Shironne Anjir's status as a Sensitive is both a gift and a curse. Her augmented senses allow her to discover and feel things others can't, but her talents come with a price: a constant assault of emotions and sensations has left her blind. A member of the royal family's guard, Mikael Lee also possesses an overwhelming power - he dreams of the deaths of others. When a killer brings a reign of terror to the city, using deadly blood magic on his victims, only Shironne can interpret Mikael's dark dreams of the murders. What they find together will lead them into a nightmare.
J. Kathleen Cheney is a former mathematics teacher who has taught classes ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, with a brief stint as a gifted and talented specialist. She is the author of the Novels of the Golden City, including The Shores of Spain, The Seat of Magic, and The Golden City. Her short fiction has been published in such venues as Fantasy Magazine and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and her novella "Iron Shoes" was a Nebula Finalist in 2010.
Praise for the novels of J. Kathleen Cheney "[A] masterpiece of historical fantasy."--Library Journal
"Intriguing and fun, the mystery unfolds like a socially conscious tour through a cabinet of curiosities."--Kirkus Reviews
Praise for the novels of J. Kathleen Cheney
In the Novels of the Golden City, J. Kathleen Cheney created a "mesmerizing" ( Publishers Weekly ) realm where magic, history, and intrigue combine. Now, she presents a new world ruled by psychic talents and fatal magic...
-- Kirkus Reviews -- Publishers Weekly -- Booklist --Carol Berg, author of the Novels of the Collegia Magica -- Library Journal -- RT Book Reviews -- Kirkus Reviews Praise for the Novels of the Golden City Books by J. Kathleen Cheney Title Page Copyright Dedication Acknowledgments CHAPTER ONE CHAPTER TWO CHAPTER THREE CHAPTER FOUR CHAPTER FIVE CHAPTER SIX CHAPTER SEVEN CHAPTER EIGHT CHAPTER NINE CHAPTER TEN CHAPTER ELEVEN CHAPTER TWELVE CHAPTER THIRTEEN CHAPTER FOURTEEN CHAPTER FIFTEEN CHAPTER SIXTEEN CHAPTER SEVENTEEN CHAPTER EIGHTEEN CHAPTER NINETEEN CHAPTER TWENTY CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE CHAPTER THIRTY CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE CHAPTER FORTY CHAPTER FORTY-ONE CHAPTER FORTY-TWO CHAPTER FORTY-THREE CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE CHAPTER FORTY-SIX Excerpt from The Golden City About the Author CHAPTER ONE Liran Prifata''s dove gray uniform jacket lay to one side, his shirt tangled with it, pale blotches on the bare dirt. The rain pelted down, and the wind in the picked-over field tore at him. He was chilled to the bone, too numb to fight any longer. Two of the men grasped his arms, pinning him on his knees like an animal to be slaughtered. The rain softened the ground into a muddy quagmire. Blood mixed with the water dripping from his chest, staining his trousers, all color leached out in the dark. A third man in a dark jacket leaned over him, light glinting off a curved knife as he sliced and cut again. Liran felt no pain, but the numbness scared him more than being captive. He wanted to scream, cry out for help. His throat wouldn''t answer. His lungs could hardly find the air to breathe, much less cry out. What are they doing to me? The man in the dark jacket spoke as he worked, words that meant nothing in Liran''s ears. He''d heard no names, seen nothing unusual about their clothes, no marks on the coach that would help his fellow police identify these men. The men didn''t even hide their faces from him, but they had neither marks nor scars to distinguish them in his mind. This had to be blood magic. He''d never seen it before, but there was no other name for what they were doing, letting his blood fall onto the earth. The Pedraisi did this in their fields, some ancient fertility rite. It was illegal, and forbidden by the temple. God won''t permit this, he told himself. Not here in Noikinos. He will send someone to save me. His tormenter stepped back and held up a lantern to survey his handiwork. Another man, the fourth one Liran had seen in the coach, came closer. Liran tried to focus on that face, to sear it into his memory, but he couldn''t make out the man''s features, hidden beneath the hat the man wore to stave off the cold rain. A fifth man huddled in the distance, face turned away as if he was ashamed. Now that he''d bled for them, for their magic, surely they would let him go. They would leave him there, and someone would find him. The farmer would come to find out who had desecrated his wheat field to appease a false god. The fourth man gestured sharply, and the man with the knife came close again. He made a single sharp movement, the blade slashing across this time, a flash in the darkness. That hurt. Enough to reach through the numbness, enough to tell Liran it was no shallow cut like the others. He gasped feebly, and then he was falling. He landed on his side in the shorn remains of the field''s wheat. Feet squelched away in the muck. Darkness gathered at the edges of Liran''s vision . Why me? Warmth gathered in his soul, belying the dark and cold. He had the sense of a presence like hands resting on his