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Chapter 1

I swear before my God and these witnesses that I will stay true to the right and good, that my magic will be used to protect, not to enslave, that all my strength and wisdom must always shield the innocent. I swear to fight for liberty though it cost my life. The Society will be my blood and its knights my brothers, and that I will always heed the wisdom of the elders’ council. I willingly pledge my magic, my knowledge, my resources, and my life to uphold these things.

—Oath of the Grimnoir Society,

original date unknown

Miami, Florida


Franklin Roosevelt must die.

The angel had said so. No matter what, the president had to be killed, but it hadn’t told him what to do about the crowd that had gathered to see the new president. Giuseppe Zangara decided he’d best murder all of them too, just to play it safe. It would be easy, since it felt like the angel had given him magic sufficient to burn the whole world. Roosevelt first though. The last thing he wanted to do was upset the angel.

Other than a generalized hate for all rich capitalists, Zangara didn’t know much about the man who had been elected President of the United States. Hoover, Roosevelt, they were all the same to him. Names changed, but all were filthy capitalists, these American politicians, crushing the workers underfoot. He’d come to this country and they’d stolen his health, ruined his life, and destroyed his dreams. Some said that those failings were his own fault, his health problems were just bad luck, losing his job was because he wasn’t a very good bricklayer, but he knew the truthÖ Oh no, Zangara was not to blame. The capitalists were to blame. Capitalists were always to blame.

Florida was warm, even in winter. He’d come here because the humidity was supposed to be good for his health. Now, packed into the crowd, it was too hot. Excited, the mob waited for their false savior to arrive. Many of them had made signs, painted on cardboard or sheets. He could not read the words, but he could guess what they said. We need jobs. We are scared. We are pathetic. Protect us from magic. When these fools had heard the new president was coming, they had painted signs. When Giuseppe Zangara had heard the new president was coming, he had begun daydreaming about how to kill the man.

Originally, he’d planned to shoot the president with a gun. Sure, he’d been born with magic, but not enough to make a difference. His connection to the Power was weak. Zangara had just enough magic to be branded a freak, certainly not enough to kill a capitalist and the many guards he was sure to have.

Then the angel had come to him last night, and everything had changed.

It was as beautiful as only something that had escaped from heaven could be. The angel had heard his prayers and come to bless him because of the righteousness of his cause. Its magic touch had fixed the sickness in his guts. It had drawn a spell on him that had made his magic a hundred times stronger, and even given him a fancy piece of jewelry. All it wanted in return was for him to destroy a man whom he’d wanted to kill anyway. Only it had demanded that he do it in a spectacular fashion. It had been his lucky night.

Giuseppe Zangara was very short. All the stupid Americans in front of him were tall, making it difficult to see past them. As the bodies shifted, he caught brief glimpses between them of the president’s big automobile arriving. He tried to push his way closer, but there were too many people shoving. There was a cheer and many began clapping as the president stood up from the back seat and waved. A group began chanting “Remember Pacifica,” over and over, but others shouted for them to be silent. Someone opened the car door for the president. Time was running out. If he let the president escape, the angel would be upset with him and take the magic away, and he’d just be a sick and weak nobody again.

Luckily, the president stopped to give a speech. Good thing politicians loved to hear themselves talk. Roosevelt raised his voice so that everyone could hear as he started yapping about how everything was going to get better and they just needed to be patient and have hope. More lies. Filthy capitalist lies.

Now there was a lady with a big flowery hat blocking Zangara’s view. His first instinct was to blast her into pieces, but the president had to come first. A nearby father hoisted his son to sit on his shoulders in order to better see over the crowd. Zangara noticed that someone had left a wooden folding chair at the edge of the mob and that gave him an idea.

Chair in place, Zangara climbed up. Now he could see better over the crowd, but the chair was wobbly. It would make aiming his magic more difficult, but it didn’t matterÖ for the first time in his life he had Power to spare. Before he could make little pops of energy, not worth much more than firecrackers, but with the new design the angel had drawn on his chest, so fresh it burned, he’d show these capitalist pigs real fireworks.

As the new primary shareholder of United Blimp & Freight, Francis Cornelius Stuyvesant had only been a millionaire for a relatively short period of time, but he’d already grown accustomed to people not keeping him waiting. Time was money, and by that logic Francis’ time was worth more money than damn near anyone. His grandfather had been the richest man in the world, but thanks to the UBF boards legal wrangling over Francis’ unorthodox inheritance, and the splitting off of several subsidiaries, he was only something like the fifth richest. It would have to do. He checked his watch and sighed. Obviously, no matter how wealthy you were, when the President of the United States wanted to stop and give an extemporaneous public speech, he got a pass.

The club windows had been cracked open enough to let in the refreshing ocean breeze, which also enabled Francis to hear the speech. He watched Franklin Roosevelt for a moment and had to admit that the man was a fine orator, very good at stirring up emotion, and that was what troubled Francis. Roosevelt’s words may have sounded reassuring to the masses, but some of those words were frightening to every Active in the country.

Officially, it was a vacation that had brought Francis to Miami. The weather in New York had been dreadful, so Francis taking his new personal dirigible, Cyclone, south for a holiday had not struck anyone as odd. Franklin Roosevelt would also be vacationing in the area at the same time. Roosevelt would not be sworn in until March, and since they were both such important men they had agreed to meet for dinner.

Unofficially, he was here to gather information. Francis was a knight of the Grimnoir Society, and the Society was nervous about some of the things Roosevelt had said about Actives during his campaign. Unlike his father and grandfather, Francis had no stomach for politics, but since he was already acquainted with Mr. Roosevelt (both came from very wealthy New York families) the elders had asked Francis to try to get a feel for what the president intended to do. Other socially connected knights had already tried, but the man was a cipher on this particular topic.

“I do not trust politicians.” His companion leaned over to whisper. “But I especially do not trust this one.”

“How does that make him special? You don’t trust anyone.” Francis didn’t bother to lower his voice. Nobody was going to hear them over the general racket of the crowd outside and the excited socialites inside.

Heinrich Koenig shrugged. “What can I say? He speaks like a Mouth.”

“Your best friend is a Mouth.”

In the Society, the two of them were knights of equal standing, but Francis had created public UBF cover jobs for everyone on his team. Heinrich was supposedly Francis’ bodyguard, though Francis reasoned that since he himself was a skilled Mover, a bodyguard was superfluous. However, Heinrich, with his professional paranoia and scowling distrust of almost everyone, certainly looked the part of a convincing bodyguard. Plus, Heinrich was a Fade, and nobody wanted to get into a fight with a Fade.

“Chose your words carefully with him, Francis. That is all I am suggesting. This one is slippery. How can a man who walks only because of a Healer, be such a hypocrite?”

There was a rumor that Roosevelt had once been saved from a paralytic disease by a Healer. “His family could certainly afford a good Mending.”

“He’s benefited from magic, but when it becomes expedient to get elected, he is all in favor of rounding us up in the name of security.”

“Nobody is going to get rounded up.” The public was jumpy since the Peace Ray obliteration of Mar Pacifica had been successfully pinned on rogue Actives, but the idea struck Francis as absurd.

“The people are frightened of us. Many in your government know it was the Imperium’s doing, but they are not ready to risk war. Instead, they blame us, a home-grown, and more easily managed problem. So now we get to be the cause of everything from anarchists to the economy. You heard him promise to keep us under control. What do you think control means?”

“Well, that’s what I hope to find out.”

“You control an unruly dog with a chain . . . or a cage. Never underestimate fear,” Heinrich gestured angrily at Roosevelt. “Or the men who would capitalize on it to get what they want.”

“You are such a pessimist. This is America. Nothing like that could ever happen here.”

“We used to say something similar back home, before the Kaiser raised an army of the dead.”

