him that he had changed his look about as much as possible since leaving Landfall.
To the townspeople of this Palo fishing village about twenty miles up the coast from Landfall, Michel was nothing more than just another Palo vagrant displaced from his home with the Dynize invasion. He spent his mornings on the chapel stoop, his afternoons cleaning fish at the only processing factory, and his evenings tucked into one of the dozen local pubs listening to gossip and playing the occasional hand of cards with loose-lipped Dynize soldiers. He gathered information, he kept his head down, and most of all he waited for an opportunity to present itself that would allow him and Ichtracia to slip out of this place and head inland to find Ka-poel.
Michel finished his coffee, tossing the grounds into the gutter and stowing his tin cup before slipping inside. He listened to the clatter of the big chapel door swinging shut behind him and tried to resist fiddling with the still-painful stub of the finger Sedial had cut off, hidden beneath bandages and a false splint. He took a deep breath and walked up the center aisle of the chapel.
To all appearances, Ichtracia looked like a grieving widow. She wore a black shawl and veil and sat hunched as if in prayer on the second row of benches. Michel glanced around the empty chapel, then came to stand beside her, raising his eyes to Kresimir’s Rope hanging above the altar. He noted that someone had written “KRESIMIR IS DEAD” under one of the stained-glass windows of the nave.
The hard-drinking fisherwoman who acted as the town priest hadn’t bothered to scrub it off.
“Are all Kressian churches like this?” Ichtracia asked, not raising her head.
Michel considered the question. “The cathedrals are more impressive.”
“I toured the one in Landfall. It certainly was big.” She didn’t sound impressed.
“Don’t Dynize have churches?” It had never occurred to him to ask before.
“Not really, not in the same way. We’re supposed to worship the emperor in the town square, but no one really does that, except on public holidays.”
That sounded very similar to Michel’s own relationship with religion. He’d never bothered with it as a boy, and as an adult he knew for a fact that Kresimir was indeed dead. He worked for the pair that had killed the Kressian god. “At least this keeps you from having to stay cooped up in our room all day,” Michel suggested.
“This bench is going to be the death of me.” Ichtracia stood suddenly, lifting her veil and stretching with a rather impious yawn. Ever since they had snuck out of Landfall, she’d been posing as his brother’s widow. Or at least, that was their story. No one had actually bothered to ask them yet. The Dynize didn’t have a strong presence here beyond the isolated, passing platoon, and the Palo simply didn’t care.
But such was Michel’s experience with aliases—they seemed unnecessary until suddenly one saved your life.
She continued, “Have you figured out how to get us out of here yet?”
Michel grimaced. Ichtracia had, to this point, taken their entire predicament rather well. She even seemed to enjoy playing the role of an anonymous widow, relishing every set of eyes that slid past her without a flicker of recognition. But the sight of the pulped corpse of her grandfather’s bodyguard was still fresh in Michel’s mind, along with her demand that she be taken to her sister. He was as cognizant as ever of the power imbalance between them and feared the moment her patience ran out.
“I have not,” he answered her. Something passed behind her eyes that made the base of his spine itch. He gave her his most charming smile. “I’m trying.”
“I’m sure you are.” She didn’t sound convinced. “Any news from the war?”
Michel came around and dropped onto the bench, waiting until she’d returned to her seat before he said, “A pitload of rumors. Lindet has retaken the Hammer and is pushing east across Fatrasta. Her army is immense but mostly conscripts, and the Dynize are rallying their field armies to put her down.” He frowned. “There are a lot of conflicting reports coming out of the north—a whole Dynize field army disappeared. Another army has New Adopest under siege and is expected to take it and come south by the end of next week.” To be honest, he was worried about that army. If they skirted the coast, they could march right past this little town, and Michel was not thrilled about the idea of thirty thousand Dynize or more, along with Privileged and bone-eyes, camped out nearby. Ichtracia claimed she could hide from any sorcery, but he didn’t want to put that to the test up close.
“Anything out of Landfall?”
“Just troop consolidation. Sedial is building a fortress around the godstone and using Fatrastan labor to do it. Nobody knows how many Kressians and Palo he’s hired, but rumor has it they’re being paid and fed well, so there’s not a lot of complaining.”
Ichtracia sniffed. “You seem surprised that the Palo are being treated well.”
“We’ve always been second-class citizens at best,” Michel answered. “Slaves and subhumans at worst.” He felt something else on the tip of his tongue—the guarded secret that the Blackhat je Tura had told him just before his death. For weeks he’d wanted to ask Ichtracia what she knew of her grandfather’s attempts to activate the godstone, and for weeks he’d suppressed that urge. He wasn’t sure whether he was worried she’d have no new information for him—or worried that she knew all about it.
“The Palo are Dynize cousins,” Ichtracia said. “He won’t treat them as well as our own people, of course, but they aren’t exactly foreigners, either.” She frowned. “A fortress around the godstone. I wonder if he’s truly worried about Lindet and her conscript armies. Or if there’s something else he’s up to.”
