The Emperor\’s Mistress
The sorceress CHARIS and wizard KYROS,embittered ex-lovers, nearly shattered the Setor Empire a thousand years ago. Among other atrocities, Charis murdered Kyros\’s wife and unborn child. With the help of a goddess-forged sword, humans finally entombed Charis within a glacier. But she did not die.
Now Charis walks free. Disguised as a young woman named ILLISANDRA, she dispenses potions and philters to keep the emperor enthralled while she unknowingly nudges the empire toward a catastrophic mage war. Kyros has become TEVERUS, an aged mage who retains the loyalty of the emperor\’s brother. Neither recognizes the other as their ancient archenemy.
Teverus knows the goddess-forged sword will break Illisandra’s hold over the emperor. He dispatches the thief, STEALTH, and his apprentice, Prince DERRIUS HEXTOR, to retrieve it from an assassins\’ mountain bastion. Derrius is the first Hextor in generations to possess magic, but his spells regularly misfire, producing self-doubt he conceals with hubris. Stealth hates highborn; one murdered her mother, and Derrius’s demeanor reminds her of that man.
Though Illisandra doesn\’t know Derrius seeks her overthrow, she targets him for assassination to spark civil war. Conflict will sap the strength of those who would resist when she assumes the throne and exacts long overdue payback. When Kyros betrayed Charis, he fled to the elves of Luxamere where he engineered a military treaty between them and the Setor Empire that played a part in her downfall. She can’t punish her dead ex-lover, but she can order the legions to devastate Luxamere.
However, her spy master twice fails to kill Derrius. Though initially Stealth and Derrius can barely stomach each other, the grueling journey and near escapes bring them closer, and eventually they fall in love.
Illisandra devises a final solution. Small dragons blitz Derrius and his companions. Buttressed by his love for Stealth, Derrius blasts several from the sky, but too many remain. The battle goes badly. The companions survive, but a friend has been poisoned by dragon blood and will die without an antidote. Derrius and Stealth refuse to concede defeat. After all, they foiled a sorceress. With Teverus’s aid they will save their friend. Meanwhile, Illisandra vows to plot a new course to exact her vengeance.