"...reminds me a little of Ursula K. LeGuinn in his descriptions of people and places." --Cori Dyson, author of the All Things Character It Is blog
"From the moment I opened the book, I realized that I'd missed these characters. And the way it started promised epic action and mystery, once again." --Alexandra Engellmann, author of the Sky Ghosts series
From the Author
The assassin mirrored her motions, and Kari hesitated in shock when she saw that the syrinthian woman had blue-black, leathery wings. Nothing in Kari's education ever mentioned syrinthians having wings, and as she considered that, the assassin's coloration also seemed wrong: she almost appeared albino. Kari came to the realization that she faced something different, something her Order knew little about. The woman's skill with her twin straight-blades was both efficient and impressive. Kari's contemplations came to an end a moment later when one of the guards behind her blew his whistle, and soon it was answered by the piercing sound of watch whistles echoing down the long streets. Kari let forth a sigh of relief. Irressa was back on her feet and slowly circled to get the assassin between her and Kari again.
The syrinthian woman checked Irressa's position and Kari pounced, leading high with her right blade but preparing an eviscerating follow-up with her left. Kari could scarcely believe the reaction she received: the syrinthian woman jabbed Kari hard in her armored belly with one of her blades while lifting Kari's right scimitar harmlessly high with the other. The assassin dashed with blinding speed under Kari's right arm and kicked her hard in the side in a move reminiscent of Aeligos' training, but Kari's reflexes and instincts allowed her to turn with the blow and bring her left scimitar around. She parried the assassin's neck-strike hard with her left scimitar, and then spun back the other way with a decapitating cut of her right scimitar.
The syrinthian woman was surprised at Kari's speed, but she ducked out of range of Kari's counter-strike. The two faced each other for a moment and Irressa approached, once again circling to try to flank their enemy.
"Black is mine," the woman hissed in an otherworldly voice that seemed unaccustomed to speaking the humans' common tongue. Her angled, golden, slit-pupiled eyes fixed Kari with a baleful gaze, but in that cunning stare Kari could see that the assassin understood she was soon to be out numbered and overwhelmed. "You cannot protect him forever."