Wyrren Jadis had once been heir to a duchy, and for an afternoon she had been queen of Marla. Now she is an exile and a scholar, living on the charity of Sebastian del Torlo: ruler of Hael Malstrom and her unrequited love.

Wyrren doesn’t know why anyone would be able to threaten Sebastian in his own palace, but when she sees a guest attack him during a private meeting without recompense, she’s determined to find out why.


1. The Legend of Gideon Flynn

This is a story that parents in Hael Malstrom tell to frighten disobedient children.

Once, in times long past, when dragons were still common and the Great Fault was young and the Valdenemus redwood was only a sapling on a bare hill, a pack of mercenaries and treacherous guards massacred a king and all his family: his wife, his children, even his grandchildren. Only one person of the king’s household escaped alive—a young man named Gideon Flynn, the youngest prince of the royal family.

Gideon loved his father. He loved his mother, his brothers and sisters, his nieces and his nephews. He claimed his father’s throne with a heavy heart, and he did not wait long before he plotted revenge against those responsible for his family’s murder. And because he could not be sure which of his nobles were ultimately responsible, he had them all killed.

But it wasn’t enough. Revenge, he thought, was supposed to satisfy. He felt nothing.

He began to pursue the men who might have been indirectly involved, spending the contents of his treasury freely. He put his father’s enemies on sharpened spikes first, then their servants. When Gideon’s friends spoke against him, he turned on them with the blind zealotry of a man who had lost everything. It was only a matter of time before the nation rebelled against their mad king.

When opposing armies marched down the capital’s streets, when he found himself trapped in his palace with nowhere to run, Gideon turned to the only thing he still believed in. He threw himself from his highest tower and smashed on the ground below.

That should have been the end of the story. But it wasn’t.

When Death came to Gideon Flynn, it told him that his hands were stained by the pain and blood of his people, that it had no interest in collecting his soul. It cursed him with healing and eternal youth, and the broken king who had wished for death became immortal.

It has been thousands of years since the fall of Gideon Flynn. The country Hael Malstrom has risen and fallen many times, under many names. A new line rules now—the peaceful Torlo family, who have discarded the office of king in favor of the more ambiguous ‘Grand Meister’. The dragons are nearly gone, the Great Fault is old, and the ancient redwood dominates the capital city Valdenemus. But they say that when terrible things happen to good people that Gideon’s shadow has fallen upon them. He is the cause of droughts and calamity, and his existence is a darkness that lingers on his subjects to this day.

And though no one has seen Gideon Flynn for thousands of years, they know he isn’t gone.

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