Snippet – The Artful Apprentice (Schooled in Magic 19)

17 Feb


“I don’t like it.”

Sergeant Miles resisted the urge to say something cutting as Lady Barb paced the office, her footsteps wearing a groove in the carpeted floor.  Lady Barb had always been the one to take action, the one who’d been prepared to do anything – no matter how dangerous – to accomplish her goals.  It was something they had in common.  Neither of them were the kind of person who’d be happy sitting back and doing nothing, even if it was the smartest thing to do.  They had to be doing something

But now, there was nothing they could do.

He watched as Lady Barb paced, finding himself – for once – at a loss for words.  He knew Lady Barb disliked – hated – Void.  She’d been his apprentice, once upon a time.  Miles wasn’t sure of the details, or why she’d left so abruptly, but no one would leave such an apprenticeship unless they had no other choice.  Lady Barb was neither incompetent nor stupid nor lazy.  She couldn’t have been dismissed for any of the usual reasons.  He didn’t think he wanted to know the truth.  It had to have been something bad.

“Emily shouldn’t be going to him,” Lady Barb insisted.  She turned to face him, her long blonde hair fanning out as she moved.  “There are others …”

“Like whom?”  Miles met her eyes, evenly.  “There are few others teachers who can prepare her for mastery.”

You could,” Lady Barb snapped.  “Or I could.  Or Irene or …”

Miles shook his head, curtly.  “I could make a combat sorcerer out of her,” he said.  “So could you.  But she wants to be more than just a combat sorcerer.  She hasn’t peaked yet.”

“There are others,” Lady Barb insisted.  “Hasdrubal is dead, but there are others.”

“Maybe,” Miles said.  “Hasdrubal would have been ideal.”

“And safer,” Lady Barb said.  “For everyone.”

Miles rubbed his forehead.  “Do you have the power to stop her from going to him?”

Lady Barb shot him a sharp look.  “Who’s side are you on?”

“Yours.  Emily’s.”  Miles looked back at her, calmly.  He loved her.  He really did.  But training and inclination forced him to state the facts as he saw them.  “The blunt truth is that there are few others who can prepare her for the future.  You can’t do it.  I can’t.”

“You took her to war,” Lady Barb reminded him.

“I know.”  Miles shook his head.  “The fact remains …”

“It isn’t safe,” Lady Barb insisted, cutting him off.  “And you know it as well as I do.”

Miles knew, without false modesty, that he was a patient man.  He’d schooled teenagers who thought they knew everything through the long and painful process of discovering they didn’t.  He’d handled aristocrats with egos the size of Whitehall itself; he’d dealt with commoners who barely had the self-confidence to raise their voices when confronted with their social betters.  He knew when to be stern and when to be encouraging.  It was more an art than a science and he knew he was good at it.  But there were limits.

“Emily doesn’t have any parents here,” he pointed out, calmly.  “Your … authority … over her vanished the moment you stepped back from teaching.  Her formal – legal – guardian is Void himself.”

“She’s more than old enough to put that aside,” Lady Barb snapped.  “It was a legal fiction from the start.”

“And one that’s proven damn convenient over the last six years,” Miles pointed out.  “How many people left her alone because they thought she was Void’s daughter?”

He pressed on before Lady Barb could try to answer.  “There’s no one, not even Void himself, who can tell her not to take the apprenticeship and make it stick.  And … who would?”

“Me,” Lady Barb said.

“You’re advising her not to take an apprenticeship that could turn her into one of the most powerful sorceresses in the world,” Miles said.  “This is an apprenticeship she wants to take.  She could have had her pick of masters, if she wished.  There isn’t a sorcerer who’d refuse to take her.  She’s chosen to study under Void and we need to respect that choice.”

“It could get her killed,” Lady Barb said.  “Or changed.  The person who emerges at the far end may not be the person we know and love.”

Miles cocked his head.  “Do you have so little faith in her?”

“You know as well as I do that he’ll put her in danger, just to see how she copes,” Lady Barb said.  “Void cannot be trusted.”

“There are people who say the same of you,” Miles said.  “And me.”

