Snippet – The Right Side of History (SIM22)

9 Jan


Prologue I

The room stank of fear.

Constance, Lady in Waiting to Queen Francoise of Alluvia, pulled her dress around her as the noise from beyond the walls grew louder.  Night was falling, but the city outside was cast into sharp relief by towering infernos.  The riots had become a revolution, crowds of rebels and thugs throwing lighted torches into the homes of the great and the good.  She huddled closer to the rest of the royal companions as the queen stared at her husband.  He’d once been a great man and a greater king.  He’d chucked Constance’s chin and whispered promises of royal favours if she wished to become his.  Now, he seemed almost diminished.  The kingdom was fading alongside its king.

It had all happened so quickly!  Constance could barely keep track of each piece of news – bad news – before the next arrived.  There had been fights over bread in the marketplace, of all things, fights that had turned into riots.  The Royal Guard had arrived to break up the fighting, the City Guardsmen had turned on them and … Constance wasn’t sure what had happened next, but the king had lost control of his city.  The castle gates had been slammed closed, wards snapped into place by royal magicians, but it hadn’t been enough to save everyone outside the walls.  She’d heard a messenger screaming a warning about mansions going up in flames.  The mob was running rampant, tearing through the aristocratic walls and hunting down the money-lenders and speculators.  Constance had heard a tale of horror from the guards on the battlements, before the queen had cut them off.  The money-lenders had been marched to the embankments and thrown to the rocks below.  Their wives and daughters hadn’t been treated anything like so kindly.

She shivered, helplessly, as the shouting grew louder.  The mob was calling for blood … royal blood.  Constance herself was a very distant relative of the king – her family lands were on the other side of the country, near the border with Rose Red – but she was sure it wasn’t enough to protect her.  The bodyguards and chaperones her father had sent with her, when he’d allowed her to enter the queen’s service, were nowhere to be seen.  She hoped they were safe, wherever they were.  But she feared the worst.

“Get out there.”  Queen Francoise’s voice cut through the stifling tension.  “Order them to disperse.”

Constance winced and tried to hide it.  The queen was a sharp-tongued woman, more of a man – even though Constance would never dare say that aloud – than her husband.  Her position was unassailable.  She didn’t have to produce a male heir – her predecessor had produced two boys who’d survived to adulthood – and she’d given the king two daughters.  The king could hardly refuse to treat her with the respect she’d earned, even though he had no compunctions about taking mistresses and then discarding them.  And yet … Constance could tell that the queen was making a mistake.  Her husband was trapped between fire and water, unable to confront the crowd or lead his men into battle against the mob.  All he could do was wait.

“If only Dater was here,” Queen Francoise snapped.  Her favourite stepson, according to rumour, had been disbanding his army when the rioting had turned into full-scale rebellion.  “He would teach them all a lesson.”

“Dater is a long way away,” the king said, mildly.  “And I sent Hedrick out as soon as the trouble began.”

“You should have sent him to deal with the crowds,” Queen Francoise accused.  “And now they’re at our door!”

The king turned away from his wife, his fists clenching with anger.  Constance understood.  A king could not be a king if he couldn’t exert authority over his wife and children as much as his kingdom.  Everyone knew it was just a matter of time before the Crown Prince, perhaps pushed by his stepmother, started to demand more power and authority than his father could reasonably give.  Dater was old enough to rule and young enough to make his mark, if he inherited the throne.  He was certainly prominent enough to seem a viable replacement, if the king lost too much face to rule.  It wouldn’t be the first time a king had ‘voluntarily’ surrendered his power and gone into exile.

Constance looked at the stone floor, trying not to attract attention.  The king’s temper was starting to boil.  She didn’t want to face his fury, not when no one would lift a hand in her defence.  The assembled nobles feared the king too, feared what he might do if his back was against the wall.  Constance felt cold, wondering – deep inside – if it might be better if the king was … convinced to abdicate in favour of his son.  Dater was a dashing young man, so handsome and bursting with energy that no one would dare stand against him.  Had he not been the hero of the wars?  Had he not taken on a necromantic army and smashed it in an hour of furious combat?  Had he not turned down the hand of Lady Emily herself, for the good of the kingdom?  Constance’s heart fluttered at the thought.  She was too low-born, for all the blue blood in her, to attract the prince … but she could dream.

She glanced up as Councillor Triune ran into the room.  He was normally jovial and warm to everyone, even the lowliest maidservants, but now his jowled face was streaked with sweat and his hands were shaking.  Constance knew she shouldn’t listen, as he hastily knelt before the king, but she couldn’t help herself.  Knowledge was power in the court, particularly if one got it before anyone else.  She had long since mastered the art of eavesdropping without making it obvious.  She didn’t know why she bothered sometimes.  As a young woman from the borderlands, she was rarely considered important enough to matter.  The only thing that kept her from being sent home was the favour of the queen.

“Your Majesty!”  Councillor Triune sounded as if he wanted to panic.  “The sorcerers are dead!”

A rustle ran round the chamber.  Constance swallowed, hard.  The walls were strong, but the royal court didn’t have enough men to hold them after the Royal Guard had been slaughtered.  Or deserted.  Or joined the rebels.  The stories just kept getting worse and worse.  If the rebels turned their attention to the castle, they could get over the walls.  The sorcerers were dead.  It was only a matter of time before the wards fell. 

The king glanced at his queen, then at the barred window looking over the courtyard and the city beyond.  The bars weren’t that strong.  If the rebels captured a catapult, or one of the new-fangled cannons, they could put a shot right through the window.  Constance took no interest in military affairs, but even she knew that walls couldn’t be held forever.  And then … she tried not to think about it.  The rebels wanted blood.  Her blood.

No, she corrected herself.  It was unlikely any of the mob knew who she was.  They want the king’s blood.

An idea flashed through her mind.  She could leave the chamber, perhaps on the pretence of going to the toilet, and swap clothes with a maid.  She could pretend to be a maid.  No one would know, if she was dressed as a maid … the rebels would ignore her, allowing her to walk out and then … and then what?  She didn’t know the city, beyond the inner walls.  She couldn’t hope to walk home.  She had only the faintest idea of the way!

“We have a plan,” Councillor Triune babbled.  “The troops will create a diversion.  The rest of us will get into carriages and flee to the army camp.  And then …”

“Excellent,” the queen said.  “Dater will purge the city with fire and blood.”

The plan didn’t seem a very good idea to Constance, but no one bothered to ask her opinion.  It was just taken for granted she’d accompany the queen, along with the remainder of her ladies.  Councillor Triune’s men urged them down the stairs, into the rear courtyard, as troops ran forward to rally at the forward gates.  They’d always struck Constance as fops, when they hadn’t been trying to court her in their clumsy manner, but … they were going to die in defence of their king.  She wished she’d been kinder to the last knight who’d tried to court her.  He’d been so dreadfully earnest she’d laughed in his face.

