Authors: Jane Glatt
Published by Tyche Books Ltd.
Copyright © 2016 Jane Glatt
First Tyche Books Ltd Edition 2016
Print ISBN: 978-1-928025-51-1
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-928025-52-8
Cover Art by Niken Anindita
Cover Layout by Lucia Starkey
Interior Layout by Ryah Deines
Editorial by M. L. D. Curelas
Author photograph: Eugene Choi
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage & retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright holder, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third party websites or their content.
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations and events portrayed in this story are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead would be really cool, but is purely coincidental.
This book was funded in part by a grant from the Alberta Media Fund.
Writing is a solitary endeavor so I want to thank friends and family for cheering me on. You’re the best …
SHE’S NOT SUPPOSED
to be here!”
His mother shook with anger and Timo took a step back, thankful that for once the venom in her voice wasn’t directed at him. Her hand tightened on his arm as he stood on his toes and peered over her shoulder, ignoring the fine, purple mist that swirled about her.
Timo’s eyes slid past Mage Guild Primus Rorik, who stood in front of them, shaking his head in apology. An older man stared at him with ice blue eyes.
That must be Santos Nimali, the one who had insisted on this meeting. A grassy green mist circled the fingers of his right hand. And there—that must be
! She met his eyes and smiled a wide, warm smile.
“Timo?” The woman stepped forward. “I’ve been asking to meet you for years but your mother . . .” The woman paused, and her gaze flicked to his mother. “
mother forbade it.”
“To protect him,” his mother, Arabella Fonti, said. “From the woman who killed his father.”
The woman—Kara Fonti, his sister—turned her sad gaze to him. “I had no choice. He was trying to kill me.”
tried to have Kara killed.” A man detached himself from a shadow and strolled up to stand beside Kara Fonti.
Timo couldn’t supress a shudder. The man seemed relaxed—his arms hung loose by his sides and his shoulders were slouched—but from the quiet, controlled way he held himself Timo sensed that he was dangerous.
“You tried to contract me to assassinate her.”
“No!” Arabella replied. “I deny it. What proof do you have?”
His mother’s grip on him relaxed, and Timo took the opportunity to step out from behind her.
Kara Fonti smiled again. Not the warm welcoming smile she’d directed at him, no, this was a sad, bitter smile full of old pain.
“Reo never formally accepted the commission,” she said. “But the official request for an Assassin is in Warrior Guild’s Hall of Records. Santos put a protective spell on it.”
Timo felt his mother stiffen beside him, and he had to hide his surprise. Had his mother tried to assassinate her own daughter? She was capable of that?
“And,” Kara continued, “although you sent many, many spells in the years afterwards, it’s still there.” She looked directly at him, ignoring his mother. “I believe Warrior Guild will make the record available to you if you wish to see it for yourself.”
“It’s a lie,” Arabella said, turning to him. “Don’t believe them.”
Timo simply nodded, his heart sinking. He wanted to trust his mother, he truly did, but there was no chance Warrior Guild would fabricate something like this. She had tried to assassinate her own daughter. What other horrible things had she done and then lied to him about?
“But you did kill my father?” Timo asked, speaking for the first time. He’d desperately wanted this meeting, had hoped that the woman who was his sister would be there, but he’d always thought that his mother had lied about this.
“Yes,” Kara said. “I’ve always regretted that I had to but he was trying to kill me—kill us.” She reached out and clasped the hand of the man beside her, the man who had implied that he was an Assassin.
“Rorik.” The old man, Santos Nimali, spoke up. “I thought this had all been explained to the boy.”
“We explained as much as we thought prudent, yes,” Rorik replied.
“Prudent?” The other man frowned. “You lied.”
“No,” Rorik said, shaking his head. “We may have omitted a few details that both Arabella and I thought might cause undue stress for Timo, but it was never our intent to lie.”
“But that’s what you did,” Santos replied. “And I think that it
Arabella’s intent. The truth about Valerio Valendi’s death must be a matter of Mage Guild record, how did you expect to keep that from him? Surely he’s studied the records?”
“I have not been allowed access to the records,” Timo said, tired of everyone talking around him. “I’ve been told that I can study them when I’m sixteen.”
“Sixteen!” Santos said. “That’s ridiculous. When did you find your Mage talent?”
“I was eight, Primus Nimali,” Timo replied, giving the elder Mage his true title. Rorik used the title but he wasn’t the rightful Primus of Mage Guild.
Santos Nimali grinned, and Timo revised the man’s age downward. He grinned back, briefly, wondering if Santos could outlive Rorik and deprive him of ever having the title he so desperately wanted. Timo was apprenticed to the acting Primus but he didn’t trust the man any more than he trusted his mother.
“You’re fourteen now?” Santos said. “Six years and you’ve never studied the records, the history of Mage Guild?” The old man shook his head. “Rorik, that is shameful. Timo Valendi is your Apprentice. It’s your duty to educate him.”
“Yes,” Rorik replied. “And despite what you think, I take his education very seriously. Although we fear his talents do not reflect the promise of his parents.”
“What about the promise of his sister?” Kara asked. “Does he have unmagic?”
Timo heard his mother’s indrawn breath. There it was, the question Arabella Fonti never wanted an answer to, the question she’d told him to never, ever answer, no matter who asked it, not even if she herself asked him. Not that she ever would.
“No,” Arabella said, so loud it was almost a shout. “He has a small talent for casting spells, but none for . . .” she paused and gripped his arm. “For whatever unnatural talents you have.”
“Unmagic,” Kara replied calmly. “It is not unnatural. We think it’s probably hereditary, like any other magical talent. I see magic spells. I can distinguish the signature colours of the Mage who cast them, I can undo them, I can read the intent of them to determine whether they are malicious or benign, and I can redirect them.” Kara fixed her gaze on him again. “Which is how I came to kill your father. It was his spell, one he’d sent to kill me and Reo. I turned it back on him and it killed him.”
His mother’s grip was almost painful now. Timo concentrated on keeping his face blank and emotionless but his heart was racing. Something that made sense, finally! She couldn’t create spells, he’d been told that over and over, yet his mother had always insisted that somehow she’d killed one of the most powerful Mages in the Guild. It
her spell that killed his father—she’d turned his father’s own spell back onto him in order to save herself.
He searched Kara’s face. There was no trace of any mist around her—all he saw was sadness and pain and concern. Concern for him? Had that been another of his mother’s lies? When she’d first spoken, Kara had said that she’d been asking to meet him for years. His mother and Rorik always claimed that Kara and Santos wanted to use him to corrupt the Guild.
“Why did you want to meet me?” he asked.
Kara smiled again. “You’re my brother. My family.”
“Family is very important to Kara,” Santos Nimali said. “Her other half-brother, Osten, lives with us, as does your own half-brother, Giona Valendi.”
“You have a Valendi boy?” Rorik asked. “You had no right to take him.”
“He wasn’t being treated very well when I found him,” Reo, the Assassin, said. “Besides, you know as well as I do that he wouldn’t have survived his father by more than a few days. None of his other children did.”
“I have other siblings?” Timo asked in shock. Neither Rorik nor his mother had ever mentioned any siblings, but his father had been a man in his prime when he died. Of course he’d fathered other children. “Where are they?”
“Dead,” Reo said flatly. “Except for Giona. I assume Mage Guild Council took care of them. That’s the usual practice, isn’t it, Rorik? Assassins weren’t hired—we don’t kill children—but by the time I searched they were already dead. Three girls and two boys. They died in falls and drownings—except for one poor child who was burned alive.”