Authors: Jasmine Walt
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #New Adult & College, #Paranormal & Urban, #Teen & Young Adult, #Literature & Fiction, #Contemporary Fiction, #Mythology & Folk Tales, #Mythology, #Fairy Tales
Copyright © 2016, Jasmine Walt. All rights reserved. Published by Blue Bolt Publishing.
This novel is a work of fiction. All characters, places, and incidents described in this publication are used fictitiously, or are entirely fictional. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, except by an authorized retailer, or with written permission of the publisher. Inquiries may be addressed via email to
Cover illustration by
Cover typography by
Edited by Mary Burnett
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If this is the first book you’ve picked up in the Baine Chronicles series, I’ve included a glossary in the back of the book to help illuminate the backstory. If you’ve already read the first book, this glossary will help reacquaint you to the people, places and things introduced to you in the first book, Burned by Magic.
You can either read the glossary first to familiarize or re-familiarize yourself with Sunaya’s world, or you can plunge into the story and refer to it as needed. The guide is in alphabetical order, and characters are listed last name first.
To the new reader, welcome to the Baine Chronicles! And to those of you who have read the first book, welcome back and thank you! Your support allows me to continue doing what I love most – writing.
my favorite time of the year, especially in Solantha. I love taking my steambike out on evenings like this, racing up and down the streets and soaking in the sights and sounds of my city. The briny air turns warm and inviting, the fragrance of ripening fruit and blossoming flowers softens the stench that clogs some of the streets, and the city itself goes into full swing, livened up by merchants, artists and performers plying their wares.
But instead of racing through the streets on my steambike or chasing after bounties, I was in Solantha Palace getting my ass kicked. And if you were standing here with me, you wouldn’t even be able to tell it was summer.
“Sunaya!” Fenris called as I tucked and rolled across the wooden floor to avoid another frigid blast of magical energy. “You need to stop running away from the blasts!”
The ball of magic slammed into the wall behind me – or it would have, if the magical force field Iannis, the Chief Mage, had set up to protect the room hadn’t flared to life. Instead, it bounced right off the wall just as I sprang out of my crouch, and I twisted my body away hastily, putting Iannis right in the path of the evil, frigid missile.
The Chief Mage let out an annoyed sigh, then held up his hand. “
!” he commanded, using one of the many Loranian Words I had yet to learn. Loranian was the magical language used in spellcasting, and the Words were incredibly difficult to memorize and pronounce. The ball of energy instantly changed shape, turning into a long tube of icy blue-white energy that Iannis sucked back up into his hand.
In seconds, it was as if the thing had never existed.
Frustrated, I bared my teeth at Fenris, who had opened his mouth to speak again. “Will you stop getting on my case about this?” I snapped. “I’d like to see
try to defend yourself against a ball of magic ice without freezing to death! Why don’t you get down here and try it?”
are the one wearing protective armor. I’m just the referee.” Fenris’s lips twitched briefly before he regained control of his stern countenance. “You’ve got to stop being afraid of spellcasting, Sunaya, and use it to your advantage. Otherwise you’ll never learn to properly defend yourself in a mages’ duel.”
“Gee,” I said sarcastically, slanting my gaze toward the Chief Mage. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say Fenris was my teacher, not you.”
The Chief Mage gave me a look that was drier than desert sand. “Perhaps if you focused on the lesson instead of allowing yourself to be distracted by petty matters, you would be able to defeat me.”
I rolled my eyes, then shot out my hand and blasted him with a fireball. The blue-green sphere screamed across the room, heating up the frigid air by several degrees as it barreled straight toward the Chief Mage. But unlike me, he didn’t duck and roll out of the way, or even blink a single one of his long, dark lashes. He simply raised his hand again and blasted it with another stream of ice.
not fair.” I glared at Iannis as a fine mist rained down from where the fireball had been, sprinkling the wooden floorboards. “If you’d just allow me to use my magic directly, instead of having to remember all these stupid incantations, this duel would already be over.”
“You already know why you can’t do that.” Iannis folded his arms across his broad chest, tucking his long-fingered hands into his voluminous sleeves. He looked every inch the mage, dressed in a set of flowing blue and gold robes, his dark cherry wood hair pulled back from his handsome face into a low tail. I, on the other hand, looked more like a scrapper underneath the magical armor I wore, dressed in a pair of leather pants, lace-up boots, and a short-sleeved striped shirt, my mass of curly black hair flying all about as I moved. The Chief Mage had tried to get me into a set of robes once, but he’d failed miserably, so instead he kept giving me disapproving looks whenever I showed up for my training sessions – a vain attempt to shame me into wearing apprentice robes.
