The Changing Tides
An ancient tyrant has returned to the Seven Kingdoms. Those that would confront him have carefully been eliminated. Empress Karleena has been abducted, and with her, the hopes for the unification of the races. Warlord Braksis has been slain by his past, vanquishing the one warrior that was willing to look beyond the obvious and face the true threat. Admiral Morex, an elder leader and hero of the Imperium is lost at sea, eliminating the final voice for the ideals of the realm. The Madrew elf Kai is sent into a fold in time and space, leaving the one child that possibly could save them all alone.
The true intentions of Zoldex have yet to be revealed, but one thing appears to be certain: The Age of the Imperium is almost at an end!
Bowyer presents the second installment in this epic fantasy saga in the Fall of the Imperium Trilogy, Book II: The Changing Tides. Picking up where the first book left off, readers will be thrust into the adventure from the very first page in a riveting and page turning masterpiece. Follow the heroes that survived in the aftermath through their struggles as the fate of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance.
The mystral warrior sworn to serve and protect Braksis is overrun by her grief and relentless determination to avenge her mate. Her journey for vengeance will bring her to the brink of disaster as she becomes clouded by her rage.
The dwarven hero leads a group of adventurers to the palace for the unification, only to discover that they are suspects in the Empress’s kidnapping. The companions will be forced to make difficult decisions as they struggle to regain their freedom, a quest that will find more hardships, battles and obstacles than any of the adventurers ever anticipated.
The leader of ISIA is confronted with the mystery of the death of King Sarlec and the abduction of Empress Karleena. At every turn, his efforts to put the pieces of the puzzle together before the Imperium is thrust into war with a neighboring nation are blocked, and the adlesian begins to see no way to avoid an unnecessary war.
This is the continuation of…
Adonis was exasperated; this was the old woman’s third recitation of her tale. The ebony-skinned warrior knew from years of investigations that eyewitnesses to a crime were very unreliable, and that a simple question was, more often than not, answered from a variety of perspectives. However, the more people he spoke to from the small Suspinti village of Korland, the more frustrated he grew.
Much of the story was the same: a beautiful woman with an almost siren-like voice had entered their village and somehow had mystified the men; she walked out one night and every male member of the village, regardless of age, was swept up in her wake and followed her into the Suspintian Forest. The men had been gone for days, and the women left behind were forced to fend for themselves.
To this point, almost every eyewitness agreed on the events. Of course, the descriptions of the siren varied, some even claiming that she was a hideous beast. Adonis figured that this was more emotion and the women’s egos speaking, so he let the discrepencies in their observations slide.
It was at this point that the stories began to twist a bit. Nobody seemed to know or agree with what truly happened—or if they did, they refused to speak about it. He had heard dozens of variations so far, but as Captain of the Imperial Security and Investigation Authority, discerning the truth and finding justice was his job.
He had personally founded the organization with the intent of bringing prosperity and order to the land. Since then, his team has more often been referred to as ISIA, or simply the Authority, but their goals never changed. Their visit to Korland was not to hear about a seductive vixen luring the men from the village, but to ascertain who had murdered her.
As he continued to listen to the old woman, he knew that every word from her mouth had to be carefully monitored; she, like many others, was hiding something. He listened as she spoke of a mystery woman who had come to save the day; as if this traveler was some kind of goddess or heroine, setting out to find the men and returning with them in short order. Of course, nobody could point out why a dead body was lying at the edge of the forest, why it had over one hundred stab wounds, or had any clue as to who did it.
Leaning forward, Adonis held up a finger to silence the woman. “Who was this mystery woman?”
“I don’t know,” the old woman answered after pausing to think for a moment.
“What did she look like?” he pressed on.
“She wore a cloak,” she answered more quickly.
“A Mage’s cloak?” Adonis tried to clarify.
“I’m not certain,” the woman answered.
Adonis looked back and spotted one of his agents, Cylnta, a Paladin from the Mage’s Council who had joined his cause. Though she now wore the standard Authority uniform—all red with two yellow stripes on the left side of the shirt and trailing down the pants’ legs—she still wore her Mage’s cloak draped over her shoulders. “Did it look like hers?”
“Oh no,” the woman replied.
“So it was not a Mage’s cloak then?” Adonis tried to clarify.
“No,” the woman said. “No it wasn’t.”
“What color was it then?” Adonis continued.