Lady Barb snorted.  “Absurd.”

“But true.”  Miles stood.  “I understand your concerns.  I’m sure you’ll ensure that she knows about your concerns.  But there’s nothing we can do.  She wants to study under him.”

“Hah,” Lady Barb said.

Miles nodded, curtly.  He’d known Emily for six years.  She’d been an odd student, even by Whitehall’s standards.  Miles hadn’t understood Emily until he’d learnt the truth about her origins.  No wonder she was a little strange.  And yet … there was no doubting her bravery, her skill at magic and, perhaps most importantly of all, a sense of simple human decency.  Miles had met many magicians he’d thought were going to go mad, getting themselves and others killed as they pushed the limits until they snapped.  Emily wasn’t one of them. 

“We can’t stop Emily from going to him,” Miles said.  “And if you push too hard, you may drive her away from you. She’s old enough to rebel against her parental figures.”

Lady Barb gave him a sour look.  “Do you have sisters?”

“I’ve taught students for over a decade,” Miles reminded her.  He’d never had many girls in his classes.  The ones who had studied under him had been so driven that they’d often outshone the boys.  “I am not entirely deprived of powers of observation.”

He smiled at her.  “Didn’t you rebel against your parents?”

“No.”  Lady Barb shook her head.  There was a hint of pain in her eyes.  “My father never said …”

She met his eyes.  “So … what do we do?”

“Be there for her,” Miles said.  He hugged her, tightly.  “That’s all we can do.”

“Yes.”  Lady Barb pulled back.  “And I’ll warn her to watch her back.”

“She can’t distrust her master,” Miles said.

“She must.”  Lady Barb reached for her cloak and pulled it on.  “You mark my words.  Void isn’t tutoring her out of the goodness of his heart.  He has an agenda.”

“You don’t know that,” Miles said.

“I do,” Lady Barb said.  “He’s up to something.  And Emily may find herself in serious trouble.”

Chapter One

“Welcome to Zugzwang,” Lady Barb said, as the teleport field faded.  “We’re only a short walk from the tower.”

Emily glanced at her, sharply.  The older woman had been unusually short-tempered as they’d travelled from Zangaria to Zugzwang, barely saying anything beyond commands and vague descriptions that meant nothing to her.  Emily could tell that something was bothering Lady Barb, but what?  She wasn’t sure she wanted to pry.  It could be anything from something simple to something life-threatening.

She looked around with interest as Lady Barb led her through the town.  It was the sort of place she’d have loved, if she had time to explore.  A cluster of shops – bookshops, apothecaries, general stores – dominated the centre, surrounded by a number of smaller houses and a single giant inn.  The people on the streets looked prosperous and happy, unlike so many other places she’d visited.  She smiled as she saw the schoolchildren heading to school, looking surprisingly enthusiastic.  The schoolmaster, standing by the door, nodded to them.  He looked more competent – and decent – than any teacher she’d known on Earth.

And the New Learning has made it here, she thought, as she spotted the letters and numbers carved into the wall.  Who knows where the children will go?

She said nothing as they kept walking, passing a single pub and a stagecoach centre.  Lady Barb hadn’t been entirely clear on how Zugzwang related to the local aristocracy, or even if there was a local aristocracy, but Emily could tell the townsfolk enjoyed a hearty degree of independence.  They wouldn’t have worked so hard if they thought there was a risk of being taxed into destitution at an aristocrat’s whim.  She looked towards the distant mountains, noting the absence of any large castles.  Here, so far from civilisation, the commoners could assert themselves.  She wondered if that would change over the next few years.  A dozen kingdoms were already building railways to link their towns and cities together.

Lady Barb pointed towards a handful of houses, slightly larger than the rest.  “There’s a small number of magicians here,” she said.  “You’ll probably meet some of them.”

Emily nodded.  Zugzwang wasn’t their final destination, but she’d been told it was traditional – Lady Barb had said it with a pronounced sneer – for apprentices to approach their master’s home on foot.  She suspected Void didn’t care about tradition any more than herself, but … she wondered, suddenly, if Lady Barb was deliberately wasting time.  They could have teleported a lot closer to the tower without ignoring tradition.  It was unlikely anyone would have noticed, let alone cared.

