Exclusive Excerpt from Marked by Lightning
by Jessamyn Kingley
“You’re very accomplished for someone so young. A High Arcanist of two colors as well as Arch Wizard,” Callyx said. “And you’ve got this great cat.” Emrys was rubbing against Callyx’s legs, which made the sentinel turn from his self-assigned box duty to scratch the cat’s chin.
“I almost created a dragon. I don’t know why. I used to dream about them too. They were always rescuing me. I guess you must really like them, Vadimas, since you chose that for your familiar.”
“I live by the rules of a dragon, was welcomed into a family by a dragon, and my two High Arcanists, who’ve taught me far more than I could’ve imagined or instructed them, have dragon familiars. In my mind, there was no question about what path I would go.”
“So, you’ve been a D’Vaire a long time? I only summoned my familiar after I became Arch Wizard.”
“I didn’t accept my violet until Del and Idris ascended to High Arcanist a few years ago.”
“I remember the news around then,” Callyx mused. “Even the gossip channels couldn’t stop talking about it. The Council was so happy for you.”
For a sentinel who only saw beauty in their own mates, it might be difficult for Callyx and Faron to understand why gossip hosts would comment, but Vadimas had been fully aware he’d gone from toad to prince. He was the one who had to wake up to see new wrinkles popping up and soap between all the folds of sagging, thin skin in the shower each morning. What no one knew was that he’d had to drink potions twice a day to keep his face from aging as quickly as the rest of him. They saw a wise man with brown eyes, lines, and gray hair that tended to be wiry. If it were reality, Vadimas wouldn’t have had complaints, but it hadn’t stayed that way for very long. Each decade he denied his violet, the process sped up.
When he undressed at night, the fabric of his clothes tore abrasions over his flesh that was too weak to handle normal wear and tear. He’d dosed himself with healing potions to keep the cataracts at bay, to reverse the pervasive arthritis, and he didn’t even want to think about the incontinence issues he’d had to combat daily. To have put it behind him was such a relief, Vadimas got up each morning and thanked Fate for giving him Delaney and Idris.
“Gossip channels?” Severin asked.
“Vadimas looked different. You’ll see the pictures tomorrow at the Spectra Wizardry,” Faron explained. “Should I make an appointment at the Order of the Fallen Knights for Severin to get an identification card?”
“I forgot about that; he will need to be able to get around. We’ll go before Council session. You two need your titles as well. I’m sure there’s paperwork I’ve got to sign,” Vadimas responded.
“Can I read one of these tonight?” Severin asked as he carefully arranged books around to squeeze more onto the shelves.
“You’re welcome to help yourself to anything in the house, including the books. It’s a good thing you’re close to my size, so you can borrow some clothes. The fallen knights are going to complain that you aren’t wearing a crown tomorrow, but I’m afraid I don’t have a spare.”
“The Arch Wizard doesn’t wear a crown.”
Vadimas’s eyebrows rose. “Egidius had the largest and ugliest crown I’ve ever seen.”
“Yes, but crowns are old-fashioned.”
“Is that what Jael told you?”
Severin nodded. “I think I would also feel strange wearing one. It seems kind of showy.”
“Not every race uses them, but I like mine, and I’m proud to carry on ancient traditions, including crowns worn by the leaders of the wizards. And here you won’t be addressed as the Arch Wizard. The Circle of Wizards doesn’t belong to the Council—the Spectra Wizardry does, and the title recognized by my people is Prism Wizard. Or in your case Prism Wizard-mate.”
“I guess it doesn’t matter, since I won’t be here that long anyway. We’re going to meet with Their Majesties tomorrow, right?”
“I’ve texted Niko, and he’s going to see what he can do, but as you can imagine, with the dragons and over a hundred other races to govern, Their Majesties are busy. They can’t drop everything to help out the Consilium Veneficus with their problems.”
“Sentinels can be invisible, right?”
“Severin, Callyx and Faron answer to the Lich Sentinel first and the Council second. They can’t race to the Consilium and slit Jael’s throat so you can wade in to try to clean up the giant mess he and his father have made.”
“I didn’t say kill him.”
“If these wizards are as loyal to him as you say, then his death is the only thing that will right the ship.”
“He was the great Egidius’s son. Of course they’re loyal to him.”
“Do not call him great in my presence again, and they’re loyal only to their own best interests,” Vadimas snapped. No one in his life was able to push his buttons like the handsome man staring at him with a mixture of frustration, innocence, and stubbornness in his mismatched eyes. He liked to think of himself as unflappable, but Severin just might have him re-evaluating a great deal more than what Fate was up to when she made her mate choices.