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By Ian Irvine

All resistance has been beaten. In a couple of minutes of overwhelming violence the Council's air-dreadnought fleet has destroyed Fiz Gorgo's defences. Xervish Flydd, Irisis and their allies were condemned to die in a brutal aerial spectacle designed to enhance leader Scrutator Ghorr's strength and majesty. Nish is their one final desire. yet Nish is trapped in a burning watchtower, and hunted by means of either the scrutators and his former lover, Ullii, whose dual brother he unintentionally killed. ahead of Nish can wish to rescue his associates, he needs to persuade Ullii to spare him, then triumph over the main strong cabal of mancers on the planet in addition to the Council's 400 crack guards. or even if he succeeds, to win the battle the allies nonetheless need to defeat the scrutators and overthrow Nennifer, the corrupt Council's dread bastion, earlier than the rampaging lyrinx weigh down all Santhenar.

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Or was there? The horned roof above him was framed with metal rods that had to be cooler than what he was standing on, and if the tower collapsed, there was a faint chance that the roof might hold together. If the tower stayed up, he might, just possibly, survive up there until the inferno went out. It didn’t seem likely but he had no alternative. Nish eased a smouldering beam out of the rubble, with much burning of fingers and the soles of his feet, and propped it against the wall. He dragged himself up it, caught hold of an iron rod and pulled himself up onto the roof framing.

She desperately wanted him to live, for it was the only happy link left between her and Nish, the only good memory of their time together, and she loved him so. Yllii gave one feeble suck, a little sigh, but his head fell away from the nipple and blood from his mouth trickled down her breast. Ullii tried to blow the breath back into the infant but the pink colour faded steadily from his face. The baby breathed no more. Ullii looked up at Nish, not bothering to brush the tears away. ‘T’Lisp did kill our baby,’ she said at last, her voice as brittle as the glass underfoot.

A gloomy daylight seeped in through the broken front doors, though it cast little light around the corner to this narrow hall. The breeze was blowing away from the doors and she could not tell if Nish was out there. Dare she look? Easing to the shattered remnants of the great doors, Ullii covered her eyes with her fingers and peered out. She didn’t see Nish. The prisoners were kept apart, save for Flydd and Irisis, and each was surrounded by burly guards. All the men of Ghorr’s guard were tall and Nish, a small man, would not be visible behind them.

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