She said nothing as they left the town and headed up a stony path.  The landscape changed rapidly, becoming a valley heading further towards the mountains.  She could feel wisps of wild magic in the air, brushing against her senses.  The path didn’t look particularly well-trodden.  The more she looked at it, the more she thought it was a water-cut gully that could turn nasty if the rain started to fall.  She glanced at the clear blue sky, wondering just how often it rained.  She’d been caught in enough rainstorms, in the Cairngorms or along the Craggy Mountains, to know not to take them lightly.  It was very easy to get lost – or worse – in the gloom.

“The locals never come up here,” Lady Barb said.  “The mountains” – she jabbed a finger towards the distant peaks – “are forbidden.”

Emily took a breath.  “Forbidden?”

“There’s a lot of wild magic there,” Lady Barb said.  Her voice was curt, hard.  “Anyone who walks into the region doesn’t come out again.”

“I can imagine.”  Emily ran a hand through her long brown hair.  “Why does he live here?”

“You’ll have to ask him,” Lady Barb said, shortly.  “A person like him could live anywhere.”

She kept walking, forcing Emily to hurry after her.  It grew warmer as sunlight poured into the valley.  Emily felt sweat beading on her back, turning her dress into a sticky nightmare.  She cursed the lack of warning under her breath, wishing she’d had time to wear something a little more practical.  Void wouldn’t care if she turned up in trousers and a shirt, instead of a thoroughly impractical dress.  But he had made it clear he wanted her now.  She was mildly surprised he’d let her take the time to establish Heart’s Eye before summoning her.

And I had to leave it behind, Emily thought.  She trusted her friends to handle the university, as it started to grow into something real, but she wanted to be part of it.  Will I be able to go back for a visit?

She sighed, inwardly, as she mentally reviewed the notes on apprenticeships.  There were few hard and fast rules.  A master was supposed to give his apprentice a through grounding in his subject, but little else.  There were apprentices who were treated as children, she’d read, and apprentices who were treated as slaves.  There were masters who were kind and caring and masters who had no qualms about beating their apprentices bloody.  And there were no guidelines on just how long an apprenticeship should take.  Jade had completed his apprenticeship in a year.  Others … had taken five to ten years to graduate.

A prickle ran down her spine as she felt the background magic field grow stronger.  It felt oddly like the tainted sandstorms around Heart’s Eye, but far – far – kinder.  She felt almost as if she’d come home.  And yet, something was missing.  She looked around, trying to work out what wasn’t there.  It took her longer than it should have done to realise there were no animals shifting though the undergrowth, no birds flying through the sky, no insects buzzing from flower to flower.  There was no animal life at all.

“Nearly there,” Lady Barb grunted.  “Are you ready?”

Emily caught her breath.  “Yeah,” she managed.  She’d gotten a little out of shape over the past month.  Sergeant Harkin would have laughed at her – and then insisted on forced marches until she regained her muscle tone.  She promised herself, silently, that she’d exercise more over the coming months.  “I think so.”

“Good.”  Lady Barb stopped as they reached the top of the gully.  “Can you see the tower?”

She stepped aside to allow Emily to peer into the valley below.  It was immense, a green sea surrounded and concealed by towering mountains.  The sight took her breath away.  It was a whole secret valley, hidden from prying eyes.  A single tower stood in the exact centre of the valley, surrounded by rings of green.  Emily stared, trying to understand what she was seeing.  The tower was surrounded by grass, then a ring of trees, then more grass, then … her eyes narrowed as she saw the runes.  Void – or whoever had designed and built the tower – had landscaped the surrounding environment to create a web of subtle magic.  The tower might be completely invisible to anyone who hadn’t been invited.  She understood, now, why the locals had never discovered the valley.  It had been carefully hidden from them.

