Friday, March 30, 2018


Book 3 of the Zygradon Chronicles

"You've had your lessons about the Nameless One." Nalla waited until Meghianna nodded. "He was your great-grandfather. His evil came down through two of his three children, Endor and Triska. Nainan, your grandmother, broke free of the magic he used to control her. Triska's daughter is Trevissa, and she used magic to trick your father, to think she was Belissa. And so Megassa was born."

"Oh. Papa must be very uncomfortable when he sees Megassa." She frowned and chewed on her next thought a moment. "Or doesn't he see her ever?"

"I'm not sure. She's been living somewhere else, and only came to the fortress last fall. Most of what I know about your sister, I have only heard from others. But show your father some mercy, and don't ask him. Let him tell you what he thinks of your sister when he chooses, all right?"

Meghianna nodded, and slipped her hand back into Nalla's as they continued down the long, shadowy hallway of smooth, golden stone.

She had heard enough people say Efrin Warhawk was far too young to carry the burden of the throne. It prompted her to step back and look at her father as if she had never seen him. That was easiest to do when she came to the Warhawk's fortress in the spring, after being separated from her father all fall and winter. When she walked into the council room that afternoon and saw him sitting at the far end of the long council table, she noted the touch of silver in his oak-colored hair and short beard, and new lines around his mouth and eyes. She hoped those lines would go away when he stopped frowning. Efrin was only twenty-eight. She supposed older people would think that was very young to be the High King, charged with keeping the entire World safe. From her very young age of six, twenty-eight seemed enormously ancient.

Thursday, March 29, 2018


Book 3 of the Zygradon Chronicles

"Where is Megassa's mother?" she asked, when she and Nalla had reached the bottom of the staircase and she could see no one else in the hallway either behind or ahead of them. Meghianna had learned long ago the necessity for speaking with caution.

"No one knows for sure."

"Is she my aunt, or my cousin?"

"She's no one and nothing to you, my dear. And you'd be wise not to ask your father about her, either. It's hard enough for him to admit Megassa exists. Other men would think themselves justified in having such painful reminders removed from sight. Permanently."

"But Megassa didn't do anything wrong." Meghianna stumbled as the implications of Nalla's words sank in. The woman meant other people would think it justified if Megassa died. What evil had her mother done, that someone would want a little girl dead to pay for it?

"Exactly. But there are those who think a child's innocence is no justification for mercy." Nalla sighed and stopped and went down on one knee in front of the girl, so they were nearly eye-to-eye. She rested both hands on Meghianna's shoulders. "Sweetling, you're far too young to hear such cruel things, but considering who you are to be someday, I wouldn't doubt you're wise enough already to understand. It's said Lady Ceera was wise ahead of her time, as well."

"Lord Mrillis' dead wife."

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Book 3 of the Zygradon Chronicles

"And you must be Captain Gynefra." Nalla reached for Meghianna's hand. "This one is my charge. This one must be yours. She claims her nurse told her to go away."

"She's telling the truth. The girl is the laziest little tart I've ever had the displeasure of--well, none of that matters. She wanted to spend time chasing one of the new Valors in training, rather than her duty. Little Megassa isn't half as much trouble as her former nurse wants people to think." Her smile turned rather grim as she looked at Megassa and nodded for emphasis. Gynefra held out her hand again. "Come along and we'll find someone much nicer, shall we?"

Meghianna opened her mouth to ask why her newly discovered sister couldn't stay with her, but Nalla stopped her, tugging on her hand.

"Thank you, Captain. It's time for Meghianna to make her appearance, and I wouldn't want to ruffle anyone's feathers so early." Nalla waited only until Megassa let the soldier take her hand, then headed for the door to the enclosed, spiraling staircase that led from the royal family's private quarters, still holding Meghianna's hand.

"Considering everyone's feathers are ruffled all the time nowadays, we thank you." Gynefra chuckled and bent to scoop up Megassa, so the child straddled her hip. "Let's see what the cooks can spare us for a treat, shall we?"

Meghianna looked back just long enough to see the smile on the other girl's face, then let Nalla hurry her along. It was time to see her father--and Lord Mrillis. Even anticipation couldn't drive the questions from her thoughts.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Book 3 of the Zygradon Chronicles

"So... Megassa?" She waited until the other girl raised her head and looked at her, silvery-green eyes big and glossy with tears. "We're half-sisters, and we're cousins both, yes?"