She winced at the noise as they scrambled into the royal carriages.  It was hardly her first time in a coach, but … she wished she was on horseback.  An eager horse and a clear road … it was all she asked.  The littlest princess asked for a horse for herself as she was bundled into another carriage with her nanny, her mother ignoring her cries as the door slammed firmly closed.  Constance was tempted to suggest the princess was given a horse, that she was given a horse, but she didn’t dare.  Councillor Triune fussed around, snapping orders to the guards as the sound of fighting grew louder.  His face was too grim for her to risk speaking her mind.  If he got the royal family out, his future would be assured.  He was hardly going to alter the plan on her say-so.

“Get in,” the queen snapped.  “Now!”

Constance heard someone – Councillor Triune, perhaps – give the command to open the rear gates as she scrambled into the carriage.  The regal vehicle lurched as the door was banged closed, then started to move.  Constance found a seat and sat down, trying not to look at the queen.  The expression on her face promised death and destruction – and social exclusion, perhaps, for the one who disturbed her.  Constance tried not to shiver openly.  Law and order had broken down everywhere.  She didn’t want to think about what might happen if the Crown Prince couldn’t regain control of the city.  How many of the dressmakers and jewellers and others she’d patronised were about to die?

“They’ll pay for this,” the queen said, more to herself than the rest of the passengers.  It had the air of a blood oath, a promise that could not be broken.  “They’ll pay in …”

The shouting grew louder.  The carriage lurched again, then crashed to a halt.  Constance reached for the window to pull back the blinds, but the queen slapped her hand hard enough to hurt before she could touch the fabric.  The carriage was quivering, as if someone was beating their fists against it … Constance started back as the door shook, then came free.  A grim-faced man stared at her, his gaze swiftly turning into a leer.  Behind him, the city burned.

“Look,” he shouted.  “We’ve captured the royal whores!”

His hand snapped hold of Constance’s wrist before she could pull back and yanked her forward.  She tumbled out of the carriage, hitting the paving stone before she could catch herself.  Pain shot through her as strong arms yanked her to her feet, holding her so firmly she couldn’t pull free.  The queen was dragged out too, to hoots and hollers from the rabble.  Her eyes were wide with fear.  Constance struggled against her captor, but she couldn’t break free.  He was just too strong.

She felt horror, numb horror, sinking into her as she looked past the carriage.  The king’s carriage was ahead of her, the king himself being manhandled away by a group of men in red shirts.  They were on the embankment, too close to the river to escape … she wondered, suddenly, if that had been deliberate.  She couldn’t see Councillor Triune anywhere.  The king’s man had vanished …

A commanding voice cut through the crowd.  “Take the whores to the Final Prison!”

Constance shuddered as her captor started to push her forward.  She’d heard all the stories about the Final Prison, about how it was the last port of call for men sentenced to death.  If someone went in a prisoner, they didn’t come out again.  Panic gave her strength: she stamped on her captor’s foot as hard as she could, then ran to the embankment.  The river had dwindled over the last few months, as summer had started to bite, but if she could get into the water she could swim down to the distant lands beyond the walls.  They wouldn’t expect her to be able to swim.  Countrywomen learnt as a matter of course, but cityfolk regarded the idea of women swimming as perverse.  It was …

“Stop,” someone shouted.  “Now!”

Constance jumped … and realised, too late, that she’d misjudged.  The river had shrunk too far.  She was plummeting towards jagged rocks and the remains of sunken ships, not waters that might hide her long enough to let her escape.  She thought, suddenly, of her parents.  Would they ever know what had happened to her?

In truth, she feared they would never know.

Prologue II

When she’d become Queen, Alassa had instituted a very simple rule.

She was not to be disturbed, she’d told her courtiers, between dinner and supper.  Not unless the matter was urgent.  Truly urgent.  She’d made it clear, and backed it up, that anyone who disturbed her without very good reason would be spending the next week as a frog in the royal frog pond.   It wasn’t something she was proud of, and she was uncomfortably aware she might miss something important because the messenger was reluctant to interrupt her, but it was vitally important for her sanity.  A reigning monarch had so little time to herself that she had to do whatever it took to make sure she got it. 

It irked her, more than she would willingly admit to anyone, that she hadn’t realised just how much her father had to do until she’d inherited his throne.  The king had risen early and worked from dawn till dusk, the men of his bedchamber – his inner councillors – feeling free to interrupt him whenever they pleased.  The one advantage of being a Ruling Queen, Alassa had discovered, was that she didn’t have to keep her inner council so close, but it hadn’t taken long for her courtiers to reason out that they could send their wives, sisters and daughters instead.  Alassa would have preferred to banish them permanently, but there was no way to send them away without causing massive offense.  The last thing she needed was their husbands, brothers, and sons plotting revenge.  She had enough troubles already.

She kept her face under tight control until she stepped into her inner bedchamber, then allowed herself to relax as the wards shimmered around her.  It was hard, very hard, not to sag as she leaned against the door.  Winning the war had been easy.  Winning the peace, it seemed, was a great deal harder.  She had to find a balancing point between factions that hated and detested each other, factions that would hate and detest her if she showed the slightest hint of favouritism to their enemies.  It felt as if she was stirring an unstable cauldron, the brew within permanently on the verge of exploding.  There were times when she was tempted to grab her husband and daughter, empty the royal treasury and go into exile.  In hindsight, she wondered how different her life would have been if she’d stayed at Whitehall instead of returning to Zangaria.

Gathering herself, she walked past her daughter’s bedchamber – Princess Emily was sleeping, her nursemaid sitting beside the cot – and into her bedroom.  Jade was seated at the desk, reading the reports from the royal spies.  They’d made sure to pick up the remnants of King Randor’s spy network and build their own, in hopes of preventing another coup or another aristocratic uprising.  Alassa thought she understood, now, why her father had gone mad.  There was never any shortage of disturbing reports, but how many of them were anything more serious than a slighted aristocrat venting to his friends?  She didn’t know.

Jade stood and gave her a hug.  “Bad day?”

“I had Lord Hardin, again,” Alassa said.  It was hard to hide her disgust.  “He wants to marry his ward.”

“Bastard,” Jade agreed.  “Want me to kill him?”

Alassa was tempted.  Lord Hardin had played his cards very well, somehow managing to remain on King Randor’s good side without alienating either the Noblest or Alassa herself.  He’d certainly not taken any part in the civil war, ensuring that he evaded the sanctions Alassa had handed down to her father’s more open supporters.  It helped, she supposed, that Hardin’s territory was right on the edge of the kingdom.  It gave him a ready-made excuse for not sending anything more than thoughts and prayers.  But it also made it hard for her to squash him like he deserved.

She sat on the bed and rubbed her forehead.  Lord Hardin’s ward was too young for a betrothal, let alone a marriage.  And yet, Hardin thought he could bind her to him – and ensure permanent control over her lands – before she grew too old to object.  Alassa allowed herself a flash of cold anger.  She knew how she would have felt, if her father had announced her betrothal before she reached her majority.  It might have been years before the marriage was solemnised, but everyone would have treated it as a done deal from day one.  If she’d had a brother …

“I might need you to go look at her lands, to see how he’s ruling them,” she said.  She hated the idea of sending Jade away for a few days, but there were few people she trusted completely.  And besides, Hardin wouldn’t be fool enough to give Jade a hard time.  If he did … Jade would smash him flat well before word reached Alexis.  “Perhaps even to provoke a fight.”