The tower itself looked … odd.  Emily couldn’t help thinking of a rook.  It seemed to vary in size, being both large enough to hold a small army and small enough to let her pick it up with her bare hand.  She’d seen the towers within the forests of Zangaria, the tiny fortresses designed to give the gamekeepers somewhere to rest their heads when they weren’t harassing poachers, but this … she frowned, trying to see though the haze.  The tower was impossible to see properly.  It looked as if part of the building existed in another dimension, somewhere the eye couldn’t see.

Which isn’t impossible, she reminded herself.  She’d been in plenty of buildings that were bigger on the inside.  He could build himself an entire TARDIS if he had the power and time.

Lady Barb stepped back, leaning against the stone.  “I can’t come any further,” she said, pointing towards a path leading down into the valley.  “You have to proceed alone.”

She sounded so curt that Emily knew something was wrong.  “Lady Barb …”

“You can call me Barb now, if you wish.”  Lady Barb smiled, but it didn’t touch her eyes.  “I’m no longer your tutor.”

Emily met the older woman’s eyes.  She’d never been the most sensitive to people emoting, but … she knew Lady Barb well enough to know she rarely shied away from anything.  There wasn’t much that could bother her, let alone stop her.  She practically defined ‘stiff upper lip.’

“Barb,” she said, carefully.  “What’s bothering you?”

Lady Barb said nothing for a long moment.  That was worrying.  Lady Barb had given Emily – and a number of other students – the talk without hesitation.  She’d had no trouble talking about subjects that would – and did – make Emily blush.  And she’d rushed into battle without hesitation.  No one became a combat sorceress unless they were brave.  Emily felt her heart sink.  Anything that could bother Lady Barb to the point she started to act like a surly teenager had to be bad.

“You shouldn’t be going to him,” Lady Barb said, finally.  “I don’t trust him.”

Emily bit her lip, lightly.  “Because of what he did to you?”

“He said, back when I was his student, that the ends justified the means.”  Lady Barb’s face went carefully blank.  “I’ve always found that the means make the ends.  You might start with noble intentions, you might think you’re doing the right thing, but – in the end – you jump right off the slippery slope.  It helps” – she smiled, sardonically – “if you’re not the one doing the bleeding.  Or the dying.”

“The path to hell is paved with good intentions,” Emily said, quietly.

“Yes!”  Lady Barb met her eyes.  “There aren’t many people out there who dance in glee at their own evilness.  There aren’t many people who openly rejoice at being bad people.  But there are millions of people who will cheerfully do something evil for their cause, telling themselves – all the time – that it’s perfectly fine.  Because it’s in a good cause.”

Emily wasn’t sure that was true.  She’d met a lot of people who seemed to be unpleasant merely for the sake of being unpleasant.  But … she scowled.  Many of them had thought they were entitled to take whatever they wanted, to loot, rape and kill to their heart’s content.  Or simply to be in charge because of who their parents had been.

“He’s one of them,” Lady Barb said.  “He thinks he’s doing the right thing.  He might even be right, from his point of view.  But he’s prepared to do awful things for his mission.  Missions.  He doesn’t let anything get in his way.”

She met Emily’s eyes.  “I know you like him.  I don’t blame you.  He saved your life.”

“He sent me to Whitehall,” Emily pointed out.

“Yes,” Lady Barb agreed.  “Now tell me … was he doing what was best for you, at the time, or merely getting you out of his hair?”

Emily felt a hot flash of anger.  “He didn’t have to send me to Whitehall.”

“No,” Lady Barb said.  “He didn’t.  But it got you out of his hair.”

“He could have done anything to me,” Emily said.  She owed Void for sending her to Whitehall.  “He could have left me to die.  Or thrown me out.  Or sold me to the slavers.  Or turned me into a … into anything.  He didn’t have to do anything.  But he sent me to Whitehall.”

“And it worked out for him,” Lady Barb said.  “Everyone thinks he has a daughter who’s changed the world.”

“It worked out for me too,” Emily said.  She’d felt sad, at the time, when Void had told her she had to go.  But, in hindsight, it had worked out perfectly.  “I can live with it.”

“I know.”  Lady Barb shook her head.  “Emily, I understand.  I know he did something good for you.  I know you want to think the best of him.  But I also know he moves people around like pieces on a kingmaker board.  He used me.  He might use you.  I’d be surprised if he hasn’t already used your reputation for advantage.  Having a daughter who killed one necromancer would be a huge asset.  How many necromancers have you killed again?”

