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HeartMate Excerpt

Druida City, Celta, 400 years after Colonization, Summer

Today you will meet your HeartMate. Rand T’Ash’s blood thrummed in his temples as he stared at the divination dice that he’d just rolled.

The polished blue-green stones gleamed in the light. The symbols incised on them showed deep red veins, looking like blood. He didn’t quite believe the glyphs carved in the twelve-sided pieces of bloodstone and the prophecy they foretold. He’d throw again, to be sure.

The deep emanation of his Flair—his psi power—pulsed through his blood. A few years back he’d created the dice, first choosing the bloodstones, then chiseling and shaping them.

He let the swell of his emotions flow through and from him. A tingle of premonition shivered up his spine. He focused his will and mage power. With a flick of his wrist, he threw the dice again. They rolled, spun, stopped.

Today you will meet your HeartMate.

Excitement surged, and an overwhelming tide of triumph. His heart picked up beat. Shimmering tension embedded in his nerves.

T’Ash sat and gripped his half-empty caff mug between his palms. It was oversized, made by a mage-potter to fit his hands.

The ebb and flow of his preternatural Flair had changed over the last few days, he now realized. The daily divinations had foretold something unusual, signs that he’d overlooked. TwinMoonsday—Enjoy the moment, for it will pass; Midweek-Prepare yourself; Quert-yesterday, Restructuring is necessary.

He stared at the dice once more. Today you will meet your HeartMate.

How long he had waited! He was thirty-seven, the sole member of a GreatHouse, the highest rank of Celta. There were only thirteen GreatHouses. His was a colony FirstFamily, the House of the Ash. By the grace of the Lord and Lady, he’d escaped the destruction of his Family by a rival House when he was six years old. By sheer will and determination he hid and lived as a boy in the slums of the worst part of the city—Downwind. He grew strong first to survive, then for vengeance.

Only in the last few years, after he’d reestablished his GreatHouse and started his shop, plying his Flair for mage-gems instead of fighting, had he been able to live life with deliberate ease.

After tomorrow he would never again be alone. An exhilarating, but disturbing thought.