Shaking his head, Francis turned back to the window just as President Roosevelt finished his platitudes. The crowd erupted in cheers. The people were angry, their families were hungry, their jobs were gone. They needed something to believe in . . . or someone to blame. He watched the desperate faces and knew just how dangerous things could become for his kind, for all Actives everywhere, if the things the elders were worried about came to pass. Magicals had more freedom in America than any other nation, but if America were to follow in the footsteps of the Imperium or the Soviet Union, where Actives were seen as nothing more than property of the state . . .

We can’t let that happen.

Francis understood that his inheritance had made him a very influential man. Between Stuyvesant riches, Black Jack Pershing’s teachings, and the luck of being born with magic, Francis now found himself a sort of unofficial ambassador for the Active race. He felt that weight on his shoulders and knew that he had to do his best in order to sway the government from a destructive course. A servant came by with a silver tray full of glasses. Francis took one with a grunt of thanks and downed the drink, not really paying any attention to what it was. Unfortunately, it wasn’t made of alcohol. Prohibition was rapidly going the way of the dodo, but appearances had to be kept in the meantime.

Roosevelt was waving to the people as he walked up the steps. The staff had opened the doors of the club for him and the management had lined up to shake hands. Flashbulbs popped as the press took their obligatory photographs.

Then there was a much larger flash and Francis’ eyes closed involuntarily, but not before leaving him with a split second afterimage of the crowd, bones visible through their skin, before they were washed away.

The explosion was deafening. He would surely have been killed by flying glass if Heinrich hadn’t grabbed his arm and Faded them both out of existence. A wall of heat and energy rolled harmlessly through them. It was a strange, fuzzy feeling, as hundreds of shrapnel bits pierced his body and flew out the other side. Heinrich let go and their bodies returned to normal, solid and unharmed.


It took a moment for his vision to clear. The front of the hotel had been ripped apart, paint stripped away and timbers blackened. The president’s automobile was on its side sputtering flames. The center of the crowd was gone. The edges collapsed as the injured fell or scattered. Heinrich shouted something, but Francis couldn’t him over the high pitched ringing in his ears. Then Heinrich turned grey and stepped cleanly through the wall, leaving Francis alone at the ruined window.

There was a lone figure standing in the center of the carnage. A man was walking along, his lips pursed like he was whistling a tune. He spread his hands wide and blue sparks fanned between his finger. He swept one hand forward. The hotel shook from another massive impact, this time directly against the steps where the president had been.

Francis was flung to the floor by a wall of hot air. The bone in his forearm broke with a sick crack and his forehead bounced off the hardwood. People were running and screaming and plaster rained from the ceiling. Wincing, Francis pulled himself up with his uninjured arm and looked out the window just in time to see a third explosion rip through the scattering survivors. The pressure wave flung bodies through the air, and they spun helplessly back to Earth as the madman turned to face the hotel again. He was laughing hysterically, seemingly having the time of his life. His shirt was flapping open in the fiery wind, revealing the red glow of a magical brand across his chest.

That alien marking could only mean one thing. Iron Guard!

The killer saw Francis in the window and grinned. Sparks gathered in his hands.

Gathering his Power and blinking the blood from his eyes, Francis searched for a weapon. The waiter that had brought him a drink was on the floor nearby, burned and gasping. The silver serving tray was next to him. Aerodynamic and solid . . . Francis concentrated, using his magic to reach out and lift the tray from the floor. It appeared to levitate, up, over the windowsill, and then Francis concentrated and used a mighty blast of Power to hurl it at his target.

Being a Mover of his caliber was just like having a bunch of invisible, long range, extremely strong hands. Not impeded by the frailty of human muscle, Francis was able to spin the tray through the air at a terrible velocity and guide it with precision. The improvised discus hit the assassin square in the throat. That eerie smile disappeared as the head rolled off into the street.

