Published by Acorn Publishing on September 12th 2016
Visionary. Alchemist. Savior. Saint.
The Prophet Zarathustra has been called many things. Now he spends his time drawing pictures of weird-looking goats. That's what happens when you've been stuck in a prison cell for two hundred years. But the man who might be mad, and is definitely supposed to be dead, has suddenly become very valuable again…
It's only been a few weeks since Nazafareen escaped the King's dungeons with her daēva, Darius. She hoped never to set foot in the empire again, but the search for the Prophet has led them to the ancient city of Karnopolis. They have to find him before Alexander of Macydon burns Persepolae, and Darius's mother with it. But they're not the only ones looking.
The necromancer Balthazar has his own plans for the Prophet, and so does the sinister spymaster of the Numerators. As Nazafareen is drawn in to a dangerous game of cat and mouse, her newfound powers take a decidedly dark turn. Only the Prophet understands the secret of her gift, but the price of that knowledge may turn out to be more than Nazafareen is willing to pay…
Hey guys! No review today, but instead I have a fun excerpt. Enjoy 🙂
Night fell on the city.
Torches flickered in the windows of the magi’s temple, although the Imperial Archives grew dark, its scribes having departed for home. Araxa tucked his hands into his sleeves and made his way down three circular flights to the level of the street. Most of the Numerators he passed in the corridors avoided his gaze. They were the record-keepers, the bureaucrats who made up the bulk of his order. But two or three gave him a deferential nod.
Like Araxa, their robes bore the sigil of an eye with a flame where the pupil should be. The Hands of the Father. The daēva-hunters. They strode down the middle of the torch-lit passages, knowing they would be given a wide berth by the others. No one, not even their own brother Numerators, wished to catch the attention of a Hand. Especially not now, with their new powers of arrest and dispensation of justice.
Araxa’s octagonal study was in the main building for practical reasons, but he conducted much of his business in another part of the Numerators’ sprawling warren. Three wings of the Hall were devoted to administration of the empire and its vast resources, but the fourth belonged exclusively to the Hands. It had no windows, and the walls were particularly thick, muffling any sounds that might arise within. To the people of Karnopolis, it was known in hushed tones as the Grestako, which meant cave of the demons. Few who went inside were ever seen again.
Araxa barely noticed the smell, although it had made him lose his breakfast the first time he’d encountered it more than a decade before. Old blood, sweat, despair. It had sunk into the very stones of the place. At least it wasn’t summer. The smell became much worse then.
Two Hands of the Father awaited him outside one of the cells. Unlike the stoop-shouldered clerks, both had muscular builds and the stolid faces of soldiers, which was more or less what they were. By tradition, the head of their order held no formal title, but most of the Hands respectfully called him Patar, an affectionate term meaning father.
“Magi from the Barbican, Patar Araxa,” the first said with a scowl. “One’s already soiled himself.” He gave a coarse laugh. “So much for the Purified.”
“Keep them waiting,” Araxa said. His voice was high and soft and oddly affectless. It was a voice made for whispers in the dark. Those who survived his attentions tended to remember that voice more than anything else. “Let them stew. Separately, of course. By the time I question them, they’ll be eager to please. Now, what of Magus Roham? Is he here?”
“Since this morning. He’s been demanding to see the Hierarch. Says he’s nothing to hide, but knows of a few others who might be involved.”
Araxa gave a thin smile. “I’ll start with him. Bring him to the Chamber of Truth.”
The Hands nodded and strode off down the corridor, scarlet-hemmed robes billowing behind them. Araxa followed at a slower pace. He could hear faint moans drifting through the fist-sized iron screens set into the doors on either side. The cells were small and dark. A prisoner had once told him an hour inside felt like a week. Zarathustra had no idea how lucky he was to have been given over to the magi instead of the Numerators.
Well, that reprieve was about to end.
About the Author
Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.
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