This story will be told from different perspectives of four main characters.

Please enjoy.

Chapter 1: At the Edge of War

Saturday, 24. July, Early Morning

Long, long ago, when people still meddled with medication, there were powerless substances that would heal if only the patients believed in them. Back then, scientists were curiously interested in the limits of the human mind. They made dubious experiments of unaccountable numbers, few of which worked, many of which did not. One day, maybe for the fun of it, maybe to mark the boundaries of the impossible, maybe for some other asinine reason, they gave sugar pills to probands and told them the pills induced magic powers. They seemed to think it would not work.

Sadly for the world, it did and things rapidly started getting out of hand when one of the labs caught fire. When another proband collapsed a wall. People with political power got interested, states feared for their security, people for their lives. It did not exactly help when one of the scientists panicked and made public that the pills were just sugar. Before, selected few had believed they could only do magic on secret pills. Now, everyone knew you could just do it on sugar.

That is what caused the Sugar Wars from which my people arose as lords.

Some people still maintain that it was something in the sugar that triggered the abilities.

Some people say it's just evolution.

I, for my part, prefer to call it `placebo'. For magic powers do please those who have them. Or those who use those that have them.


"Quack!" the goose said and started flapping its clipped wings as if in protest to the brilliant light falling in through the window. "Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!"

The mechanical was announcing five o'clock in the morning and Ferrus would have been very satisfied with this answer to all his troubles if it had not been half past seven already.

Instead, he gave an exasperated sigh and lowered his wrench. "It's not even close to five o'clock!" He told the mechanical bird which looked at him as indignantly as only a spring powered metal bird could look at its creator when its clipped wing had become stuck half way towards flapping close.

Ferrus sighed. He had been so proud when he had finally managed to adjust the tiny clock inside the bird to lose not more than twenty minutes a day. Certainly, something had warped due to the change in temperature and humidity. And the sand here clearly was no help, either, as the stretched out wing demonstrated masterly.

He should have left the bird in his room at Anil Abbey and not carried it all the way out here into the desert. But he had wanted to show it to his grandmother who would, certainly, never put a foot into a train not to mention close to Anil Abbey. Given, he had wanted to brag a tiny bit with this bird, proud result of years and years of study. How had he been to know that the change in humidity would be enough to upset the clock? Or the sand fine enough to creep into the joints?

Well, he should have had. After all, he had been born here. He knew the sand crept everywhere, even into sealed up water skins. He knew what the air had done to his grandfather's old watch.

He gave another sigh and looked at his bird and the tools that lay shattered around it on the bed. It was maybe best if he closed the goose up again and dealt with the clock once he was back in Anil. There, he could also clean the sand out, too.

A short knock against the door frame startled him from his thoughts and a moment later, the curtain was pushed aside and his sister Thallia put her head into the room.

"Laolao asks us to fetch some water." She held two skins towards him.

Ferrus turned. "Is it empty already?"

Thallia grinned. "We must have gotten wasteful in town."

"Hm." Their grandmother had frowned at him yesterday evening already when he had brought back a skin from the bath; water was precious here, far more precious than he was still accustomed to. He should have used only sand for washing.

"Is it supposed to hold its wing like that?" Thallia pointed at the goose.

Ferrus shook his head. "No... it got stuck. The sand, you know?"

"Quack," the goose agreed and Ferrus asked himself if that counted as a retarded six-o'clock-quack.

"Are you coming now? Laolao is almost finished with breakfast."

Ferrus nodded and got up, closing the blinds in front of his window before the heat could creep in and putting the leather skin back over the goose to protect it from the worst. He followed his sister into the living room. Behind the half opened door to the tiny kitchen Ferrus could see their grandmother firing up the oven. It hot and stuffy in the room already and would certainly only improve once the door to the kitchen room was close. "Good morning, Laolao!"

"Good morning, Ferrus, did you sleep well?" Their grandmother turned from the stove in the other room into the living-room, thankfully closing the door behind her. Her ancient face was red from the the heat and she padded sweat away with one of her rough hands.

He nodded his head.

"Are you going to get water?"