Jade nodded as he sat next to her.  “How much do you want me to provoke a fight?”

“Only a little,” Alassa said.  She wanted an excuse to take a swing at Hardin – or, at the very least, to park a garrison in his lands – but it had to look legitimate.  “I don’t want to push him so blatantly everyone takes his side.”

She leaned into Jade’s arms, allowing him to hold her tightly.  It was a display of weakness she could never allow herself in front of the court, not when half of them already believed Jade gave her orders in private and the other half thought he should.  Bastards.  It hadn’t been that long since they’d been slated for execution, if they fell into Randor’s hands.  A little gratitude was not too much to expect, was it?  It probably was.  Courtiers had short memories.  And now there was an infant princess, she’d bet her crown that some of them were considering the advantages of having a monarch who couldn’t talk.

And if I die early, she thought, Jade will take Baby Emily and run.

Jade kissed her, lightly.  Alassa lifted her lips to his, enjoying the sensation.  His hands started to roam her body, fiddling with the clasp.  The dress was designed to be difficult to take off in a hurry, something that Alassa had once found a little amusing.  It wasn’t so funny now.  The unmarried ladies of the court might have reason to wear a chastity belt, or something that served the same purpose, but she was a married woman.  And she was the queen …

The wards jangled.  Alassa jumped, swallowing a curse.  Whoever had disturbed her was going to regret it.  Whoever … she reminded herself, sharply, that she needed to hear the messenger out before she did something unspeakable.  No one would dare enter her chambers unless it was urgent.  She stood, straightened her dress and gave Jade a meaningful look.  He headed for the secret passage that ran beside the reception room.  King Randor had used it to conceal guards, when holding meetings with untrustworthy aristocrats.  Alassa preferred to use it to allow her husband to listen to the meetings, without making his presence obvious.  It was yet another compromise she’d had to make between what the court expected of her and what she had to do to maintain her sanity.

She raised an eyebrow as she stepped through the door and saw Mouse waiting for her.  The young woman – she was practically a commoner, although her father had been knighted long ago – was loyal.  She had to be.  Alassa had rewarded her for her services by elevating her over the countless noblewomen – and men – who thought they should be Mistress of the Queen’s Bedchamber.  It had made her enemies, but … Alassa tried not to grimace.  Mouse was loyal to her personally and that was all that mattered.  And besides, she wasn’t anything like as hidebound as the rest of the court.  She didn’t waste time trying to turn her queen into something she wasn’t.

“Your Majesty.”  Mouse curtsied.  Her face was pale, fearful.  “Prince Hedrick has arrived.”

Alassa blinked.  “Prince Hedrick of Alluvia?”

Mouse nodded.  Alassa’s mind raced.  Prince Hedrick had wanted to marry her, years ago.  He’d attended her wedding, but then … she didn’t recall hearing much of anything about him.  Hedrick was a second son.  He wouldn’t be promoted over his brother … hell, there was a very real chance he would be sent into de facto exile.  If he had … why had he come to Zangaria?  Alassa couldn’t think of a good reason.  It wasn’t as if she was obliged to give him more than the time of day.

“He just galloped into the courtyard,” Mouse added.  “He requests an immediate meeting.”

“I see.”  Alassa was tempted to tell Hedrick to wait.  And yet, he wouldn’t have broken protocol so blatantly unless the situation was dire.  What was it?  “Please have him shown to the blue room.  I’ll speak with him there.”

She glanced at the walls as Mouse turned and hurried out of the room.  Jade would make his way down to the next cubbyhole, while Alassa moved through the monarch’s private corridors.  She thought fast, trying to determine why Hedrick had galloped all the way to Zangaria … even using the portals, it was a hell of a long way.  If he’d come to pledge his love … she snorted at the thought.  It would be preferable, she supposed, to a bid for his kingdom’s throne.  That would be a major diplomatic headache.

I suppose I could tell him to get lost and swear blind I didn’t see him, she thought, as she stepped into the blue room.  But too many people will have noticed his arrival.

She took a seat and waited, folding her hands on her lap as the door opened.  Prince Hedrick stepped into the room – he’d lost the swagger, part of her mind noted – and bowed deeply to her.  There was no hint of reluctance, no suggestion he thought he should be bowing to a king instead.  And yet, as he straightened, he looked nervous.  His eyes flickered from side to side, as if he expected assassins to teleport into the chamber and jump him.  Alassa hadn’t intended to offer refreshments, let alone alcohol, but she was tempted to do just that.  Hedrick looked like someone who needed a drink.

He was handsome enough, she supposed.  The unfinished cast to his features she recalled from his unsuccessful courtship was gone.  His face suggested a strong character, his short blonde hair suggesting a martial mindset.  Or, perhaps, martial ambitions.  Hedrick was old enough to have fought in the last battles of the war, but Emily hadn’t mentioned him in her letters.  His father might not have let him go.  Losing one prince would be bad.  Losing both would be a disaster.

“Your Majesty.”  Hedrick didn’t stumble over the words.  “On behalf of my father and brother, I must plead for your help.”

Alassa’s eyes narrowed.  She would have understood the younger generation rebelling against the elder.  She would have understood Hedrick waging war on his father and older brother.  But … asking for help on behalf of both of them?  What had happened?  And why was he so fearful?

“Your Majesty, I …”  Hedrick swallowed and started again.  “There has been an uprising in the streets.  We have lost control of Jorlem City and many smaller cities.  The rebels have my father and stepmother prisoner, along with my half-sisters and many others.  I … I barely escaped with my life.  The Crown Prince is assembling his troops to retake the cities, but … we need help.”

Alassa kept her face carefully blank.  Zangaria was quite some distance from Alluvia.  It would be tricky to assemble troops and dispatch them to the other kingdom, even if it wasn’t politically impossible.  She knew there were factions within her government that would flatly refuse to send help, and others that would use it as an excuse to demand crackdowns at home … hell, just sending troops would cause problems with other kingdoms.  The Necromantic War was over.  Alassa was uncomfortably aware that the Allied Lands were starting to fracture, as old grudges came back to life.  She didn’t regret the end of the war, but … she had to cope with the problems of victory. 

“Zangaria is a long way from Alluvia,” she said, carefully.  “Why do you require my help?”

Hedrick looked down.  “The rebels claim to have been inspired by one of your noblewomen,” he said.  “The rebellion is in her name.”

Alassa raised her eyebrows.  “Emily.”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” Hedrick said.  “They claim to have risen in her name.”

“Emily would not have set out to trigger a rebellion,” Alassa said, flatly.  “She’s been … busy.”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” Hedrick repeated.  “And yet the rebels claim to have risen in her name.”

