Thank you very much for waiting this long. Please also enjoy this chapter.


Chapter 8: Wherein Niob and Thallia go for a walk

1. August, Monday

The perpetual wind was blowing over the plain again, tearing at the yellow grass. It always seemed to be windy on this island and the sky never seemed to be entirely without clouds. Same as the roar of the breakers did not ever stop. The climate was rough, cold after Guanin's humidity. Thallia liked it.

Her situation, she had a bit of a difficulty to get use to. The obliviousness to rank that seemed to govern the Archives, the latent dislike that the other recruits seemed to feel for her. It was true that she was not good in the social classes they had every morning, that she could not get the hang of the Inner Kohnonian pronunciation of words, their toneless language, all their stupid rules of right dress code, right choice of words and even right hairstyle, not to mention wrong way to hold the cutlery or enter a room. The others had to feel that she was slowing them down in the process of learning. Or were plainly jealous that she had a higher magical talent. They, like her, had family relations to groups of rebels. It confirmed her conviction that she had been recruited to help with the pacification of the provinces. She did not voice that belief, however, rather observed the others.

The only thing she definitely liked, apart from the prospect of leaving for Mystridin's Academy at the end of the month, was her training with Astate. She liked Astate. The woman was exceedingly well trained and knowledgeable about magic, but did not mind to explain her moves and principles over and over again. She was patient and very focussed on training her well. Thallia was more so. She practised whenever she had the chance. She tried to feel the fluent life-energy Astate had told her about in the wooden door to her room, the tensed readiness in the metal of her bed frame. She tried to form the metal ball they were training for hours in private, was always hungry, thoroughly exhausted in evenings.

And not entirely satisfied with her progress.

Thallia was already looking forward to their training again, when she crossed the windy grassland towards the temple. Since she did not like to spent the breaks with the other recruits, she had made it a habit to go there after lunch. She liked the view from platform and more so its silence. It helped to get her head free of the morning's stress. Besides, lighting an incense stick reminded her of home. She also wanted to leave a good impression, of course, and it appeared to her that honouring the shin was certainly the best impression one could leave with the Archives.

The temple lay very close to the edge cliff with the best view over the overwhelmed bay and steel grey heaving sea. Thallia had never seen anything close to a sail at the horizon. It was as if their island was out of the world, nothing but wind, the salty air and the surf. And this temple was out of the island's world.

She had never met anyone else there, but there were always fresh incense sticks, the candles were always lit and the floor always clean. The Archives had to tend to it. They probably went early in the mornings to perform their rituals. She had heard things from the courtyard, sometimes, at night.

The wind was tearing at her ponytail. In Inner Kohnonia, their teacher Yurain had told them, short hair was a sign of low rank and untidy hair of bad habits. He had shown them several adequate hair dresses. Thallia had decided on a ponytail; it was simple, not messy and for a soldier a handy hairstyle.

The wooden steps creaked familiarly when she stepped into the temple's interior, leaving most of the cold wind outside. What little came in through the dark ornamented windows bent the flames of the candles. The shin's statue, a fish-tailed nymph, was slumping behind the ritual ding on its carved stone. Sweet smoke of incense sticks was rising from the ding. With the back to her, someone was calmly lighting the few extinguished candles, wind bending the flames. The knot at the back of his head gave the other quite easily away as Sulfur.

Thallia halted in her steps. Was he about to pray? She did not want to disturb a superior.

"Stay." Sulfur lowered the taper onto the last candle.

Thallia stopped in the doorway.

Sulfur studied her over his shoulder. "You come here very often."

"Yes, Sir," she agreed.

"To pray?"

"Yes, Sir," she stated.

"For your family?" The smoke from the ding was drifting passed them out of the open worked window.

"For good fortune for our endeavour." The answers came easily. Sulfur's lips quirked. "And my family," she admitted. She wondered if he prayed for his family, too. If you did that when your uncle was ruling the country and your cousin the next queen.

"Do you know much about them?" He dropped the taper into the ding, eyeing her.

Thallia tried to keep her face calm. Of course, they would want to know things about the rebels. "Whatever you wish to know, my Lord." She would tell them whatever she could. Whatever would help to pacify the provinces.

"Hn." Sulfur made, he looked almost quizzical. "Indeed? Tell me about your great-grandfather, then. Or rather his sister." He lowered his hand onto a longish object leaning in the corner.