Los Angeles, California

Faye sat in silence while the film reel played. It was an amazing thing, and though she’d sat through dozens of motion pictures over the last several months—since she routinely rubbed elbows with high society now—the magic of a moving picture never seemed to wear off. The projector was a small one, as was the screen. The smoky hotel room was certainly no theater, the subject was depressing, and there was no music or narration, but despite that, even this movie was neat. Faye just plain liked going to the movies. They were . . . well . . . magic.

The news reel was showing scenes of Japan. Faye had never visited the faraway lands of the Imperium in person. The closest she’d ever come to Imperium soil was standing on their flagship, however briefly, before it was blown to kingdom come by Tesla’s Geo-Tel. The film made Japan seem nice, with cherry blossoms falling like snow, big wooden arches, and exotic ladies with big sandals and pretty dresses. If it wasn’t all controlled by a bunch of evil crazy people who’d already tried to kill her a whole mess of times, the film would almost make her want to go for a visit.

The hotel suite was crowded. Most of the participants were using tobacco, and she could watch the smoke curling into loops and swirls in the flickering beam of the projector. Faye found that it was hard to breathe, but the others didn’t seem to notice. These important behind-closed-doors types all seemed to smoke. Their Healer, Jane, certainly disapproved, and despite the fact that Jane could actually see your lungs right through your chest and sense disease coming a mile away, nobody wanted to listen to her on that subject.

Some of the people here were powerful, and not just in the magical sense, either. Knights had come from all over the country, and a contingent of them had even come all the way from Europe, including two of the elders. Things had really been shaken up since Mar Pacifica and the Geo-Tel. It was a huge meeting by the standards of the Grimnoir Society, and she knew that was partly because they wanted to see her in person . . . the girl that had dared to face the Chairman.

The elders had spoken to her alone for a long time. Faye had given her report, she’d been grilled, quizzed, questioned, annoyed, and poked at, and now she was ready to go home. When it was time for the movie, they’d invited everybody else in.

On the screen, men in robes beat a rhythm on giant gongs. Children laughed and played in the perfectly clean streets.

“They skipped the part with the torture schools,” the man at her side pointed out.

“Hush, Mr. Browning,” Faye whispered. “I’m trying to listen.”

“There is no sound accompanying it, my dear.”

He had her there. “It isn’t polite to talk in the theater anyway.”

John Moses Browning chuckled, but decided not to take her advice. He spoke up so that all could hear. “Is it possible that this was filmed prior to the Tesla event?”

Much to Faye’s consternation, the elder in charge of the secret gathering had no qualms about talking during the movie either. “We have confirmed that this was filmed recently. Here he comes. Watch carefully, please, Ms. Vierra.”

That was her. There were only three members of the Grimnoir Society that had ever spoken with the Chairman in person that were still alive, and Jane and Mr. Sullivan weren’t here. Faye made sure to concentrate, a skill that came with great difficulty when your brain worked so much faster than everyone else’s. The projector was showing a big army parade. Imperium soldiers were marching in wave after wave, their posture as straight as the long bayonets on the ends of their rifles. There was a man riding a giant black horse at the head of the column. The crowd of thousands bowed and stayed bowed as he rode past. He was familiar, handsome, intimidating, and far too alive to be who she thought he was.

The image looked exactly like him. “There has to be a mistake,” Faye said. “The Chairman’s dead.”

One of the younger knights at the back of the room chimed in. “The Imperium insists he didn’t perish aboard the Tokugawa.”

“The Imperium also says the Tokugawa and the Kaga got wrecked in a storm, and we all know that’s a bunch of bunk.”

“How can you be so certain he is deceased?” a young English knight asked.

His accent—was that what English was supposed to sound like?—grated on Faye’s ears. “Shucks, I don’t know. Maybe because I cut his hands off and threw them in a propeller, is how. Then the whole ship got blown up. I was there, you weren’t. Besides—” John Moses Browning reached over and placed one hand on her knee to try to quiet her, because he knew what she was going to say next was going to sound crazy, and she already cultivated quite the reputation for crazy, but Browning was too late. “I talked to his ghost afterward.”

