The vision ended, as it had before in the courtyard. That time, Varajas’s meal with Lysander, Samir had been watching from the outside. This time, he’d been inside Varajas, seeing through his eyes, hearing his thoughts.

“Who are you?” Samir demanded.

Varajas answered in a tired voice. “The same person I was two minutes ago.”

“You’re a Blade.”

“Not anymore.”

Their arms were still locked together. Samir jerked back. Varajas let him go.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Tell you what?” Varajas asked in a tone filled with enough patience to soften the question. “And when? At what point would you have liked me to say, ‘Hello, strange wizard, you should know that I was once someone I no longer am’?”

Without thinking, Samir brought his fingers to his lips. Everything was so hazy. Varajas made it sound reasonable, but there had been plenty of time. Samir couldn’t remember—couldn’t think. How much time? Enough time that they’d kissed. Enough time that…

“Your name is Varajas, not Raj. How do I know that?”

“I can’t remember.” Frustration was creeping into Varajas’s voice. Samir was, somewhat viciously, glad to hear it.

“There was something. Some moment. You told me…” Samir slapped the stone floor in frustration. Why couldn’t he remember anything?

Too much to think about. Varajas as a blade. That explained how Varajas had been able to shut down his magic. That was the skill—the art—the Blades were taught. That was why wizards feared them. They were the churches hunters, there to make certain no wizard stepped out of bounds. To protect everyone else from the abuses of power magic made so easy.

It was a nice thought. Too bad that in practice, it never worked out that way.

As if all that wasn’t enough, someone else had been in that vision. Someone Samir recognized. Rune. Rune. Except his name wasn’t Rune. Someone else had been lying to him. Someone else he’d… “Who is Ruan?”

Varajas’s gaze flicked up as Samir heard the door behind him swing open. There was no fear in Varajas’s eyes, only a sort of resignation as he said, “Why don’t you ask him yourself?”

A note from Barbara J Webb

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About the author

Barbara J Webb


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