Ferrus nodded again and slipped into his sandals, automatically wrapping a scarf around his head against the sun and out of good manners. He had been born in this village and despite the fact that he spent most of the year away, people still expected him to behave according to his birth. Even if he had gotten a little wasteful with water in town. He brushed the curtain aside, held it for his sister and left the house through the narrow door onto the dusty court. It was warm already although the sun had barely risen above the horizon and not even half way through the court, they were surrounded by a cloud of fine buff dust, proof that it had not rained a single drop in months here. A mangy cat glared at them as they passed through the court, its tail high up in the air as it slipped into a narrow side street, with not as much as another arrogant look from its green eyes into their direction. It had disappeared already between the closely standing sand-coloured buildings when they passed the side street on their way to the well.

Somewhere in the distance, a dog barked angrily.

"Isn't your bird supposed to be a goose?" Thallia asked, flexing her shoulders. The streets they headed down were unevenly paved and overshadowed by the high walls of the houses. They were so narrow that even at noon, the sun could not reach the ground. This ensured that inside the town, the temperature was kept almost bearable.

Ferrus nodded.

"Hm... but you do know that gooses don't say `quack', do you?"

Ferrus nodded again. "I couldn't find a device that produced goose noises. Ducks are much more frequent."

"Laolao said that goose is your master piece?"

Ferrus gave something between a head shake and a nod. "It's an earlier vision. The real one is still at the abbey."

"Will that be your masterpiece?"

Again, Ferrus gave a nod.

"How long will it take you to finish it still?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. I could certainly become a master whenever I wanted now - my Master said so himself, but I don't feel ready, yet. I'd like to continue working on the goose. She's not really finished, you see? I'd really like to get her to fly... - I mean, we'll have to build a new goose again since the present model's too heavy, but I've been working hard on the plans already. She doesn't run that far, and I want to improve that, too." Ferrus frowned. He would have very much liked to stay with his group and continue working on the goose. "My Master said he would very much like to keep me around for that work and that it would make a better masterpiece if the goose could fly. And I'm sure I don't even need to apply for any position with the government." Having a bunch of rather weapon-happy rebels in the family did that to one's career chances. When Ferrus had signed up at the abbey, he had somehow hoped that it would not matter. After all, he had not signed up for a craft that had anything to do with warfare. Just plain mechanics. Still, it had already been an issue when he had handed in his journeyman's piece.

"Mother and father would be proud of you if they knew. And Gege, too."

"Would they?" He rather doubted that. If his goose ever flew, he was pretty sure that the government would find a way to equip it with weapons and use it against the rebels. He had thought about constructing it in such a way that it would never be able to fly long distances or carry much, but that was a weak defence; once people recognised the bird as useful, there would be enough smart people with less scruples than him who would quickly find the mistake and fix them. Hopefully, it would be really impossible for the goose to carry anything anyway; he did not even know how he could reduce the weight already.

Thallia made an insignificant gesture with her shoulders. "At least Laolao is proud of you."

"True." Their grandmother had said so already yesterday when she and Thallia had picked him up at the station and it definitely showed in the way she had spoken to him so far. Years ago, when she had signed them up for studies in town, he had not believed that one could achieve something useful just by learning. Back then, he had put it down to his lack of courage that he had not stood up to her and demanded to become a soldier, too. By now, he knew that he would have never been any use as a soldier. He did not even have enough of a talent to become a fire mage (not even close to it) and even in school, he had always been more interested in learning than in warfare. Although he suspected that his interest in learning would have been considerably less if he had at least been able to produce a lousy flame. Something more like his mother who could turn rocks into razor-sharp blades and make them abide her will. Not like his father who could make the sand dance and summon it up like the storm. Not like his older brother who could splinter wood and fling it at enemies in deadly arrow. Not like his sister who could -

"Have you made progress, too?" He asked, kicking a stone downward the steep and narrow passage. The cobbles on the ground with the dust on top made it difficult to walk, but the brownish-yellow walls were so close that reaching out for balance was a matter of seconds. A dirty trace along the wall and about hand high showed that people frequently made use of that. The smell of camels was becoming sharper and sharper, mixing with the scent of breakfast cooked in the few houses in the village that were still inhabited, the smell of burned human waste and airing clothes. The sky had turned completely blue above them, without a single cloud and all Ferrus could see when he lifted his head was its immaculate perfection and the lookout tower, sand coloured like every other building in the village. The shadow of a vigilant watch was cowering under the low thatched roof. He or she had to be especially alert; if Kohnons came, lives depended on an early warning.

Thallia grinned secretively. "Military secret."

Ferrus rolled his eyes. "Really. You think they are going to spy on us?! As if any of them cares!"

