Witch, 105

“Cassiopeia, I’m sorry to interrupt.”

“Not a problem, James. Do you have a question?”


“No one can answer it until you ask it.”

“I know. I was stalling for time because I’m not sure how it will be received.”

“There’s no need to be nervous, I know this is pretty complicated.”

“Right,” said James, nodding. “This question isn’t about the spellwork you’re describing, though I do also have a question about that. I had hoped not to distract from that, but I need to know why you attempted to poison me yesterday.”

Witch, 103

“This seems like something you could have mentioned to us.”

“I am mentioning it to you. I just did exactly that.”

“Prior to now, I mean.”

“I only found out about it a short time ago.”

“You could have sent a message.”

“When I was already coming here in a week?” James shook his head. “Seems like if I’m going to send you messages about important things in advance of the Coven meetings, then I never need to attend another Coven meeting.”

Villain, 87

“Some new faces here today,” Cassiopeia said as the meeting began.

Sam finished sitting down, putting his hands on the table. “I’m not going to waste time introducing you to each other,” he said. “If you want to know each other’s names, learn them when I’m not here.”

“We were speaking before you arrived, Sorcerer King,” said Mathilda the dragon, who wasn’t part of Ramona’s colony of dragons. She was from somewhere else in Kyaine, and had been an ally of his family since before Solomon had been born.

“I don’t care,” Sam told her. He wasn’t sure Mathilda was actually useful to him—she’d been the one who’d given Solomon the dragon artefact that had let them control some dragons to attack Three Hills, but it didn’t work anymore and she didn’t have anything else to give him. She’d insisted on having it back because it apparently looked pretty on her table or something, so Sam had given it to her so she’d shut up.

“Nor do I,” Mathilda informed him. “I was recently told of the importance humans place on small talk and was attempting it. But I see you take after your father, so let us begin. What do you want?”

Villain, 48

The wind was howling on top of the north tower, but Sam ignored it as he crouched in front of the spell circle, hands flat on the ground. The power was rippling around him. “I’m opening the spell now,” he said, to nobody in particular.

“Okay,” Henry said back, and even though Sam hadn’t really been talking to him so much as he’d been talking to himself, it was comforting. Knowing Henry was behind him with his sword was comforting.

Sam opened the spell, smelled tropical air. “Good morning,” Jocelyn said, stepping through immediately. Her boots crunched on the tower’s gravel.

“It’s lunchtime,” Sam said.

“Not where I live. We’ve only just finished dawn a few hours ago.”

“What?” Sam asked, trying to figure out what she meant by that. “Okay, whatever, come with me.”

“How hospitable of you,” Jocelyn laughed, following him and Henry down the stairs.

“I’m giving you lunch, that’s hospitality,” Sam said, impatient. “There are people I want you to meet.”

Slavery, 37

“You’re pretty when you scowl,” Theodore said.

Daniel looked up from his book, trying not to scowl. “What?”

“You heard me. I said you’re pretty when you scowl.” Theodore smiled at him. “Not as pretty as when you smile, but pretty nonetheless.”

Daniel looked at him for a second, face resting in a neutral expression. Now he was overthinking his facial expressions, great. “You’re saying that,” he said after a second, “so that I’ll get annoyed and stop scowling at you. So that I can go back to looking all innocent and stupid like I did before.”

Theodore smiled. “I never thought you looked stupid, Daniel. And perhaps I’m saying it because I want to compliment you.”

Witch, 42

“You had him…”

“Not really.”

“You had him in your house, in your territory, and you let him go?”

“What was I supposed to do? Kidnap him and tie him to my kitchen table?”

“That was going to be your only chance to put a stop to him, James. He’s not going to come back to you.”

“Well, I bloody hope not,” James agreed, nodding patiently at Timothy Lariat, who was getting redder and redder as he blustered. “Having him in my house was a bit harrowing. He thought about attacking me.”

Slavery, 19

“Everything I know suggests that Greentide isn’t corrupt—or at least that she’s less corrupt than most,” Georg said to Theodore, tapping his plate with his fork. “If we approach her the right way, I don’t see that there will be any issue with convincing her to work with you on this.”

“I am a little curious as to why you care, Theodore.” Cassiopeia had been skeptical about this from the start and hadn’t hidden it, and even now Daniel could hear it in her voice. “I mean, what Clement is doing down there is terrible, don’t get me wrong, but this kind of humanitarian cause has never been your usual fare.”

While Daniel thought of stones gathering dust on a shelf and wondered if Cassiopeia was right about that, Theodore smiled at her. “I see a problem and I have a way of solving it,” he said, with a small inclination of his head. “Perhaps I haven’t had the best record of making the world a better place, but I do like to try when I know it’s possible to succeed, at least.”

Slavery, 12

“Daniel. Daniel, wake up.”

Daniel stirred, but apparently not fast enough. “Dammit, Daniel. Wake up, you lazy…”


Daniel opened his eyes, saw Hugh and Marcus looking down at him. “Sorry,” he mumbled, trying to work the sleep out of his mouth. “Was I asleep for long?”

“Not really,” Hugh said, helping him sit. “But Benedict just knocked on the door. The Master wants you to get dressed and go see him in the sitting room.”

Witch, 14

“Any time you want to start.”

“We thank you very much for your hospitality and…”

“Yes, yes,” James said, obviously irritated. He’d been sitting for three seconds and was already shifting uncomfortably. “I assume you came because you wanted a meeting, not to compliment my grandmother’s cooking.”

It was Ron’s cooking, but he didn’t say anything. It was important that the Grand Coven see James with a loyal servant, he’d been told.