“No clue,” Michel answered, studying the side of Ichtracia’s face. Did she know? Was she lying to him this very moment? They’d been lovers and companions for some time now, but there were still a great many walls between them—and for good reason. He tried to shrug it off. It didn’t matter. His only task now was to figure out a way to get them out of this town and across to the other side of the continent. Once he reunited her with Ka-poel, he could get back to Landfall and try to find out the truth.
The creak of the chapel door gave Michel a little jump, and he resisted the urge to look over his shoulder as Ichtracia leaned forward and assumed the role of praying widow. Michel touched her shoulder as if in comfort, then got to his feet. If he left now, he’d have a couple hours listening to rumors in the pub before his afternoon shift.
He froze at the sight of the man standing just inside the chapel door, blinking several times to make sure that his eyes hadn’t tricked him. “Taniel?” he choked out.
Taniel Two-shot looked like he’d aged a decade in the few months since they’d last spoken. His riding clothes were filthy, his shoulders slumped, and his face was drawn out and haggard. A spot of silver had appeared at his temples and he gave Michel a tired smile. “Hello, Michel.” He ran a hand through his hair. “You really are a damned chameleon. I would have walked right out of here without recognizing you if you hadn’t said my name.”
“What the pit happened to you?” Michel asked, slipping past Ichtracia and into the aisle.
“I fought a couple of Dynize brigades,” Taniel said. It sounded like a joke, but he didn’t smile when he said it. “I may have overdone it a bit.” His eyes slid to Ichtracia, then back to Michel.
Ichtracia had gotten to her feet and now stared at Taniel in the same way Michel might have eyed an adder slithering through the door. Her fingers twitched as if for the Privileged gloves in her pockets. A look of uncertainty crossed her face. Michel cleared his throat. “Taniel, Ichtracia. Ichtracia, Taniel.”
“Ichtracia,” Taniel said, rolling the name across his tongue. “This is our mole?”
“I’m your sister-in-law, as I understand it,” Ichtracia said flatly.
Taniel eyeballed her right back. “I thought your name was Mara.”
“A nickname,” Michel explained. “It was a pain in the ass to find her, but I did. Why didn’t you tell me she was Ka-poel’s sister?” He hadn’t meant to ask—taking an accusatory tone with Taniel never ended well. But the question just kind of slipped out.
Taniel scowled for a moment before letting out a tired sigh. “I didn’t think you needed to know.”
“It might have narrowed things down.” Michel heard his own tone rising. All the annoyance he’d felt over the secrecy, no matter whether it was important or not, began to slip through. “You also could have told me she was a Privileged.”
“That’s right.” Taniel cocked his head as if listening to some distant sound. “You’re hiding it very well. I didn’t sense anything when I came through the door.”
“I’ve practiced a lot,” Ichtracia said. Her tone had gone from flat to annoyed. “So you’re the god-slayer?”
Taniel’s expression turned serious. “What have you been telling her?” he asked.
Michel threw up his hands, but Ichtracia answered before he could. “He hasn’t told me anything. The Dynize have spies all over the world. You were supposed to have died ten years ago. When Michel told me who he worked for—who my sister is married to—I couldn’t help but assume that you managed to finish the job you started on Kresimir.”
Taniel snorted and walked to the last pew in the back of the chapel, sinking into it. “Lots of rumors,” he said wearily. “I’m sorry about the misdirection, Michel. Pole and I decided together that it was best you figure out who and what Mar… Ichtracia was on your own. All we had to go on was the name Mara. A nickname, you say?”
“Something that our grandfather used to call us both as children,” Ichtracia said. “It means we were his little sacrifices.”
Taniel’s apologetic smile switched from Michel to Ichtracia. “I see. Thank you for joining Michel. I can only imagine that we have a lot to catch up on about each other. And that you want to see your sister.”
“Where is she?” A note of eagerness entered Ichtracia’s voice.
Taniel hesitated. “West. I’m on my way to find her.”
Michel watched Ichtracia. He wanted to tell her that she was in the presence of a great man. That she should show a little respect. But he was just annoyed enough at Taniel to keep his mouth shut. Besides, Ichtracia was no slouch herself. “Speaking of finding,” he said. “How did you find us?”
“I went to Landfall first,” Taniel replied. “I met with Emerald, and he told me that you’d accomplished your mission and pointed me in this direction. It’s… taken a couple of weeks.”
Michel scowled. “We’ve been trying to figure out a way through the Dynize roadblocks ever since we left. How did you just ride right into Landfall?”
“One of Emerald’s people was waiting for me north of the city with forged papers.” Taniel patted his breast pocket. “No one’s looking for a single Kressian rider, and the papers say I’m a spy for the Dynize. There were a few awkward questions, but I managed.”
Michel made a frustrated sound in the back of his throat. If only it had been so easy for him and Ichtracia, they’d be on the other side of the continent by now rather than waiting in this little fishing village for an opportunity to slip away. “So you’re here to take Ichtracia to Pole?”
