Read The Chronicles of Elantra 6 - Cast in Chaos Online

Authors: Michelle Sagara

Tags: #Soldiers, #Good and Evil, #Fiction, #Fantasy fiction, #Fantasy, #General, #Secrecy, #Magic, #Romance

The Chronicles of Elantra 6 - Cast in Chaos

Praise for
New York Times
bestselling author M
ICHELLE
S
AGARA
and THE CHRONICLES OF ELANTRA series

“No one provides an emotional payoff like Michelle Sagara. Combine that with a fast-paced police procedural, deadly magics, five very different races and a wickedly dry sense of humor—well, it doesn’t get any better than this.”

—Bestselling author Tanya Huff

“Intense, fast-paced, intriguing, compelling and hard to put down…unforgettable.”


In the Library Reviews
on
Cast in Shadow

“Readers will embrace this compelling, strong-willed heroine with her often sarcastic voice.”


Publishers Weekly
on
Cast in Courtlight

“The impressively detailed setting and the book’s spirited heroine are sure to charm romance readers as well as fantasy fans who like some mystery with their magic.”


Publishers Weekly
on
Cast in Secret

“Along with the exquisitely detailed worldbuilding, Sagara’s character development is mesmerizing. She expertly breathes life into a stubborn yet evolving heroine. A true master of her craft!”


RT Book Reviews
(4 ½ stars) on
Cast in Fury

“With prose that is elegantly descriptive, Sagara answers some longstanding questions and adds another layer of mystery. Each visit to this amazing world, with its richness of place and character, is one to relish.”


RT Book Reviews
(4 ½ stars) on
Cast in Silence

THE CHRONICLES OF ELANTRA by
New York Times
bestselling author M
ICHELLE
S
AGARA

CAST IN SHADOW

CAST IN COURTLIGHT

CAST IN SECRET

CAST IN FURY

CAST IN SILENCE

CAST IN CHAOS

And later this year

“Cast in Moonlight” found in

HARVEST MOON

an anthology with Mercedes Lackey and Cameron Haley

On sale October 2010 from LUNA Books

MICHELLE SAGARA

CAST IN CHAOS

AUTHOR NOTE

There are, in fantasy, two types of series. One is the extended single story that, with multiple viewpoints and various plot threads, spreads out over several volumes. The other is a connected series of stand-alone stories which feature more or less the same characters facing different situations; mysteries are characteristically this type of series. THE CHRONICLES OF ELANTRA is the second type of series as well. Kaylin Neya, the main character, is an Elantran police officer, and her job is to investigate crimes and solve them—although both the problems and the solutions in a world with winged mortals, Dragons and large, furred Leontines tend to be less mundane than the problems a real-world precinct would generally face. I hope that someone picking up any volume of the series would be able to follow the story and the characters from the beginning of the book to the end.

But.

In this second type of series, the individual story arcs are often small; it’s the
character
arcs that have room to grow, because ideally what your characters experience for good or ill causes trickle-down changes that continue on into the future. The Kaylin of
Cast in Shadow
(the first of THE CHRONICLES OF ELANTRA) and the Kaylin of the book you now hold in your hands is substantially the same person, but she has learned to let go of some of her earlier prejudices because of the events of subsequent books (for example,
Cast in Secret,
in which she confronts her visceral dislike of the Tha’alani, the racial telepaths).

Some of the events of previous books also cause emotional ripples in her life, and while she
is
facing an entirely different threat in
Cast in Chaos,
she’s come far enough to begin to acknowledge some of them. If this is the first time you’ve joined her, welcome to Elantra; if you’ve been following her all along, my heartfelt thanks.

CAST IN CHAOS

For my Uncle Shoichi, with gratitude

CHAPTER 1

The Halls of Law occupied real estate that the merchants’ guild salivated over every time discussion about tax laws came up, and for that reason, if no other, Private Kaylin Neya was proud to work in them. The building sat in the center of the city, its bulk overshadowed by three towers, atop which—in the brisk and heavy winds of the otherwise clear day—flags could be seen at the heights. It was the only building, by Imperial decree, which was allowed this much height; the Emperor considered it a personal statement. She would probably have been slightly prouder if she’d managed to make Corporal, but she took what she could get.

What she could get, on the other hand, could be a bit disconcerting on some days. She approached the guards at the door—today Tanner and Gillas were at their posts—and stopped before she’d passed between them. They were giving her funny looks, and she was on time. She’d been on time for four days running, although one emergency with the midwives’ guild had pulled her off active duty in the middle of the day, but the looks on their faces didn’t indicate a lost betting pool.

“What’s up?” she asked Tanner. She had to look up to ask it; he was easily over six feet in height, and he didn’t slouch when on duty.

“You’ll find out,” he replied. He was almost smirking.

The problem with coming to the Hawks as an angry thirteen-year-old with a lot of attitude was that the entire force felt as if they’d watched you grow up. This meant the entire damn force took an interest in your personal business. She cursed Tanner under her breath, and left his chuckle at her back.

It was only about ten feet from her back when she ran into Corporal Severn Handred. Who just happened to be loitering in the Aerie, under the shadows of the flying Aerians, who were practicing maneuvers that no other race on the force could achieve without a hell of a lot of magic, most of which would require postmaneuver paperwork that would keep them grounded for weeks. The Emperor was not a big fan of magic that wasn’t under his personal control.

