Chapter 28

Many people are not gifted with the ability to witness even one miracle during the course of their pitiful lives. Some, if they are lucky, are given the chance to see something so great that mankind can offer no explanation for it—perhaps once in a lifetime.

When three miracles occurred in Shayark, even the Feirtalans had to admit that God had been busy that week.

It all began in a dark throne room when the wicked daughter of King Ovin Viljarma tried to throw a knife into the back of the Feirtalan princess out of jealousy. Princess Mika's Shayarkan husband protected her, taking the knife into his own body. Everyone watched the brave prince fall, lamenting as the last of the Thorikell line spilled his blood on the throne room floor.

And then the miracle occurred. The Feirtalan princess started to glow—or, more specifically, her belly started to glow—with a pure, white light. It enveloped both her and her lover, and suddenly the prince was healed.

They said it was God's work. They called it a miracle. And the baby growing in the princess's womb became a vessel of God for the Shayarkans to worship.

That was the first miracle.

The second miracle occurred on the following day, after Sibil Viljarma was expelled from the castle. There was a blight upon her name now for having tried to kill, twice, God's miracle baby. Yet her life was spared because of the child she claimed to carry, a child she attested rightfully belonged to the future Ruling King of Shayark. She was advised to make herself scarce, and should she ever show her face in the capital city again…well, she could not remain pregnant forever.

On that same day, for the first time in the history of Shayark, not one, but two Feirtalans were invited to dine with the royal family. And not only did they dine, but they were well received. In the dim light of the dining hall, Feirtalan and Shayarkan, lightmaker and shadowtouch, conversed without boundaries and without prejudice. Even the young Shayarkan Princess Sauda had come to accept her brother's love for a Feirtalan lightmaker. A great many jests were made that night about her coy evasion of a certain rakish young thief, who seemed hell-bent on pursuing his sister's former captor.

The third miracle took place at the end of week, and this occurred in front of hundreds of Shayarkans. With so many standing witness, Hakan Kell Moreland Thorikell was crowned King of Shayark. Only moments later, his wife, Cristiana Mika, was crowned Queen. The miracle was not in the crowning of a Feirtalan as queen, however. It was that when she rose from bended knee as the former Queen placed the crown upon her head, the people of Shayark cheered for her. They lifted their fists into the air and saluted her, their new queen.

It was a time to make history and a time to effect change. It wasn't long following Mika's coronation that King Senach of Feirtala formally declared the freedom of all shadowtouches. Any who chose to stay on with their masters were to be paid for their work and given accommodations befitting their station. Any barons caught abusing the new law would lose both land and title.

It also wasn't long afterwards that the Viljarma family formally declared civil war on the royal Thorikells, though it would be many years before the war grew serious.

Yes, it was a time for making history, Callum thought as he looked across the garden at his wife. She was standing beneath a cherry tree with a soft smile on her face and a hand on her slightly rounded belly, and he knew she hadn't seen him yet. Watching her in such an idyllic pose tugged at his heart, reminding him of why he'd gone to such lengths to win her. It wasn't in him to be chivalrous, but he would do anything for the blonde beauty standing before him. Sure, they still had their arguments. It had become an everyday occurrence and something Callum looked forward to almost as much as he looked forward to Mika's letters and her latest installment of her life story.

It had all started on the night she changed her destiny by killing Baron Dugray and fleeing his home. The night she found her true destiny on the cold porch of Moreland Estate in the form of a young shadowtouch in desperate need of someone to love.

Sometimes Callum wondered how the story would end, but then he realized it did not

matter. The story would never end, thanks to Mika, but keep going on forever in the pages she'd written, all leading up to her latest correspondence. He clutched the small scrap of paper tightly in his hand as he waited to show it to his wife, who would no doubt be delighted. He didn't even need to look at it to know what it said.

Rakyr Lander Thorikell

Beneath the name was a sketch of a baby boy, and above the picture was a message scribbled in Mika's handwriting with an arrow pointing from the words to the baby's head.

No horns!

Callum smiled, grateful that his halfbreed nephew had proven to one and all that the mixture of shadowtouch and lightmaker would not create a monster. Instead, it created something stronger. This first child, they already knew, had been born with the gift to heal. He'd kept a deadly poison from killing both himself and his mother. He'd saved his father from a life-threatening stab wound. God only knew what gifts would be granted to the children they would have in the future, but Callum knew one thing for certain.

He couldn't wait to find out.