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Chapter 8

The deck pitched and Arama swore. "What is this? We're in the middle of the dry season!" she snapped. "Find the stormwitch--sharp!"

She didn't watch as her first mate scurried across the deck. Though there were no clouds overhead, the Dawn Star was pitching and rolling as if they were in the middle of a fierce blow. What did they have stormwitches for, if it wasn't to keep the seasons in order?

"Step lively there!" she called. "Get the sails trimmed!"

Prince Vistaren and General Lozarr were sitting on the foredeck, the prince leaning casually against the railing. They were having a lively chat, the prince waving a hand. Arama tried not to notice the easy smile on Lo's face. In frustration at her failure, she shouted. "Away from the rail in heavy seas!"

Vistaren and Lo both jumped and looked at her. Arama shoved away the guilt at how Lo bowed his head, the smile fading from his expression. She was trying to keep them safe, and they weren't helping. Taking ridiculous risks and ignoring common sense.


"What?" she snapped, then realized it was the stormwitch. Thank the gods Arama hadn't been looking straight at her. "Sorry. Stormwitch Ardelis. Can you tell me what is happening with the ship?"

Kinnet squinted her eyes. Arama studied her. The woman looked frightened of something. That was odd. She would have been willing to bet Kinnet Ardelis didn't comprehend fear.


Kinnet folded her arms across her chest. It emphasized the low cut of her dress. "I have...felt...something."

"Oh, that's useful," Arama said before she could stop herself. "What sort of something? Is it dangerous? Is it nearby? What does it want?"

Kinnet flapped her hands. "Slow down."

Arama snorted but repeated herself more slowly. Kinnet shook her head as Arama blurted out the questions.

"I don't know if it is dangerous to us. It is..." She paused, searching for words. "Immense. But not malicious. Lonely, I think. If I had to pick a single word, I would say lonely."

Gods. Didn't Arama understand that. She sucked in a breath. "What does it want?"

Kinnet's answer was prompt. "To not be lonely."

Arama supposed she deserved that. She shook her head. "Whatever it wants, it won't find it here. Tell it to leave us alone."

Kinnet frowned. "I tried. I don't know if it listened."

"Damn. Well, we'll just have to make it listen." Arama looked up to where Vistaren and Lo were now standing on the quarterdeck. "Does it know about the prince?"

"I don't know." Kinnet cocked her head to one side. "I don't believe it would care about the prince even if it did. It just wants a companion."

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