Book two of the Arcane Artisans series comes out June 6! Here’s a sneak peek of the opening chapters!
The dead were rising, which was just what I’d expect from a Monday.
I crouched behind an aged grave monument, a sculpture of an angel overgrown with weeds, shadowing myself from the newly risen full moon. Beyond my hiding place, a translucent figure wafted over the dying lawn. Her long dress and hair fluttered in an unseen wind, and her pale feet barely brushed the ground. She drifted aimlessly around a solitary headstone, a mound of fresh dirt at its base.
Beside me, peering around the other side of the monument, Desmond Desoto shifted his weight. “I thought ghosts were supposed to be rare.”
“They are,” I whispered, watching our target complete another circuit around her grave. “It takes a specific magical interaction to create one.”
“Then why are we hunting down our third ghost of the week?”
Static crackled in my pocket. “Maybe it’s the full moon,” said a low female voice.
I realized I’d been sitting on the “talk” button and broadcasting the conversation. I pulled my walkie-talkie out and pressed the button, deliberately this time. “It’s not the full moon, Sam.”
“I’m just saying. This all started just before the full moon.”
“The moon has nothing to do with magical forces.”
On the other end of the channel, my apprentice huffed. “If it’s not the full moon, what’s making all these shades pop up like it’s Halloween?”
Across the lawn, the ghost turned and began circling the opposite direction. No wrinkles touched the youth of her face, though that didn’t necessarily mean she’d died young.
“I don’t know,” I said. “We can solve that problem back at headquarters. Right now, we just need to put this one back in the ground. Soon as the signal comes, we go. And by we, I mean me and Desmond. You’re just observing, Sam.”
“I know that was the plan, but …”
“Ugh. Fine, Mom.”
The walkie-talkie line cut out. Desmond flashed me a wry grin. “Does that make me Dad?”
“Remind me never to have kids. They’re cute until they start having opinions.”
“What if I want kids?”
“Is this the right time for this discussion?”
Desmond shrugged, and his big ears took on a pink undertone beneath their usual light brown. “You’ve been avoiding talking about us.”
I scanned the silhouetted trees looming over our heads, hoping the signal would come and I’d escape this conversation. Nothing stirred on the shadowy branches. I sighed. “We’ve been fine so far. Isn’t that enough?”
“For now. But where are we going, Adrienne? What future are we shooting for?”
“It’s only been a few months.”
“And I think we should think beyond the next few months.”
“Do you have to plan everything?”
He shrugged. “I’m a planner.”
“I’m not. Or at least, I haven’t been able to be.”
He flashed me an adorable smile, the moon glinting off his tousled black hair. “I know this is all new to you. Just … consider what you want. Long term.”
Long term. That wasn’t a phrase I’d been able to use in years. A phrase I wasn’t sure I was ready to use again. “I’ll think about it.”
“Good enough.” He gave me another smile before returning to watching the ghost.
I stared at his back, tracing the outlines of his muscles beneath his tight-fitting black shirt. A few months since we’d admitted our feelings for one another. A few months since the Void Union discovered me. A few months since I made some sacrifices that ensured I wouldn’t have to flee my past anymore. I thought it was working out, but a little voice inside me insisted it couldn’t last. That my past would rise up and rip away everything I loved if I dared draw it too close.
The walkie-talkie buzzed in my hand.
I jumped and released the talk button. I’d been gripping it so hard I’d broadcast the last few seconds to Sam. At least this time I sent her nothing but silence. The instant I released the button, my apprentice’s voice came through. “Adrienne? You there? Hello?”
“I’m fine, Sam,” I said. “Don’t …”
At that moment, branches rustled above us. A red-brown squirrel bounded between two trees, bushy tail streaming behind her.
“There’s Kendall,” said Desmond. “No other ghosts nearby. Let’s go.” He sprang from behind the monument, drawing a silver-tipped dagger from his belt.
“Adrienne?” asked Sam on the walkie-talkie. “Do you need help?”
I pressed the button again as I rounded the grave monument. “Stay put, Sam!” Then I dropped the walkie-talkie, tugged up my sleeve to expose my bracelet, and ran toward the ghostly woman circling her headstone.