“Too many,” Emily said.

“And everyone else would say not enough,” Lady Barb said.  She let out a heavy sigh.  “He taught me a lot.  I won’t deny it.  But he also used me.  He also put me in terrible danger.  And, in the end, he didn’t even fight to keep me.  He didn’t even care enough to badmouth me to everyone else.”

Emily blinked.  “Is that a bad thing?”

“Not for me.”  Lady Barb snorted.  “But … if a master-apprentice relationship fails, it isn’t uncommon for each of them to blame the other.  I certainly expected him to tell the world what a bad student I was.  Or, if the master is honest enough to admit it wasn’t the apprentice’s fault, I would expect him to say so.  Void said nothing.  No praise, no slander, no nothing.  I don’t think he really cared enough to bother.”

She held up a hand.  “I think he can do a good job, if he’s prepared to engage with you.  But I also expect him to have his own agenda.  You’re a priceless asset – far more than I ever was – and I expect him to find ways to use you.  And you may not like what he does.  And you may not like his arguments, afterwards.  And you …”

Her voice trailed off.  Emily said nothing.  She understood Lady Barb’s anger.  She would have found it hard to forgive if she’d been used as the bait, particularly if she hadn’t been told about and consented to the plan in advance.  And yet, Void had been nothing but good to her.  He’d saved her life, sent her to Whitehall, given her a chance to stand on her own two feet … he’d even saved her life again, back during the Tarsier War.  Dua Kepala would have killed her – or worse – if Void hadn’t intervened.  She had every reason to be grateful.

And I want to know what he can teach me, she thought.  She’d met hundreds of powerful magicians, from maddened necromancers to the Grandmasters of Whitehall and legendary figures from the past, but Void was in a class of his own.  He was practically a power in his own right.  There were nations that lacked his power.  I saw him using magics I can’t even begin to match.

“You’re terrifyingly innovative,” Lady Barb said, after a moment.  “And he’ll find a way to use that too.”

Emily nodded, stiffly.  The nuke-spell alone would be utterly disastrous in the wrong hands.  It was sheer dumb luck that no one had managed to work out what she’d done, let alone duplicate it.  And then there were the batteries, or the portable portals … her counterpart from the alternate dimension had even managed to create a portable teleport.  Emily knew it could be done, even if she didn’t know how.  She’d crack that problem eventually.  In a sense, she already had.

“He doesn’t have any right to demand my innovations,” she said, carefully.  “The Sorcerers Rule …”

“Doesn’t apply to anything you devise while you’re an apprentice,” Lady Barb warned her.  “He’ll want to know what you did, believe me.  And … there have been cases of masters stealing ideas and credit from their students.  Maybe you’ll be safe from that – everyone knows you’re brilliant – but you should still be careful.”

And half the ideas they credit me with inventing came from Earth, Emily thought.  Too many people already know there’s something odd about them.

She put the thought aside, meeting Lady Barb’s eyes.  “Do you want me to turn and walk away?”

“If it were up to me, then yes.”  Lady Barb looked back at her calmly.  “I don’t think this is going to end well.  I don’t think he can be trusted to put your safety first.  And … given the impact you’ve already had on the world, there’s a strong case to be made that he really shouldn’t.  You need to watch your back.”

Emily shivered.  “I know you don’t trust him …”

“I don’t,” Lady Barb said.  “He was a poor master.  His track record with apprentices is not great.  He has power and skill enough to awe anyone, even me, but … it isn’t that he’s a bad teacher.  It’s that he might well put you at risk for his own purposes.  Or worse.  You cannot afford to assume he has your best interests at heart.”

“I’ll be careful,” Emily promised.  “And I’ll keep in touch.”

“If you have the time.”  Lady Barb smiled.  “Apprentices are traditionally kept very busy.  I won’t be surprised if you don’t write to me.  But that won’t keep me from worrying.”

Emily reached forward and gave the older woman a tight hug.  “Thank you for caring, really.”

