In a city where touch reveals holiness, soulless Csilla is worthless in the eyes of the Church that raised her. When a serial killer threatens their divine protection, she sees a chance to earn her place—and a miracle—by catching the murderer, even though it means helping a heretic. But when the conspiracy they uncover pits her against the faith she’s trying to save, her personal salvation may destroy everything she believes in.
Three parts willow, six drops of poppy, mixed into an ale-jug of consecrated wine…
Csilla swirled the mixture, then rapped on the weather-worn door. It opened before the echo of the first knock had faded. Elmere knew when his mercy visits were due.
“How are you feeling?” she asked, waving him to the firelight. Lesions dotted his face and neck, and the wool over his elbows and knees had rubbed thin against his swollen joints. Bitter winter had been hard on everyone in Silgard, the sick most of all.
Every day new smoke carried the ashes of the dead: those delivered by illness, or hunger, or battlefront injuries that refused to heal. Stomach-churning rumors suggested less natural deaths, but that was only fear. There was no such thing as murder in the brilliant city, but it was easier to believe in the impossible strike of a knife than accept that every soul was a frozen slip or cough away from the evermore.
Except for Csilla. She had no soul, no eternity waiting. She had mixtures and mercy work and, today, Elmere.
“Better,” Elmere answered as she poured blessed water onto fresh linen and dabbed at the open wounds. They did look cleaner, free of pus or crusting edges. “Surprised you’re working alone. I don’t suppose that means they’ve accepted your vows?”