On the ground floor above, footfalls made the floorboards creak. The front door opened and closed, and someone descended the basement stairs. Bee grabbed the knife off the table. I picked up my cane.

“Here you are.” Brennan entered the kitchen with that impossibly friendly smile, which I could not help but return even as I flushed, lowering my cane. An important and glamorous radical who traveled across Europa to foment revolution could not be interested in a callow young female like myself. Even if he was carrying our carpetbags. “What’s in these?” he asked with a laugh.

“Gold bricks,” said Bee, at the same time as I said, “Pig iron.”

“I would have said books, but what do I know?” He set down the bags by the door and indicated the window with a lift of his chin. “No need for knives. Godwik could eat the general if he really wanted to. Even at his age.”

Bee snickered. I clapped a hand over my mouth to stifle a laugh.

Rory sauntered into the kitchen. His slender build made his strength easy to underestimate until he leaped for the kill. “So nice and warm! At last! A nap by a proper fire.”

“I wondered where you’d got to,” I said. “Bee meant you to carry those bags.”

He blinked innocently. “Did she?” He sank down onto the bench, picked up a parsnip, sniffed at it, and with a disdainful grimace set it back down. With a sigh, he stretched the length of the bench in a boneless sprawl whose languor I admired in large part because I knew that at the slightest sign of trouble he could spring up and attack.

The heat was making me sweat, so I shrugged off my coat and draped it over Bee’s. In the backyard only the Amazon was visible, standing beside the closed gate. A clock stood atop the cupboard. Its ticking punctuated the silence as Brennan considered his work-?hardened hands.

“I come from the north, as I think you recall, Catherine,” he said, “from a mining village in Celtic Brigantia. A few days’ walk from the village where I grew up, you come to the ice shelf. The ice rises from the land like a cliff. When the sun shines, you can see the ice face from miles away. It blinds because it is so sharp and bright. Professora Kuti and Maester Godwik can tell you all about the color, texture, weight, height, volume, and consistency of ice. But because I grew up so near the ice, among hunters as well as miners, I can tell you that the ice is alive. Not as you and I are alive. It’s not a creature or a person. But it lives, although I couldn’t tell you how or why.”

“A fascinating tale, but what has it to do with us?” I said. Yet I could tell by Bee’s frowning expression that he had caught her interest, although I could not be sure whether it was his story that intrigued her or his looks, his air of worldly experience, and the likelihood he had bested more than one man in more than one nasty fight.

“When I was a small boy, my grandmother told me about a girl who was one of her age-mates. In my grandmother’s youth, the ice reached all the way to Embers Ridge, where we now light the bonfire on Hallows’ Eve. One year at midsummer the girl walked out on the hunt with her older brothers. When they reached the ice, she stood all day as if dazzled. When the sun set, she woke. She told them she had seen visions-dreams-in the face of the ice. They went home to consult with the village djeli and the elders. But what happened was this: The things she saw in the face of the ice came true in the year that followed.”

Bee inhaled sharply.

Brennan’s gaze settled on her. “She married, but birthed no children. For five summers more, she walked north every solstice to the ice and walked home after and told the elders what she had seen. No one spoke a single word outside of the village of what she did. They knew better than to draw attention to a gift which is also a curse. Do you know what happened to her?”

The clock ticked ticked ticked.

“She died on Hallows’ Night,” said Bee in a voice as hard as an oracle’s.

He had the look of a man who has seen things some might call the stuff of nightmares. “The authorities at the prince of Brigantia’s court were told she had drowned. In fact she was torn to pieces on Hallows’ Night in the forecourt of the temple of the hunters Diana Sanen and her son Antlered Kontron. Her severed head was found in the village well.”

He paused. We said nothing. What was there to say?

“She had been pursued and killed by the Wild Hunt. As the Thrice-Praised poet Bran Cof sang, ‘No creature can escape the Hunt, no man outrun its teeth.’”

The clock ticked over the new hour. Its chime so startled me that I flinched.

Brennan paced to the window. The Amazon had wrestled open the heavy bar that secured the back gate. A red-haired man in an old coat slipped inside the yard from the alley behind, and the Amazon went out. As Brennan turned to address us, the red-haired man barred the gate.

“It is well known,” Brennan continued, “that before he took the name Camjiata, Captain Leonnorios Aemilius Keita married Helene Conde Vahalis. She was the daughter of a powerful mage House, although she was a cold mage of only negligible power. But it was rumored she walked the future in oracular dreams. People said the young general’s victories were achieved because he knew how to interpret her dreams to his benefit. Camjiata just implied that you, Beatrice, are one of those young women-and they are always young-who has discovered she walks the path of dreams. It seems obvious the general wants you because he thinks your dreams can give him an advantage in war. Meanwhile, obviously the mansa of Four Moons House wants you to keep you away from the general, since it was the mages and the Romans who defeated Camjiata the first time. Yet it seems to me, if you are such a woman, then mage Houses, princes, Romans, and even escaped generals are not the worst threat you face.”


Brennan looked out the window again, watching as the red-haired man traversed the length of the yard while kicking up the snow that dusted the paving stones.

“Excuse me.” He flashed one of his spectacular smiles and went out. We heard him go up the back steps and open the back door. Gray light gleamed through the paned windows. The peculiar hut glittered as if polished gems lay hidden in its layers. A crow still perched atop the center pole. Brennan intercepted the stranger with a friendly gesture and a smile.

“At least,” said Bee in a low voice, “the awful news was delivered by the handsomest man I’ve ever met.”


“How do you suppose he got the appellation Du? Brennan Toure Du. Du means ‘black-haired.’ Yet he’s enchantingly fair-haired.”

I clucked my tongue to show I was not so susceptible, even though I was. “He’s positively ancient. Over thirty, anyway. That’s even older than your handsome admirer Legate Amadou Barry. Or have you forgotten him?”

She fixed me with the smoldering gaze that caused young men to fall catastrophically in love with her, professors to quake, shopkeepers to hasten forward to serve her, and young women our age to wish they could be like her, so proud and queenly. Then she dabbed away a tear. “Please! Amadou Barry offered me an intolerable insult! As if I had asked for it!”

“You’re not to blame for the proposal Amadou Barry made to you, Bee.”

“I know.” She blushed and looked away as if ashamed. “But before that I told him things I shouldn’t have, because I thought he genuinely loved me. I thought I could trust him.”

I frowned as I leaned on the table, pinning her gaze with my own. “Bee, you were alone and frightened and scared. You did nothing wrong. And I’m sure he was very persuasive. Until that unpleasant moment when he offered to make you his mistress.”

“As if it were the best thing I could ever hope for!” She made stabbing motions with the knife. “This! For him!”

“Sadly, men are the least of our problems right now.” I grabbed Rory’s ankle. “What do you know about Hallows’ Night? Murdered victims? The face of the ice? The Wild Hunt?”

His penetrating gold gaze was as opaque as a cat’s. “I know I’m hungry.”

“Do you not know, or are you not telling?”

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