"I guess so." Megassa nodded. "You're the princess, just because you're older than me?"

"We should both be princesses, shouldn't we?" She turned to Nalla.

"That's a subject best left for later, when you're better able to understand." The woman sighed and raked her long, elegant fingers through her silver hair. "Let's find your nurse, little Megassa, shall we?"

"She told me to go away." The younger girl pouted as Nalla put her back down on her own two feet. She followed readily enough when the woman led the two girls out the door.

Before they took more than three steps down the hallway, a woman in the brown and gold uniform of the Warhawk's personal guards, with a captain's triple knots on her shoulder, hurried up the nearest staircase. Amusement lit her wheat-colored face when she saw Meghianna, walking down the hall next to Nalla with her hands clasped behind her back, deep in thought. Shaking her head, she sighed and reached to take hold of her hand.

"Come along, troublemaker. You've had your fun, but now--" Then she saw Megassa, who had ducked behind Nalla. Her mouth dropped open and she looked back and forth between the two girls. "I think we're headed for years of trouble," she muttered. "You're Nalla, aren't you?"

Monday, March 26, 2018

Off the Bookshelf: HARDCORE TWENTY-FOUR, by Janet Evanovich

Book 24 in the Stephanie Plum series.

If you haven't read this humorous series about the misadventures of Jersey girl accident-prone bounty hunter Stephanie Plum ... Why not???

I love the insanity, I love the characters, all their quirks and foibles and just how much more silliness can Grandma Mazur and Lula produce?

This time... wow. Zombies. There are zombies on the loose in Trenton. For real. As in bodies are vanishing -- fortunately, they're already dead -- and when they're found, either their heads are missing or their brains are missing.

Weird, huh? To make things more complicated, it looks like one of the fugitives Stephanie has to hunt down is involved in the whole zombie mess, or wants to be involved. And then for the cherry on top, Deisel shows up, and he seems to be involved in the zombie mess. How? Read it and find out.

Are the zombies real, or is this just a nasty trick? And just why is homicide cop Joe Morelli getting into hunting down zombies? Poor Stephanie -- looks like the zombies are after her brains. Well, at least someone values her for her brains ... or her incredible weird, twisted luck.

Read it and be ready to laugh. And groan. And go "ewwwww!" a few times.

Friday, March 23, 2018


Book 3 of the Zygradon Chronicles

"I wouldn't do that," Meghianna said, following her nurse further into her suite. "Lord Mrillis said it isn't polite to go into people's heads without their permission. And anyway, I'm not strong enough, even if I thought I needed to."

"There you go again, talking like a girl twice your age." Nalla didn't smile, like she usually did when she made that complaint. She settled on the nearest couch and used a corner of her apron to wipe the stranger child's face. "Here now, little Megassa, there's no need for tears. We're the last ones in this place to want to hurt you."

"But--but--why does she look like me?" the other child wailed.
Meghianna frowned as a thread of dislike curled through her belly. She had learned long ago that whining and wailing didn't do her any good, and was ugly and irritating. She wondered if this girl acted that way deliberately, or only from fear. She reminded herself to ask Mrillis why she had that idea, the next time she spoke with him.

That thought made her smile. The prospect of seeing the Rey'kil enchanter every day, to learn more about magic and the women who were Queen of Snows before her, was almost as wonderful as being able to see her father every day for the entire spring and summer.

"To be totally correct, you look like her. Meghianna is your elder by three moons. And you look alike because you're sisters. Half-sisters, anyway," Nalla corrected quickly. She sighed. "And, because your mothers are cousins. Were cousins, because sweet Queen Belissa is dead."

And your mother most likely killed her, but that's not your fault, so I won't say it.

Nalla's thought rang loudly through Meghianna's head, startling her. The girl yanked her mental fingers back from the Threads, feeling a little queasy at the strength of the thought, as well as the guilt of trespassing. A moment later, curiosity overrode everything.

Thursday, March 22, 2018


Book 3 of the Zygradon Chronicles

Meghianna didn't know she had a sister until her sixth summer, when she went to visit her father, Efrin Warhawk.

The adventure of racing through her suite of rooms in the Warhawk's fortress, looking for the surprises her father left for her, ended abruptly when the door from the hallway banged open. Thinking her father had left his council meeting to greet her, she turned around to race from her study room to the front room to throw herself into his arms. Instead, she froze, stunned to see her near-mirror image standing in the doorway, staring at her in return. The wide-eyed surprise on the other girl's face crumpled into tears, and she went to her knees there on the threshold.