Taniel gave Ichtracia a long glance. “I am.”
“Wait,” Ichtracia said, giving Michel a confused look. “You’re coming with us, right?”
“You’re more than welcome,” Taniel added.
Michel gave them both a tight smile. “I should. But I need to head back to the city.”
“You’re mad!” Ichtracia exclaimed. She exchanged a glance with Taniel and then continued, “You know that Sedial is turning over the city looking for you, right? The moment someone recognizes you, you’ll be captured, tortured, and killed.”
Michel stared at his hands for a few moments, considering his words.
“Michel?” Taniel prodded.
“I’ve got unfinished business.”
“What kind of business?” Taniel asked.
Michel avoided Ichtracia’s gaze. Choosing his words with care, he said, “While I was there, I helped the Dynize hunt down the last of the Blackhats in the city.”
“So Emerald told me,” Taniel replied.
“I found and killed Val je Tura.”
“The Gold Rose with the bastard sword?”
“The same. Before he died, he told me something.” Michel hesitated again, looking sidelong at Ichtracia. “He told me that the Dynize were scooping up Palo and using them in a blood ritual to activate the godstone.” The moment the last word left his mouth, he knew that he’d been wrong about Ichtracia—that he should have told her weeks ago. The blood drained from her face, her eyes widening. He expected an exclamation of surprise or denial or… something. Instead her jaw clamped shut.
“Pit,” Taniel muttered.
“I need to go back to the city, find out if it’s true, and try to do something about it.”
“You’ll get yourself killed,” Ichtracia said, the words tumbling out over one another.
Michel gave her a tight smile. “Taniel, what is it I’ve been working toward all this time?”
“Palo independence,” Taniel answered automatically.
Ichtracia seemed taken aback. “I thought that you planned on opposing my grandfather—to prevent the use of the godstones.”
“That… that’s Taniel and Ka-poel’s fight,” Michel said. “At the end of the day I have one purpose: to free the Palo of whoever is subjugating them, enslaving them, kicking them around. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Kressians or the Fatrastans or the Dynize. I have to pit myself against the enemies of my people. I’m of no use going along with you and Taniel. I need to head back into Landfall.”
“I thought you said the Palo were being treated better under the Dynize?” There was a note to her tone that Michel couldn’t quite place. It sounded like desperation.
“I don’t know,” Michel said with a shrug. “Maybe? Or it could be propaganda. Whatever it is, I need to go back to Landfall and find out the truth.”
The silence between them all grew deafening. Ichtracia stared at the wall. Taniel stared at Michel. Michel examined both their faces, trying to read something in them. Finally, Taniel cleared his throat. “Ka-poel is on her way to Dynize.”
“What?” The word tore itself from Ichtracia’s throat as she whirled on him.
“She’s going to find the third godstone. I’m on my way to join her.”
“She’s going to get herself killed, too! Why do all of you have a death wish?” Something in Taniel’s expression must have confused her, because she stopped and took a sharp breath. “You don’t know?”
“We already have the third godstone. It’s in Dynize, protected.”
Taniel muttered something under his breath. “Good thing she has a bodyguard, I suppose. If that’s true, I don’t have a second to lose. I’ve got to cross the continent, catch a ship, and sneak into Dynize. It’ll take me months to catch up with her.”
Michel scoffed. Taniel’s tone was optimistic, as if he were heading on a pleasure cruise. But anything could happen in months, especially if Ka-poel stumbled headlong into Dynize. He almost asked Taniel to forget that idea and come with him to Landfall. But there was no hope in that. Taniel would go wherever Ka-poel was.
“Are you coming?” Taniel asked Ichtracia briskly. Michel could see in his eyes that he’d already moved on from the conversation and was ready to bolt, like a racehorse waiting for the starting pistol.
Michel rounded on her. “What do you mean, no?”
“I’m going with you.” Ichtracia’s face had regained some of its color. Her jaw was now set stubbornly.
“You can’t go back to Landfall,” Michel protested. “You’ll be in danger.”
“No more than you,” she retorted. Her left eye and cheek twitched, a cascade of emotions crossing her face in the space of a moment.
“I can meet her when this is over!” she said forcefully. Quieter, to herself, she echoed, “When this is all over. Do we have a way to get back in?” she asked Taniel.
“Emerald sent a couple of Dynize passports for the two of you,” Taniel said. “They were meant for you to accompany me across the country, but I assume they’ll get you back into Landfall without a problem.”
Michel swallowed. He had been with Ichtracia long enough to see that she would not take no for an answer. His mentioning of the blood sacrifices had set something off in her. He felt like he should know what, but he was too taken up with his own plans to pinpoint the source of her distress. He immediately shifted his thinking, discarding all the ideas he’d had for a one-man operation and changing them to work for two.
“We’ll take the passports,” Ichtracia said.
“I think…” Michel began.
“Don’t think,” she snapped at him. “You should have told me about your intentions.
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