Mr. Browning sighed.

“Preposterous,” said one of the other knights.

“No. He was sad that he was dead. He told me a poem.”

The knights all began speaking at once. The film ended. The loose end of the reel slapped rhythmically against the projector. The screen went white.

“The child is quite mad, Browning,” said a Frenchman.

That made Faye angry. First she wasn’t a kid anymore, and second she wasn’t crazy. The Frenchman was lucky she didn’t Travel his head someplace without the rest of his body.

Mr. Browning stuck up for her. “This child killed a hundred elite Imperium troops in combat, did battle with the most powerful wizard the world has ever known, and then Traveled an entire dirigible and its crew a thousand miles . . . I would watch your tone, sir.”

There was a polite cough. “My apologies, madam.”

Damn right, Faye thought to herself.

“That man in the film could be a double,” one of the other Americans said. “Maybe a Ringer? Heaven knows the Imperium has enough Actives they are bound to have a few of those.”

“Not a Ringer. Their magic clouds the viewer’s mind. It has no hold over recording technology.” Mr. Browning said. He was one of the senior members present and as far as Faye was concerned, the smartest one there, but she was rather biased. “A skilled actor would be more likely.”

“Then this thespian deserves one of those new academy awards for his performance.” One of the two elders was British. The elders never left the shadows, as their identities were always kept secret, but he sounded fat. Even his shadow was fat. “Bravo. Excellent performance I say.”

Faye didn’t know very many of their names, and that was on purpose, including the Americans that hadn’t been Pershing’s knights. It wouldn’t be much of a secret society if you knew everyone else’s name, now would it? Whenever the Imperium captured a knight, the first thing they did was torture them until they gave up everyone else they knew.

The fat Englishman continued. “Our spies insist that both the Imperial Council and the Emperor believe this man to be the real Chairman. His mission of purification continues unabated. The schools still churn out Active soldiers, more territory falls by the day, and Unit 731 continues their eugenic madness. So, even if deceased the Chairman is having a rather fine year.”

“I’m telling you, I killed the Chairman,” Faye insisted.

A new voice came from the back. “If anything killed the Chairman, it was the cunning of Isaiah Rawls and Kristopher Harkeness.”

The room grew deadly quiet.

“Who said that?” Faye asked sharply.

Through treachery, murder, and blackmail, those two Grimnoir had delivered a sabotaged Tesla super weapon into the Chairman’s hands. Its firing had vaporized the Tokugawa, but in order to deceive the Chairman, Harkeness and Rawls had sacrificed many of their fellow Grimnoir. Their plan had worked, but it had cost lives. Some had been her friends, and one in particular had been her grandpa. Harkeness was dead. Rawls was missing, and if she knew what rock he was hiding under she’d kill him too. It was amazing that anyone here actually had the nerve to speak up for traitors. Faye stood and tried to pick out behind the gleaming beam of the projector which one of the shapes she needed to hurt. “Say that again.”

Browning sensed the coming murder. “Faye, please . . .”

“Enough,” the elder in charge of the meeting spoke. He was German, and sounded a bit like an older version of Heinrich when he talked. “Their actions were a blight on the Society and made a mockery of what we stand for. Regardless of how you personally feel, Pershing’s knights were the ones bled by their actions. Those names will not be spoken here today.”

Faye returned to her seat. She may have been the youngest there and the only girl, but she wasn’t about to have somebody talking up the men responsible for killing Grandpa like they were heroes. Whoever it was that said that . . . well, she was going to have a little talk with them after.

The German elder stood to address the room. “Turn off that blasted machine.” The projector was shut down. The only illumination was the bit of sunlight sneaking around the edge of the curtains. “Gentlemen, lady, the elders have much to discuss. Our American brothers are in trouble, with being blamed for the Peace Ray destruction of Mar Pacifica, and talk of a registration of Actives or worse . . . These are challenging times for our people everywhere. Thank you for coming all the way here. Your reports are valuable and your efforts, as always, are appreciated.”