The ghost saw us coming. Anger overtook her smooth face. Invisible gales whipped her dress tight around her legs. A moment later, a real wind rose, driving hard against my face. Tears sprang to my eyes. Strands of black hair escaped my braid. I leaned into the unnatural wind, struggling to move forward. At five feet with a skinny frame, I was easy prey for the hurricane-force winds. They blew me back a pace. Then two.
Fine, I thought. Magic was a multiplayer game. I raised my wrist and called upon the enchantment I’d stored in my chunky purple bracelet. Instant strength flooded my body, infusing my muscles with steel. With the enchantment strengthening my body, I held my ground. I reclaimed the two steps the wind had blown me back, then took another.
A dozen feet away, Desmond stalked toward the ghost, grim determination on his stark features. The tempest harassing me blew around him, too, but not a hair on his head stirred.
The ghost spotted him and snarled. Maybe she recognized him as a Void, immune to magic, or maybe something else set her off, but either way she changed tactics. Blood-red light sparked within her chest, creating a hellish glow that blazed the ground in a circle beneath her. She surged across the air at Desmond, hands clawed to rake his throat.
As she turned, the supernatural wind vanished. Caught off guard, I stumbled forward, but managed not to fall flat on my face. I sprinted for the ghost’s now undefended gravestone, keeping an eye on Desmond as I ran.
Desmond ducked the ghost’s first assault, but she followed him, making a hard right turn that should have been impossible if she obeyed the laws of aerodynamics. Desmond went down, and the wispy woman’s form went with him, undead nails slashing. His silver-tipped knife flashed in his hand as he drove it into her side. An unearthly howl, like the cry of a wild animal ripped by a predator’s teeth, tore from the ghost’s throat. Smoke billowed from her wound like vaporous blood. Desmond stabbed her again, and a second cloud of smoke puffed out. The ghost didn’t let go. Her nails gouged for his lifeblood as she continued to shriek.
I changed direction mid-step, sprinting for them instead of the grave. I tapped the magic in the blue-stone ring on my left hand, aiming my fist in Desmond’s direction. Sizzle, sizzle, I thought, and a blast of turquoise lightning shot out of my fist straight at the dueling pair.
My magical electricity flicked out harmlessly on Desmond, but it chewed into the ghost like dry paper. With a scream of pain, she whisked into the air. Her translucent form cast a burning haze over the moon. Tree branches wreathed her form as she slapped at the sparks zapping her.
I knelt by Desmond’s side, but he was already pushing himself to his feet. “I’m fine,” he said, wincing. “She’s stronger than our intel suggested, but I can handle it.”
Red welts showed through the tatters of his shirt. He was lucky. Any non-Void, and most weaker Voids, would have been a mass of shredded flesh after that attack. Fortunately Desmond was one of the strongest Voids in San Francisco, and the ghost’s violence couldn’t destroy his body.
Satisfied that he’d live, I returned to plan and darted for the grave. The ghost tracked my path, and with another shriek dove for me. I called up the agility enchantment on my second bracelet, this one a simple yellow chain, and rolled to the side just before the ghost crashed into the dirt where I’d stood. With unnatural spryness I regained my feet and went into a baseball slide at the grave, skidding to a stop just beside the mound of soft dirt.
Desmond slashed the ghost again, driving her back. Her retreating motions grew frantic. Apparently realizing her typical arsenal wouldn’t hold up against a Void, she shot off toward the decorative trees marking the border of the cemetery property. A moment later, a branch as thick as my waist hurtled out of the darkness, aimed to knock Desmond over like a bowling pin.
He leapt the branch with the agility of a trained swordsman, but an entire tree came flying seconds later. The ghost wasn’t holding back now. Desmond could shrug off the ghost’s mauling, but the tree was real, and no magic touched it once it was airborne. He’d die under its crushing weight as easily as anyone else.
Desmond dove into a roll behind a huge gravestone. The tree clipped it, taking off a foot of the concrete and spraying gravel like shrapnel. Then the rolling trunk tumbled down a small hill, taking out another row of headstones in the process.
Fear fluttered in my chest. I closed my eyes, willing myself to concentrate. The dirt felt warm beneath me, the air stiff with the dry heat of a California summer. Beyond my normal senses, another one lurked, tapping out a rhythm in my head: kadum … kadum … kadum. Magic’s pounding beat was a normal part of life for enchantresses like me, those of us able to sense the world’s magical field.
From my pocket I drew a small vial of water with a leather cord tied around its stem. I shoved the other end of the leather into the freshly-turned earth covering the grave, then shook the water vial as I drew in magic.
