Excerpt from Dark Ember
“Sweetheart? Come in.”
Turning at her father’s voice, Swift smiled. She beckoned Rex to follow into a room just off the main corridor. Inside, Rex found a grand office that resembled more of a library. There were books stacked on well-kept shelves all the way to the ceiling, with rolling ladders attached to each wall. A large, elegantly carved desk stood along one wall, neatly arranged with papers and pens under a gold lamp.
Across from there, though, were a half dozen little desks covered with crayons and paper, stuffed toys and books. Rex felt his heart ache. No wonder Swift was as open and giving as to save a man she did not know.
“We’re alone, I promise.” Seville said quietly. “What in Atlea is going on, little one?”
Swift’s cheeks went pink at the nickname, but she spoke almost immediately. “Father, I wouldn’t have risked the Seven if it wasn’t important.”
“That I know.” Seville agreed, sitting on the edge of his desk. He had removed the sapphire robes and lounged now in soft doeskin breeches and a loose linen shirt. “Are the rumors true?”
Swift’s face grew suspicious. “What rumors?”
Seville turned his piercing eyes to Rex. “Do you harbor an elemental? Is this human the bearer of a Drake?”
Swift moved to stand closer to Rex, whom instinctively stepped closer to Swift. Ember, now alert, clutched Rex’s consciousness more tightly, ready to bolt or fight or burn the palace down at a moment’s notice. Rex fought desperately to control his now raging heartbeat.
“I am unsure.” Seville admitted. “Rumors began in the city. Mercy brought them to me. Something about you fighting an agent of the Seven and smuggling a drake to Peralt under pursuit.”
“I’ve told no one.” Swift directed the words at Rex. “I swear.”
Rex nodded. “You haven’t had time. Unless…”
“Whitworth? No.” Swift shook her head. Seville copied the motion.
“The rumors are coming from within the city. Someone knows what you are, Master Rex. You must be careful in whom you trust.”
Rex swallowed thickly, nodding once. “I will.”
“I’ve sent word to a few mages in the other realms that I trust,” Seville said quietly. “They are on the way, even those from DeRoc. It will take them a few days to assemble.”
The way the sentence ended, the little flush of color to his cheeks, made Rex a little suspicious. The scowl on Swift’s face, however, told him it was harmless.
“It doesn’t take days.”
Seville had the grace to look a little ashamed. “I promised Simone you would be here for her party.”
Swift took a crayon from the desk she’d perched on and threw it at her father. Rex stared at them both, trying to not laugh when a gust of magic sent the crayon flying around Seville, into the bookshelf.
“You sly fool.” Swift sighed. “Fine. If Rex and the others are alright with it, we’ll stay for a few days. We need to resupply and plot our next move anyway.”
Noticing his confusion, Seville addressed Rex. “My second daughter, Simone, her birthday is in a few days. We’re planning a formal party for her since her coming of age is only two years away now. Would you be our guests, Master Rex?”
Without thinking, knowing Swift was gnashing her teeth, Rex grinned.
“Of course. Jonas and I love parties.”
“Excellent!” Seville said with a grin. “I’ll send a tailor to each of you. Until then, my home is yours. Please, make yourself comfortable.”
Swift snarled under her breath about corsets as she stomped out of the room. Rex followed, bidding her father goodbye, laughing as he set out to explore the palace.
Have a great day!