A thick wave of bile rose to the back of my throat. The thought of returning to Fantasia frightened me, though I refused to admit it. When I first received Amir’s summon, I didn’t know what to think. My husband and I hadn’t spoken to one another in years. He disappeared one night without a word, leaving me behind to pick up the pieces of a shattered existence.

In my mind, he’d died, then and there. You can imagine my surprise upon receiving the letter he’d sent me on behalf of the notorious Elven buccaneer, Errose Mandrake. Errose and I weren’t on speaking terms, and we never would be. The man had put a price on my head several years ago after I’d killed a few of his men. In all honesty, I don’t regret having done so. They were intent on taking liberties that hadn’t been allotted to them.

Part of me wished that I could ignore Errose’s request. The fact that he’d gotten Amir to tell me that he wanted me to meet him in Fantasia wasn’t lost on me. There was a tie between the two men I wasn’t seeing. Not yet, anyway, but I would figure things out soon enough.

Errose didn’t do anything, or pull anyone into his circle, without having a solid reason. The man was as crafty as they came. All buccaneers were. They lied, cheated, and stole whatever they pleased. Buccaneers lived their lives on the swelling seas, preying upon unsuspecting travelers at every turn. They lived for the thrill of taking what didn’t belong to them, leaving those who crossed their paths with empty pockets along the way.

I had once considered becoming a part of that life. Until that crazy night in Josalliah Forest. Everything had changed from that moment on.

And now I’m on my way to the one place I shouldn’t be setting foot in, I thought, cracking my neck in the hopes of unkinking it.

“So where are we goin’ exactly?” Dethsythe asked, falling into step beside me.

The unexpected sound of his voice broke through my reverie. I kept my eyes trained forward, wrapping the fingers of my right hand around the hilt of the dagger tucked into my waistband.

“Fantasia,” I said.

“Say what now?” Lyrick inquired, his small feet struggling to keep up with the pace I’d set.

We were an unlikely trio—an Elf, a human, and a Cassalo, a teddy-bear-like humanoid—traveling together and keeping each other company. Mind you, the lives we led were often hectic, but we preferred the mercenary life we’d chosen so long ago. The constant battles and unexpected adventures kept us on our toes.

The three of us had met in San Cristole a long time ago in front of a fountain in the center of the northern part of the city. We’ve remained fast friends ever since. Truth be told, I’m not sure what I would do if Lyrick and Dethsythe weren’t a part of my life. They’ve kept me safe more times than I could count, and for that, I’m forever grateful.

Granted, I should be keeping them safe instead. I’m a White Mage, after all, but that’s the beauty of working amongst friends. We all pull our weight while trying to stay alive no matter where we’re headed off to.

“Fantasia,” I repeated. “I received a summon requesting that I head to the Spelunker’s Inn.”

Dethsythe stopped walking and spit the wad of tobacco he’d been chewing at the ground. He frowned and glared at me.

“Yoo’ve a price on yer head, Geth. Why in the bloody blazes would ye go there?”

I turned to face him. “Amir is waiting for me in Fantasia.”


Lyrick planted his hands on his hips and sniggered with amusement. “He’s her husband.”

The scowl on Dethsythe’s face deepened. “Come ag’in?”

“I said—”

“I bloody heard ye. When did ye get hitched, woman?”

Clearing my throat, I said, “A long time ago.”


My chin rose with defiance. “Why not?”