Just because I was half-mage didn’t mean that I was going to start dressing like one, even if I was Iannis’s apprentice. One could argue that since he was the Chief Mage and the governor of Canalo I had to make him look good in exchange for the honor of being his apprentice. But I didn’t ask for any of this, and if I’d had my way I would still be out on the streets hunting down bounties and masquerading as a full-blooded shifter with no one the wiser. Not to mention those ugly dun-colored apprentice robes were
not my style. No way was I putting them on.
Getting out of spellcasting would be harder though, and I knew it. There were two ways to use the magical energy inside of me – one was by directing it with my thoughts, and the other was to use Loranian, the ancient language of magic used in spellcasting. I preferred the first method as it was faster and more intuitive, but I could last much longer in a duel using incantations than just blasting out energy with my mind. Like it or not, I had to learn how to do this if I was going to master my magic.
“Again,” Iannis commanded, then immediately blasted me with another ball of ice magic.
This time I stood my ground, ignoring my shifter instincts, which were screaming at me to get the fuck out of there. As a species, jaguar shifters are fierce warriors, but we don’t do magical duels. But as I was continuously reminded, I was also half mage, and I needed to start acting like one.
Mimicking the Chief Mage, I held up my hand and spoke the Loranian incantation he’d taught me, focusing my attention on the icy ball of energy hurtling toward me. The crystalline ball evaporated into a puff of steam, but I didn’t have time to celebrate – as soon as it was gone Iannis hurtled another one at me.
“You know,” I shouted at him after I’d dissipated the second missile, “if you lightened my workload at the Mages Guild I would have more time to practice my Loranian!” Feeling spiteful, I hurled another fireball in his direction.
“A likely story.” Iannis gave me a skeptical look as he snatched the fireball right out of the air, breaking his rule of using only elemental-type spells – we’d agreed to that for the duration of the duel since Iannis knew far more spells than me, in an attempt to keep things fair. The fiery ball floated just above his palm before he spoke a Word that snuffed it out.
“You and I both know that if I went looking for you, I would find you at the Enforcer’s Guild begging Captain Galling for a docket.”
“I don’t beg,” I snapped, affronted at the insinuation. “And so what if I do go to the Enforcer’s Guild? I need to use my Enforcer’s license too. How am I supposed to afford my rent like this?”
The Chief Mage blasted me with another ball of icy energy. Incensed, I thrust my hand out and shot out another fireball. The two blasts collided in mid-air, then exploded, shaking the walls. Ice crystals rained down everywhere, clattering against the floorboards, and I stuck my tongue out at the Chief Mage as he scowled at me.
“It is no concern of mine if you can’t afford that apartment,” he said sternly. “You have a perfectly good room at the Palace available that you refuse to use, and access to the kitchens for food. You are more than welcome to move back in, but I am not reducing your hours at the Mages Guild. Every apprentice is required to put in time in order to earn their training.”
“I’m not moving back in.” This wasn’t the first time Iannis had broached the subject, but I was determined not to budge. As much as I refused to admit it out loud, I was attracted to the Chief Mage, and the more time I spent with him the more these feelings seemed to grow. Since romantic and carnal relationships between masters and apprentices were taboo, I knew nothing could come of it. Besides, I hated the sense of isolation that came from living in the Palace, cut off from the rest of the city. Living outside on my own was the best thing for both of us, even if he didn’t see it that way. “Just because I’m your apprentice doesn’t mean I have to be dependent on you.”
Iannis opened his mouth to answer, but he paused at a knock on the door.
“Who is it?” he called. I pressed my lips together, already knowing the answer. I’d recognize that delicate knock and flowery jasmine scent anywhere – I’d heard and smelled them enough times over the last month to make me sick.
“It’s Director Chen, sir. May I come in?”