“Captain, I am sorry, but it was dark,” the elderly woman tried to explain.
“Too dark to see what she wore or who she was?” Adonis asked incredulously.
“I’m afraid so,” the woman smiled warmly back at him.
“How about height?” he asked in mild frustration. “Was it too dark to see how tall she was?”
“I don’t know, maybe between five and six feet?” the woman guessed.
“Was it closer to five or six?” he asked.
“Perhaps in between,” she smiled again.
“Perhaps,” he repeated. “Was she human? Elven? What?”
“Again Captain, I’m afraid I cannot help you,” she said. “Would you like a drink?”
“No, I would not like a drink,” he declared with an emphasis on each word.
Next to him, a second agent leaned forward. “I would love a drink,” she said. “How generous of you to offer.”
“Well, I’ll get it right away,” the old woman smiled as she stood up and began to walk away.
“What did you do that for?” Adonis asked in awe.
The woman next to him smiled compassionately. She had long, wavy black hair, a very tanned complexion, and an angelic face that Adonis knew from personal experience had won the hearts of many men. He had first met Nextra several years before when she had seduced King Sarlec of Danchul and almost had become his second wife, though Adonis had put an end to that deception. Since then, he has come to rely upon her insight and ability to read the attitudes and desires of others.
“What?” he pushed on.
“You know she’s lying, I know she’s lying, and she knows she’s lying. Getting frustrated and hostile isn’t going to change that. She’s an old woman. There’s not much you can do that she’s particularly afraid of. That’s why she is the spokesman of this village.”
“When she comes back, you finish the interrogation then, I’m going to see what some of the others have found out,” Adonis instructed.
“Interview,” she corrected.
“What?” he asked as he was standing up.
“Interrogation has such a derogatory sound to it. I will continue the interview over a nice drink with her,” Nextra smiled.
“You do that,” he said. As he turned to walk away, he saw the old woman walking back with a tray, three glasses and a pitcher of some dark-colored liquid. The smile on her face appeared sincere and pleasant. The same look that he had seen for the past few hours, and one he suspected hid a much darker ulterior motive.
Adonis straightened his long navy blue overcoat and then walked over to his first officer, Commander Quince. “Commander, tell me you’ve had better luck than we’ve had?”
At six-foot-two, Quince was stern and imposing, softened by his short blonde hair and light-blue eyes. His uniform was always in perfect condition, and the man unfailingly appeared commanding and in control. He had been recommended by General Kronos when the Imperial Guards were first being formed to protect the palace, and Adonis has never regretted the decision to take him on staff. Quince was a very successful and motivational leader, having earned the respect of his men both as an Imperial Guard, and now as part of ISIA.
“Nothing new to report, sir,” he declared. “Ortrill and I are still getting the same story, but nothing to help with the victim.”
Adonis glanced at Ortrill who was standing several feet behind Quince. The man defied all logic in Adonis’s eyes. He was a practical joker who acted as if being serious would kill him. His hair changed color almost daily from one vibrant hue to another, this time dyed in a bright orange with spikes. Despite his oddities, the man had the ability to see a combat move once, and mimic it to absolute perfection. With the man’s twin swords at his call, Adonis was quite willing to accept the eccentric jokester.
“Do we know anything more about the victim?” Quince asked.
“I was just about to go ask the good doctor,” Adonis answered.
Adonis led Quince through the small village to the edge of the forest. As they passed Cylnta, he beckoned her to join them. The trio passed Dozzer, the former Lumnia champion from Dartie. He nodded to them as they exited the village and continued to maintain his watch in case anyone else tried to approach the remains of the victim.
Three other members of ISIA were near the body: Doctor Podeis was conducting his examination, Sergeant Darkler was observing, and Tink, the boy-genius, was vomiting in a nearby bush.
“What news, Doctor?” Adonis asked.
Podeis—the man who had formerly been personally responsible for the health and well-being of Emperor Conrad and his family—turned around and looked up at Adonis. His grayish-white hair, receding as the years began to catch up to him, fell in short curls around his head. His greenish-blue eyes still showed a boyish charm, especially for a man that had seen as many tragedies as he had. Even when working on a cadaver, he was very pleasant, happy and outgoing. As with all of the Authority agents, he wore the same red-and-yellow uniform with red boots and gloves, covered by a white lab coat.
“Captain, welcome, welcome,” he greeted.
“Have you found anything?” Adonis asked.
