Here’s another scene from WAR OF MAGIC. This one is from Chapter 3.
As they crossed the market square on the way to the Merchants’ Guildhall, Vatar noticed a different tone to the crowds. The square was usually filled with people moving briskly from one stall to another, with mostly a business-like atmosphere. Now, there was a dangerous feeling, people grumbling and muttering to one another, and less bustle. Worse even than during the shortages of a year ago, caused by Kausalya’s disruptive tariffs and trade bans. He was reasonably certain he knew the reason, too.
When he’d revealed the Lie, Vatar had never expected it to remain a complete secret, but he hadn’t expected it to become common knowledge this quickly, either. Naïve. He might never have paid much attention to the way information flowed in Caere, but he knew well enough how it would work among the Dardani. Faced with a similar situation, his stepfather would tell the other chiefs—just as the Smiths’ Guild Master would tell the other guild masters—because he would consider it their right to know. One or more would tell their life mates (wives, here in Caere). At Zeda it would be the waterhole where women gathered to exchange gossip; here, it would be the marketplace. The story would lose—and gain—elements as it was retold, but it would spread from there.
He’d set the wolves in the midst of the herd when he told his guild master about the Lie. He’d believed it was necessary. And he still did. But it had certainly not simplified the issues besetting the city that had become his second home. This was his fault. And he had to find some way to fix it before it led to disaster for all of them.
He scowled at the tickle of Far Speech that interrupted his thoughts—not that his thoughts had been doing more than going in circles anyway. He almost didn’t respond. Wouldn’t have, likely, if it had been almost anyone else. “Father?”
“I’ve been asked to extend an . . . invitation for you to appear before the High Council.”
Vatar could hear the tension in his father’s mental voice. This was not an invitation that could safely be refused. And it probably wasn’t only about the news of the alliance between the Exiles and Gerusa, either. With a sigh, he answered, “When?”
Vatar shook his head, even though he knew Father couldn’t see it and it might make his guild master wonder about him. “Not possible. I’m on my way to meet with the Guild Council.”
“This is important, Vatar.”
“I got that. But so is the Guild Council.” Vatar drew in a deep breath before deciding to plunge on. “And, of the two councils, the Guild Council is the only one really trying to manage any of the problems in Caere right now.” Belatedly, he bit down lightly on his tongue, as if he’d actually spoken the words. That hadn’t been a very kind thing to say to his father, however frustrated Vatar might feel.
Father sighed. “I know. But the High Council will not be as . . . civilized with their next summons if you refuse this one.”
Vatar blew out a breath and then drew in another, slowly, trying for calm. “All right. I’ll let you know as soon as the Guild Council ends. That’s the best I can do.”
“Did you really reveal the Lie to the guilds?” Father sounded frightened.
The thought of facing the High Council’s wrath made Vatar’s stomach churn. But he’d accepted that when he’d made the decision. “Yes. But only to the guild masters. It was time they knew. It was impossible to move forward otherwise. You and Cestus have been trying for almost two years with no results. Something had to change.”
“The High Council will not be pleased.”
That was an understatement. “I never expected that they would.” He let out a sigh. “And if I’d known about this latest threat, I might not have done it—yet. In the end, honesty is the only way.”
For two weeks, you can still pre-order WAR OF MAGIC for only #0.99.