The tapping in my head grew to a pounding. Kadum! Kadum! Kadum! An ache started between my eyes, but I walled off the pain in a corner of my mind, concentrating on what I needed the magic to do. Form waves, I chanted, watching the water slosh in the vial as I shook it. Flow aside as water before a ship’s prow. Split in two, splash away, and clear a path.
I repeated the enchantment as I sent the magic out of me, into the sloshing water vial. Once the magic absorbed the movement of the water, I channeled it through the leather cord, into the loose dirt covering the grave.
Flecks of gold flashed amidst the brown dirt as the enchantment made its mark on the soil. The loose dirt began to flow, sloshing out both sides of the grave like waves crashing over a barricade. Two ridges rapidly formed flanking the headstone, and a six-foot hole dug itself out of the ground.
At the bottom of the hole lay a coffin. A film of dust dulled its reddish sheen, but the varnish was fresh, the gilding on its corners unmarred by time’s decay. The gold mechanism that locked the casket gleamed in the moonlight.
The enchantment on the dirt fully took hold, settling the piles in their frozen waves like they’d been sculpted there. I yanked the leather cord off the water vial and tossed it aside. I fished another, longer cord out of my pocket and hooked its pre-tied end around the vial. Then I dangled the cord so its loose end touched the coffin’s sealed lid. I unscrewed the vial’s cap and drew in more magic. Open, I chanted, focusing the magic on the uncapped vial. Open. Op–
Cold fury slammed into me, knocking me back onto the hard-packed earth. The vial flew from my hand and shattered. Spilled water soaked into the thirsty ground. The ghost loomed over me, her flowing form blocking my sight like thick fog. She swung at me, and I instinctively raised an arm to block. Sharp nails ravaged my arm. I hissed as blood welled from the cut. Unlike Desmond, I faced the full power of the ghost’s touch.
She slashed at me again, but this time I had warning. I activated the magic in my beaded ring, and a transparent shield of violet light burst open above me. The ghost’s arm collided with the shield. Purple lightning latticed between us.
Panting, I scanned the graveyard for Desmond. Far across the moonlit grounds, he scrambled over a wall of thrown tree trunks that had trapped him between a pair of mausoleums.
At least I’d prepared strong enough defensive enchantments to hold my own.
Or so I thought.
With a howl, the ghost bashed both fists against my shield. The light shuddered, then winked out, spewing lavender sparks into the air. I gaped at my ring. Surely one attack couldn’t diffuse my entire shield enchantment. No ghost was that strong. If it hadn’t just happened, I’d have sworn it was impossible.
The ghost’s next assault came toward my face. I activated my agility enchantment and rolled aside, narrowly avoiding her clawed hands. I reached for the magic in my shield ring, but it wouldn’t reactivate.
Something had gone terribly wrong, something I didn’t understand, and my heart beat in terror. Magic wasn’t supposed to behave this way.
A flurry of blonde hair and lanky limbs charged out from another row of graves, screaming a wordless challenge. “Sam, no!” I shouted. But my apprentice reached us in seconds, hurling all of her fifteen-year-old fury into a fire enchantment that shot from her hands and blasted the ghost in the chest.
The ghost wailed, swooping higher in the sky. Even as I watched, the charred edges of her form began healing. Sam stared up in defiance, her own arsenal of rings and bracelets catching the bright moonlight. She raised her hand and shot another blast of fire at the ghost, and I spotted a dark, swirling line etched into the palm of her pale hand.
With a groan I pushed myself to my feet and yanked Sam’s arm down. “Thanks. Now get out of here! We have to–”
Again the ghost dove. I threw myself to the side. I expected the ghost to follow me, but instead it turned on Sam. In horror I watched the translucent hands claw for Sam’s throat.
I scrambled to my feet, but in that moment Desmond passed me, silver-tipped dagger in hand. He stabbed deep into the ghost’s side, forcing it away from Sam and freeing me to finish this.
I knelt beside the open grave and gathered the fallen leather cord. The water vial was smashed beyond repair. Cursing, I scrambled for something else to use. I’d left my bag of enchanting gear in the car, afraid it would slow me down. There were no bottles or vials around, nothing I could use to focus the enchantment. My eyes fell on a rosebud carefully laid on a nearby grave. With no better options, I snatched it and sprinted back for the ghost’s own grave. I looped the leather cord around the flower’s stem, just below the rosebud, then forced the petals open into a parody of real bloom. I leaned over the grave, dangling the leather cord so its end touched the casket lid. Open, I chanted, focusing the magic that had been stewing inside me. Open. Open. Open.