Alassa wasn’t sure how seriously to take that.  Hedrick was describing literally world-shaking events.  Alassa should have heard something, beyond vague rumours, well before the younger prince arrived at her door.  Alluvia was a long way away, but still … she sighed, inwardly.  The tale had probably grown in the telling.  Emily wouldn’t have set out to overthrow a kingdom, but …

“I will discuss the matter with my trusted advisors and then get back to you,” Alassa said, slowly.  “I do not believe, however, that she is behind your rebellion.”

“They claim she inspired them,” Hedrick said.  “Our councillors advised us to request that you bring her to heel.”

Alassa hid her amusement.  Emily was, technically, a liegewoman.  She was supposed to support her queen in all things.  But Emily didn’t really accept the responsibilities – or half of the rights – of a liegewoman.  She didn’t even understand them.  Alassa knew Emily couldn’t be pressured into doing anything.  King Randor had tried and the result had been an utter disaster.  She could see how Hedrick, and his advisors, might think Alassa could control her …

Which means I might get the blame, if Emily is credited with starting the uprising, Alassa thought.  Shit.

She stood, signalling that the interview was over.  She’d have to discuss the matter with Jade – and then Emily herself.  Emily’s last letter had said she was going to Laughter Academy … quite some distance from Alluvia.  That was meaningless, of course.  Emily could teleport.  And she’d figured out how to craft an enchanted device that allowed anyone to teleport, too …

“Your Majesty!”  Hedrick looked stunned.  “I appeal to you …”

Alassa bit off a sharp response.  Hedrick didn’t appeal to her, not really.  Instead, she summoned Mouse and directed her to show Hedrick to the guestroom.  The servants would take care of him – and, also, keep an eye on him.  It would be useful to know just what sort of person he was, although … Alassa shook her head as he followed Mouse out the door.  He’d just dropped a massive hot potato in her lap …

… And, for the first time in far too long, she was unsure how to handle it.

Chapter One

“Lady Emily,” Master Lucknow said.  His voice was very cold.  He never took his eyes off Emily.  “In the name of the White Council, and the Allied Lands, I am placing you under arrest.”

Emily stared at him, caught completely off-guard.  She could sense powerful wards shimmering into existence, surrounding the inn.  Wards designed to stop her from teleporting, wards designed to confuse her senses and conceal the enemy positions … her mind raced as she looked at Master Lucknow.  There were four combat sorcerers facing her … four potential enemies and Jan.  Her boyfriend hadn’t moved.  He was caught between her and his master, unable to take sides without alienating one or both of them.

She held herself at the ready, unsure what to do.  There had to be more sorcerers outside, casting the wards.  She hoped they’d had the sense to evacuate the surrounding area, although she feared they hadn’t bothered.  And yet, they’d managed to taint the food.  Had they hoped she’d sedate herself?  Or poison herself?  It was a common trick, when faced with newborn necromancers and dark wizards.  If she’d eaten the food, would she have woken up in a cell?  Would she have woken up at all?

“Master?”  Jan’s voice broke through the silence.  “What are you doing?”

Master Lucknow directed a sharp look at him.  “Shut up.”

Jan audibly swallowed.  “Master …”

“I said, shut up,” Master Lucknow snapped.  “Lady Emily, you are under arrest.”

Emily found her voice.  “On what charge?”

“The charges will be discussed at your hearing,” Master Lucknow informed her.  He removed a vial from his belt and held it out.  “Drink this, then prepare for teleport.”

“I need to send a message to my master,” Emily said.  She tried to remember what little she’d been taught about prisoner rights.  There weren’t many.  The Mediators had powers of arrest, if a warrant was issued by the White Council … her mind raced.  They couldn’t demand a warrant without word reaching Alassa, or Melissa, or Void himself.  Emily couldn’t believe her friends wouldn’t warn her.  And that boded ill.  “I also want to see the warrant.”

“You can do both, once you drink the potion,” Master Lucknow said, flatly.  “Once you are in custody, you can send messages to whoever you like.”

Emily gritted her teeth.  The Mediators were obliged to carry the warrant and show it upon demand.  She didn’t recall that much from Master Tor’s classes on law, but she recalled that.  There were just too many kingdoms, estates and city-states that disliked the idea of international police forces throwing their weight around.  In fact … she wondered, suddenly, if Duchene had been so quick to get rid of her because she knew the Mediators were on their way.  The Headmistress of Laughter was Pendle’s ruler, to all intents and purposes.  The Mediators would have informed her before the arrest began.

Her heart sank.  If the Mediators were unwilling to produce the warrant, it suggested they didn’t have one.  They couldn’t have one, not without summoning the whole council.  And that meant … she looked at the vial, wondering what it really contained.  Did they intend to arrest her first and invent the charges later?  Or did they intend to kill her before the rest of the council, and her friends, could object?

She took a step back.  “I need to send a message first,” she said.  She disliked the thought of running to Void, or anyone, to beg for help, but she doubted she had a choice.  “And then I will …”

“Drink the potion,” Master Lucknow ordered.  He produced a pair of shackles from his belt and held them at the ready.  “Now.”

… Emily is kneeling on a stone floor, her hands and feet chained with cold iron.  The spectators are booing loudly as her judges close in, joining hands in a fearsome ritual that will destroy her magic …

The flash of memory, of the demonic vision, was so strong Emily almost fainted.  The world around her seemed to fade, just for a moment.  She shivered, suddenly very aware she was on the cusp of disaster.  If they took her … would they seek to destroy her power, to strip the magic from her, or simply kill her?  She looked from face to face, reading grim determination in their eyes.  They were ready to fight, ready to take her by force.  And if they didn’t have a warrant … she swallowed, hard.  She couldn’t let herself go with them.

“No.”  Emily faced them, readying herself.  “I want to see the warrant.”

One of the combat sorcerers made a gesture.  Emily sensed a shimmer of magic, a webbing that – if it took shape and form – would trap her until she drained herself dry.  Master Lucknow took a step forward, raising his hand.  The netting centred on him, growing stronger and stronger with every passing second.  She couldn’t let herself be trapped.  It would be the end of everything.  She was grossly outnumbered, but she didn’t have to beat them all to win.  She just had to get clear of the wards and teleport out.

She summoned a wave of raw magic and directed it into the netting.  The spellwork shattered, bits of magic splintering in all directions.  She didn’t hesitate, generating a blinding flash of light that should have been enough to disorient them.  Master Lucknow had enough presence of mind to counter the spell, but it bought her a few seconds.  She cast a bigger spell of her own, yanking up every chair and table in the inn and hurling them at the sorcerers.  It wouldn’t kill them, if they reacted quickly, but it would buy her a little more time.  She saw Jan throwing himself towards the rear door as she darted backwards, without looking back.  She didn’t blame him.  He’d wind up in real trouble if he turned against his master.