“Based upon the depth and size of each wound, I would conclude that this was done by a small knife, possibly even a normal household utensil, such as a kitchen knife,” he explained as he brushed his gloved fingers over the wounds to point them out.
As he spoke, Tink stepped back again to vomit into another bush.
“The kid can’t handle it,” Darkler remarked with a deep voice as he jabbed his thumb towards the seventeen-year-old inventor.
“I’m fine,” Tink struggled to reply.
“Why don’t you go get some fresh air,” Adonis offered.
As Tink looked back up, one of the magnifying glasses that were attached to the headset he wore fell in front of his eyes, making the eviscerated corpse larger in his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he turned and vomited again. After several deep breaths to steady himself, he smiled and agreed. “Perhaps Dozzer can use some help guarding the gate.”
“I think he might indeed,” Adonis agreed.
As Tink walked away, Doctor Podeis regarded the departing figure. “Poor lad—may he never grow accustomed to seeing such sights.”
“Good thing Ortrill wasn’t here,” Quince commented. “Tink would never hear the end of this.”
“Then let Ortrill remain in the dark,” Adonis instructed them all. “What else have you got?”
Darkler stepped forward. “We have a name,” he informed them. “This is Jalyson, a lieutenant for the Hidden Empire.”
Adonis did not doubt his sergeant’s words. Darkler had grown up surviving the swamps of Tenalong, and had even scoffed at an offer from Lady Salaman to join the Hidden Empire. Though he was only five-foot-two, he was one of the toughest men Adonis had ever met—a fact that had been realized by the leader of that criminal organization.
“What would she be doing here?” Quince asked.
“Probably looking for some more slaves to put to work. Send Jalyson out with her seductive mind-control and lure enough slaves to last the Hidden Empire for a few months,” Darkler deduced.
“That tells us who she is, but not what happened,” Adonis replied. “We certainly aren’t going to figure it out using normal investigation techniques.”
“These people have banded together with their story,” Quince agreed.
“I’m sure we could break someone in time, but I just have this feeling that we are needed elsewhere,” Adonis commented as he stroked his fingers through his goatee. At six-foot-four, Adonis was a very strong and physical presence. His well-groomed black hair, braided in cornrows, and ebony face—more often than not—intimidated the masses of the realm. Upon his face he wore shaded glasses that covered his blazing red eyes.
“Cylnta, are you ready?” he asked.
As a member of the Mage’s Council, Cylnta had mystical abilities that she used to help Adonis in his investigations. The worral knew that Adonis preferred to discover the clues through a thorough investigation, but her abilities were invaluable to determine what had exactly happened.
If his dark complexion shocked those facing Adonis, many more hid from the worral. She was reptilian with a green-scaled body that blended with a variety of shades. Her eyes were yellow with black slits, like those of a snake, and they were always in motion, examining her surroundings, often looking in two directions at once. Of particular distinction with her was that in the dark, she could release a bioluminescent glow, a trait of her subterraneous-dwelling race.
The Paladin stepped forward and nodded. “I am prepared,” she answered in a very clear and easy to understand dialect. Sergeant Darkler, who had lived for a time with the reptilian rasplers, was always amazed at how clearly Cylnta spoke.
Cylnta sat down and crossed her legs. Focusing both of her eyes on the body of Jalyson, she slowly closed them and took several deep breaths to help herself focus and concentrate. A small light-blue mist appeared in front of her and began to swirl. A scene from history began to replay within, and the five Authority agents watched the events as they truly occurred.
They watched as a woman—who was indeed cloaked, thus shrouding her features—walk into the village with a bound Jalyson behind her. The men of the village rushed past them, joyous to be reunited with their wives, mothers, and children. The cloaked woman handed the binding to the little old woman that Adonis and Nextra spoke with, and received a small pouch in return. She tossed it into the air a couple of times, as if weighing it, and then spun around and strode back into the Suspintian Forest.
The little old woman followed for a moment, with Jalyson in tow. She then tied her to a tree, and walked away as a mob of women stood there, guarding the siren. Her absence was short lived—she returned with a cutting knife, and stabbed the Hidden Empire lieutenant in the stomach three times before standing back up and handing the knife to another woman, who bent down and likewise stabbed the screaming seductress.
The Authority agents watched the brutal stabbing again and again as every single woman of the village took her turn with the knife. Jalyson was dead long before the final woman struck, but she shared the same grim satisfaction on her face as the old woman when she first attacked.