Kaylin, her wrist weighted by a few pounds of what was ostensibly gold, knew this firsthand. The bracer—studded with what were also ostensibly gemstones, and in and of itself more valuable than most of the force on a good day, which would be a day when their Sergeant wasn’t actively cursing the amount of money being wasted employing their sorry butts—was also magical. It was older than the Empire.

No one knew how it worked—or at least that’s what was claimed—but it kept random magic neutralized. Kaylin had been ordered to wear it, and on most days, she did.

Severn looked up as she approached him. “You’re on time,” he said, falling into an easy step beside her.

“And the world hasn’t ended,” she replied. “Betting? It’s four days running.” It was a betting pool she’d been excluded from joining.

He grinned, but didn’t answer, which meant yes, he was betting, and no, he hadn’t lost yet.

“If you win, you can buy me lunch.”

He raised a brow. “You’re scrounging for lunch this early in the month?”

“Don’t ask.”

He laughed.

“Instead,” she continued, “tell me why you’re here.”

“I work here.”

“Ha, ha. You don’t usually loiter in the Aerie, waiting for me to walk by.” In fact, if it was something that was a matter of life or death, or at least keeping her job, he was more proactive: he’d show up at her apartment and throw her out of bed.

“Loitering and waiting are not considered—”

“Tanner was smirking.”

Severn winced. “An official courier came by the office this morning.”

“Official courier?”

“An Imperial Courier.”

“Please tell me it had nothing to do with me,” she said, without much hope.

“You want me to lie?”

She snorted. “Is Marcus in a mood?”

“Let’s just say he didn’t seem overly surprised.” Which wasn’t much of an answer if the one you wanted was No.

 

Teela was in the office and at her desk, which was generally a bad sign. She was also on break, which meant she was lounging on a chair that was balanced on its back two legs, and watching the door. Tain was somewhere else, which meant Kaylin only had to deal with one of the Barrani Hawks she sometimes counted as friends. On this particular morning, she couldn’t remember why, exactly.

The fact that Teela rose—gracefully, because it was impossible for a Barrani not to be graceful—the minute she laid emerald eyes on Kaylin made it clear who she’d been watching for. The fact that she was smiling as she sauntered across the usual chaos of the office meant she was amused. This didn’t mean that the news for Kaylin was good, on the other hand.

“Good morning, Private Neya,” the window said. “It is a bright and sunny day, but rain is expected in the late afternoon. Please dress accordingly while you are on duty.”

Teela took one look at Kaylin’s raised brows and laughed out loud.

Kaylin said a few choice words in Leontine.

“Please be aware that this is a multiracial office, and the terms that you are using might give offense to some of your coworkers,” the same window chided.

Kaylin’s jaw nearly hit the floor.

“Apparently,” Teela said, as her laugh trailed off into a chuckle, “the mage that designed the window to be a cheerful, talking timepiece, was not entirely precise in his use of magic.”

“Which means?”

“Off the record? Someone tampered with Official Office equipment.”

“This is worse. The old window didn’t greet us by name. What the hells were they trying to do?”

“Get it to shut up without actually breaking it.”

“Which seems to be almost impossible. The breaking-it part.”

“So does the shutting-it-up part, if it comes to that.” Teela grinned. “We’ve started a new betting pool.”

“Hell with the pool—we should just make the Hawklord stay in this damn office. The window would be gone in less than a week.” She started to head toward her very small desk.

“Private Neya,” the window said, “you have not checked today’s duty roster. Please check the roster to ascertain your current rounds.”

Teela burst out laughing because Kaylin’s facial expression could have soured new milk. She did, however, head toward the roster because she couldn’t actually break the window, and she was pretty damn certain it would nag her until she checked.

 

Elani street had been penciled, in more or less legible writing, beside Kaylin’s name. Severn was her partner. There were no investigations in progress that required her presence, although there were two ongoing. The shift started in half an hour. She took note of it as obviously as possible, and then returned to her desk, by way of Caitlin.

“Good morning, dear,” Caitlin said, looking up from a small and tidy pile of papers.

Kaylin nodded, and then bent slightly over the desk. “What happened to the window?”

The older woman frowned slightly. “We’re not officially certain, dear.” Which meant she wouldn’t say. “Sergeant Kassan is aware that the enchantment on the window is causing some difficulty. I believe he is scheduled to speak with the Hawklord.”

“Thank the gods,” Kaylin replied. The window, during this discussion, was in the process of greeting yet another coworker. “Does it do this all day?”

Caitlin nodded. “You weren’t here yesterday,” she added. Her frown deepened. “It not only greeted the employees by name, it also felt the need to greet every person who walked into—or through—the office in the same way.”

“But—”

Caitlin shrugged. “It’s magic,” she finally said, as if that explained everything. Given how Kaylin generally felt about magic, it probably did.

Other books

Cool Water by Dianne Warren
Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
Cut Both Ways by Mesrobian,Carrie
The Rock Child by Win Blevins
Roberson, Jennifer - Cheysuli 07 by Flight of the Raven (v1.0)
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen