Kiora needs answers. Who is the Shadow? Who is Jasmine? Are they connected? And even more pressing: how can she stop Shadow from using Kiora’s dreams as a map to find them? They have escaped three times, but are living on borrowed time—and everybody knows it.
Her search for help will push her closer to Alcander, send her to the dragon mountain of Toopai, and straight back to Meros—where magic will finally return to the land of no magic. Answers will be uncovered and plans unearthed that have been waiting for thousands of years.
But with the Shadow’s forces gathering, it looks like the land’s path is hurtling towards one outcome: war with the Shadow and death to all rebels. Armed with knowledge and hope, Kiora is determined to change that path. But will fate allow it? Or will it deal her a hard lesson about following ones own destiny?
THE TAVEANS HAD BACKED Kiora and Emane into the wall. The attacks were constant, forcing her to put all her energy into the shield. She didn’t know what to do—too strong of a hit and she would bring the roof down, too weak and she would leave them vulnerable to attacks slipping through her shield.
“We have to help Alcander,” Kiora said. “He has to get the staff so he can open the door. We are wasting time.”
Emane looked at the shield, colored with enemy magic. “I don’t know that wasting time is how I would describe this.”
She huffed in aggravation.
“Maybe try something else?”
“You are so helpful.” A guard tried to make his way around the side of the shield. She pushed as much magic as she could safely put into a shot. He screamed as his arm bent backwards at the elbow.
The magic on the shield in front of her eased up enough to allow a glimpse at the rest of the battle. Drustan had sunk his teeth through a Tavean and Lomay had advanced to within a few feet of the throne. Alcander was running up a wall as his uncle fired at him, and then disappeared as the fountain blocked Kiora’s view.
“Water,” she whispered. A sick, twisted idea came to her mind, one that would never have occurred to her a month ago. “Emane, we need to get rid of those guards around Alcander.” She summoned his bow. “I will keep these out of the way and shield you. Can you take them out?”
“Good. I will open a hole when you’re ready.” Closing her eyes, she pulled all her focus into the moment. She needed to hold the shield while mentally reaching out to the fountains—calling the water up. What she was about to attempt was already making her sick, but it would work. It was similar to what she had used on her way to see the dragons—a water-bubble. Only these would not be acting as shields—just the opposite.
“One…second.” She grunted, pulling thirteen water bubbles forward.
Each swirling bubble spun over their attackers, enveloping them in a watery tomb. Most struggled, flipping and turning within the bubble to free themselves without success.
One Tavean was able to control water, and with Kiora’s focus in so many places, he easily swiped his away and then moved to free the Tavean next to him.
“A little help,” Kiora gasped. She was trying to hold both the shield and the water-bubbles against attack. Kiora opened a small hole in the shield. Emane fired. The arrow sank into the Tavean’s chest and his thread silenced.
Turning back to his original target, Emane aimed for one of the king’s personal guards. The first one dropped. Emane had already loosed his second arrow before any of them realized what had happened. The second guard fell just as the third got a shield up. Alcander used the distraction to leap at the king, grabbing the staff from his hand and sprinting toward the throne. The staff flared to life under his touch, reflected bits of blue light spinning around the room.
The king threw a rolling ball of magic at Alcander’s back. Kiora screamed. Her shield faltered as she struggled to hold the water-bubbles.
Drustan leaped over his attackers, throwing himself between Alcander and the king, taking the full brunt of Aimon’s attack. He grunted, falling backwards. The magic had been potent. It penetrated the armor Drustan had concocted and blood rolled down his chest.
“Mother of Creators!” Emane swore, rising to his feet. “I have to heal him before he can go.” He threw his bow and arrow over his shoulder, held up his shield, and took off across the room.
“Emane!” Kiora yelled. It was no use—he was not stopping. She dropped her shield, focusing all her energy onto holding the water-bubbles. The threads within began to fall silent. She couldn’t look at their faces. She just held it in agony, waiting for the last one to die.