The last attacker stood up and handed the knife back to the old woman, who smiled in the same polite expression that Adonis had become familiar with, and then they untied Jalyson and all walked back to the village, leaving the bloodied woman behind.
The light-blue image faded, and Cylnta opened her eyes.
“So, now we know,” Doctor Podeis whistled. “Wow.”
“What do we do? Arrest every woman in the village?” Darkler asked.
Adonis continued stroking his goatee, wondering exactly what they would do. How could they remove every woman from an entire village? Yet, they had all participated in the slaying of this woman. Even if she was evil and worked for the Hidden Empire, no one deserved such a fate.
“Captain!” Dozzer yelled from the edge of the village’s wall. “We need you!”
Adonis turned and looked at the huge man who was waving towards him and jogged back towards the gate to Korland, Quince and Darkler by his side. “What is it Dozzer?”
“A rider sir, from Trespias,” he informed as he pointed deeper into the village.
“Thank you,” Adonis offered as he jogged towards Geist, the personal messenger for the Empress. Ortrill and Nextra were standing with him, and he could see the man battling fatigue. “Geist?”
“Adonis, at last I have found you,” he wheezed. Geist was a short, thin man who had a gift of reaching his destinations quickly. To see him so winded, and his horse looking like it was pushed close to death, he knew that the messenger had vital news to report.
“Take a moment to collect yourself, my friend,” Adonis offered. “You are here now, and clearly you have found me.”
“Thank you, but time is of the essence,” he struggled to state between breaths. “King Sarlec is dead.”
“Sarlec?” Nextra asked, her voice reduced to a whisper. Though she had once been seducing him and trying to amass her own fortune, she obviously did have legitimate feelings for the man.
“What happened?” Adonis asked, putting a finger up to silence Nextra.
“Unknown—the Empress found him in his quarters,” Geist relayed.
“Was it murder?” Adonis asked.
“Again, we are uncertain, though Centain feels confident that foul play was involved.”
“I trust Centain’s judgment,” Adonis commented. “If he suspects foul play, I would bet that he is right.”
“I concur,” Quince chimed in—he too had known Centain, having served directly below the man before agreeing to join ISIA.
“Is there anything else you can tell us?” Adonis asked.
“There is much going on at the palace,” Geist stated a little more clearly as he slowly regained his breath. “The unification talks are not going well: the royal families oppose them, and the Empress is struggling.”
“Unification talks?” Adonis asked.
“Oh yes, you probably haven’t heard,” Geist said. “Warlord Braksis had received multiple reports of organized movements against the Seven Kingdoms. The Empress is trying to unite all of the creatures of the realm to oppose this threat.”
“What organized movements?” Quince asked, seeking further clarification.
“The Dartian hunters, the fisherman of Arkham, orcs, hobgoblins, goblins, and even something known as a Shadow Mage,” Geist replied.
Adonis glanced at Cylnta, who shrugged her shoulders. He knew that there were problems—when he was bringing Dozzer into ISIA, Braksis had only recently returned from quelling a revolt in Dartie—but an organized effort was something beyond what he was aware of.
“What does this have to do with Sarlec’s death?” Adonis asked.
“King Sarlec is one of the Imperium’s strongest supporters. Centain feels that his death is directly related to an attempt to weaken the Imperium.”
“Very well,” Adonis said. “I shall leave immediately.”
“What do you want to do?” Quince asked. “We haven’t yet finished up here.”
“You remain here, finalize the details,” Adonis instructed. “Make it look as formal as possible, and then just return to Trespias; we’re not going to arrest every woman in this village.”
“Very well,” Quince answered.
“I need to return to Trespias as quickly as possible. Cylnta, Doctor Podeis, Sergeant Darkler and I will leave immediately. The rest of the team will stay with you.”
“I will go with you as well,” Geist offered.
“No,” Adonis answered firmly. “You stay here with Quince. You need your rest and can return with them.”
Geist glanced over at his mount and reluctantly agreed. Without rest, food, and water, his horse would perish during the two-week return trip to Trespias.
“Darkler, pack up our belongings and make sure that Doctor Podeis doesn’t leave anything behind. We’re leaving within the hour.”
“Yes, sir,” he bowed and then jogged back to the crime scene to collect the doctor.
“Cylnta, I’m going to need you to tax yourself a bit here,” Adonis commented.