Thallia looked at him, her face suddenly serious. "Well, if anyone would spy and care, than certainly here."

Ferrus turned his head, knowing perfectly that she was right. Thallia was a member of the Kohnon army and people in this village had tried their best for generations to get rid of the Kohnonian rule. If anyone cared, then certainly here. Even if this was their village, too. It was a remarkable feat that their grandmother had managed to send both of them to Kohnonian schools. Him, the villagers probably understood. He had no magical talent, just like his grandmother who could barely get the fire to burn in the oven. Thus, he was not even close to any use for the rebels, nothing more than a nuisance, worth less than even his grandmother. She, at least, had been able to give birth to great magicians. But his sister? Even as a child, Thallia had been a very talented wood mage and their grandmother had sent her into the Kohnonian army. It was no small feat that she had managed that without being expelled from the village. But perhaps, the villagers were thinking of Thallia as their own little spy in the army. Perhaps they were hoping for something. Ferrus was certain that one day, the villagers would make either Thallia or their grandmother pay a high price.

Through a narrow stone arch, they stepped onto the square at the center of the village in whose middle the well was sitting, covered by colourful draperies that shielded it and its surrounding the hot sun that burned down around noon. At present, the sand coloured walls around the square were throwing long shadows over the unevenly stomped earth around the well, and the sun only blazed onto the square through the ruined fa├žade of a burned out building that had been burned out as long as Ferrus could remember. The shutters in front of the other windows around the square had already been closed, paint peeling from many of them. No door was opened to the balconies, not even to those that were not yet exposed to the sun. Several families had used the early morning to air clothes and now, the colourful pieces of clothing were hanging motionless in the rising heat and an accusing patch on the square where water had been spilled had almost disappeared into the parched sand.

The air lay warm and entirely motionless on the square, like warm silk against the skin and the smells of breakfast were lingering in it. The warmth was not yet paralysing and would stay that way until shortly before noon when it would grow unbearably oppressive, too hot to move a single finger. They were late already for water. Everyone else had used the icy morning hours to get some cooled water. Not that it stayed cool for very long. At least not past noon when the entire town would be baking under the blazing sun.

Ferrus looked around them while they moved under the canopy over the well. The knobby poles and the settling dust on the square were perhaps the most interested in their presence. He stopped in front of the stony railing that made out the upper part of the well. Down below them, he could see the black mirror of the water reflecting up at them, his shadow not more than a dark illusion. The wooden sides of the well were black with water downwards and of a light cracked, undulatingly wrapped brown where he was putting his hands to get a view of the water. It was deep down, the raining season still months away. "It'll be so much easier for you to get the water up," he stated. Cold air and the smell of wet wood were rising up to him, refreshingly cool.

Thallia put the skins onto the stone steps. She did not look amused, looking around them at the closed up buildings. "Maybe, but you could use the training better than me."

Another thing Ferrus had inherited from his grandmother; he was slight, however much he ate, and he hated it. Why could he not have inherited anything from his father? Or his father's father? ... Well, he did not want to inherit too much from that grandfather. He had been a drunkard and kicked the bucket for... behaving incredibly stupid. Rumour had it, anyway, that the smarter people were, the less their magical talent and he did enjoy being smart.

"I'm a journey's man in mechanics. I don't need training." He still turned to the crank handle and carefully leaned forward to get the bucket into the middle of the well without setting it in too much of a pendulum motion; the longer the rope got, the more the bucket would be affected by the motion. At this time of the year with the water so much down, it would probably bump into the walls before it reached the water and then, it might either break or fall off the hook.

Thallia gave a sigh, crossing her arms in front of her chest. "Don't make such a fuss with that bucket, it's hanging and I assure you, I won't fish you out of the well if you fall! Really, I hope it'll never fall upon you to defend this county! Then, we'll all be hopelessly lost!"

"I think I can safely assure you that it won't." Ferrus took the tang used to get the bucket from the rope and tried to control the motion. Of course, being completely out of training, the bucket started swinging more than ever before. "Besides, you don't want the bucket to hit into the walls down there, either. Then, you'll have to get it up, anyway." He took the tang back, not quite satisfied with his work. "We could always wait for it to stop swinging, too."

Thallia turned her eyes and took another look around them. "All right, I'll do it." She had always liked to flaunt her magic, just like their older brother had. Not that Ferrus remembered much about Xenon.

