Ciardis Weathervane returned to the imperial court of Sandrin to unite her foes. But her efforts hit a stumbling block. The imperial kind. She never thought that before rallying an empire, she'd have to fight the emperor himself.
An imposter sits the throne and the court she turned to for help is in turmoil. Ciardis hasn't survived assassination attempts, torture and really bad luck to be taken down by her own ruler. So she devises a plan. But first she needs to get Sebastian and Thanar to agree. Each seems to love her in their own way. But neither is listening to her. Pushing them to put aside their differences, in an effort to ward off catastrophe, might be harder than displacing an emperor who would do anything to keep his throne.
Butting heads at court isn’t Ciardis’s only problem. With the princess heir’s threat looming she is forced to travel to the mythical city of Kifar, where it is up to her small group to stop the destruction of the entire city while heading a rebellion that could foment a revolution. It wouldn't be the first revolution that Algardis has ever known. But with Ciardis Weathervane at its head—it would certainly be the last.
This fifth novel continues the story of Ciardis Weathervane from Sworn To Secrecy.
It wasn’t long before Ciardis heard the gates of the imperial palace open to her traveling group of soldiers and friends. It would have been hard to miss as the sound of the massive iron doors swinging open was like a trumpet piercing the quiet morning air. Curiosity overcame her for a moment. She had seen the imperial palace many times. But never from this entrance. It was the entrance to the quarters of the second-most powerful person in the land.
The husband or wife of the current ruler.
The last person to call these quarters home was Sebastian’s mother. Empress Ryana, long may she rest in peace, had died in childbirth while bearing Sebastian into the world. His father, Bastien, after losing two wives successively in less than a decade, had declared he didn’t wish to lose another. So he refused a third marriage. It had been over fifteen years and he had kept that promise. As they passed through the gates, Ciardis wondered if the emperor’s choice to not marry again had more to do with the fact that Maradian had taken his place than personal problems about having a third wife.
Then she shivered. Because if that was true they had all been paying obedience to a man masquerading as the true emperor for almost as long as she had been alive.
As the palanquin was set down on the ground, she climbed out and thanked the soldiers for bearing them.
She may have been a noble woman and the future wife of the emperor, but Ciardis still showed respect and gratitude when someone did a task for her. She couldn’t imagine it had been easy bearing the palanquin. She knew from experience what a heavy load could do to the upper body. She remembered with an uncomfortable twitch of her shoulder blades, the aches and pains that would settle in the muscles of her shoulders after a long morning bearing a heavy load of wet laundry over to the drying lines in the village of her youth. This was no different.
The soldiers murmured their gratitude with surprise in their deep voices.
She smiled, curtseyed, and went to speak with their captain.
Staring into his hard eyes, she said, “Well, we’re here.”
He crossed belligerent arms and she swore a tic appeared in his right eye. “So we are.”
“So you can leave,” she said sweetly.
He raised an eyebrow, looked her hard in the eyes and slowly signaled with a loop of finger to his men that they were to pack-up and leave. She noticed that all of his wounded were gone, so the rest were quick to trot back into formation and head out of the palace gates. Their leader following shortly behind on a stallion with one last lingering look at Ciardis Weathervane.
Then Ciardis thought to take care of her own wounded.
She heard Skarar crying from inside the palanquin. His father had poked a ruffled head in between the curtains to soothe him but she knew he needed medical attention first. A woman came out of the palace wearing a linen maid’s uniform. She looked to be on her way home rather than toward Ciardis’s group for service.
“Please,” Ciardis shouted out frantically, “we need help.”
The woman looked at them, muddied, broken and obviously of ill repute, sniffed, and walked away toward the gate.
Then Sebastian stepped in her path. He was five feet away from the woman, but his face was like rolling thunder. Dangerous and deadly. He said something and whatever it was had the darker-skinned woman so frightened that she turned and ran back into the palace.
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