One of the sorcerers grunted, tumbling to the ground as a chair struck him in the chest.  He’d be fine, Emily was sure, but the impact should put him out of the fight.  The others had raised their wards, smashing the tables and spraying sawdust in all directions.  Emily summoned a wind, blowing the sawdust towards them.  It might just get in their eyes.  She turned and blasted the wall behind her, feeling a twinge of guilt.  The innkeeper and his family were long gone, but they were going to come home to a pile of rubble.  She made a promise to herself that she’d pay for repairs, if she survived.  The surge of magic behind her suggested the combat sorcerers were mad.

She ran through the gash in the walls, into an alleyway.  It was disturbingly empty.  The wards buzzed against her mind as she glanced up and down, then drew on her magic and flew down the alleyway.  Going too high would be a good way to get killed, but as long as she stayed low she should be able to put enough distance between herself and the wardcrafters to teleport out.  She glanced up at Laughter as she flew past a taller building, wondering if she should try to get to the school.  It might provide refuge … she shook her head.  Duchene had plenty of reason to want Emily out of the way for a while.  Going there might just get her arrested.

A force snapped around her legs, cancelling the spell.  Emily fell, drawing on more of her magic to cushion the landing.  The ground seemed to explode around her, turning rapidly to animated mud … she rolled over and over, catching sight of a magician roaring and chanting as he directed his spell.  Ingenious, part of her mind noted.  He’d turned the ground into a bog, charming the water to wear down her magic.  It would have worked, too, if Void hadn’t taught her how to drain the magic from liquid.  The sensation was thoroughly unpleasant, but … she sucked the magic out and directed it back at the caster, channelled into an overpowered stunning spell.  His eyes went wide, an instant before he tumbled to the ground.  He was still twitching, still trying to throw off the spell, as she ran past him.

That might have been a mistake, she thought, numbly.  She didn’t have time to kick him in the head.  Hopefully, he’d be distracted long enough to keep him out of the fight even if the spell didn’t put him to sleep.  Overpowering spells is a necromancer trick.

She reached out with her senses as she picked up speed, trying to determine the nearest edge of the wards.  It wasn’t easy.  The wards were constantly shifting, as if they were centred on her.  She looked around, then – kicking herself for the oversight – up.  A pair of magicians were clearly visible, staring down at her.  She could see the threads of their magic, blurring together into the wards.  As long as they could see her, they could trap her.  And direct their fellows to her.  She reached for her magic, then stopped herself.  If she cancelled the spells holding them in the air, they’d plunge to their deaths.  She didn’t want to kill them.

A force picked her up and hurled her right across the street.  She had a brief impression of eyes watching from behind the curtains, which vanished as she hit the ground.  The townspeople had to be panicking as they watched living gods tear their town apart, caught in the middle of a violent upset … she shuddered, wondering what would happen to anyone who was injured in the crossfire.  Nothing good, probably.  Pendle had been overshadowed by fear for the last month and even though the source of the fear was gone, it would be a long time before everything returned to normal.  None of the townspeople were going to help her.  They’d turn and run to avoid being caught in the storm.

Just like Jan, she thought.  Where did he go?

She pulled herself to her feet and ran into an alleyway.  A robed magician stood in her path and she rammed her fist into his gut without thinking.  He bent over, coughing and spluttering.  He’d thought to wear leathers, but not charmed armour.  Another stepped out, holding a wand in one hand and a battery in the other.  Emily cursed under her breath as she sensed the magic in the wand.  A simple cancellation spell, linked to the battery … every spell for hundreds of metres around would be cancelled.  She had to admire the trick.  They would cancel her magic, then overpower her by main force and pour the potion down her throat.  It would work.  She was tough, but Master Lucknow was probably tougher.  He didn’t need all of his comrades to beat her into submission.

Her hand dropped to the pistol at her belt.  She drew it, pointing the barrel at the magician.  His eyes went wide … he was probably a veteran of the war, someone who knew what a pistol actually was.  There were sorcerers who didn’t know what a gun did and wouldn’t recognise the threat if one was shoved into their mouths.  He hesitated, visibly.  If he activated the battery and triggered the spell, he’d render himself defenceless as well.  The bullet might not be fatal, but he’d be seriously injured.  Pistols weren’t very accurate, yet … they were at point-blank range.  She doubted he would want to gamble his life on her missing …

She heard shouts behind her and altered her pose, pointing the gun at the battery and pulling the trigger.  The blast was deafeningly loud in the confined space, the bullet striking the battery and sending it crashing to the ground.  Weird sparks of light darted out of the containment ring, magic surging like water spewing from a balloon.  Emily wasn’t sure what was going to happen, when a battery lost containment completely, but she didn’t want to stick around and find out.  She shoved a force punch at the stunned magician, denting his wards enough to drive him back, then threw herself past him and started to run.  Behind her, there was another surge of magic.  She hoped – prayed – it hadn’t killed anyone.

Her legs started to ache as she burst onto the street and raced down to the edge of town.  There was no one in view, but she could hear the men behind her.  She glanced at a hastily-abandoned fruit stall, then cast a levitation spell and hurled tons of fruit at the hovering magicians.  The impacts wouldn’t cause them to fall – probably – but they would make it harder for them to keep the wards in place.  They were still centred on her, damn it.  She wondered, suddenly, if she should try to knock them out of the sky anyway.  Their comrades might catch them before they hit the ground.

A sorcerer crashed into her, his magic tearing and blurring into hers.  Emily winced at the onslaught, so crude and yet so effective, then turned into the attack.  Magic crackled around her as she pushed forward, shoving her way through the storm.  She could feel the sorcerer’s confusion as she yanked the magic aside, then punched him in the face.  Whatever he’d been expecting, he hadn’t been expecting that.  Emily felt her head start to pound as the magic started to fade, her vision going blurry for a second.  Void was going to scold her for trying that in a real fight.  It could easily have gone the other way.

The wards started to shimmer and weaken.  Emily pushed herself forward, leaving the dazed magician behind as she hurried to the edge of the wards.  She felt drained, but … she thought she could teleport back to the tower.  Void could sort out the mess … at the very least, she could recuperate while the Mediators insisted on her surrender.  The pain grew stronger, to the point she honestly wasn’t sure she could teleport.  Perhaps if she got into the woods she could hide long enough …

“Emily!”  Master Lucknow appeared, right at the edge of her wards.  For a moment, Emily honestly thought he’d managed to teleport despite the interference.  He’d used a concealment spell to hide from her, hidden in the corner of her eye.  She’d been too distracted to notice.  “You …”

Emily had no time to react before he caught hold of her hair and yanked, hard.  She stumbled back, nearly losing her footing.  Void had argued she should cut her hair short, perhaps even wear a wig if having long hair was so important to her.  In hindsight, she suspected he’d been right.  Master Lucknow had his hands wrapped around her hair, hurting her so badly she could barely think … she allowed him to drag her as she gathered herself, then cracked the back of her head into his nose.  She heard it break with a very satisfying crack – she felt warm liquid drip down her hair – but he didn’t let go.  A moment later, a force punch sent her spinning through the air.  Her scalp hurt so badly she was sure he’d scalped her. 

She hit the ground, the impact knocking the wind out of her.  Master Lucknow landed on top of her, his weight holding her down.  She sensed his magic brewing, readying itself for another blast.  This close to her, he’d have no difficulty tearing apart what remained of her defences or simply knocking her out.  She ruthlessly bit down on her panic as his blood pressed against her bare skin.  Channelling power through the blood was difficult and dangerous, yet …

GET OFF, she thought.

Master Lucknow rolled off, his arms and legs flailing madly.  The compulsion had been almost irresistible.  He’d certainly not realised she could use his blood to control him … now when it wasn’t touching her fingers.  Emily smirked – there was nothing in the books on blood magic that suggested she had to use her fingers – then forced herself to stand on bruised and battered legs.  Master Lucknow glared at her, his gaze suggesting he was setting up barriers in his mind.  Her control was already weakening … she knew it would only be a few seconds before he broke free and came for her.  She didn’t know why he’d wanted to arrest her – she’d thought they were allies, during the war – but he wanted her dead now.  She’d pushed the limits as far as they would go.

She heard the sound of running footsteps and forced herself to stagger down the street.  Her legs were sore … too sore.  Too much had happened … her vision was so blurred she could barely see.  Anything could be in front of her.  She sensed a flicker of magic, too late.  The tangle spell struck her legs and she tripped over herself, landing back on the ground.  The sorcerers advanced, their power building as they wove a net of magic.  Emily would have laughed, if she hadn’t been so badly hurt.  She was too drained to continue the fight.  They could grab her by the neck, force the potion down her throat and then march her off to …

A surge of magic pulsed through the air.  It wasn’t directed at Emily, but it was strong enough to batter against what remained of her defences.  The sorcerers were knocked backwards, like trees caught in a gale; Emily took advantage of their sudden confusion to draw on what little remained of her power, trying to clear her eyes.  Her eyes felt dry as dust, but – slowly – they started to get better.  A nexus of power stood in front of her.  Void stood in front of her.  And Jan was right behind him. 

Void’s voice was quiet, but it echoed on the air.  “I do trust that you have an explanation for this?”

58 Responses to “Snippet – The Right Side of History (SIM22)”

  1. Rick January 9, 2021 at 3:09 pm #

    Wow! But right after explaining that guns were very inaccurate, you had Emily shoot the battery with precision and not hitting the sorcerer’s body or hands, even at “point-blank range”, a difficult trick for even an experience firearm user.

    • MarkR January 11, 2021 at 3:59 pm #

      Given Emily’s knowledge I am surprised that she doesn’t have some form of “spell-guided” bullets (similar to the laser-guided weapons of today) to make this more achievable.

      I do like the parts where Emily uses her knowledge of Earth to adapt the magic of the SIM world, and I would enjoy if she did more of it. (I hope Chris is reading!)

      • Rick January 11, 2021 at 9:17 pm #

        I agree completely. I would like to see more of that kind of improvisation using magic to make up for tech and of course transmuting air to carbon monoxide, or aerosolized sedative, or – worst case chlorine gas. It’s amazing that she’s not used infrared sight, or firing microwave radiation at someone. Nasty to cook someone from the inside, but I don’t see how anyone’s wards can prevent it without going opaque. Then there’s of course, various types of radiation. Gamma rays focused fine enough can sever the spinal cord or lobotomize someone.

  2. Bryce January 9, 2021 at 4:58 pm #

    Can you pls print the book now I do not care if there are errors pls pretty pls

  3. kd7fds January 9, 2021 at 5:35 pm #

    Oh, I can’t wait, Emily vs the World!!!

  4. stephen January 9, 2021 at 7:05 pm #

    Not quite a lone power yet

  5. jared January 9, 2021 at 7:21 pm #

    O my, that was awesome!!! I can’t wait for the book!!

  6. Duane Lachney January 9, 2021 at 8:50 pm #

    Now that there is what you call A Bone In The Throat! [The Queen’s Gambit]

  7. Shane January 10, 2021 at 2:35 am #

    This is just as bad as the cliff in Little Witches! I’m really excited for this next book.

  8. yetanotherjoe January 10, 2021 at 3:44 am #

    Double WOW!

    It will be soooooooo hard to wait for this book!!! Little Witches left off with a cliff hanger, but you really set the book with this teaser!

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard January 10, 2021 at 3:51 am #

      And as one of the Beta Readers for this book, I’ll say “It’s Great”. 😉

      • George Phillies January 10, 2021 at 5:58 am #

        Having seen it elsewhere, I agree.

  9. Bill Dunn January 10, 2021 at 6:01 am #

    Thanks Chris for chapter 1. The cliff hander at the end of Little Witches was just too much to bear. And when is Fatty going to make his appearance ? Please bring back Fatty.

  10. AC Young January 10, 2021 at 7:08 pm #

    There’s a suggestion that Jan told Void about what was happening. Something tells me Master Lucknow isn’t going to be pleased…

  11. Thomas Tomiczek January 10, 2021 at 7:44 pm #

    SO happy that it does not lead to Emily (again) captured. Now that will be – interesting. Seriously looking forward.

  12. Pixie January 10, 2021 at 11:01 pm #

    This leaves me very hopeful that perhaps the demons vision can be averted. I was very worried about another storyline that leaves Emily powerless at the end of the last book, so I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds!

  13. Bryce January 11, 2021 at 7:39 am #

    So is the middle of February still the approximate release date?

  14. Mark Prothero January 11, 2021 at 11:31 am #

    Great chapter just drooling over getting the book.

  15. Brian G January 11, 2021 at 1:45 pm #

    Well, things have quickly turned very ugly. Chapter one was exciting, but why is Emily pulling her punches? She’s outnumbered and she hesitates to target the ones maintaining the ward?

  16. Chris January 11, 2021 at 3:01 pm #

    Emily is just too good for herself. Why does she insist on non-lethal combat when everyone wants to kill her.

    • yetanotherjoe January 11, 2021 at 3:22 pm #

      U was wondering the same thing. After all it isn’t earth. Different set.of rules.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard January 11, 2021 at 3:36 pm #

        Mild Spoiler.

        Later in the book, Emily thinks that “yes she pulled her punches” but also realizes that her attackers “pulled their punches”.

        Yes, Master Lucknow wants her dead but imagines that he’d “get away with murder” if he captures her, puts her in front of a kangaroo court and then executes her.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard January 11, 2021 at 4:11 pm #

        Also, please remember that the confrontation started with a “you’re under arrest” and the first offensive action against her was a Capture Spell.

        While this was an illegal arrest, Emily would be in a worst situation if she had countered non-lethal attacks with lethal attacks.

    • Rick January 11, 2021 at 9:11 pm #

      I think Master Grey would have a bone to pick with your assertion. When the fight is to the death, Emily seems to have no problem meeting force with equivalent force. However in this instance, the majority of the forces are trying to subdue her. Master Lucknow, however….

  17. Brian G January 11, 2021 at 7:45 pm #

    The situation is already terrible. Seeing as how it was an illegal arrest, she was outnumbered, AND they attacked first, I bet she would be more than fine using the more serious spells. The local attitude towards self-defense on the nameless world is well established.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard January 11, 2021 at 7:55 pm #

      Yet, the first spell cast against her was a non-lethal Capture Spell. (One that was used against her in an earlier book.)

      IMO IF she had used lethal force against them, after the fight was over (likely result being her death) then her attackers could (under Truth Spells) honestly tell Void and others that she tried to Kill Them.

      Now if they had started the fight with Lethal Spells, then Emily would have be justified in using Lethal Spells in Self-Defense.

      No, it was obvious to me that in the fight they were still trying for a Capture not trying to kill her in fight.

      • Brian G January 12, 2021 at 5:16 am #

        With the sheer amount of pointed questions that would be asked during an investigation involving someone as important as Emily to the Nameless World, I doubt a simple misdirection like saying she tried to kill them would fool anyone. With the reputation Emily has as Necromancers Bane, no one would be surprised that those attacking her would be injured or killed.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard January 12, 2021 at 5:39 am #

        Not going to argue about the situation after Emily’s hypothetical death.

        I’ll just say that Void commented that Lucknow’s planning was often flawed. 😉

        IE He’d “loved” for Emily to attempt to kill his team so that his team would honestly say “We had to kill her (instead of capturing her) because she was trying to kill us”.

        And of course, Lucknow was brave enough to risk death in the invasion into Necromancer territory so he would be brave enough to risk death fighting Emily. IE Killing Emily was (in his mind) important enough to risk death either at her hands or at Void’s hands.

      • Brian G January 12, 2021 at 6:53 am #

        They didn’t “have to capture her” it was not a legal arrest. They essentially went rogue.

        And I wasn’t questioning his bravery, though misplaced as it is. I merely said it would surprise no one if he came against her and died.

        And does not change the fact that Emily should have been fighting for her life as most kidnappings end in murder. Emily would know this.

      • Callum G January 16, 2021 at 8:33 am #

        Whilst I’m sure Emily was concerned about being killed, with Jan as a witness, truth potions, and enough powerful supporters demanding to know the truth, I think the legitimate threat of her being killed was pretty low. I’m also sure that she could tell the spells they were using were non-lethal, and that influenced her behaviour.

        If she fights back with lethal force, then all she does it put herself one versus unknown in a fight to the death. Even if she wins, all she’ll have done is killed a bunch of people, many who probably believe they are acting with the law behind them.

        I think fighting back with lethal force would of been exactly what Lucknow wanted. He can kill her with a “reasonable” justification that he can probably swing even under truth potions/spells. Not to mention that he probably wants to destroy her reputation to try and limit her ideals spreading.

  18. Fahnir January 11, 2021 at 9:15 pm #

    Enjoyed the snippet–the only issues I have are in a medieval world, those who end up captured usually end up tortured, enslaved, or dead (there are no fair trials here–Lucknow has stacked the deck) so Emily should be fighting to kill or cripple opponents–otherwise they’ll get back up and come at her while she’s fighting someone else and possibly kill her…Second, if she’s supposed to be a Lone Power in 2 more books, shouldn’t she be more powerful??

    • Fahnir January 11, 2021 at 9:19 pm #

      Also, Lucknow presented no warrant–it is not a legal arrest–lethal force to maintain freedom is justified…

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard January 12, 2021 at 5:53 am #

      Chris has renamed “Lone Power”. It’s now “Child Of Destiny”.

      Also, IMO while being a Lone Power often requires large amounts of Magical Power, I think it also involves a sorcerer wanting to live apart from the magical families and other organizations.

      Of course, Emily is likely to inherit Void’s Tower after Void’s death and owning Void’s Tower would likely enable her to live apart.

      We’ve already seen that his Tower gives the owner plenty of magical power so if Emily controls that power, few would likely bother her as long as she didn’t give them reasons to do so.

      Finally, it is possible the final confrontation between Emily and Void will increase Emily’s personal power. Remember that one of the results of Emily’s duel with Master Grey was an increase in her personal power.

      • William Ameling January 12, 2021 at 7:20 am #

        I think that the battle near the end of “Little Witches”, may have punished Emily up against her limits (again, for the Nth time) and given her at least some boost in her power levels.

        Of course her battles against the 3 Necromancers in the previous Book (“Oathkeeper”) as well as being thrown into a Nexus Point for the 2nd time, also probably pushed her power levels up, perhaps several times.

        I think that Jan is not Master Lucknow’s Apprentice anymore. I suspect that Lucknow was taking advantage of Jan’s relationship with Emily as a way of capturing Emily while she could not get help. Jan obviously had no idea of what Lucknow was planning.

        I still think that sooner or later Alassa with Emily’s help (in the White City with it’s Nexus Point so that people can get back into the areas that got blocked off with the restoration of the Nexus Point by Emily), will restore the 3rd Empire, as it’s new Empress. I think that it is time for Emily, Void, and probably Alassa (as a new Empress) to make major reforms/changes in how the White Council operates. Emily can use control over the White City Nexus Point as leverage against the White Council and to re establish the Empire, plus having to help settle a lot of unrest against the Nobility and Kings in a number of Kingdoms gives her and Allassa even more leverage.

        I also wonder about the Sword that Emily got from Master Grey’s estate and gave to Allassa for her Wedding. Was it connected to the old (2nd) Empire and it’s Throne?

      • gbarbay00 January 24, 2021 at 12:30 am #

        “it is possible the final confrontation between Emily and Void”
        Um, is that an official spoiler? Yes, it has been speculated up the wazoo, especially in the comments to Chris’ posts, but it has not been deemed confirmed, at least to my knowledge. FWIW, I personally don’t like the idea of Void being a bad guy.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard January 24, 2021 at 12:35 am #

        Don’t remind me. I’ve had all of Chris’ most dangerous characters Shouting At Me About That Statement. 😉

        Hypothetical Question: Is a person a “Bad Guy” when he’s doing something to others for their own good? 😀

      • Jared January 24, 2021 at 1:08 am #

        The road to hell is paved with good intentions

      • gbarbay00 January 24, 2021 at 6:14 pm #

        “Hypothetical Question: Is a person a “Bad Guy” when he’s doing something to others for their own good?”
        Impossible to answer without knowing the specific parameters surrounding a particular scenario. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. That being said, I think most people know what I mean when I say “good guy” and “bad guy”.

        I actually have no problem with Emily and Void being in conflict, I just don’t want Void to be yet another character Emily has to kill to save the world. My preferences are she saves him rather than kills him. I like the symmetry of father saving daughter at the beginning of the series and daughter saving father at the end. I guess I’m just old fashioned that way.

    • Brian G January 12, 2021 at 7:00 am #

      Completely agree.

      • William Ameling January 12, 2021 at 7:35 am #

        and Emily’s many allies that she has helped, who have influence with the White Council, who will be very upset with Master Lucknow and any elements of the White Council that helped him. They will probably support reforms in the White Council, and possibly even reforming a New Empire.

        Does Emily still have to worry about another attempt against her, i.e. the Demon’s Vision, as well as Grand Master Gordian of the White Hall School?

    • Jared January 12, 2021 at 10:33 am #

      As a counterpoint you know Emily did hold off several powerful magicians all of who where probably much older then her. And Emily hasn’t peaked yet and she is still growing in power. When you consider that she is technically punching above her weight class, and her age along with the fact that she hasn’t stopped growing in power I think it’s safe to say she’s on course to become a lone power

      • Danna Rasmussen January 21, 2021 at 12:27 am #

        Spoiler Alert….

        In Little Witches, Emily did best Void , A Lone Power in a chase/capture scenario. Void only got the upper hand because Emily hesitated after knocking him down & Void used a paralyze Emily.. She’s been apprentice of Voids for a while. I get Lucknow believing he had to move against Emily now, believing as an apprentice, he could, especially with batteries. If he waited, the chance would be lost, even with batteries, but given all of her experience up to now, plus her piwer drainings leading to more power reserves, I’m having a difficult time with het not being able to best these guys, including Lucknow. She acts like she’s a lesser powered, lessor experienced, just lessor than say Lucknow or Gordian which given everything for 20 plus books she’s not.

  19. Jared January 12, 2021 at 10:22 am #

    I think Master Lucknow was operating under the assumption that once he had Emily in custody he would be able to gather enough support to ram through a conviction against Emily. And he probably believed he wouldn’t suffer any consequences after the fact.

  20. SPINDOC January 12, 2021 at 10:31 am #

    I would say Emily not being captured is probably for the best. Her capture will make her a martyr, every country in the allied lands will burn not just Alluvia. Alassa would be caught between two fires, she would want to help her friend but make enemy of every other country, not help Emily and she would be overthrown by her people.

  21. James Conklin January 13, 2021 at 3:53 am #

    this snippet was posted at the beginning of last month

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard January 13, 2021 at 5:49 am #

      Chris included Chapter One with this snippet.

      He didn’t include Chapter One with the one last month.

      • James Conklin January 14, 2021 at 1:48 am #

        Didn’t catch that. thanks

  22. stephen January 13, 2021 at 9:18 am #

    For me not killing makes Lady Emily more real. Good people don’t kill easily . A policeman or soldier might have to use deadly force, but not at anyone anytime.

  23. Dale Switzer January 13, 2021 at 3:47 pm #

    Great start. I am glad that Chris didn’t have Emily captured and powerless. I really hate books that make the main character powerless against and evil mastermind force. It feels too much like real life 🙂

  24. Brian G January 16, 2021 at 8:01 am #

    I’ve taken to re-reading the series recently (currently on book 9) and it occurred to me that while this fight was exciting, Emily’s combat style is rather bland. Considering she’s had two more years of schooling and almost completed an apprenticeship with Void, I would think her fighting would be much more advanced than her duel in fourth year against Master Grey. She’s fighting like someone born and raised on the nameless world. Or maybe not as someone from this world would not have hesitated to knock the ones holding the ward in place out of the air. Just my thoughts.

    • Brian G January 18, 2021 at 11:18 am #

      And to the people saying they weren’t using lethal spells so Emily shouldn’t either or that she should be holding back… would you let yourself be drugged and abducted by people you knew were acting outside the law? Would you fight a little, but not to the full extent of your abilities? Emily has been warned many times not to show her enemies any mercy since coming to the Nameless world. She hasn’t learned much it seems. In this way she reminds me of the Pollyanna trope.

      • Bryce January 20, 2021 at 5:11 am #

        There were to many enemies around in her mind she may have thought to just get out and not use up the power for the deadly spells also they may take longer to cast. She know she has to do what is needed to get out and if means killing her foes as she has with the necromancers.

      • Brian G January 21, 2021 at 8:06 pm #

        Except that she did not do what was needed. As soon as she realized there were two sorcerers above her maintaining a ward, she should have directly attacked the spells keeping them in the air. She did not. An outrageous mistake. I’m sure Lady Bard, Sergeant Miles, & Void will rip her a new one if she survives. They can literally do ANYTHING to her once they have her under their power (Compulsion, blood magic, enslavement, break her power, kill her outright, steal her secrets and knowledge from Earth.)

        It also occurs to me that this whole thing could have been a plot to lure out Void and attack him with batteries. (Although Void was told the secret of batteries long before them so I’d be astonished if he didn’t have some of his own.) They gang up on Emily until she’s drained & Void shows up. I don’t trust Jan. The Oaths he took to apprentice under Lucknow would not let him easily work against him by running to Void for help, unless he was ordered to do so. But who knows? Cloak probably has something up his sleeve.

      • Jared January 22, 2021 at 1:55 am #

        There is something there with Jan and Lucknow. It’s strange that Lucknow has allowed Jan so much freedom, and has basically given up training him.

      • Fahnir January 23, 2021 at 9:09 pm #

        It’s far easier and quicker to kill skilled combatants in a fight than to disable someone or render them unconscious without harming them. Fighting for her freedom, with Lucknow having no legal warrant, Emily should have done anything necessary to escape–not play nice and allow enemies to get back up and attack her again. After all the training Emily has had in martial magic and private tuition by Lady Barb and Sergeant Miles (where they taught her to fight ruthlessly), Emily’s holding back in this scene doesn’t work and actually damages the series…

  25. Tarun Elankath January 22, 2021 at 2:46 am #

    Not cancelling the wards that are holding her captive only makes her look stupid here and the whole scene rather artificial. Someone is casting a ward on you so that you can be captured – you cancel their spells. Utterly Straightforward. No one is asking her to go Rambo murder on her opponents.

    Besides, how was she planning on escaping if Jan hadn’t brought Void, since the wards preventing teleportation were continually centered on her by folks flying above her ?

  26. Fatty January 28, 2021 at 1:11 am #

    When is Emily anticipated to finish her apprenticeship? Will it be at Lone Power or sooner.

  27. nobuedi February 7, 2021 at 8:57 am #

    You all are totally missing the political side of things. Lots of powerful people blame Emily for all their problems and want any excuse to take her head off.

    And consider what Fulvia tried to do to Frieda with soul magic. If Emily loses her magic then her testimony can’t be trusted in court because mind and soul magic can be used to get past truth serums.

    And they can also just interrupt her if she tries to say anything that could acquit her. Kangaroo court remember? Without her magic they could simply put a secret compulsion on her to not defend herself competently.

    If she kills in self defense but too many people believe otherwise then that excuse doesn’t work and she ends up dead anyway.

    Not to mention that if she shows her hand too much then it releases a lot of dangerous secrets into the wild without any proper cultural and infrastructure preparation to ensure they have a more positive rather than negative impact on society. I.e. the nuke spell she used on mother holly will be extremely dangerous once anyone else figures it out.

    And while Emily *could* just kill everything that threatens her, that would set a very dangerous precedent. Emily isn’t the kind of person to start a World WAR just because she was there and could. Or at least this version of her is. The AU evil version of her fights her is in an earlier book, forget the title of it

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