“What did you have in mind?” she asked.
“We need to get back to Trespias as soon as possible,” he stated, allowing her to draw her own conclusions.
“I shall make some preparations,” she replied. “I warn you, though—by the time we reach Trespias, I will be exhausted. It will take me some time to rest before I will be of any use to you again.”
“I understand,” he replied. “We need to shave time off of the return trip—two weeks is unacceptable.”
“I will get us there sooner,” she replied.
“I know you will,” he answered confidently. As he watched his people going about their business, a dark red mist began steaming from his eyes, escaping above his glasses.
Thirty minutes later, with Cylnta sitting behind him on his horse, Doctor Podeis and Sergeant Darkler sitting on the wagon with a six-horse team ready to pull them, Adonis raised his hand and signaled them to leave. As soon as they were outside of the walls of Korland, Cylnta’s eyes closed, and the horses leapt from the ground and began galloping through the air, storming forty feet above the landscape.
“The Empress, she’s gone!”
Winton lay where he fell, backhanded by the celestial bounty hunter. He could hear voices of confusion and chaos around him, but they seemed to be far away as he struggled with consciousness.
“Water! The Sovereign needs water!”
“Guards! Seal all of the exits!”
Get up. Winton slowly opened his eyes. The last words were too clear to him, not an echo from his consciousness. This is the moment we have been waiting for. Working for. You will not miss it because of a slap to the face.
He recognized the voice, though he could not understand where it was coming from. He knew that it was Zoldex, but it sounded as if his trusted advisor was speaking directly into his mind.
Get up! The shout came more forcefully.
Winton put an arm down and started to lift himself. Again, the world swirled around him and he felt as if he would lose consciousness, but he knew that he had to rise. The voice of Zoldex kept prompting him.
Good, good. Now, remember the deception. You must be convincing or all is lost.
Reaching up, he braced himself on the stone alter and used it to support him. As he looked out, his eyesight continued to blur slightly, but shapes and voices began to converge.
The door and part of the wall to the audience chamber had been demolished in an explosion. Winton saw several people trapped underneath in the rubble, including a few members of the royal families and ministry. King Lorrents of Falestia and King Euristies of Frocomon were helping to dig them out.
Large vines trapped several of the Imperial Guards and appeared to be suffocating them. Several untangled guards and the burly King Palenial of Dartie were attempting to cut the vines and free the men.
The aquaticans were struggling with consciousness as much as Winton, though their blue skin was beginning to look brittle and crusty. The Sentinel continued to call out for water for Sovereign Arianna, a call that Arbuckle and Trivett, two of the gnomes from Underwood, answered. They both ran out of the chamber searching for water, leaving their third companion, Zeppenfeld, behind, studying the skin of the aquaticans and babbling on about how fascinating their condition was when they needed water.
Looking down, Winton saw the proud Captain of the Guards lying face down with a dagger jutted in his stomach. The final Imperial Guard in the room, along with the beautiful Queen Zerilla of Suspinti, rushed to his side and turned him over. Zerilla shouted out for a medic—the Captain was still alive.
The only other people still in the room that were relatively unharmed were Prime Minister Torscen, who was glancing around at the carnage with complete disdain; Queen Celenia of Dartie, lost as usual in her own grief-stricken turmoil; and Queen Dornela of Dartais, who was actually sitting on top of her husband Rentios, preventing him from helping anyone else.
Stop wasting time! Do it now!
“Guard, is there any word on the Empress?” Winton spoke, his words more authoritative than he would have thought possible.
The man who was checking on Captain Centain glanced up at the young Danchul King. “We do not know anything, sir.”
“What are you waiting for?” he screeched, gaining the attention of several others in the room.
“We are trying to save as many lives as possible,” the guard reasoned.
“The life of the Empress, my beloved Karleena, is more important than that of a guard or a few troops. Assemble as many men as possible and try to find her!”
Arianna studied the man. Though she needed water badly in order to survive, the man’s words struck her as wrong. In the past few weeks, she had come to know Karleena quite well, and not once did she mention Winton in terms of affection. Certainly not as a beloved. As she tried to speak, only undecipherable gasps came from her parched lips.
Her proud Sentinel behind her misconstrued her intentions, thinking that she was calling for water. “The gnomes will be back soon my Sovereign.”
“Soon, soon. Yes, very soon,” Zeppenfeld agreed.
