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Scorched by Magic (The Baine Chronicles #7)
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The seventh book in this action-packed, wildly original fantasy series by New York Times Bestselling Author Jasmine Walt.
Home from their travels at last, Sunaya and Iannis are confronted with a threat against which even their strongest magic is largely helpless. The very ground under their city is becoming increasingly unstable, and there are disturbing predictions of an impending quake the likes Solantha hasn’t seen in centuries.
While their hands are full preparing for disaster, Iannis’s most dangerous rival returns to Solantha, intent on finding anything he can use against Iannis. It isn’t long before Fenris too is in his crosshairs, his dangerous secret perilously close to being exposed. Sunaya is fiercely determined to protect both her friend, and the man she loves, but will her efforts be enough? With old and new enemies as well as the might of nature ranged against her, one false step or indiscreet word can spell doom for all three of them…
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“You did a wonderful job organizing this party, Sunaya.”
“Thanks.” The approval in Iannis’s deep, slightly musical voice sent a little thrill of joy through me, and I smiled. Surveying the ballroom from our seats at the head table, I had to agree the praise was deserved, even if I hadn’t done it all on my own. The place looked resplendent in the state colors of blue and gold, which were featured in the Canalo emblem hanging from banners draped along the walls, echoed in the linens on the round dining tables, and even in the uniforms the servants wore as they went around serving food and refilling champagne glasses.
Chandeliers boasting hundreds of magic-fueled, dripless candles glittered above us, illuminating the ballroom, which was packed to capacity. Every seat at every table was filled with shifters and humans alike. Relatively few mages were present aside from the guards flanking the entrances. It was an unusual state of affairs for the Solantha Palace ballroom, which usually hosted mage-only events, and I took it as a good sign that neither the Mage Council nor the Secretaries seated at the high table with Iannis and me were being particularly snooty tonight.
Captain Galling should be up here with us, too, I mused, my eyes surveying the crowd. This was his farewell reception, and he was the guest of honor. But Galling had wanted to sit with his enforcers, and I couldn’t really blame him. He would be much more at ease celebrating amongst his own, rather than up here with a bunch of mages he barely knew. He was sitting at a table near the front with Deputy Captain Skonel, Foreman Vance, and a bunch of other Main Crew enforcers with their spouses. And at his elbow was Mrs. Galling, fully recovered from her liver disease, her cheeks glowing with health and her eyes sparkling.
The sight did my heart good, and I reached beneath the table to squeeze Iannis’s hand. He’d healed Captain Galling’s wife some months earlier in exchange for his cooperation during the Uprising, and after word had quickly spread of the miraculous recovery and its cause, many others had come to the Palace requesting a healing as well. Rather than rebuff them, Iannis had decided to devote every fourth day of the week to healing terminal cases. He would spend all day at the Maintown Hospital, then come back to the Palace and collapse into bed, exhausted. The healings took a toll both mentally and physically, but they had done wonders to help repair relations between the Mages Guild and Maintown.
As I reached for my glass, a tremor shook the walls and floor, causing water to slosh onto the tablecloth and over my half-eaten steak. Gasps of surprise and dismay echoed throughout the room, and servants rushed over to assist guests who had accidentally spilled food or drink on their clothing. My aunt Mafiela, holding court at a table toward the middle with the rest of the Shiftertown Council and Inspector Boon Lakin, looked particularly incensed at the large red wine stain on the bodice of her peach-colored gown. Inspired, I surreptitiously pointed a finger at her, and muttered the Words to a cleaning spell Iannis had taught me during our travels. The stain magically disappeared, and Mafiela’s head jerked up, shock in her beautiful face. Those yellow shifter eyes met mine, and I gave her a knowing grin. She inclined her head to me, a small smile playing on her lips, then turned back to her food.
From her, it was high praise indeed.
“I do hope that tremor isn’t a sign of worse things to come,” Cirin Garidano, the Finance Secretary, said from Iannis’s left. “The last major quake here was nearly two hundred and fifty years ago. Judging by the stories, I wouldn’t like to experience an event like that.”
“We get tremors like this on a regular basis, Cirin,” Iannis reminded him, clearly unwilling to discuss the subject during a celebration. “This is Canalo, where the earth is never entirely silent.”
Iannis wasn’t nearly as blithe and dismissive as he sounded—I knew the subject had already cost him some sleepless hours. Upon our return to Solantha a few weeks ago, Fenris had presented us with a letter he’d received from Lord Faring, an ancient mage who’d lived in the area during Solantha’s last major earthquake. After narrowly escaping death, he’d made studying tectonic events his life’s work. He’d warned that another big quake was likely imminent, and that the city was not well prepared for it. Iannis had made an appointment to consult the old mage further—in fact, he’d gone to see him this morning. I was very interested in hearing what he’d learned, but there hadn’t been a chance to talk to him about it, what with the banquet preparations. Despite his calm, stately demeanor, I could sense that Iannis was worried about whatever he’d been told.