Newly handfasted to the dark-haired archmage Lord Dal, Ellspeth and her husband escort his mother on a final journey to her ancestral lands. Their plans change when mercenaries under the control of a rogue mage attack. Dal's mother is severely wounded and Ellspeth is captured. Her sole hope for escape is Nobyn, an untrained wizard going through the throes of awakening magic. However, Nobyn is Bashim's apprentice and under the mage's total control.
Dal must make an impossible decision whether to rescue his wife, cure his mother, or thwart Bashim's plans. More than who lives or dies is at state. He might be able to live with his responsibility for the death of a loved one, but could he survive killing the future of magic.
Amorphous shapes detached from the stygian shadows along the wall. Magesight turned what had been unrecognizable blurs into armed men. Dozens more spilled out of the open gates of the compound or leaped up from the low ditch that bordered the road. Their yells resounded off the wall and sent the herd of true horses scrambling.
Hands grabbed at Ellspeth. Her sword slashed. One of the grasping hands fell away. Without a command, Zethar spun on her haunches. The mare reared and with a scream of anger struck out. A chime sounded as a sword hit the street. Zethar’s front feet dropped to the cobbles. Her iron-hard rear hooves kicked backward. Two of the shadows grunted and folded to the ground.
The street filled with the sound of pounding hooves as the true horses ran from the chaos. Swords clanged in a clash of steel that mingled with the grunts of the fàlaire. Ellspeth’s world narrowed to the bucking animal beneath her and the wave after wave of attackers. She slashed at the nearest dark shape, then hacked at another.
Although she knew Dal was too far away to help, she instinctively reached out for him. Her call vanished before it went more than a handspan, cut off by some unseen force.