A mangy dog had gotten up from the entrance to a house and dragged itself across the square. Somewhere from the closed up windows, the noises of conversation were carried towards them. A child was crying in another house. Most houses were empty in this village and thanks to the canvas, they were invisible from the watch tower, too.

Thallia closed her hand around the amulet and Ferrus stepped a little back, knowing perfectly well that if he was too close, Thallia would use the opportunity to splash water into his face.

It was always worth watching her and this time certainly did not fail him; Thallia's control over her magic had increased drastically. Before, she had hung the bucket onto the hock and made the cable winch turn, lately without any motion of her hands. Now, she just pretended to be looking deep into the well and placed her hand against the wood that made out the walls of the wells. From one second to the next and without even much of a noise, a tiny part of the wall started folding, the wood creaking ever so slightly, the dry echo resounding as not much more than a eerie murmur up to them while in one of the houses close by a child was reminded loudly to sit up straight, for heaven's sake. Ferrus was almost unable to follow the folding wood into the dark and only a second later, Thallia grew a wooden beak at the end of her work, held a skin underneath it and a clean jet of water shot into the skin.

Thallia closed up the skins and almost in the same movement, the wood shifted back into its former position without leaving a single mark.

"Remarkable! That was just fabulous! They should promote you to General or something!" With that much precision, she was certainly deadly. Nothing a simple soldier would even have the breath of a chance against. It was no wonder the military had offered her so much over the last few years.

"You carry." Thallia pointed at the skins. "And they won't promote me General just yet."

Ferrus lifted the heavy skins onto his back. It was only fair that he should carry them after that show, for if he knew one thing about magic, he knew that it was terribly tiring.

Thallia leaned so close as she turned around that her breath tickled on his ear conch. "Not General, but they'll start teaching me metal this summer!"

Ferrus almost dropped the skins while Thallia passed him, nearly bouncing with pride. "What?!"

Thallia turned in the middle of the square, grinning broadly. "It's true! They will! He said so himself!"

If it had not been his sister who had told him, he would have certainly called the other a liar; it was considered almost impossible for a mage to learn an element ranking higher than his or her natural talent. In Thallia's case, the element following her natural talent in wood was metal. But if Thallia's boss - there was no doubt that he was the one she was referring to by `he'; she worship the ground on which he walked - if said Colonel Neon Perdew said they would train her in metal, then it certainly had a reasonable chance. Colonel Perdew was known to be one of the most knowing men in that field in this part of Outer Kohnonia.

"Wow! That's - unbelievable!" He picked up the skins and hastened to follow Thallia, although the skins were too heavy to hasten much with them. "Have you already told Laolao?"

"'Course. When she picked me up already." Thallia was waiting for him in the shade. The sun was starting to shine directly onto the entrance to their street. The dog looked at them doubtfully, just pausing from cleaning itself. A door slammed close and the voice of a child called for someone to wait. Somewhere else, something fell down and someone cursed in bitter annoyance. The smell of breakfast had faded into the smell of stone baking in the sun and the eternal dust through which the light was filtering down.

"But - that needs to be celebrated! Will you be staying in- uh - at your ... place?" Ferrus just stopped himself from naming the town. Thallia certainly had reason to be careful after such news.

A bunch of children came running down the street, shouting at the top of their voices, two or three almost running him over. Thallia easily made room for them. "For now. Might be I'll be taken to Middle Kohnonia if I prove promising."

"I'm sure you will!"

"He seems to think so," Thallia's chest was swelling with pride. "He also suggested me, you know?"

"Wow, that's so fly!"

Thallia was grinning broadly.

The howling of the children was disappearing between the streets and turning around the next narrow corner at an artfully patterned window, the watch tower came back into view again. An orange flag had been hoisted and was now hanging limply in the rising heat.

"Look," frowning, Thallia pointed at the flag. They both know that it was a sign for everyone in the village that Kohnons had been sighted not far away and that they were heading this way. Ferrus barely managed to lift his head high enough to study the flag; the skins were too heavy to do much acrobatics with them on his back and they were starting to demand his entire concentration. "Kohnons."

Thallia's voice was neutral saying that but from her expression Ferrus supposed that it worried her. "What about it? They hoist that flag almost every other day." Heaven knew, this was the only village within miles and every Kohnon with half a brain knew that it was teeming with rebel activity. So, whenever something happened somewhere, they came looking here. Since the rebels were pretty active, the Kohnons paid frequent visits and mostly found nothing. The flag was usually hoisted quick enough to hide the injured in the secret passages and chambers below the village and give the others time enough to escape into the deserts. And preferably attack the Kohnons on their way back home.

"I was just hoping there wouldn't be trouble as long as I'm here..." Thallia left the door to their court ajar but closed the heavy wooden door into their grandmother's house behind them while Ferrus dragged the skins across the room and laboured to hang them onto their hook on the wall.

"True." Ferrus understood her point of concern. If Kohnons came now, people might think that Thallia had sent for them. If rebels were found, they would be even more suspicious and perhaps believe that Thallia had informed them about some secret passages. He turned away from the thoughts into the low living room with its colourful rugs on the wall and the heavy table with the cushions around it. On the sideboard, an old clock was giving the wrong time and a craftsman's piece he had failed at at the first year at the abbey. Amongst their coats at the wall behind the door, he recognised Thallia's official staff. It was made from metal.

They were serious about teaching her, then, indeed.

The small room was filled with the smell of breakfast. Their grandmother had set the low table and yesterday's bread was already waiting for them. Ferrus did not remember many days when it had been set for more than three people which was perhaps good; the room was already too small for three adults as it was.

"Come, sit down," their grandmother said as she carried the steaming cast iron pot to the table. A wave of hot air followed her from the kitchen, mixed with the doubtful smell of badly burned wood and smoke that made Ferrus almost cough. The pot gave a heavy thud when their grandmother sat it down on the table, Ferrus hurrying behind her to close the door to the kitchen. He knew enough families who had lost members to carbon monoxide poisoning. Their grandmother stretched her back as if it was aching from carrying the pot just that short way. She had seemed ageless during Ferrus's childhood, but over the last years, he had seen her ageing considerably.

"Shall I get the spoons?" He said and turned to the cupboard.

"That is nice of you, my dear. - Please, Thallia, sit down."

Ferrus opened the cupboard carefully, remembering that the drawer needed to be lifted a little in order to creak open. He took out the ladle and three spoons before he carefully closed the drawer behind him and almost stumbled on a rug on his way back to the table. Just as he caught his balance again, the storm bell started tolling outside and froze him in the middle of his steps, eyes on the screened off window.

Thallia was on her feet immediately, looking around her as if she did not know where to hasten from here.

"Sit," their grandmother said, lowering herself onto her cushion on the floor. "That's none of our business."

Thallia hesitated. Ferrus, who had already motioned to follow his grandmother's movement, tugged her coat. "Laolao's right. We'd better stay here and don't get involved."

Thallia nodded but still hesitated before she lowered herself down. Ferrus was not sure which option she had contemplated about. She had to be well aware that the villagers would not take it too kindly if she was present if someone got arrested. Or maybe, they would suspect her even more if she did not show. For whoever of the Kohnons was coming would be looking for members of their family, cousins or more distant relatives. Whoever was coming would also be a comrade of Thallia, too. Maybe even someone she knew. Which meant that they might call upon her for help if she showed her face outside. It was much more prudent if she stayed out of anyone's sight.

Their grandmother started filling the spicy stew into the bowls, its smell filling the tiny room and the vapour rising up from the bowls. Even the sight of it made Ferrus sweat even more than before. "Come," she said, pointing the last bowl at her granddaughter. "The food is getting cold."

Thallia nodded and took the bowl almost reluctantly as it seemed. The bell was still ringing frantically. She took up her spoon and after a moment, when the bell died away, started eating.

"They perhaps went another way," Ferrus said, taking up some of the hot pot with a piece of bread. He knew that it would make him sweat tremendously which, in the end, would cool his body down. Yet, for a moment, sweat running down his sternum, as he hesitated to eat, feeling revulsion rising at all that was this hot, god-forelorn and stubborn village no one would have given a damn about if they had not been killing Kohnons for centuries, suddenly hating the narrowness of its street, the house and the minds of its inhabitants.

"Unlikely; it'll be the usual," his grandmother sneered. "Some fool killed someone again and fled and they are looking for him in the village. A caravan got attacked. Nothing of our ordinary."

"Maybe," Thallia started in a low voice, still staring at the door, "maybe you should think about moving to town one of these days, Laolao."

"Nonsense!" The old woman snapped. "I've lived here all my life! This is the house of my and your family and this is the house where I spent many happy years with your grandfather. I'm not going to leave it because some hotheads think they still have to play war! And what would I do in town? Do you think I'd have enough money to buy a place even close as good as this one? With whom would I talk? All my friends are here!"

"I'm just saying...," Thallia said and her hastily hidden look around the room told Ferrus that she thought this way of living as rough and rudimentary as he did. "One of these days, the military will exterminate this village."

Their grandmother did not look even slightly impressed with that excuse. "Well, they are planning that ever since even before I took my first steps - they'll still be planning it long after your children are my age!"

Ferrus did not comment but dug into his meal. He knew Thallia was worried, too, - she knew more about raids than anyone else here did. He knew Thallia would have liked to see their grandmother in a place that was not fired with camel dung, where the wind did not blow sand into the food and ruined your teeth and where you did not have to go over a mile for water which could not be used for washing, because the well just did not have the capacity, where clothes could only be washed in rarest cases of dirt or when the great rain came that almost washed the village away.

But he knew, too, how much their grandmother loved her life here. And it was not like the people in the village were unkind to her; she had been born from a very well respected family, was its oldest surviving member and was, despite her disregard for the war, ready to help with any injuries and any work that had to be done within the community. Ferrus suspected there were quite a few people in the village who were secretly hoping for the end of the war and maybe even in awe of what their grandmother had dared to do when she had sent her grandchildren to a Kohnon school.

Also neither he nor Thallia could afford buying a little house in town for their grandmother, not even if they leased it or took all their money together. Maybe, if they could have persuaded her and her three aged friends to move to Anil, he would have felt better about it. He would have been able to look in on them every day or two. But Laolao and all the other women were equally sturdy when it came to staying here. So, it was a vain struggle, even if he would have liked to see his grandmother in a house were water came from the tab and a steam engine made washing much easier. But Thallia always said he was more on his grandmother's side than hers, anyway.

He took a little more of the stew. "Carbon tries to build a fabric that's resistant to fire," he said or rather changed the topic feeling a little guilty about it. Carbon was one of his friends from the abbey. "So far, she's only managed to run a lot of tests on things that burn well or less well."

Thallia looked a bit sour but took him up on it. "Poor thing! How long is she on her project? As long as you?"

Ferrus shrugged. "About."

"Surely you must have limits of how long you can take?"

"Oh, it shouldn't take longer than three or four years and some of us do stay."

"Don't tell me you really want to stay?!" Thallia made. "I thought you just wanted to finish your goose."

Ferrus shrugged. "Why not?"

Their grandmother nodded. "It's a good field you have chosen."

"Laolao, just because it means he'll never see any war doesn't make it a good field! Do you know how little they pay at the abbeys for the inventors?"

"I'd like to have at least some grandchildren who won't die before they can have children. However little money he earns, everything is better than wasting yourself on this heedless war, not like your father who learned something proper just to run back into the war as soon as he had the chance!"

"It's not like Thallia is likely to be killed," Ferrus offered. He hated being the hope of his grandmother. He hated being this hope because he knew very well that it was only because of his lack of magical talent. "They don't sent people to war who've grown up around here." He picked up another piece of bread and helped himself to more.

Thallia glared at him.

"What? It's true. Everybody knows that. Besides, you'll soon be too high ranked to be sent to war anymore."

"Is that true?" Laolao asked. "Have you been promoted?!"

Thallia shrugged. "Not yet. But if I prove to be good at metal, Colonel Perdew will suggest me for on of the academies in Middle Kohnonia. It'll be far away, but... you know, only Majors go to those academies and those who graduate there usually get very good positions. At least, so I'm told."

"I'm sure you'll do well Thallia! Your commander wouldn't have recommended you if he wouldn't be sure that you could do it."

Thallia blushed. Paying her a compliment was one of the few things that could rattle her. "I - I'll do my best."

Their grandmother smiled. "Here, have some more stew before it gets cold." She reached out for the spoon. "We will celebrate when it's official. Now, let's not talk about it anymore. We don't want to scare the good luck away." She touched her amulet, a glass phial in which a tiny piece of ember glowing.

As if luck took her up on it, the door shuddered under three tremendous knocks. It was that kind of knocking that told you that someone outside was very impatient. And probably very angry.

Thank you very much for reading. The next chapter will be about Thallia and whoever is knocking at the door.

Please review, I'd be interested to hear your opinion.