"Nalla!" Meghianna hurried across the room. She reached out to lift the other girl back to her feet when a gasp and a muffled curse from her nursemaid startled and stopped her.

"So it's true," the silver-haired Rey'kil healer muttered.

"What's true?" Meghianna asked.

Warned by the frown on the woman's ordinarily cheerful, round face, she took a step back. The Threads chimed around her, responding to the tightening in her belly. She reached with her mind to calm them. So far, only Lord Mrillis could hear when she disturbed the Threads, but she knew that was only because she was so young and weak. He had promised to keep her secret--and also made her promise in return to tell him whenever she learned to do something new, no matter how small or odd. Disturbing the Threads too much would alert others to her magical talents. Now was not the time to let the world know she had already found her imbrose. Not with this mirror image of herself crying silently on the threshold of her suite, trembling and looking at her and Nalla as if she expected to be tossed out like so much trash.

"Well, you'll find out sooner or later. And pick it from our minds, no doubt, if we try to keep it from you." Nalla knelt and caught up the little girl under her arms, just like she picked up Meghianna even now, when she was frightened or upset, with no regard for her dignity as the daughter of the Warhawk and future Queen of Snows. The stranger with Meghianna's pointed chin and red-gold hair and silvery-green eyes certainly seemed to need the coddling.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

New Cover Art Reveal!!!

Taa - Daa!!

What do you think?

Here's the cover for my next book set in the weird little town of NEIGHBORLEE, OHIO.


This is the next story told through the eyes of Lanie Zephyr, wheelchair-bound comedian, sports reporter, and broken semi-pseudo-superhero, one of the guardians of the weird and wonderful things kept contained within the boundaries of Neighborlee. And yes, she plays in a wheelchair basketball league.

The title comes from the title of one of Lanie's comedy CDs: "Living Proof that the Good Times Roll."

And for those of you who know my brother -- wheelchair-bound former comedian -- it's also the title of one of his comedy collections. The other one was, "It's all Downhill From Here." And showed a sketch of him holding onto his wheelchair for dear life, his eyes big with terror.

LIVING PROOF will be coming out this fall from Uncial Press, and starts up 6 years after the events at the end of the current Neighborlee/Lanie Zephyr novel, DORM RATS.

Future titles in the Lanie Zephyr stories will be along the same lines: Night of the Living Proof, Return of the Living Proof, the Living Proof Gets the Blues, Bride/Husband of the Living Proof, Son/Daughter of the Living Proof ... get the idea?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Book of the Week: THREE DROPS OF BLOOD

Today we move on to the next book in my Arthurian fantasy series, The Zygradon Chronicles. All published by Uncial Press.

There are 5 books in the series:


Meghianna was chosen as the next Queen of Snows before she was born. Megassa, her sister, should never have been born. Mrillis watches both daughters of the Warhawk as they grow up and choose the paths of their lives. They could be part of the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Three Drops of Blood–but which one will wait, and which one will abominate? The choices the sisters and their teachers make could affect the destiny of the World for centuries to come.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Off the Bookshelf: CHARLIE BONE AND THE TIME TWISTER, by Jenny Nimmo

Book 2 in the Children of the Red King series.

This book takes up soon after Book 1 ends. Charlie Bone is still stuck going to the horrific Bloor's Academy, but at least now he has a circle of friends who are willing to take chances with him, despite misunderstandings and letting the bullies and (quite honestly) psychos with power and influence manipulate them.

I think the worst part of the whole situation poor Charlie has to survive on a daily basis is that his own family has thrust him into the school and daily harassment and unfairness. Granted, just his father's side of the family, and considering what has happened to his father -- vanished, presumed dead, but with hints that he's still alive and lost somewhere out there -- as punishment for defying their will ... Charlie needs all the help he can get.

He's an ordinary boy in a lot of ways, but he's learning fast to deal with his unwanted gift, and when a situation drops almost on top of him, he's willing to take responsibility and help out.

In this case, a magical time travel object (which is pretty nasty in and of itself, considering how it captures its victims) takes a boy from nearly a century ago and drags him forward to the present Bloor's Academy. Bad enough to lose everyone and everything you know and love, but the nasty relative who got you in trouble in the first place is still around, and he hasn't improved with age and he's determined to destroy you. Charlie and his growing circle of friends, including people who are learning to get around their problems, to the rescue!

Fun series. I'm glad I bought a stack of the books and they're just waiting for me to have time to read.

Friday, March 16, 2018


Book 2 of the Zygradon Chronicles

"It is a good thing for the next Warhawk to train to be a Valor," Lyon continued. "No matter how many Noveni return to Moerta, our race will always be tied to Lygroes through the vales and the Valors."

"And the Rey'kil can never say that the Noveni have no part in Lygroes," Mrillis added softly, listening to an inner voice while his physical vision clouded for a moment. "There will come a day when there will only be one land for those who wish to live, and all will need to share it and forget that there ever were three continents and three races." He shuddered, feeling as if the images that prompted those words had been yanked out of some deep, until then silent, part of his soul.

Athrar held out his hand, with the ring Ceera had made for him softly glowing on his thumb. Sparks danced on the tips of the wings and beak of the stylized warhawk engraved into the thick band, physical witness of the power that had slid through the room and stirred the Threads like an errant, warm breeze.

"Did you do that...or was it done to you?" the boy asked. His hand shook just a little.

"What did you see?" Mrillis countered.

"It was a web, all different colors." He swallowed hard, audibly, but he didn't go pale. If anything, his eyes shone with wonder, not fear. "It just fell out of the ceiling and covered you. Then it melted into you." He shook his head. "But that isn't right, either."

"I think the sooner you go to Ceera for training, the happier we all will be." Mrillis stood and gestured for the boy to follow him. "If you will all excuse us, I think it is time for our prince's first lesson in using his imbrose."

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Book 2 of the Zygradon Chronicles

"So, you want to be a Valor, do you? Just because you're sensitive to the power of star-metal?" He managed to hold a straight face just until panic and disappointment made the boy's face go pale. Then he laughed and reached across the gap between their horses, grasping his forearm in a salute of equals. "I can't think of anything more blessed than to have the Warhawk's heir counted among the guardians of the lifeblood of our land. I assume your uncle approves?"

"He admitted he was jealous," Athrar said with a grin.

"Just until I realized how proud I was," Afron Warhawk admitted less than an hour later, as Mrillis settled in for a pleasant, informal evening in the family quarters of the fortress. They were only six: Afron and Queen Elysion, Lyon and Lady Gretha, Athrar and Mrillis. "This is what Lady Le'esha dreamed of. Unity between our two races, a bridge over the differences between us. Noveni can no longer say that we are two separate races and there are no obligations between us, when this proves that we are brothers beyond the ties of blood. This is something no one can deny."

"Especially when they despised those of mixed blood who proved we were all one blood," Elysion said softly.

Mrillis swallowed hard against the heat and choking sensation in his throat as he watched the gray-haired Warhawk catch up his wife's hand and kiss it, and saw the tender, sad light in his eyes. Their four children, half-bloods, had been murdered, and still no one was quite sure who was responsible. Blood magic had been involved in the vicious storm, but no one knew if it was Encindi practicing the forbidden arts, or Noveni who turned to forbidden things in a bid for power, or another Rey'kil who had sold his imbrose for the sake of power.

"I will always acknowledge the debt the Noveni owe to the Rey'kil for sharing Lygroes with us, when our own lands were overrun with star-metal poisoning and the Encindi invaders," the Warhawk continued after several moments when everyone was content to stare into the fire and visit sad memories. "Just as generations of our race took shelter here, so will generations give service in defending the vales and the cup of life and power before that debt is repaid. As long as there is magic in our bloodline, the family of the Warhawk will lead in that defense."

"Witnessed," Lyon and Athrar said together. Father and son exchanged grins.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Book 2 of the Zygradon Chronicles

How old was the boy now? Fourteen? Mrillis had a fleeting moment of feeling incredibly old. Where had the time gone? He had been younger than Athrar was now, when they first met; although he doubted the boy remembered, being practically a newborn, spending most of his time eating and sleeping.

Mrillis couldn't remember a time when life had been that simple for him. Had it ever, even when he was a newly orphaned boy, watched over by Le'esha and Graddon?

Then all other thoughts fled as he felt a pressure, a presence pushing against him. That particular resonance of a Noveni touched with imbrose grew Athrar rode closer. Mrillis almost reined his horse to a stop, to give him time to comprehend. Instead, he gathered up his sense of self and sent it questing along the Threads, toward that untrained, fledgling imbrose.

Athrar? He nearly burst out laughing when the oncoming rider yanked on the reins, making his horse swerve and half-rear up in reaction. So, you can hear me. That's very good, for someone untrained in imbrose.

Mrillis? The boy's mental voice cracked just like his physical voice did. I'm not insane? I'm not imagining it?

Not at all. When did it start?

Lady Ceera gave me a ring made of star-metal for solstice. sang to me, even before I took it from the pottery box that held it. By this time, the two riders were close enough for Mrillis to see the strained, crooked grin on the boy's square-cut face.

"Better stop that and talk normally," he called. "You're draining yourself." He bit his lip against another grin at the relief clear on the boy's face. "Estall bless us, but you've grown. Ceera won't recognize you." He shook his head in amazement.

Athrar had to be two hands taller than he had been half a year ago. He had lost the childish roundness in his cheeks, and the hands gripping the reins were long and narrow and showed calluses from hours practicing with sword, bow and spear.

Friday, March 9, 2018


Book 2 of the Zygradon Chronicles

He sighed, and closed his eyes as an extra-hard gust of icy wind slapped him as if in rebuke. Not too long ago, all Rey'kil had blamed the Noveni, especially their nobles, for the death of Le'esha, Queen of Snows. The rebels among them who had set about to drive all Noveni from Lygroes, even resorting to murder and wholesale destruction of homes and estates, were still unidentified and roaming freely.

At least they no longer think Endor is their leader, Ceera offered.

I thought you were going to sleep, he retorted, and grinned again into the darkness. Just ahead, the woods seemed to split apart, and he could see the towers of the fortress, gleaming with torchlight.

With you thinking so loudly? She laughed. The wind is especially loud off the sea tonight. I keep thinking I hear children crying, through the thickest stone walls. Remember to point out the glories of winter in the Stronghold, if that new Valor insists on being trained by me.

Yes, my Lady. Mrillis laughed quietly, echoing Ceera's laughter. His smile faded when the sound of her voice left his head, and he knew their connection through the Threads had ended. He clucked to his horse, urging a last burst of speed from the tired, cold beast.

Halfway across the open ground between the forest's edge and the fortress, a horseman rode out from the massive gates and raced across the snowy, hard-packed ground to meet him. Mrillis saw the golden hair flying wildly in the wind and the way the rider hung low over the horse's neck, and recognized Athrar racing out to meet him. How long had it been since he saw the boy? He felt a twinge of guilt at neglecting the young prince's lessons, but knew it only made sense for Athrar to spend his time with his uncle now, and learn all the things necessary to be Warhawk someday.

Thursday, March 8, 2018


From Uncial Press
Book 2 of the Zygradon Chronicles

Mrillis felt the Threads hum as he approached the Warhawk's winter fortress. Despite the lateness of the hour and his long ride in icy, dry wind, he felt a new surge of energy. Somewhere ahead of him, someone had picked up one of Ceera's many trinkets of star-metal and had disturbed the Threads. They made a particular resonance that couldn't be mistaken for any other vibration when someone touched the Threads with their imbrose. A Noveni had discovered he had just enough Rey'kil blood to sense the presence of the Threads. That was likely why the Warhawk had requested him to make the journey from the Stronghold at this time of year.

Interesting, Ceera agreed, when he touched a Thread and sent the information and his impressions back to her. Whoever it is will want training immediately. I wonder if they'll request that you or I train the new Valor? I've had a long, hard day and I'm going to bed now. Please don't wake me with the news, no matter how important this one thinks he is.

Yes, my Lady. I hear and obey.

A sensation like a light slap on his cheek came through their connection, which broke with an almost audible snap. Mrillis snorted and grinned into the winds that bit at his exposed skin. A new Valor waited for him at the Warhawk's fortress. He didn't know what amused him more; the new name that had formed in less than a moon's time for those Noveni who had discovered their imbrose and were tapped for guardianship of the vales, or the nobles among the Noveni who insisted that only the Queen of Snows or High Scholar Breylon should be their teacher.

How things had changed, in only a few moons. Why was it that the Noveni believed so easily in the existence of the Zygradon, when no one but those who had forged it could see or touch it? Why was it such a high honor to be named a guardian of the Vales, and by extension a guardian of the Zygradon? And why was it such a sought-after situation, to have magic, when only this past spring all Noveni hated and feared Rey'kil and wanted to migrate as one body to Moerta?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Book of the Week: BRAENLICACH

Today we move on to the next book in my Arthurian fantasy series, The Zygradon Chronicles. All published by Uncial Press.

There are 5 books in the series:


A new enemy arises to challenge Mrillis and Ceera as they battle plagues, an unknown enemy and treachery within the Noveni and Rey'kil alliance. Has the Nameless One survived, or has someone else taken his power? Endor's sister, Triska, is Ceera's heir as Queen of Snows, but arrogant and temperamental. Are they what they seem, or something else, something dangerous? 

During a star-shower, Ceera has a vision of the star-metal sword. She brings together the surviving makers of the Zygradon to forge the sword, Braenlicach. The children of the makers of Zygradon and Braenlicach inherit their parents' links with the magical objects. 

Uneasy years of peace pass, as they mature. Plagues return, and the young guardians take Zygradon out to heal their land, but they are betrayed from within. Traitors within the Stronghold attack, wantonly killing those linked to bowl and sword. Mrillis is left to save his world, but in doing so, may lose all that he loves.

Friday, March 2, 2018


Book 1 of the Zygradon Chronicles:

When Ceera woke up, Mrillis turned most of his attention to entertaining the little girl and keeping her quiet. Besides, the talk of numbers and provisions and arrangements for sailing from Wynystrys to Moerta bored him. He had one question, and asked it as soon as the visitors left and Le'esha called the children out of their hiding place.

"Why can't they just walk to Moerta?" he asked, on the heels of Le'esha commending the children for being so good.

"Walk?" The Queen of Snows blinked, visibly caught off balance, and sat down in her chair. Then she laughed. "You mean the tunnels that we use to travel between the enclaves? Oh, my dear, do you know how far it is from the shores of Lygroes to the shores of Moerta?"

"Magic makes the distance shorter," Mrillis said. Now he was confused. He knew that if he rode a horse, it would take him one whole moon to travel from Wynystrys, on the western shore of Lygroes, to the Stronghold, on the far northeastern tip of the continent. Walking the tunnel from the Stronghold to the island, however, took less than a day. He had never gone into the tunnel, but he had stood at the barred door of the entrance. He knew the tingling in his fingertips and the whispering in the back of his mind was his imbrose, reacting to magic at work.

"Yes, magic does make the distance shorter. And only those of Rey'kil blood, with strong imbrose, can use the tunnels. There is no tunnel under the sea, reaching to Moerta."

"We could build one."

"Hmm, yes, but how much power do you think it would take to dig a tunnel, much less keep the weight of all that water and stone from crushing it?" Le'esha sighed and smiled and reached out her arms to the children.

Ceera, who was sleepy again, crept up into her lap. Mrillis leaned into the warmth of her arm around him and rested his elbows on the arm of her chair.

"I don't know," he admitted, after thinking a long while.

"That is knowledge you must grow into. Just as you will grow into whatever talent the Estall has given you."

Thursday, March 1, 2018


 Book 1 of the Zygradon Chronicles:

"They won't find it because the Rey'kil can't be trusted. They pretend to be our friends, but they're killing us off slowly. Star-metal isn't poison--until the Rey'kil change it with their magic. They want this entire world to themselves."

"That would be a little hard to manage, with the Encindi chewing on their borders and the Nameless One using his blood magic to counter everything they do," the third man said.

"How do we know there really is a Nameless One? What is the difference between their so-called clean magic and his blood magic?"

"The difference between life and death," Le'esha said.

All three men turned as one, the third leaping to his feet, and they bowed to her. She paused in the doorway, studying the three intruders, before coming into the room. She walked past the shelves and glanced briefly through the gaps between the jars before sitting at her table.

"High Scholar Breylon and I have a proposal for you to take back to the Warhawk and his Council." She tipped her head to one side and waited until, one after another, the three men sat. "We will send scholars and enchanters from the Stronghold and from Wynystrys to settle in Moerta. They will study the places where star-metal lands and discern the difference between the star-metal that falls on Moerta and what falls on Lygroes.

"It could be that the difference is not in the star-metal, but in the land itself. Something in our soil might act as amethyst in a cup of wine, to nullify the poison. When we know what that difference is, we will try to duplicate it in Moerta and give your land back to you."

"That is most generous, Lady," the Warhawk's brother said, standing to give her a deep, respectful bow.

For the next hour, Le'esha conferred with the Warhawk's brother, Lyon, over the details of the plan. Mrillis watched the first man, who stayed silent, and considered his accusations.