The guard looked to Zerilla, who nodded and began applying pressure on Centain’s wound. He then stood up and looked around. “Sir, from all indications, over a hundred Imperial Guards were killed today. We could not possibly put together a group large enough to pursue the abductor.”
“You are an Imperial Guard!” he spat at the man. “Your priority, first and foremost, is to safeguard the Empress! Find her!”
Torscen took a step forward and was regarding Winton curiously. He knew that if Karleena was gone, and Winton somehow claimed the Imperium as his own, that his own stature would be increased significantly. Smiling to himself, he knew where the vote of the ministers would lie.
“Perhaps the Guardsmen could assist,” Zerilla offered as she continued applying pressure on Centain’s wounds. “They could fortify the defenses and also conduct a search.”
“Yes—have them conduct a search, but forget about defenses. I want every guard searching Trespias for the Empress,” Winton instructed.
“I’ll see to it, sir,” the palace guard replied, and then headed out of the chamber.
Torscen walked up to Winton and looked the man in the eyes. He could read the son of his biggest adversary, King Sarlec, well. This whole scene was nothing more than a carefully laid-out façade. One he hoped to become involved in quickly before the newly crowned king faltered. “Might I suggest using the personal guards of the royal families to defend the palace?”
“Yes, that would be good,” Winton agreed. “They could help the wounded as well.”
“Most generous sir,” Torscen said.
“Royal families, we need your personal soldiers and escorts to replenish the Imperial Guards. What do you have available?”
Zerilla looked up and shook her head. “I only came with a small escort. No more than four men and my elder son, Trong.”
“That will not help,” Winton concluded. “Anyone else?”
Glancing around, any member of the royal families that hesitated in their relief efforts to bother replying came back with a negative nod.
Euristies yelled out: “The unifications talks were peaceful. We had no need to bring our own private armies.”
“There is one who might be able to help,” Torscen chimed in.
“Speak good Minister,” Winton offered.
“King Garum arrived with a considerable contingent of his own men.”
“Yes, Garum and his men would do nicely,” Winton agreed. “Have him released and make sure he agrees to allow his men to serve the palace for the time being.”
“I shall do so immediately,” Torscen practically sang with joy as he made his way out of the room.
“How could you release Garum?” Zerilla yelled in protest. “He’s a criminal, possibly the man responsible for the death of your father!”
“Not to mention this,” Lorrents added, becoming interested in the conversation.
“His men are nothing more than thugs,” Zerilla continued. “They are not loyal to the Imperium, only Lady Salaman and the Hidden Empire.”
“Accusations,” Winton waved away their concerns. “As the Prince of Danchul, I have known Garum for many years. He is misunderstood, that is all.”
“What gives you the authority to make these decisions?” Dornela sneered, clearly searching to increase her own station in the hierarchy of the Imperium.
“My father was one of the strongest supporters of the Imperium. His efforts, along with Emperor Conrad and Admiral Morex’s, helped to found the Imperium. That fact alone should be enough; but truth be told, my claim goes deeper.”
“Then speak up boy, what is this alleged claim?” Dornela pressed.
“Karleena and I were to be wed,” he stated matter-of-factly.
“Wed?” Zerilla asked, shocked by the revelation.
King Palenial stopped his rescue efforts and regarded the man who always seemed to exist in his overbearing father’s shadow. The last he knew, Sarlec had been trying to arrange a union between Karleena and Winton, but the Empress displayed no real interest, and the boy himself seemed far too embarrassed to ever act upon such a discussion. Deep down, he doubted the sincerity of the new king’s declaration.
“Yes, wed,” Winton confirmed. “The decision was made and a date set. My father was most ecstatic about it, but he died before we made the formal announcement. Then, we did not feel it appropriate to declare our plans until after the unification talks had been conducted.”
Every person in the room regarded the man for a moment. They each shared their own doubts. Winton and Karleena were complete opposites, but none of them could truly argue the words that he was saying. Without proof of deception, Winton would be the future Emperor, so until Karleena was found, they would allow him to play the role. After that, let the Empress dictate his fate.
Arianna struggled to speak once more; an accusation filled with rejection of primal fury toward the deceptive man was burning inside of her. She saw right through his lies and wished to speak out, but nothing more than a strained gurgle escaped her lips.
Review by: Midwest Book Review
Review by: J.D. Charles, The Logan Banner
Review by: Kahn Associates
Review by: Bookwire Book Reviews
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