Lady Barb hugged her back.  “I do care,” she said.  “If things were different …”

She shook her head.  “I can’t take you any further,” she repeated.  “Go down the path, approach the tower and … good luck.  And watch your back.  Please.”

“I will.”  Emily let go of Lady Barb and stepped back.  “I’ll see you soon.”

“Yes.”  Lady Barb stepped back.  Magic gathered around her.  “I’m sure you will.”

There was a flash of light.  When it faded, Lady Barb was gone.

Emily stared at where she’d been for a long moment, her stomach churning.  She didn’t know what to make of the older woman’s warning, even though she knew it had been delivered in good faith.  She’d watch her back, but … she sighed.  There was no more time.

Turning, she started to make her way down the path and into the valley.

33 Responses to “Snippet – The Artful Apprentice (Schooled in Magic 19)”

  1. Sanjay February 17, 2020 at 11:22 am #

    Excellent, very much looking forward to the book

  2. jared February 17, 2020 at 11:31 am #

    I’m so excited for this book!!!

  3. Lori Huber February 17, 2020 at 12:48 pm #

    Wonderful… and quite a tease! I’ve been waiting for the Void apprenticeship since the first book so on pins and needles, awaiting the finished book. Cannot wait!

  4. Emanuel February 17, 2020 at 12:57 pm #

    Great work! Hope it comes out soon!
    Thanks for the incredible work !!

  5. G February 17, 2020 at 3:51 pm #

    Yeah! I’ve been waiting for Void’s book since forever! This is my favorite series (along with The Chronicles of Loresse by Melissa Bitter) and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen with Void and Emily!

  6. Dani February 17, 2020 at 4:26 pm #

    My money’s still on Void being Master Wolfe.

    • G February 17, 2020 at 4:48 pm #

      Agree…Incidentally, in the early SIM novels, Lady Barb only worked with Void on one mission where he took advantage of her–now she’s his former apprentice??? When did this happen…

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard February 17, 2020 at 6:08 pm #

        It’s vague but Void when “giving his side” refers to Barb as a recent graduate of Whitehall and earlier Emily checked Lady Barb’s school records to discover that she served an apprenticeship with an un-named Master.

        In other words, it appears that Barb could have been Void’s apprentice at the time of that mission.

        But it’s too late for Chris to rewrite Lessons in Etiquette to make it clearer. 😉

    • bill February 18, 2020 at 5:37 am #

      If I recall correctly Master wolfe was killed in past tense chp 34 and became the first mimic. although I would not doubt that his small library will play a part in voids training.

      • G February 21, 2020 at 4:12 am #

        But the mimic could have continued on…or perhaps he transferred his consciousness into the nexus point and traveled along ley lines?? On another topic, will we ever find out what happended to Hasdrubal after the demon took him? His soul continued…

  7. Jason W Jorde February 17, 2020 at 5:33 pm #

    Thank you for the excerpt, so excited!

  8. David Whisman February 17, 2020 at 5:50 pm #

    Great intro! I can’t wait to read more!

  9. Billy February 17, 2020 at 11:24 pm #

    When is it out ?

    I could buy and read 1 or 2 books every week 🙂

  10. georgephillies February 18, 2020 at 3:03 am #

    “Zugzwang”. We shall eventually learn the meaning of the pun. In void vs Necromancers, whoever moves first dies?

  11. gbarbay00 February 18, 2020 at 3:30 am #

    Ouuu! Can’t wait! I am really hoping the title implies her apprenticeship goes better than Barb’s did. That does not mean I expect things will all be smooth sailing. Just that Emily will be, at the end of the day, able to handle anything Void throws at her, and the apprenticeship will be beneficial to both of them.

    I do have a question. Way back in book 1, Void gave Emily a spell book or some kind of book, most of which was incomprehensible to her at the time. Whatever happened to that book? I can’t recall it ever playing a part in any of the subsequent books. Or did I miss something somewhere along the way?

    • Theredscare77 February 18, 2020 at 6:09 am #

      I believe it is mentioned again in Study in Slaughter. I believe Emily mentions it to lady Barb when she asks her to be her advisor.