The question puzzled Thallia. She knew little about her family, apart from the obvious things. She could not even imagine why someone might be interested in her great-grandfather. She tried to keep her face motionless. "My great-grandfather and his sister were cameleers. We - my people try to marry foreigners once in a file, because of incest, Sir."

Sulfur laughed, just a bit. Thallia was not sure if it was a friendly laugh. "My, that makes your people a lot smarter than this country's nobility."

The comment and the uncaring in it made Thallia flinch. She did not know how to react. Was Sulfur not part of that nobility he scoffed? And, anyway, was it not - disloyal to say things like that in front of her? After all, most of her superiors would be from the nobility.

"Now, why do you think I recruited you and not some dashing noble scion? - Anyway, is that all you know about your great-grandfather?"

Thallia have a sharp nod. "Yes, Sir."

"There are not some special ... magical tricks which he might have shown your family?"

Thallia thought hard. "I don't think so, Sir. I've never heard anything the like." Strange questions.

"Hm. Pity. He and his sister were executed, did you know?"

Now, Thallia almost had to force down a smile. It seemed execution was a rather uncommon cause of death in her superior's eyes. "It happens to rebels, Sir."

This time, Sulfur smiled. It was no scoff, even friendly. "I can imagined. - But they were executed for heresy - your great-grandaunt posed as a shield, if I'm correctly informed - and I would be interested to know anything about it if you happened to know something."

Thallia was aghast. "I know nothing about heresy, Sir! My people might be rebels, but they're no heretics! They don't have anything to do with the No Life King!" She felt herself shudder. Until now, she had never believed the rumours that the caravan people were indeed practising dark magic.

"Don't worry. Much that was classified as heresy back then isn't anymore, so, it need not have been dark magic. Well, apart from threatening my grandfather's throne, of course."

The reply would have reassured Thallia if it did not imply that Sulfur had also recruited her because he thought she might know something about heresy in her family. "I've never seen anyone in my village doing anything close to heresy. They wouldn't!"

"I believe you. It might have only been that you had heard about something. That would have been interesting for us. But if you don't want to, I can safely promise you that you won't have to get involved with anything even close to heresy. After all, it is our task as the Archives to protect the society from heresy and I haven't recruited you to join us."

Thallia let out a long breath she had not realised she had held. Ever since she had heard that they were from the Archives, she had been afraid that they might require her to do Archive related work, too. She really did not want to have anything to do with heresy! It was too dangerous, could too easily poison your soul and suck you out. "Thank you, Sir."

Sulfur picked up the longish metal object from the corner and hung it by a narrow belt over his shoulder. "Have you written to your family already?"

"I wanted to give my letter to Phosphorus in a few days. He said the post-ship will arrive around the middle of the week."

Sulfur nodded. "I am going to Anil today. I could have your letter delivered to your brother if you like; the post ship sometimes gets attacked by pirates here."

In the first second, Thallia felt honoured, then, suddenly, uneasy. She did not like how much everyone seemed interested in Ferrus here. It felt as if they were thinking they had made the wrong choice with her. Maybe, they would have preferred a male, because woman were not supposed to join the military in Inner Kohnonia. But Ferrus, he really had no magic at all. "Thank you very much, but I haven't finished my letter, yet. And I wouldn't want to bother you with a detour."

Sulfur smiled, shortly but engagingly. "I'll have to drop a book at Anil Abbey, anyway, so it wouldn't be a detour. And I'm sure your brother would be thankful to know you weren't abducted but are in good health."

Thallia hesitated. The Colonel sounded indeed as if he just wanted to be helpful. But she did not want them to press Ferrus any further, did not know if he could get into trouble for hiding what little magic he had had from the authorities. "I'd prefer to write myself."

Sulfur shrugged, did not seem to mind, though. "Whatever." He adjusted the belt and the metal staff and turned to leave.

Thallia wondered again why they had chosen a place as out of the way as the island for a base but did not utter the question; it was none of her business and they probably very good reasons for it. - Like wanting to watch them for several weeks under isolated condition so they knew whom they sent to serve the princess.

Sulfur gave her a short nod. "Good afternoon."

"Good afternoon, Sir."

He passed her, heading down the narrow steps and Thallia had a chance to glance at the object over his shoulder. She had taken it to be a magical metal staff at first, but if it was one, it was the strangest she had ever seen with the cap on its one end and the very broad over ending that disappeared under cloth. However, she quickly turned to the shin. She was determined to leave only the very best impression. Especially now that she was sure they would not involve her in heresy.

Maybe, she should have entrusted Colonel Sulfur her letter, too. He had always treated her kindly. He was likely even nice and she was sure that he would have made a similar offer to all the other recruits if he had gone to their home towns. All that talking about Ferrus was curiosity; they had been told about a male Fog and she had turned out to be female.

Maybe, it was her great luck that they had been looking for a male Fog. They might have only been looking for males.

\\

14. August, Sunday

A ship had been sighted just hull up at the horizon in the early morning and all base was in uproar; everybody seemed to be convinced that it was the privateer which had sunken the post ship including Thallia letter to Ferrus almost a week ago. It was a pity, almost, that the Archives did not concern themselves with pirates. For then, Thallia was sure, the dirigible would have been manned and the ship out there taken. Now, the only thing that was burning was probably the wire to the next base to tell them about the privateer.

Niob had offered to show her the island, but Thallia hoped that she could borrow at least in the late afternoon some time from Astate to train a little more. She wanted to progress as fast as possible and wipe out her failing at the social standard classes.

She could not remember who sat first and who rose first, how many people were allowed around a table and which number was considered unlucky. Her pronunciation stayed abysmal and she had no memory for all those specific words concerning food.

She was profoundly dissatisfied with herself.

Sulfur had said they would know she was from Out Kohnonia, anyway. So, she had more or less stopped caring about her accent. She cared about Astate and all the magic she taught her.

Niob was already waiting at the temple for her. Thallia did not much care for him and his arrogant satisfaction of being with the Archives. But if the Colonel ordered Niob to show her the island, he had to think it worth seeing. Thallia did not want to appear ungrateful. She wanted to seem exactly as interested as appropriate. And exactly as diligent as possible.

Her chamber was in perfect shape.

The fierce wind was pulling had her clothes as she made her way towards Niob. It was chasing sullen clouds over the sky, the sun was drawing islands on the rough sea and the grey-green forest.

"I would still like to train after we return," Thallia informed Niob when she arrived. She did not know what tour Niob had envisioned but she hoped he would not make it too long.

Niob gave her a short look. Thallia had the impression he was laughing about her. "Don't worry about the time; Astate will be too busy today, anyway."

"How so?" Thallia doubt that was the case. Astate had had time for her the last two Sundays, too.

Niob set into motion into the direction of the bay. "Haven't you noticed that this island is a bit isolated? I mean, why do you think we're here?"

Thallia decided to let Niob talk; he sounded as if he wanted to. No need to tell him that she thought that this island was the perfect place for the Archives to observe their recruits and study them thoroughly before they sent them to the Archives. She followed him over the field of sullen scrubby grass towards the forest. At the end of the month, she would be in Mystridin's Academy, anyway, and until then, she could put up with Niob.

"I mean, if we'd just wanna make sure you're no heretics, there are enough empty monasteries in the desert. And, honest, we've done our homework on you and your families. You're no heretics. And there's loads of Madjai in Mystridin, they bother with they loyalty-thing." Niob grinned over his shoulder at her and Thallia did not quite know what to make of his words. "The true heretics are there," he pointed at the open sea, skipped over a stump on the ground onto another. "Those pirates. We are here extra for them and once they've beached their ship for typhoon season, we'll get our Madjai from the neighbour island and crush `em! - You'll miss out on the fun, though, you'll be long gone to your academy, though."

Thallia tried not to frown. Was Niob just showing off or came this information with the walk and that's why Sulfur had recommended to take it? If Niob was just showing off, she doubt he was really authorised to tell her. She did not think he was making it up to impress her. It explained why there were so many well trained Archive members and soldiers present even though there were only so few recruits. It also explained the frequent wires and why the dirigible left every other day. Around them, the cliffs started flattening, the roar of the ocean was growing louder. The sun was stealing its way down around the clouds. They were heading for the rim of the forest.

Thallia looked over her shoulder at the open sea. Nothing of today morning's smoke at the horizon anymore. Was it not wise to act quickly rather than wait for typhoon season? Surely, the pirates would find out one day or the other that Archive members were observing them. If they were heretics, it should bother them. Or, maybe, that was another reason for choosing an abandoned island; it would be much more difficult for word to get out that they were Archive members. Perhaps that was why the pirates had taken the post ship? Because they wanted to know who was observing them. Had she written anything about the Archives to Ferrus?

