Excerpt from The Gem Cutter’s Son

     “I am Aglacia,” she finally said, removing her gloves and tossing them on the table. “Legate to Satharus, the Canicule Tetrarch. You will provide us lodging as we prepare for the final stage of our journey.”
     Canicules, the Year’s warriors. Beyond what Genaan had taught me, Spathas always spoke of them with a conflicted tone, sometimes one of respect, sometimes one of contempt. As an Autumnal specializing in diplomacy, I suppose this was natural for him. In these and other ways, the warriors of the Summer and intellectuals of the Autumn were definitely at odds.
     Spathas nodded but said nothing. He was practicing what he called the Mastery of Silence. In my lessons, Spathas once told me ‘In every interaction, credibility and power are created, exchanged, and destroyed. Denying the urge to speak, particularly to ask, is key to mastering that exchange.’ I have found this to be true.
     Aglacia looked him up and down. “There has been an Emergence in a small town called Lormon to the west. Or so some claim.”
     Spathas nodded again, remaining silent, but my eyes widened. An Emergence – a vraguul had been found. A real one. I had not studied them, but I had seen the books in the library. The demonologists of the Canicule Epoch wrote many. There was an entire classifying system that included terms like ‘imps’ and ‘primaries’ and many others, but I had never read them. I knew only that they came from the Beyond and ranged greatly in their potency.
     “When we are rested and provisioned,” Aglacia continued, “we will travel west to the hill country. We will find this hamlet, determine the validity of the Emergence, and deal with it.”
     I took her meaning immediately. Regardless of what she found in Lormon, someone or something would burn. If there was a vraguul, they would burn it out. If there was no demon, then someone was telling lies, and they would be punished.
     Either way, there would be fire.
     “Also, I bring a message from Tetrarch Savina,” Aglacia said. She slipped an envelope from her belt, unfolded it, and handed it to Spathas. He took the message, thanked her, and slipped it into his belt without reading it.
     Aglacia snorted. “Not interested in what your tetrarch has to say?”
     “Indeed I am, Legate,” Spathas said, smiling his diplomat’s smile. “But I do not want to be distracted from your needs. How can we assist your mission?”
     “I am short-handed. Our adversary may be challenging. How many have you here?” Aglacia asked.
     “Just myself, the librarian, and the boy, Legate. This is Kellithren, my apprentice.”
     She looked me up and down, frowning. “What phase?”
     “He is on the far side of the White, Legate. I had hoped to bring him into the Yellow early, but he’s not showing much talent. His progress is slow.”
     My face burned with embarrassment, but it shouldn’t have. Spathas had understated my talent, but I kept my face neutral. He was being deceptive, obviously. He was a subtle man when he wanted to be, and if he was being subtle, I knew there must be a reason.
     “You will accompany me. As will your student,” Aglacia said. She turned her dead, dark eyes to me and stared. “Horror motivates.”