Home > Cast in Fury (Chronicles of Elantra #4)

Cast in Fury (Chronicles of Elantra #4)
Michelle Sagara

CHAPTER 1

Private Kaylin Neya was on time for work and the world hadn’t ended.

A few people’s lives, on the other hand, were in question. The amount of sarcasm Clint could put into shocked silence wasn’t illegal. Yet. But Kaylin had to grudgingly admit, as she glared her way past his lowered halberd and into the Halls of Law, the wings he extended were a nice touch.

The Aerie was almost empty, but it usually was at this time of day; the halls themselves were suspiciously quiet. Then again, maybe the Swords were actually earning their pay instead of milling around the halls looking smug. Even on her bleariest mornings, Kaylin couldn’t have missed the tension and worry that seemed to permeate the city streets recently, and keeping the peace, such as it was in a crowded city, was their job. For a change. The day was already looking brighter. She glanced up as a shadow passed her, and saw a lone Aerian traversing the space high above; he wasn’t practicing maneuvers, and his wings were extended for a steady glide. She still envied the Aerians their wings, a little.

She felt a smidgen of sympathy for the Swords but didn’t let it show. Much. It wasn’t often that the entire city had almost created a new sea coast by the simple expedient of being under most of the surrounding water. She was certain that stories and rumors about the larger-than-Imperial-edict tidal wave that had almost destroyed the harbor—for a start—had already been making the rounds, and growing bigger, if that was even possible, with each telling.

She was waved through—without sarcasm—when she approached the guards that separated the Hawks’ quarters from those of the Wolves or the Swords. The halls were vacant, and even the duty roster seemed to have gathered no darts.

“Oh, come on, guys,” she said, when the entire office stopped as she entered and approached Marcus’s desk. “I’m not always late. Don’t you have anything better to do?”

“Have you checked the duty roster, dear?” Caitlin asked, from the safety of her desk. Not that she was ever in any danger; if the office had a collective mother, it was Caitlin.

“Oh. No.” She turned and, at Marcus’s bark of a command, turned back. Marcus’s growl was low, and it was short. He must be tired. And a tired Leontine was generally best kept happy by little displays of obedience. Or big ones.

The paperwork on his desk hadn’t really diminished but also, to Kaylin’s admittedly inexpert eye, hadn’t grown; the emergency that had pulled a number of his Hawks out of their normal routine had been resolved; there was no Festival for almost another year. She couldn’t quite see what would put him in a mood, but the fact that he was in one was obvious—having facial fur that bristled when you were ticked off was a dead giveaway. Having fangs that were almost as long as her fingers—the exposed parts of the fangs, at any rate—was another.

She came to stand a safe distance from the side of his desk, and waited. She even waited quietly.

Her reward? He lifted a stack of paper off his desk and dumped it in her hands. “This,” he said curtly, “is your problem.”

She looked down at what she had assumed were reports—or worse. The paperwork required of the office was, by all accounts, more arcane than any of the magic it also required. To punctuate this, the window very sweetly told the entire office what the hour was.

Kaylin really hated the window. There was money riding on how long it would take someone to accidentally break it, and money riding on who would have the accident. There weren’t many rules that governed office bets, but one of them was that you couldn’t place money on yourself. Which was fair but, in Kaylin’s case, prevented her from winning much.

“Well? Are you going to stand there all day?”

Kaylin looked down at the first sheet in the stack—and it was a large stack. “No, sir.”

“Good. Take note of the roster—your rounds have been changed.”

“Since when? I checked it last night.”

“Since then, obviously.”

She caught Caitlin’s frantic gestures out of the corner of her eye, and nodded. She considered going to the roster by way of Caitlin’s desk, but since they were in opposite directions and Marcus could watch you while his back was turned, she decided to actually go to the roster instead.

Her shoulders did a severe downturn when she saw what had been written beside her name. Even Severn’s name, at the same location, didn’t bring much cheer. The Imperial Palace?

“Don’t make that face,” Teela said, in her left ear.

Barrani could walk in perfect silence, but it took work, and Teela was usually too damn lazy. Kaylin’s little start did not, however, cause her to drop the bundle of paper. Given Marcus’s mood, that was good.

“What’s eating Marcus?”

Teela shrugged, long black hair rising and falling like a perfect curtain. Kaylin tried not to resent the fact that the Barrani weren’t governed by any Hawk regulations when it came to anything they wore. Regulations were, after all, supposed to be practical and as far as Kaylin could tell, Barrani hair never tangled, never got caught in anything, and never got in the way.

And they were gorgeous and lived forever. If it weren’t for the fact that they adored politics—preferably with blood and death—they’d be insufferable.

“He’s Ironjaw,” Teela said. “But he’s been in that mood since late last night.” Her tone of voice made it clear that it was serious enough that Kaylin should change the subject now, and Kaylin had known Teela for so many years it wasn’t possible to misinterpret.

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