"We already found the site where they beached their ship last year - it's close to here," Niob went on. They had reached the rim of the forest, the wind chilly, even through her cloak. "And they have no clue we're the Archives, yet!"

"Are you even allowed to tell me this?" Thallia asked. The boastful way in which Niob spoke about the pirates irked her. Even if they were heretics, they were probably not stupid. It was never a good idea to go into a battle sure of one's victory; that's what got battles lost. Besides, if she had been a pirate she would not wait happily until she had beached her ship. She probably would try to deal with the Kohnons before that vulnerable period. Especially if she found the Kohnons suspicious. But she assumed that the Colonel or someone else had thought about that, too.

Niob laughed. "Why not? Do you think it's a secret?"

She did not reply. For one, the narrow dirt path that had lead them into the woods had started rising steeply. It was well worn and ascending it over roots and slippery stone was difficult. Secondly, she would have thought it a secret, but with that attitude, the Archives could not care if the pirates found out they were there or not. Or they were stupid. Which Thallia doubted. Unless the rumours about Sulfur - that he was stupid - were right. Thallia somehow doubted that, too.

It was none of her business, anyway; the Archives knew what they were doing. They were the Archives.

The path wound itself steeply up through closely standing trees with their moss cover trunks. Thallia could see nothing but the green of the leaves, moss and fern. The wind was still whooshing in the tops of the trees, but the air was almost unmoved where they were walking. It was wet and fresh, the earth black from moisture, water squishing out beyond her boots.

She started sweating under her cloak. The way was too narrow for two people at the time. In front of her, Niob climbed almost easily up and up over roots and naked rocks. At least, that had shut him up. The sky between the leaves sometimes glimpsing through in patches of grey and blue, the scarce sun drawing sunny cues into the air.

Thallia took her time looking around, acquainting herself with the impractical terrain.

Niob waited for her on the top of the ridge, breathing heavily. Here, the forest parted to a bare stretch of stone and yellow grass. A wooden watch tower had been rammed into the ground only a few meters further, pillars at the rim of the face.

The spot for the tower was well chosen, Thallia observed. The view was magnificent. In their back, the ridge rose further, trees crawling up its side to its almost naked top. To the south, the forest flanked down, made a vast halfcircle around the almost tiny base with its temple. From here, the landslide that had covered the former bay was clearly recognisable, dark stones against which the sea broke. In front of them and to the left, the ridge steeply levelled down to form an almost round cove with a pitch black beach and a narrow cliff blocking the entrance for larger ships. A few huts were recognisable between the trees. Behind the cove, in the wake of the island, several other small islands - or maybe only reefs - were rising from the water. Some of them were wooded or covered by grass, but all were immersed in the white foam the sea sprayed onto them. In the hazy distance, almost swallowed by the bulk of the mountain behind them, the reefs seemed to join up to form another island.

"Hey!" Niob had dragged himself to the ladder, waving up. He was still catching his breath. "Everything all right up there?"

The wind up here was harsh enough to almost carry to reply from the tower entire away within, blowing through layers of clothings within seconds: "Ship's disappeared to the north-east!" A head appeared above them. "Probably to Matuk Island." He pointed in the direction of the hazy landmass. "Their smoke's been gone since early this morning. They'll get a warm welcome from the Madjai if they get too close!"

"The pirates?" Thallia asked.

"Oh, sure," the other nodded happily.

"She's one of our recruits," Niob said. "Second Lieutenant Thallia. - That's Pluto. He's not with the Archives. I'm showing her `round the island."

"Is she supposed to know about the pirates?"

"Why not?" Niob shrugged. "Everyone's making a fuss, anyway. And if they land on Matuk, we'll be called into action, anyway."

"I hope they will! I've sent almost my entire wage home with the post ship." Pluto pulled a face. "Bloody pirates!"

"Well, you'd better keep a good lookout, then!" Niob made a salute.

The other grinned, saluted back and withdrew his head into the watchtower.

"One of our watch towers," Niob explained. "Pluto's responsible for this one. Pretty good. He can forecast the weather for two or three days."

Thallia asked herself if that was indeed the most qualifying talent for being in charge of a watch tower.

"Shall we?" Niob asked, pointing down the steep dirt track that lead down the other side of the mountain towards the bay.

