CITY OF BRASS meets A GATHERING OF SHADOWS
Fugitive queen Sylvia has been presumed dead since Nizahl’s armies burned her kingdom to the ground. When the cold, calculating Nizhal heir discovers Sylvia’s outlawed magic, they strike a traitor’s bargain: she’ll compete as his champion in the kingdoms’ dangerous tournament, and in exchange, Sylvia will help him draw out the magic users he’s hunting—Jasadis, her own people. As rising political tensions threaten a new war, Sylvia is soon embroiled in a dangerous game of cat and mouse where discovery means death.
Two things stood between me and a good night’s sleep, and I was only allowed to kill one of them.
I tromped through Hirun river’s mossy banks, squinting for movement. A normal apprentice dealt with grime, certainly, and plenty of late hours. I had expected those. I hadn’t expected the frogs.
“Say your farewells, you pointless pests,” I called. The frogs developed a defensive strategy any time I came close. The watchguard belched an alarm, the others flung themselves into the river, and the brave one remaining hopped for his life.
Dirt had caked deep beneath my fingernails. Moonlight filtered through a canopy of skeletal trees, and for a moment, my hand looked like a different one. A hand much more manicured, a little weaker. Those hands of Niphran’s that could wield an axe alongside the burliest woodcutter, weave a storm of curls into delicate braids, drive spears into the maws of monsters. For the first few years of my life, before grief over my father’s assassination spread through Niphran like rot, before the sight of my magic painted terror in her eyes, there wasn’t anything my mother’s hands could not do.
Oh, if Niphran could see her Heir now. Covered in filth and outwitted by croaking river roaches.