Date Published: April 14, 2015
Kalen has escaped from Morinvale, but at a heavy price. Blind and crippled, the best hope for his people is for him to choose a new Rift King, forfeiting his life in the process. With his failure to broker peace between Kelsh and Danar, war is inevitable. For the first time in a thousand years, the Rift prepares to ride into battle.
Choosing his successor is only the beginning of Kalen’s troubles: his Guardians have turned against the Code and Covenant. Instead of securing the Ascension of a new Rift King, they’re doing everything in their power to ensure Kalen’s survival, even if it means the destruction of the Six Kingdoms.
To make matters worse, the skreed conjured in Morinvale aren’t just growing stronger. They’re breeding, and they aren’t picky about what—or who—they’ll eat.
Kalen’s rage flared, fueled by the First’s fury. “That’s one thing I’d like to do before I die,” he snarled.
“I’d like to kill every last one of those Blood Priests and stick their heads on spikes.”
“I wouldn’t want to poison the poor nibblers with their filth.”
“How kind of you. Won’t you save a few for us?”
Kalen snorted. “The offer’s open. If you want to be the Rift King, you’ve my blessings without question. Then you can do whatever you want to the Blood Priests.”
“Kalen,” Maiten growled.
“I’m blind and crippled. I’m in no position to stop an assassin. That’s just the truth. I might be good, but I’m not that good. I don’t know of anyone who is. You understand, don’t you?”
“How can you be so calm about this? You’re talking about your own death!”
Kalen sighed. It used to scare him, and that fear had driven him to do anything necessary to survive. The years had, like the wind on stone, worn him down. “I told you, Maiten. You’re one of my oldest friends, you know that. You’ve known it from the beginning of my reign. I’m tired. It used to frighten me. Sometimes, it still does. You know what they say about Rift Kings.”
“People say a lot of things about the Rift Kings. That doesn’t mean any of it is true, Your Majesty.”
“The Rift Kings aren’t served out of love. They never were. They never will be. It’s always out of fear. There’s a reason for that our—there’s a reason our voices aren’t heard among the songs of the ancestors. What’s left?”
Maiten was quiet for a long time before he said, “You’re different.”
Shaking his head while laughing, Kalen replied, “No, I’m not.”
About the Author
When she isn’t playing pretend, she likes to think she’s a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband, and obeys the commands of the Ghost of Tsu Dhi, the great warrior fish.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.