The magic moved, flowing out of me into the rose. It absorbed the openness of the petals, the way they spread out from one another, then channeled through the fresh leather into the coffin. When the magic stopped flowing, I prayed that it had worked correctly, then slid down into the grave and lifted the varnished lid.
Putrid rot billowed out in a nauseating wave, assailing my nostrils with the stench of decaying flesh. I gagged, but forced myself not to gasp for air. Trying not to recoil, I tugged aside the burial clothes, searching the greenish-grey skin for the imprint of magic. Through touch I could sense magic kadum kadum kadumming in the corpse, but not the enchantment’s exact location.
It took me only a moment to find the enchantment on the body’s left calf. A black line traced a circular pattern on the dead flesh. It was small, the line thin, covering only a few inches. I flattened my hand against the enchantment tattoo, shuddering at the clammy feel of dead flesh. Steeling myself, I pulled on the magic. The lines shrank and retracted into my hand, circling into me until they vanished entirely.
KADUM! KADUM! KADUM! Even though I’d expected the pounding in my head, the magical assault battered me. Thoughts raced through my head, memories I hadn’t recalled in years, others I’d purposely locked away. I remembered the plush duck I’d lost in a lake when I was four because I tried to set it free. The swell of pride the first time my art teacher told me I had a future in crafts. The terror when I was six and I first felt the drumming of magic. The betrayal when my parents handed me over to Geralt for sacrifice. Pain. So much pain. All else seemed insignificant compared to the remembered agony.
I didn’t realize I was shouting for help until someone’s hands hooked under my shoulders, hauling me out of the grave. “Adrienne,” said Desmond’s voice from somewhere beyond the drumming in my skull. “Adrienne, what’s the magic doing to you?”
My vision blurred, past scenes superimposing themselves over reality, and remembered words poured from my mouth. “Don’t let him kill me! ¡Por favor, Mamá, por favor! ¡Papá, ayudame!” I wrenched my voice back to the present and cried, “Enchanting gear! Now!”
An agonizing few seconds passed.
“Adrienne!” Desmond sounded louder now. Distantly I felt the brush of his lips on my ear. He must be shouting right into me. “We have supplies for you. Channel the magic. Get it out!”
Someone shoved a leather cord into my palm, and a prick on my finger told me the rose accompanied it. Dimly I felt my other hand guided to press the free end of the leather against a flat piece of rock. My fingers brushed engraving there–another gravestone. Clawing my way out of the memories, I focused the magic on the stone. “Draw forth memories,” I chanted aloud, my words coming to me as if through deep water. “Serve as a touchstone. Recall fond thoughts to the minds of those who hold you.”
Magic surged out of me and into the gravestone, absorbing the remembrance represented by this final marker of someone’s life. It then flowed through the leather, channeled into the rose, where a line of grey traced its way up the stem to the base of the petals, marking the enchantment’s hold.
As the last of the magic channeled out of me, I stuffed my memories back into their closet and slammed it shut. Shuddering, I huddled in the dirt, staring down at the enchanted rose, its petals mangled by my prying hands. Sam squatted across from me, her blonde hair shadowing half her face. She’d hit a growth spurt this summer, and now had several inches on me. “Are you okay?” she asked quickly. “Is it gone? Is there any left?”
I shook my head. “It all went. The enchantment will hold.” I glanced at the gravestone, then at the rose. “Good thinking, using the grave as a focus.”
“You were shouting stuff. I figured the magic had something to do with memory.”
I nodded, forcing myself to take even breaths. “It wanted to be used for remembering. It accepted its new purpose easily. You’re getting better at recognizing what a piece of magic wants.”
She flushed. “Thanks.”
Desmond stood over us, the silver tip of his dagger now tarnished black. “The ghost went down as soon as you removed the magic from her corpse,” he said. “She shouldn’t bother anyone again.”
“Desmond, did the ghost say anything before she faded?”
He frowned. “No, why?”
“She broke through my shield ring. Most ghosts are angry and territorial, but their strength depends on the magic in their corpses. Her enchantment tattoo was small, but she broke through my shield. In only a couple hits.”