Fenris opened the door, and I didn’t bother to hide my scowl as Lalia Chen, the Director of the Mage’s Guild and Iannis’s right-hand woman, stepped into the training room. Her red silk robes flowed around her tall, lithe form as she moved, a stark contrast to her ivory skin. She’d left her long, fine black hair unbound today, allowing it to flow around her oval face, and it swung forward in a dark curtain as she bowed. Her perfect, polished look only served to remind me how unrefined I was, and the sparks of jealousy she always incited in my chest burst into flame before I could stomp them out.
“I’m sorry to interrupt you, Lord Iannis, but urgent news has come up regarding the Convention. I’m putting together an emergency Council meeting to go over the revised agenda they sent in, and we need you to be there.”
“Of course.” The Chief Mage inclined his head to her, then turned back to me. “I’m afraid we will have to end our lesson early tonight, Miss Baine.”
What else is new?
I thought, anger bubbling up inside me. I was getting really tired of Director Chen cutting my lessons short, and I opened my mouth to tell Iannis as much. Yes, the lessons were frustrating, but dammit I needed him! And the part of me that wanted him couldn’t help but hurt every time he left me hanging like this.
But then I glanced sideways at Director Chen, and the sight of her face, so calm, so serene, stopped me in my tracks. If I started whining right now, I would only look like a childish fool in comparison to her, which was the last thing I wanted. I didn’t need another reason to feel inferior around her.
“Sure,” I said with a shrug, as if I didn’t care one way or the other. “I get that you’ve got a government to run. Go do your thing.”
“We’ll resume this lesson tomorrow night.”
The two mages swept out of the room, leaving me alone with Fenris. As soon as the door closed behind him, I let the mask slip from my face, allowing the anger in my heart to shoot back up to the surface.
“Sunaya,” Fenris said, noticing the murderous look on my face. “You shouldn’t be so angry with Iannis. He’s never had an apprentice for as long as I’ve known him, and it’s a big adjustment for him to find time to train you while also running the state.”
“I get that, Fenris, but at the very least he could actually try to stick around for the whole hour he’s penciled me in for,” I snapped. “We only have lessons three times a week, and Director Chen has already taken him off to do other things several times in the past fortnight. And he wonders why I’m not making enough progress!” I threw up my hands.
“It won’t be like this forever, you know.” Fenris sighed, running a hand across his short, dark beard as he cut his yellow gaze away from me. He was a wolf-shifter, and though he couldn’t have looked more different from Iannis with his shorter, stockier build and his dark tunics, the two of them were fast friends. Because of that, Fenris’s commands had weight, which had been a huge help to me when I’d first arrived at the Palace as he’d used his influence to ensure I got enough food and to soften Iannis up towards me. “Iannis wants to keep a close eye on Director Chen after the fiasco with Argon Chartis. Once he’s certain he can trust her, he’ll be able to take more time away from the Mages Guild and focus on your training.”
“I guess that makes sense,” I muttered. Argon Chartis was the former Director of the Mage’s Guild, and he’d been doing a crappy job, shuffling off matters that he felt didn’t merit his attention, and hiding problems from the Chief Mage to make him think everything was under control. Truth be told, I was happy Iannis was rolling up his sleeves and digging into the corruption. With any luck things would start to improve for shifters and humans around the city.
But still, after losing Roanas, my mentor, to the silver murders a few months ago, I was feeling a little bereft. And though Iannis certainly wasn’t a father figure to me as Roanas had been, I was still his charge, and it was frustrating that I couldn’t rely on him.
“I still don’t see why he can’t keep his appointments with me or see them through all the way,” I groused. “Can’t he just tell Chen to wait another half-hour? I mean, she should know better than to butt in on my lessons when they’re so infrequent to begin with.”
“Things will get easier once the Convention is over,” Fenris said. “You know how important it is that Iannis arrives at the capital properly prepared. Much as you might wish otherwise, this takes precedence over your lessons.”
“Yeah, but I don’t have to like it.” I sighed, dragging a hand through my hair. The Convention was a biennial event held in Dara, the capital of the Northia Federation, where delegations from all fifty states gathered to debate and vote on legislation. I knew how important it was for Iannis and his delegates to be there and represent Canalo, and something like a last-minute agenda change was important enough for Director Chen to call an emergency council meeting.
“Well, I would stand here and talk to you, but regrettably I have other matters to attend to this evening.” Fenris eyed me. “Will you be alright on your own?”
I flashed Fenris a grin, shaking off my melancholy mood. “I’ve been on my own a long time, Fenris. I think I can manage one more night.”