“And of my request?” Mr. Browning asked.

“We have discussed it. The American knights have taken terrible casualties over recent years. Some here have already volunteered to join your cause and will be returning with you.”

“And of new recruits?”

The fat Englishman answered. “It appears General Pershing recruited against our counsel anyway.” It was obvious he was looking directly at Faye as he said that. “I can only assume you plan on continuing that tradition. You Yanks tend to do what you want, regardless of the risks it exposes the rest of us to.”

“We did what we had to,” Mr. Browning said pointedly.

“Though it may have felt that way in the past, you have not been in this fight alone. Across the Orient, the Imperium grows. The Soviets are enslaving every Active they can get their hands on. Both groups have agents and saboteurs in every single land, stirring the pot.”

“I assure you, sir,” Mr. Browning said as politely as possible, “That there is a significant measure of difference between pot stirring and having Tesla super weapons fired at your cities.”

The German elder just nodded. Faye had to remember that Germans knew all about what it was like to get blasted with a Peace Ray. “Very well. You have the authority to recruit as you see fit. You will report solely to the American elder, who sadly, was unable to join us today. Pershing’s knights are yours to command, Mr. Browning.”

“They will continue to be called Pershing’s knights. I do not consider myself worthy.”

“As you wish, old friend. Do your best. Alive or dead, it seems the Chairman, or perhaps the idea of the Chairman, is still our greatest threat.”

Faye had to speak up at that. “There’s something worse.” They two elders hadn’t wanted to listen before when they were alone, but now that all the others were in the room, they had to know. “The hungry thing. The thing that’s looking for the Power. Even the Chairman was scared—”

“That’ll be all,” the elder stopped her gently. “Do not worry. We will discuss what you and Mr. Sullivan told us, and make plans accordingly.”

It was the politest way that she’d ever been told to shut up. These Europeans sure were fancy with the manners.

The meeting broke up. The elders shuffled out one door to be whisked off by their many bodyguards to some other secret hiding place. It was understandable. Even though there was something like twenty knights watching this place, their enemies would love to take a crack at them. Sometimes Faye wondered if doing everything so secretly for so long had made many of the old Grimnoir too timid.

“I don’t think I did very good,” Faye told Mr. Browning.

“You shook things up a bit,” he answered with a gentle smile. “But I don’t necessarily believe that to be a bad thing. It is easy for an organization led by old men such as myself to be a little hidebound. In fact, the only other person I know of that’s ever been able to shake up this bunch was Black Jack himself.”

That comment made Faye especially proud.

Once the elders were away, someone opened the curtains. Faye was surprised to discover that many of the regular knights wanted to talk to little old her. Some of them had come a very long way, and apparently the stories about her had caused quite a stir. She really wasn’t used to the attention. She spent the next few minutes retelling the story about the fight aboard the Tokugawa. She didn’t even have to exaggerate to make it sound amazing.

There was a sudden commotion at the rear of the room. Browning may have been an old man, but you wouldn’t know it by the speed his hand landed on the butt of the .45 automatic inside his suit. Several other Grimnoir reacted in the same manner, which just went to show that they were a jumpy bunch. One of the elder’s bodyguards was in the doorway, speaking rapidly in French. Someone else was asking him to slow down. “Just a messenger,” Browning removed his hand from his pistol and listened, scowling.

“What is it?” Faye asked. The other Grimnoir were reacting with disbelief. The ones like her that didn’t speak the language were all asking questions, and that was most of them.

Mr. Browning had gone as white as the movie screen. “An Active tried to murder President Roosevelt . . . It is unknown if he survived. Hundreds are dead.” He turned to face her. “This is horrible.”

Francis and Heinrich were supposed to have met with the president today. She had spoken to Francis by mirror just that morning. She really liked Francis, and the idea of him being in danger made her sick, but he was smart and brave, so surely he’d be okay. Well, maybe not, because if anybody could get himself into trouble, it was Francis. At least Heinrich would have protected him and kept him from doing anything stupid. Heinrich was the reliable one. Francis was the cute one.

