Authors: Rachel Neumeier
She remembered the gold-and-copper griffin, Eskainiane Escaile Sehaikiu, saying to Kairaithin,
You were right to bring us to the country of men and right to seek a young human.
Maybe that was the question the king would judge: Whether Kairaithin had been right to bring her into the desert and teach her to use the fire, which belonged to griffins and was nothing to do with men? Escaile Sehaikiu had said Kairaithin was right. But she suspected the king would decide that Kairaithin had been wrong. She gave a small, involuntary shake of her head. “No…”
. Kes. You may be a human woman, but you are now become my
, and that is nothing I had hoped to find here in this country of earth. You do not know how rare you are. I assure you, you have nothing to fear.” Kairaithin did not speak kindly, nor gently, but with a kind of intense relief and satisfaction that rendered Kes speechless.
I will be with you. I will teach you
, Opailikiita promised her. In the young griffin’s voice, too, Kes heard a similar emotion, but in her it went beyond satisfaction to something almost like joy. Kes found herself smiling in involuntary response, even lifting a hand to smooth the delicate brown-and-gold feathers below the griffin’s eye. Opailikiita turned her head and brushed Kes’s wrist very gently with the deadly edge of her
beak in a caress of welcome and… if the slim griffin did not offer exactly friendship, it was something as strong, Kes felt, and not entirely dissimilar.
Kairaithin’s satisfaction and Opailikiita’s joy were deeply reassuring. But more than reassurance, their reactions implied to Kes that, to the griffins, her presence offered a desperately needed—what, reprieve?—which they had not truly looked to find. Kairaithin had said the cold mages would not come here.
, he had said. But, then, some other time? Perhaps soon?
I have no power to heal
, Kairaithin had said to her. But then he had taught
to heal. Kes hesitated. She still wanted to insist that the griffin mage take her home. Only she had no power to insist on anything, and she knew Kairaithin would not accede. And… was it not worth a little time in the griffins’ desert to learn to pour sunlight from her hands and make whole even the most terrible injury? Especially if cold mages would come here and resume their attack on the griffins? She flinched from the thought of arrows of ice coming out of the dark, ruining all the fierce beauty of the griffins. If she did not heal them, who would?
Kairaithin held out his hand to her, his eyes brilliant with dark fire. “I will show you the desert. I will show you the paths that fire traces through the air. Few are the creatures of earth who ever become truly aware of fire. I will show you its swift beauty. Will you come?”
All her earlier longing for her home seemed… not gone, but somehow distant. Flames rose all around the edges of Kes’s mind, but this was not actually disagreeable. It even felt… welcoming.
Kes took a step forward without thinking, caught herself, drew back. “I’m
your student,” she declared. Or she
to declare it. But the statement came out less firmly than she’d
intended. Not exactly like a plea, but almost like a question. She said, trying again for forcefulness and this time managing at least to sound like she meant it, “My sister will be worried about me—”
“She will endure your absence,” Kairaithin said indifferently. “Are you so young you require your sister’s leave to come and go?”
“No! But she’ll be
“She will endure. It will be better so. A scattering of hours, a cycle of days. Can you not absent yourself so long?” Kairaithin continued to hold out his hand. “You are become my student, and so you must be for yet some little time. Your sister will wait for you. Will you come?”
“Well…” Kes could not make her own way home. And if she had to depend on the griffin mage to take her home, then she didn’t want to offend him. And if she had to stay in the desert for a little while anyway, she might as easily let him show her its wonders. Wasn’t that so?
She was aware that she wanted to think of justifications for that decision. But
, whispered Opailikiita around the edges of her mind.
We will show you what it means to be a mage of fire.
Kes did not feel like any sort of mage. But she took the necessary step forward and let Kairaithin take her hand.
The griffin mage did not smile. But the expression in his eyes was like a smile. His strange, hot fingers closed hard around her hand, and the world tilted out from under them.
Lord of the Changing Winds
Land of the Burning Sands
Law of the Broken Earth
House of Shadows
“This book is like cupped fire, held in the hands: joyful and fierce and precise, painful and true beyond measure. It has the simplicity of poetry, the complexity of myth. I adored it.”
—Daniel Fox, author of
Dragon in Chains
“Very easy to read, filled with emotion and fluid writing.”
“Vivid, satisfying… most compelling is the world and its magical laws, which invite further related stories.”
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Copyright © 2012 by Rachel Neumeier
The Griffin Mage
copyright © 2011 by Rachel Neumeier
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First e-book edition: July 2012
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