Just as Kevin turned the corner, he heard a loud whoosh and a bright flash blinded him. He stopped and a loud crash nearly deafened him. Are they attacking the walls? He thought wildly. Are the Gods angry? Clutching his satchel close to his chest he ran the rest of the way to the square. He bounded up the stairs and saw the Duc at the front of an empty viewing stand, struggling against Commander Spalding and his lieutenant as they tried to lead him away.

"No!" the Duc cried. "Don't you see? It's a sign! His favor! War! Commander, call your men, we're marching to Silver City!"

"Sir," Commander Spalding pleaded, "Come back to the palace. It's a riot. We have to get you to safety."

"Never! Grab the iron while it's hot! We have His favor! I will rule the Empire!"

Kevin turned away and caught sight of a familiar figure tied to a pole below. Maurice! He thought. Maybe I can get him to safety. He turned back to the stairs just as the Duc broke away from the Commander and leaped over the side of the viewing stand.

Kevin ran down the stairs and to the front of the platform. He wondered briefly, where he could find some water to put out the flames when he saw a second figure standing with Maurice.

"It doesn't burn!" the Duc cried, "It doesn't burn!" He started laughing, chills ran down Kevin's back "I am favored! I am INVINCIBLE!" An arrow hit him in the back. Kevin looked back at where it had come from. An archer, in an Imperial uniform, sat astride his horse at the edge of the square. He nocked another arrow and, before Kevin could blink, it embedded itself in the Duc's chest. He fell.

A sudden clank and Kevin turned towards the noise. Maurice, his hands free from the manacles, gingerly pulled the hood off his head. His wrists were red and blistered. He looked down at the Duc's body at his feet and then, wonderingly, at the flames still dancing around him.

"Maurice!" Kevin called, and rushed forward. A chain suddenly moved under his feet. He fell forward, barely catching himself on the pole.

"Sorry." Janna was next to him. "I had to get your attention." She said a word and the chains moved to the side of the platform. "Come on." she said. Her dress was torn and hung ragged around her legs.

Kevin stood up, draping Maurice's arms over his shoulders and trying to avoid his wrists, he followed Janna into the darkness under the viewing stand.

Her friend was lying on the ground with a makeshift pillow of petticoats under her head. Putting her hand on one of the support posts, Janna said a spell and then sat heavily down next to her friend. "Let me see." she said to Maurice, motioning to him. Kevin helped him hold out his arms.

She said a spell and the blisters shrank, but did not disappear. The burns on his wrists did not change. She sighed, "Sorry, that's the best I can do." she looked at Kevin, "Do you have something I can use as a bandage?"

Kevin looked around, then a thought occurred to him. "Give me a dagger." he said.

She gestured and one appeared in her hand. Turning it around, she handed it to him. Pushing the tip into the fabric of the sleeve, he felt it start to tear. Seeing what he was doing, she gestured and another dagger appeared. She leaned forward and began to help him. Working together they tore off his sleeves of his tunic and tore the fabric into rough strips. Kevin sat on his satchel and watched his "cousin" wrap Maurice's hands and arms. Taking off his tunic, Kevin handed it to her, and watched her fold it and tuck it under Maurice's head as he lay down.

"I'm going to put you to sleep now." she said to him. "It will help with the pain." he nodded. She touched his forehead and said a few words, he relaxed.

Janna pushed herself backwards until her back was against a post. She and Kevin sat in silence listening to the noise outside.

"Aren't you afraid?" he asked.

"Of what?"

"They might try to set this on fire. It's still burning outside."

She shook her head slowly. "That's an illusion. When I saw it was a person and not a dummy, I sent the heat away. But then I realized the Duc might realize there wasn't a fire, so I made an illusion."

Kevin stared at her, open-mouthed.

She looked at him. "What?"

Kevin closed his mouth, shook his head and looked away.

"No one's going to notice us." she said. "I put a spell on the wood." she reached up and patted the post. "When it's safe, I'll take it down and someone will find us."

Kevin nodded, suddenly too tired to say anything. Janna yawned and put her head on her knees.

"You're not a clerk, are you?" she asked after a few minutes of silence. She turned her head to look at him.

"Not entirely, no."

"Thought so. Who do you work for? Another Duc?" she yawned again. "I knew Duc Suspis through George."

"Who is George?"

"My teacher. Is it another Duc?"


"Higher or lower?"


Janna gave him a long stare. "Huh." she said finally, and put her head down again.