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Marsheila (Marcy) Rockwell is an author, engineer, and mother of three wonderful sons. She has been nominated for the Scribe, Rhysling, and Dwarf Stars Awards and is a member of the SFWA, IAMTW, SinC, and SFPA. She also served for several years as an editor for Mindflights. Her latest published novel is SKEIN OF SHADOWS (2012), a sequel to 2011's THE SHARD AXE, published by Wizards of the Coast. Wizards also published her first novel, LEGACY OF WOLVES, in 2007.

January 2017
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Unsettled Debts

Caldamus, who'd resumed the human visage of the mayor, blocked her path.

"I really must insist you register and pay the fee, Marshal."

"Why? You already know I'm here; probably already trolled through my mind to find out who I'm with too." Caldamus's eyes widened slightly at her words, and she saw his gaze flick quickly in Brannan's direction.

Had the Wayfinder been unaware of the fact that the changeling was also a telepath? Interesting.

"My superiors—"

"—Can go straight to Dolurrh for all I care," Sabira interrupted, losing patience. "You didn't strike me as a complete fool the last time we met, Caldamus, but maybe the desert sun has addled your brains in the interim, so I'll make it easy for you — I'm not paying."

The changeling launched himself at her, reaching for her throat. The move caught Sabira momentarily off guard, because while his face was contorted as if with fury, his eyes were urgent.

He was acting, and it could only be for Brannan's benefit.

Sabira decided to play along, wondering what Caldamus was up to. She sidestepped the attack, catching the changeling by the collar and hem of his shirt and using his momentum and a quick twist to heave him over her hip. As she pivoted and his mouth passed by her ear, he whispered, "Couldn't read him before."

That wasn't exactly a surprise. Most people who dealt in secrets knew how to shield their thoughts from prying minds, and Sabira was sure the Wayfinder had a lot of secrets.

Caldamus landed on his back in the middle of the floor, the breath whooshing from his lungs. Sabira bent down to pull him back to his feet, her legs braced for the extra weight. He surprised her by grabbing her wrist and slamming his foot up into her stomach. Her body curled involuntarily around the unexpected blow, and he used the sudden shift in her weight to his advantage, yanking on her arm and twisting his own hips to throw her to the side where she collided with the podium, knocking it over with a crash.

He was on her before she could scramble to her feet, his hands around her throat and his face in hers as he pretended to squeeze.

"Could when you touched him," he breathed before she smashed the ledger she'd grabbed into the side of his head and he rolled off her with a yelp.

She was on him in a heartbeat, knee in his spine as she grasped a handful of hair and yanked his head back.

"Hatred and hunger, Marshal," he murmured. "Watch yourself."

"Yeah, thanks," she muttered under her breath, disgusted with the changeling. And with herself—she'd almost believed him. She slammed his head into the floor. "There's your 'usage fee,' Caldamus."

When he groaned and struggled weakly, not yet unconscious, she did it again. Harder.

"And that's for Goren," she added as the changeling slumped and lay still beneath her. His hair began to grow longer and lankier in her hand as he morphed back into his natural form. She released her fistful and clambered to her feet.

"Feel free to keep the change."

...to be continued...

(Read Excerpt 1 here and Excerpt 2 here. Pre-order your copy here.)

I'm feeling: indescribableAck! Changeling face!