“The Peace Ray and now this?” someone exclaimed. “The government will clamp down on Actives for sure!”

Faye was sickened by the idea. There had been talk . . . But that couldn’t happen here. Could it?

“This is dire news,” Mr. Browning told her.

“What’s going to happen?”

Mr. Browning looked very tired. “War, Faye. I believe someone just declared war.”

The elders of the Grimnoir Society had not gone very far, and they reconvened a few minutes later in a room several floors below. The two that had been in the prior meeting were joined through a communication spell to the five other elders around the world. All had been listening in secret to the interview with Faye and the meeting afterward. The matter at hand was so important that it needed the full wisdom of all the Society’s leadership.

The seven skipped the pleasantries. They had much to discuss.

The prepared mirror gave the illusion of spinning to face the distant speaker. “Do we believe she’s the one?”

“As mad as it seems, we have no reason to doubt her truthfulness,” the Englishman said as he turned to his companion. “Klaus?”

“She’s very difficult to Read. Her thoughts are different. She is not unintelligent, quite the opposite in fact. She’s just uncomplicated . . . and quick. All I can say is that she certainly believes her own story.”

“Could it be? Could the Chairman really be dead?” a woman asked.

“Pershing’s knights are no fools, and their stories are consistent. The girl is extraordinarily gifted. Her connection to the Power is unrivaled,” Klaus pointed out.

A French elder interjected, “It seems that she is not nearly as strong now, though. Transporting the Tempest nearly killed her. Yet, that fits the pattern, and the events leading up to that certainly fit with what we are looking for. Harriet?”

“She is about the right age.”

“The battle that killed the Warlock was fifteen years ago,” Klaus said.

“I know. I was there.”

“As was I, Jacques . . .” Klaus told the French elder. “Only on the Kaiser’s side. Second Somme was a nightmare. I still wake up with chills.”

“That poor Okie girl doesn’t know her own birthday, but she’s certainly older than fifteen,” the American elder spoke for the first time.

“Yes, but if the Power connected to her when she was young, rather than at birth . . . Then, yes, it is possible. This has happened before.”

Harriet broached the question that no one wished to ask. “Well, what do we do about it then?”

It was an awkward silence. The elders were used to making difficult decisions necessary to defend their people, but no one wanted to harm a child.

“For now . . . We keep a close eye on her. If she becomes corrupted by the spell as Warlock did, we must be prepared to strike her down.”


“Don’t look at me like that. If that happens, it is either her, or all of us.”


“You would have us risk the safety of the entire world for one person?”

The spell descended into a general argument, spinning about wildly, as it often did when the elders disagreed.

“We will do nothing until we are certain.”

“We can’t—”

“We’ll make sure first,” a calm voice interjected. “I have just the knight for the job.”

“Very well.” The American sighed. “Watch her carefully. Test her. Have your knight try to discover the truth . . . And if she is the Spellbound . . .”

“If she’s the Spellbound, then we must decide on a course of action,” Klaus insisted.

“I will arrange everything.”

“Browning and his men cannot know. They would never stand for that. Their fondness for the girl could blind them to her true nature.”

“You would have us sit on our arses and wait to see if the most dangerous piece of magic in history has chosen to bind itself to an unstable child?” the Englishman exclaimed.

Several of the elders replied at once, “Yes.”

“And if she is the one?”

“We will do what we must to survive,” Jacques stated.

That matter was settled.

“And what of the matter of this coming Enemy?” Klaus asked. “Faye and the new man, Sullivan, are both convinced it is real.”

“The Chairman’s mythical beast?” the American openly scoffed. “Coming to devour the Power and all of us along with it? A fairy tale, nothing more.”

“I hope you are right.” The Englishman shook his head. “If the legends of Dark Ocean are true . . . May God have mercy on us all.”

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