Josan clutched the doorframe, doubling over with a ragged cough. Smoke pricked his eyes with a hundred tiny daggers. He gagged, pressing his face into the crook of his arm.
The time has come for the king to die. I wrap my cloak around me, feeling chilled despite my burning thirst to be anywhere but here in this moment. I hate what I do, and my heart beats hollow in my ears as I step into the sunlight, bearing no shadow, leaving no sound. I glance at the doors of the golden hall, at the sacred crest of arms carved deep into the ancient wood.
He only sees white. White walls, white countertop at the front desk, white tiles beneath his feet. Sturdy white sneakers belonging to doctors and nurses clip-clop across the floor. They wear blue, like splinters of the sky cascading through the hallways.
The phone rings four times, but Mom doesn’t pick up. She knows it’s me. Probably wishes it wasn’t. I cross all the fingers on my left hand, gnawing my lip until it bleeds. Please answer. The receiver clicks.
“Your hands are shaking,” Yirah said. Fiddler curled his tremor-ridden hands around his mug of honey brew. Yirah would never describe her mischievous charge as serene, but shaking hands? They sat in the most relaxing tavern she’d seen this side of Chron. Vines traveled up the fireplace’s sides and drooped over a fine mantel. Dying flames struggled to survive within the confines, feeding on more ashes than wood. Even the tables and chairs amplified the calm atmosphere, their backs carved, sanded, and stained a deep, comforting brown.
Emiel is just your average day shapeshifter doing classic hero work and foiling tyrants. Until, that is, he accidentally impersonates an innocent man while stealing from one of those tyrants. As the tyrant’s men try to find the thief, will Emiel be able to save both the innocent man’s life and his own?