      • gbarbay00 February 18, 2020 at 6:36 pm #

        Thanks. Do you recall if those mentions advance the plot in any way, either locally to that book or in a “meta” (across the series) sense? Guess I need to go check that out…

      • Michael February 22, 2020 at 6:08 am #

        She mentions deciphering it and some of it being spells she already knows about, like bilocation, or food recipes. She thinks it has been so far disappointing. I’m guessing the book will be of greater importance when she finished it, something will be in in hidden.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard February 22, 2020 at 2:35 pm #

        Void has asked about the book and Emily (on her first day off) has gotten it from her house in Dragon’s Den.

  12. PhilippeO February 18, 2020 at 4:06 am #

    Interestingly, I always view Emily as closer to Void than Lady Barb or (Emily herself) want to acknowledge. Emily has several times show ruthlessness, perseverances, and willingness to take casualties for greater ideals. her invention alone would cost millions in lives. Zangaria practically devastated because of what Emily built in Cockatrice.

    • G February 18, 2020 at 2:16 pm #

      I agree. Emily pursues her goals ruthlessly and rarely understands their consequences…and humanity’s survival may well trump niceness…

    • Callum G February 19, 2020 at 5:02 pm #

      Emily idolizes Void. She has completely and utterly established him as her father figure. She flatly refused to see him in a bad light whilst being warned off informing him about her condition in Cursed. Despite her rather strong opinions on the strong abusing their power, she seems to kind of hand-wave it when it comes to Void and his treatment of Lady Barb.

      I wonder whether Lady Barb and Sgt. Myles are more concerned about Void hurting Emily, or if what they really fear is her becoming more like him. After all, we know one of the main differences Lady Barb saw between them was how Emily didn’t let the ends justify the means. But I’m not so sure we can say that about Emily anymore.

  13. SPINDOC February 18, 2020 at 12:53 pm #

    Is this the same tower that Void took her to after escaping Shayde in book 1?

  14. Mike February 18, 2020 at 3:56 pm #

    I’m looking forward to reading about what sort of trouble she’ll get into this time.

  15. Vassilis Drakopoulos February 18, 2020 at 4:03 pm #

    Ok…Where is the rest! :):):)

  16. stephen February 18, 2020 at 4:36 pm #

    Will we find out why the dragon told Void he was playing a dangerous game in book 1. In the past, Void has had a very “sink or swim” attitude towards Emily for the most part, but giving his name with the family ring might suggest he’s also personally invested in emily more than one might think at first glance.
    Damn you Mr Nuttall. All the books you have written and not learned how to telegraph a plot (unless all that TV has impaird my mental ability to the point of ) ahh tea time 🙂

  17. Warren The Ape February 18, 2020 at 11:41 pm #


    Seriously? 🙂

  18. ananuri February 19, 2020 at 12:37 am #

    that was great, thanks a lot! cant wait for the full book, with fully functional and magical Emily! Can’t wait for the book. Definitely one of the very best series out there (at least in my opinion!)

  19. Michael February 22, 2020 at 6:11 am #

    Theory: I wouldn’t be surprised either way, but i’m leaning more and more that Void is Cowl, the figure causing some of the mess behind the scenes and Nanette’s current master. Thoughts?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard February 22, 2020 at 2:36 pm #

      Cowl? I think you mean Cloak. 😉

  20. John February 22, 2020 at 5:10 pm #

    In all honesty, I think Void is Emily from the future, come back to do her best to make sure she was saved, to make sure she didn’t go overboard with all of her ideas, and/or to try and fix what may eventually happen to her or because of her or something she did/does… Remember after all, we’ve never been given the description of what Void truly looks like.

    I’m probably wrong…but still, it’s something to think about at least.

  21. W;yley Foster February 27, 2020 at 3:41 pm #

    Has Void disguised his eyes, are they RED?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard February 27, 2020 at 4:39 pm #

      Nobody who knows Void thinks that he’s a Necromancer.

      It’s not his sanity people are concerned about.

      It’s his willingness to do the “right thing” (in his mind) no matter what the cost that worries people.

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