shoulders. An angel had come to take him to the promised heavens. CHAPTER TWO Shironne stood on the balcony outside her room, wishing the wind could sweep the night''s tattered images from her mind. The dream haunted her. Down in the city, someone had died. She clutched her heavy robe about her, grateful for its warmth. Winter had come early to Noikinos. The chilly wind carried up with it the damp and earthy scent of the mews behind the house, the smells of horse and hay and manure. Dry leaves rattled and sighed in the crisp breeze. The trees planted along the side of the house would cling to them until spring, when the softer whisper of new leaves would replace the rusty winter sound. When she''d been able to see, she''d thought the brown leaves unattractive. Now that she was blind, she listened to them instead, their rustle providing a clear demarcation of the edge of her family''s property. Somewhere nearby pennants snapped and chimes tinkled, although she couldn''t tell which neighbor had brought those from the temple to safeguard his home. The cook spoke with a tradesman in the back courtyard, the clink of metal and glass underlying their voices and echoing off the yard''s stone walls. Likely the milkman, Shironne decided. The distant noise of carriages and horses spoke of morning traffic--sounds of normalcy. No one knows yet--no one but me and him. It had been one of those dreams. At first, she hadn''t known they weren''t her own. There was a man up at the palace who dreamed of death, deaths that were really happening. He involuntarily spun out those dreams, sharing the victims'' fear and pain with the world. For most who could sense his dreams, that meant little more than a vague sense of fear and an occasional headache. As in everything else, I have to be the one who''s different. Colonel Cerradine knew who the dreamer was, this man who inflicted his nightmares on her. The colonel had always refused to tell her anything about him, though, not even his name. Lacking any better label for him, Shironne had settled on the Angel of Death, a nickname the colonel''s personnel seemed to find both apt . . . and ridiculous. She rubbed one hand with the other, her left thumb smoothing along the scar that ran across her right palm. The souvenir of a foolish childhood accident, it served as a constant reminder that she too often let curiosity get the better of her. But every time she woke from one of these dreams, she wondered about him. Who is he? Why does he do this? The colonel had warned her that pushing to find that answer too soon could be dangerous for her. What he hadn''t told her was why . What harm could there be in meeting someone whose dreams she already shared? After all, those shared dreams, however unpleasant, had given rise to her unusual vocation. The angel''s dreams gave her a purpose beyond simply finding a husband . . . or joining the priesthood, as was expected of Larossans who developed powers. When her powers had abruptly manifested when she was twelve, the chance of finding a husband had disappeared. Shironne had to consider other paths, but the priesthood didn''t seem appealing either; selling charms and prayers in the temple wouldn''t suit her temperament at all, she''d insisted. That infuriated her father and shocked the priests who more than once had come to talk to her mother about it. After all, they asked, what else is a girl child to do with her life? Shironne was terribly grateful that her mother supported her decision to find another path, and that those dreams had shown her one. Those dreams always meant there was death, and she could do something about that. She could help find murderers. Thus had begun her strange career with the army. The man who had the dreams often couldn''t remember much about them. She could . That had seemed odd at first. Then she''d grasped that his dreams were like paintings laid before her in her sleep, but the Angel of Death didn''t see them that way. Instead, his mind was the canvas on which they were painted. She stepped back inside her bedroom, closed the door after her, and drew the curtain shut. Not certain how long she''d stood on the balcony savoring the breeze, she crossed to the mantel and carefully felt the delicate hands of the clock. Her mother had removed the glass, making it possible for Shironne to read the time with her fingers. It was almost eight. Her bedroom door opened, and Melanna pelted into the room, bare feet slapping against the wooden floor. Melanna''s steps came toward her, her bracelet tinkling, and then her arms clasped about Shironne''s waist in a fierce hug. The top of Melanna''s head almost reached Shironne''s shoulder. Her youngest sister was on her way to being as tall as their mother one day, if not taller. "I had bad dreams," Melanna complained, quickly turning her loose. Shironne set a bare hand atop her sister''s coarse hair--a trait certainly not inherited from their mother. Whenever she touched another person, she could feel more than their emotions. She could actually feel the thoughts buzzing around in their heads like swarms of bees, sometimes formed into words she could catch, other times not. She found only a vague sense of Melanna''s nightmare, b