Thallia gave a short nod and followed when he set into motion again. Below them in the woods, close to the bay, she could see several formations that looked too squared to be natural in the cove. They looked interesting.

Yellowed grass and scrubs were growing on the naked rock of the plateau, replaced by fern and black earth once the path led them back into the forest. The wind was coming from up front again, chilly.

The way down was almost as steep as the way up and certainly more slippery. Thallia paid good attention to placing her steps which did not leave much time to look around. Niob seemed to know the way much better, skipping over the stones like that. Or maybe, he was just reckless. It was too wet to be skipping much. Or perhaps, he thought it looked terribly funny to be waiting on one of those rocks, staring out onto the sea.

She just passed him, heading further down the path. She did not like the way he seemed to think himself above everyone else. Or at least above the recruits and the normal soldiers in the base. He appeared to think that he was pretty awesome, as a fire mage; Thallia had seen him more than once playing pompously with fire.

And he seemed to think even more highly of himself because of his bloody uncle, the general.

But that was no reason to say anything; she would see the last of him soon enough.

"Hey, wait!" he called after her, heard him jumping over some stones.

Thallia stopped, waited until he caught up. Through the trees, she could see something that looked like an old, overgrown ruin.

"You shouldn't wander off alone." Niob said.

Thallia turned, set back into motion, towards the ruin. "Then, perhaps, you shouldn't be gazing at the sea."

"I thought I saw something."

"The people on the watch towers will have seen it too," Thallia shrugged, even if the prospect of a pirate ship attacking a neighbour island thrilled her. Not that she wanted to fight heretics, never in life. "Let's go." She nodded downwards again. She wanted to see those square objects she had seen through the tops of the trees, acknowledge the bay and then get back to the base.

"How will you ever manage to join the Archives if you don't become a little more curious?" Niob complained a few hundred meters further down the slope.

There, in front of them, where the sun fell through the trees, the ruin of and ancient building was lying, sharp edges swallowed by green, a tree growing out of it. Thallia tried to see something of the typical metal, tried to make out what the ruin might have been, but the piece was too overgrown. Through the trees, farer down the steep hill, the black sand of the cove and the white surf was starting to shine through. Those buildings must have had an excellent view. She had always liked to inspect buildings like this with Ferrus. "I'm not going to join the Archives."

"It would be good for you," Niob skipped over a few stones which looked as if the rain had washed the earth from them in the last few days. He turned onto a path that was almost entirely overgrown. A more worn path led clearly further downhill. This curved over what seemed to be fragments of the old building, swallowed by roots, moss and fen, grey and wet now. It did not look as if it was going straight for the bay. It was the first thing Niob did that Thallia considered as good judgement; it would be interesting to get a closer look at the ruins.

"I mean, without family and as a rebel, not to mention a woman, you'll get nowhere. Even with the princess. With her, you'll end up a Major at best. In the Archives, if you get old enough, you could be a General. Or even a Lord."

The path was narrowing even further. Amongst the trees, Thallia could see other fragments of ruins, some looked like pillars from old entrance doors. Niob's words annoyed her.

"And you guard books all day long," she added contemptuously.

"And we mustn't speak to anyone about what we read or otherwise give away books or knowledge. Under the penalty of death for both parties. Yes, yes, of course. But we find heretics, the greatest enemies in Kohnonia. We hunt them down, the Madjai are only there for manpower."

"I want nothing to do with heresy." Thallia stated sharply. She did not even want to hear anything else about it. Heresy was too dangerous to dabble with. Too dangerous to talk about.

"Your children - your brother's children would be able to rise much higher in the Kohnonian military. They might even get appointed to Inner Kohnonian armies. You could buy your grandmother a house in a big town. With water supply and servants. And your brother his own shop."

Thallia stopped. The last sounded tempting. "Colonel Sulfur said I wasn't recruited to join the Archives."

Niob sounded as if she could get her family out of the desert. As if she could give her grandmother a decent home, far away from the war. But she was sure there were things he was not saying. And she did not want anything to do with heresy. It tainted you and in the end, the demons got you. Heresy always sounded tempting.

Niob shrugged. "I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you did, anyway. Really, you should. Come and join us."

Thallia stared at Niob. A ray of sun was falling onto one of the ruins. In the wind that was rushing in the tree tops, she was almost sure she heard the echo of Anupu's bells, jackal headed guardian of the underworld. "Not interested."

"We have all the knowledge there is."

