Returning to the land of Confidence Game and The Bright and the Dark, Michelle M. Welch revisits the Five Countries, where magic is suspect, loyalty drives a hard bargain, and war is just a misstep away. Now, as a devastating plague takes its deadly course, a quest as fragile as a dream begins....Rindell Jorren, the twenty-year-old son of a governor of Dabion, is unsuited to follow in his powerful father's footsteps. Aimless and timid, Rindell wants only to delve into the poetry and song of the romantic cavaliers of yesteryear. But his father has other plans. To shore up his alliances, he has arranged a marriage for Rindell to a heathen Azassian. Unknown to Rindell, his future bride, Adina, is mad. Descended from the Azassian warrior who ripped the country apart centuries before, she is racked by nightmares, bound to the past-and sought by wanderers on the fringe of reality. But while Adina is blurred by insanity, Elzith the Sage sees clearly: a city burning, a search for faith, and a way to finally free humanity from its greatest scourge.
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September 27, 2005
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Excerpt from Chasing Fire by Michelle M Welch
Autumn 791 c.c.
Rindell wasn't at all sure about his job. Another day, another tent, another dead body to sketch. As always, he stood as far back as possible and held his tablet up over his face whenever he could, as if it would keep him from breathing whatever had killed the person. He was starting to think he should get another job, as if he had a choice. At home was the freak his father--planning who knew what punishment for Rindell if he left his apprenticeship--and here was the freak Aron Jannes.
"This is a good one," Jannes was saying, half under his breath. "Head is still intact, eyes are clear. We'll be able to get a lot from this one." He hung over the body and began poking at it with a small silver rod that was balanced between the deformed fingers of his right hand. Rindell swallowed hard and chewed on the end of his pencil, waiting unexpectantly for Jannes to call him forward to draw something.
For three years he'd worked for this disturbing man, the Circuit Justice for Mortality. Rindell had expected to travel around Dabion filling notebooks with drawings, though he hadn't really been able to imagine the subject matter. He'd expected to visit Healers' tents and burial grounds, a distasteful enough job, but better than facing his father again. He had not expected what the company of Aron Jannes would be like. No match for his father, of course, but Justice Jannes was impressively frightening in his own right. The cold face, the permanent frown, the angry eyes--he never actually lost his temper, but if Rindell had been drawing him, he would have drawn a powder keg with a broken hand. For once, though, Rindell had learned his lesson, and the caricature never made it to the page.
"The Healer you asked for is here," a voice said from behind them.
A tall, thin man in a white robe stood in the tent's doorway, calmly waiting to be acknowledged. He used no introduction, no "your honor." Healers didn't care about such formalities. Rindell stepped backward with a sigh of relief although Jannes looked over his shoulder with his eyebrows furrowed deeply, angry at the interruption. "The Healer," he mimicked coldly. "Don't you have names "
Rindell had wondered that himself, but kept his mouth closed. He backed away through the tent flap, drinking in the fresh air gratefully, but before he got very far Jannes followed him out and pushed him along to their next destination, muttering an order about taking notes for "this infernal interview."
The Healer in question, whose name was still not given, was sitting in a nearby tent, perched on a stool beside the bed of an old man. All the Healers looked alike, the shapeless white robes, hair cut blunt above their shoulders in a color that ranged from brown to as light as wheat, the men and the women all looking the same. Rindell didn't even know until the Healer looked up, turning away from the sick man to face the visitors and showing a narrow, soft chin, that this one was a woman. Rindell's eyes drifted over the front of her robe and he ducked his hotly reddening face toward his tablet, scribbling notes furiously, although the interview hadn't started yet.