He stood as we came in, unfolding a lean body swathed in shades of the sea, to tower over everyone else in the room. Silver streaked through the dark tangles about his face, but he seemed ageless. And his eyes…ah, Ashta, his eyes. They were black and bottomless, a glimpse and I could feel myself slipping into the insanity inside.
“You have something for me, do you?” The Sorcerer peered past Tylen to me.
“Something you’ve been looking for.” Tylen tugged me forward to display before this insane man.
Bile rose in the back of my throat.
“All powerful Arghast.” The Sorcerer’s voice wisped like wind through grass. “Can it…?” He looked back to Tylen and his face smoothed to caution. “What is it you want for this?”
“Unlimited passage.”
The Sorcerer looked Tylen over like he was preparing to settle into a negotiation, but his eyes kept tugging back to me, giving away his weakness.
“Where is your sword?” He asked Tylen rather than counter his request.
My heart, already pounding in my ears and choking me at the back of my throat, leapt into a frenzy. Hepteta had that cursed sword. How could we overlook something so vital? People had been quick to notice when it rested on my hip.
“Something like this does not come to me without sacrifice.” Tylen answered easily.
The Sorcerer might have laughed, it was a strange rattling sound. “I will not give unlimited passage, even for her. You’ve always been an ambitious man, but lets be reasonable. I’ll give you one trip through the strait with no restrictions or taxes.”
“One trip?” Tylen scoffed. “No, you’ve hunted the seas for years looking for her. Let me take three ships through—once. No taxes, no restrictions, no harassments by your ships.”
The Sorcerer’s black eyes studied me hungrily, as though he’d already forgotten Tylen still stood before him. “Are you ready to go through with the three ships now?”
“I’m not foolish enough to leave her here and attempt to return.”
The Sorcerer’s laugh was unmistakable this time. It echoed hauntingly of waves crashing on rock.
“You can see them waiting.” Tylen gestured to the windows.
“Three ships, one passage with all the cargo you can carry.” The Sorcerer agreed, his hands twitching with eagerness in his robes.
My chain changed hands. Tylen held my gaze for a brief moment as he left me, and then I was alone with the Sorcerer and a handful of guards, this insane man clutching my chain.
“There have been many stories about you, calling you many, many things.” He caressed my face with cold fingers, oblivious to my cringe. “Not all those stories could possibly be true, I know, but I feel you. I feel how your magic calls out to mine.”


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