"Every sane person would want nothing to do with your heresy. Every thinking person would immediately say `no'. I'm saying `no'. And we're going back to the base." Thallia turned on her heel. She was not going to spent another minute with a man who wanted to persuade her to have something - anything at all, even if it was for the good side - to do with heresy. Sulfur had shown her the respect of saying that she did not have to join.

"Pity," Niob made. "Would have been fun to get you in."

Thallia did not even wait for him to follow. No archives for her. And how dared Niob to try and persuade her?! She walked as briskly as the narrow path would allow, looking displeased at the sea. However, staring at the sea froze her in her steps, so suddenly that Niob almost ran into her. There were boats on the sea. Small boats that were just slipping pass the rock in the middle of the cove.

"Who are they?" Thallia asked. Maybe, they were the local fishermen. Maybe, they came in small, flat stealthy boats with cloth around the oars. Well, maybe they were not local fishermen. Even Thallia could tell the difference between fishermen and, well,

"Pirates," Niob said off-handedly.

"We need to alarm the others," Thallia said, set into motion at the same time.

"No need to," Niob made from behind her, pointing up the slope. It took Thallia a moment to see movement down a trail and a moment longer do distinguish Astate and Sulfur through the greenish twilight.

They met only seconds later a tiny intersection. Astate's hand wrapped around an imposing staff, Sulfur had his malformed staff over his shoulder.

"Pirates are invading the bay, Sir," Thallia said. Quite unnecessarily.

Sulfur nodded. "They'll be here for us." He turned to Niob. "Haven't you heard the bell? Everyone is in position already. You better hurry."

Niob nodded shortly, sharply almost.

"You, go back to the base." He nodded into the direction of the base. It chilled Thallia that Sulfur called her just `you'. It was never good to be called just `you'.

"She could help," Niob said with a short look back at her before he turned. Thallia almost stared at Niob. She had never thought he would make an ally.

Astate gave a short nod to Sulfur's gaze.

Sulfur eyed Thallia, smiling softly. "I don't think she wants to join us." He adjusted his staff over his shoulder, turned.

The sentence bit her even fiercer. Even if it was true and she did not want to get close to heretics of any kind. Not at all. "But -" Her eyes travelled to Astate. But it was important that they knew her name. This was her chance to prove herself worthy. But was that worth getting into contact with heresy? Just to prove herself worthy? "I'm sure I can be of great help, Sir."

Sulfur turned back. She hoped he had not heard the doubt in her words. She hoped he would tell her to go head back for the base, because this was heresy and they did not involve her. He smiled, slightly quizzically, slightly concerned. "Your help will be welcome. Unless you don't feel prepared for heresy. I wouldn't hold it against you if you went back to the base now." He looked at her, several steps down towards the beach already, light green on the face. Between the trees, the boats had passed the rock. They were heading for the beach. The surf was white. It were many boats, many people. - Many heretics.

Thallia gulped. No heresy for her, never in life! She did not even want to get close to Anupu's realm. Did not want to poison her soul.

Sulfur nodded at the others, started moving downhill, past her.

If she left now... Sulfur had said they would not hold it against her. She trusted him. She wanted to leave. Fear - fear of dark demons - was burning in her stomach. She stared after them, disappearing between the trees. She had offered her help. She stared at the boats. She was frightened of the No Life King and his demons. With heresy, her heart would be too heavy when it would be weight.

They had almost disappeared and below, the pirates were landing, jumping out of the boats man by man. Who knew which evil forms of the underworld they had engaged for their purpose. The three headed dogs? Her hands were sweaty, she felt chilled through, wanted to run. But even three headed dogs could be fought. It was the Archive's job to banish the demons and block off evil spells. She could fight. The Archives, they were on the side of good. They fought demons and heresy and evil. If she fought on their side - it surely could not taint her heart. And there was no better opportunity to prove her bravery and her dedication. She was dead frightened. But she could put any piece of wood and steel into three headed dogs. And the Archives surely had sacared ones. She tried to swallow her fear. Could not. Closed her eyes, lurched herself forward. Hurried after them, knees soft.

Whatever came, she would fight for the powers of good. She would defend the princess against any threat.

Even if that meant having to face heresy.


I hope you enjoyed reading. If you have comments or any sort or critique (negative and positive), please tell me.

Next Chapter (In about a month again): Rhenia and Ferrus. They'll go to Guanin and try a little more magic. Oh, and Ferrus will get letters.