He frowned. “How is that possible?”
“It’s not. No more than three ghosts rising in one city in one week is possible. Something’s going on with this area’s magic.”
We both avoided looking at Sam. Last time something had been odd in the local magical field, she’d been the cause. I crawled over to the open grave, peering down at the body within. The corpse was old, grey-haired and wrinkled, yet her face retained some of the sharp features of the youthful ghost we’d fought. “She must have seen herself as young at heart,” I said. “That’s why her shade looked like her younger self.”
“What did her enchantment tattoo do?” Sam asked.
“I think it must have been to combat dementia,” I said.
Sam’s eyes widened. “So if it makes an old person remember what they’ve forgotten, when it went into you, you remembered …”
I realized my hand was tracing a pattern just below my left shoulder, around my heart. Furiously I clenched my fist and lowered it. I turned to Sam. “We need to talk about obedience.”
She huffed. “This again.”
“You can’t keep putting enchantments on yourself in battle.”
“How do you know I wasn’t wearing fire jewelry?”
“I saw the tattoo on your hand.” I turned Sam’s palm upright, wincing as the movement stretched the cuts on my arm. There was no trace of the black line I’d seen on Sam’s skin, but I knew what I’d seen. “Also, you haven’t made any fire jewelry, at least none that I approved.”
Sam’s mouth thinned. “Okay, so I improvised. But it was only a little magic. I used the whole enchantment up in just a couple fire blasts, see?” She wiggled her fingers, drawing attention to her magic-free palm.
“Fleshwriting is dangerous no matter how weak the magic. You’re using yourself as focus, channel, and target all at once. Any one of those alone can be risky, but all three …”
Sam crossed her arms and sulked under my lecture, but that wasn’t what made me trail off. A small shape darted out from the trees, sprinting toward us. Puddles of moonlight illuminated a red-furred squirrel, ears back and fluffy tail straight out behind her. Mid-step the squirrel seemed to grow, limbs lengthening, body widening, fur receding into white skin and spiky red hair, until my best friend was running at us, stark naked. Desmond coughed and turned aside, but the terror on Kendall’s face left no room for embarrassment.
“Adrienne!” she shrieked. “Hurry!”
I caught her before she could crash into me, hearing the rasping panic in her breaths. “What happened?”
“It’s a b-body,” she stammered.
Sam rolled her eyes. “We’re in a graveyard.”
Some of Kendall’s spirit returned, and she glared at Sam down her pointy nose. “I know we’re in a graveyard, mini-mage.” Looking back at me, she swallowed. Her voice dropped as if afraid the dead would overhear. “There’s a corpse in the dirt over there. Fresh. And Adrienne …” She swallowed again, her eyes darting to my heart, where I’d been tracing that circular line. “He’s enchanted.”
Dry leaves crunched underfoot, but California’s long summer hadn’t quite drained all life from the foliage. Pines and stubborn deciduous trees encircled the cemetery, forming a perimeter to block nosy onlookers. Now they hid us as we trekked through dry mud into the thick of the treeline, tying up our injuries as we went. When I glanced back I could barely make out the clear lawns and straight rows of headstones rolling away beyond the trunks and branches. Magic drummed lightly on my senses, ever-present, but after how much we’d used in the battle, the pressure felt distant and easy to bear.
A fence divided the tree perimeter, with thick woods on both sides. Black wrought iron bars stood topped with unkind spikes to ward off birds and adventurous teenagers. Kendall led us to this fence, then stepped aside, pointing at a hollow in the dirt.
I drew in a shaky breath. A body lay there, face up, arms stretched toward the cemetery. He was about my age, maybe a little younger. Out of high school, at least. His brown hair was overgrown and unkempt. Dark eyes stared unseeing at the stars. His clothes were plain, but the silver stud in his nose and the black polish on his nails hinted at a personality I would have liked. That wasn’t what seized my attention and froze the breath in my lungs, though. A rip in his shirt exposed a broad section of tan skin from his collarbone to his side. Around his heart, a black design swirled, a single unbroken line forming a circular pattern. I knew that pattern.
Tied on the altar. Hooded figures surrounding me, chanting. Magic stirring.
My trembling hand rose to press against my chest. Against the matching tattoo embedded in my own flesh.
Pain. So much pain.
“He’s like me.” The steadiness of my voice surprised me. Trees and sky swirled in my vision, circling the dead man’s tattoo like a whirlpool, but somehow my throat held steady. “The line. It’s thick. There’s almost as much magic tied up in that as in …” I realized my hand had started tracing the circular pattern around my heart again. I forced my arm to lower. Still my gaze held on the corpse’s enchantment tattoo.
I must have not sounded as in-control as I thought, because Desmond took my arm and forced me to turn away from the body. Once the corpse was out of sight, the world stopped spinning. The pressure in my chest remained, though. Desmond stared at me, his warm brown eyes catching everything in my body language. I swallowed, forced myself to meet his gaze. “I didn’t know there were others. That’s the truth.”
He cursed softly. “Adrienne, I’m not gathering intelligence for the Union. I’m trying to see if you’re all right.”
I shook my head, swatting down the paranoia that tried to rise. “I’m sorry. It’s just habit to be suspicious. I’m fine.”
“Hell no, you’re not, you liar,” said Kendall. She crouched behind some bushes a few feet away, hastily pulling on the clothes she’d abandoned in her squirrel form. Black cargo pants with lots of belts and zippers, and a baggy t-shirt that said I Less Than Three Coding. “This guy has the same enchantment on his heart that you do. The one you said the cult used to store a metric crapton of magic. The one you said would kill you if they ever tried to take it out.”
“Maybe you should say all that a little louder,” said Sam, still standing over the body. “I don’t think they heard you across the Bay.”
Kendall stuck her tongue out at Sam, who promptly flipped her off.
“Children,” said Desmond mildly, “focus, please. Let’s figure out who this guy is and what he’s doing here.”
Kendall came out from behind the bushes, re-attaching her earrings, which looked like a shark eating somebody. “There’s fabric stuck to the fence spikes,” she said. “Probably how he tore his shirt.”
Desmond promptly went to look, keeping a hand on his dagger. “Lots of footprints on the other side of the fence,” he said. “He must have been running, and hopped the fence to try to escape whoever was chasing him.”
“They got him anyway,” Sam said quietly.
We all fell silent. My three friends studiously avoided looking at me. I folded my arms across my chest, sheltering my bound wounds and trying to hide the fact that I was trembling. Through the trees, the rising moon cast shadows on my deep beige skin. Piel canela, my mother had called it. I shoved thoughts of her back behind the locked door in my mind.
The quiet grew oppressive, but I couldn’t bring myself to turn and look at the body again. “Does anyone see a cause of death?”
Rustling sounds came from behind me. Desmond spoke. “No rigor mortis. He hasn’t been here long.” He paused for a long time. “No obvious cause of death.”
“Then it was probably magic,” I said. “An enchanter killed him.” Again the flatness of my voice shocked me. Fear still swirled within me, but I felt detached from it, like I’d erected a wall between my emotions and thoughts. That probably wasn’t a good sign.
Kendall eased up to me and put a careful hand on my shoulder. “Maybe it was some other enchanter. Maybe this guy has nothing to do with your cult.”
I shook my head. “The tattoo looks exactly like mine. That means the enchantment that made it was exactly like mine. Down to the people who cast it. He’s from Geralt’s cult in Virginia. They … they replaced me with him.”
“Do you recognize him?” asked Desmond.
“No. But I escaped almost eight years ago. Plenty of time for them to find new victims.”
Desmond shifted his grip on the dagger, peering into the night as if he expected Geralt himself to jump out at us.
“Whoever killed him must have fled,” said Kendall in soothing tones. “Maybe our fight with the ghost spooked them.”
“They’ll be back,” I said. “The enchantment on the corpse is still good. They won’t leave that much magic lying around unused.”
“Then we’d better get the Union down here,” said Desmond. He pulled out his phone and sent a quick text. Kendall was still patting my back when he returned.
“Are you …?” he began.
With conscious effort, I unclenched my fists. “I’ll be fine.” I forced myself to turn around, to gaze upon the dead man. It was just a body. I’d seen plenty of them before. The fact that he had the same tattoo … the fact that someone from the cult had been within a hundred feet of me, committing murder, and I hadn’t known … that Geralt’s people had stood right here only a few minutes ago …
I whirled away from the crime scene just in time. My stomach emptied itself onto the dirt, and the shudders that wracked my body had nothing to do with nausea.