Aluria had invited Sani Nodin, Serafina Anduril, and Belaric over for lunch to thank Sani and Serafina for saving the Lluaran. She began to update them on council affairs but only got as far as the news that High Lord Diedik was not to have a seat at the summit because they feared it would upset Atterick. Serafina was outraged. Aluria tried to explain and Sani attempted to stick up for the council but Serafina and Belaric left before lunch was over.
The council is outdated and is more concerned with holding on to stale alliances than it is with looking toward the future, she thought. Needing to let off steam, so to speak, Serafina spent the rest of the day creating a large swath of ice behind the house for the girls to play on (and the first ice skating rink was invented).
Sani paid a visit to Emmit. As he approached two of the children, Cyth and Demarah, were playing in the snow. Mia, the youngest, was hiding. Henrietta showed him to a bedridden Emmit. Sani offered him an opportunity to start anew in the Lluaran forest. Emmit thanked him and said that he would consider it.
He returned to his home to find Deltin had cooked dinner. Deltin had spent all of the money Sani gave him and returned. He thought they were friends and that he could stay with Sani until he had things figured out. Sani let him stay the night but changed the locks the next day when he left to spend a few days in the forest with Teth Tolluith, trying to commune with the Heart Trees.
In the few days that Sani was gone Serafina visited Rondal and Aleetha to see how they were managing baby Stangil. She offered to babysit and they asked her to be Stangil’s godmother. She also visited Julian at his shop and ordered tables and chairs for her new restaurant. After which she told him that she and Belaric were getting married and hoped to have the wedding in the summer.
While catching up with Marine (who had somehow managed to arm herself again with several blades), Serafina came upon a sad and cold Deltin holding a bunch of vegetables. It turned out he was unaware of Sani’s trip outside the city and could not get back into the house. Serafina offered to let him stay at her house and made him cook dinner to interview for a job as chef. He asked if he could stab people who did not like his food, she replied with a “maybe,” that they would negotiate on a case by case basis.
Sani returned to a cold, locked, empty house. He slept soundly for a moment until he was aroused by the alarm of bells. Fire!
Serafina and Belaric also heard the alarms and rushed to the fire. Serafina ran into the house to find people. Sani and Belaric remained outside with others, ready to act. Sani noticed someone on the third floor was trying to open the shutters, which had been locked from the outside. He also saw a figure on the roof across the street and readied some vines, quietly, while all attention was on the fire. He, as well as everyone except Serafina, knew that this was Emmit’s house.
Serafina found no one on the first or second floors. She rushed into the third floor bedroom and saw Emmit, his throat slit, his wife unconscious on the floor, and two children trying to open the shutters. She asked if anyone else was in the house and the children told her their sister was probably hiding under the bed. After finding the youngest, she helped break the shutters open. The house was crumbling under them.
The five year old was tossed out first and safely caught below. The other girl was told to jump next. When she hesitated, Serafina pushed her out the window. The boy jumped.
An arrow narrowly missed Serafina. Sani sent his vines and entangled the shadowy figure on the roof across the street. Serafina noticed the assassin and combusted her until the screams stopped. Then, she tossed the mother out. The family was safe. The stairs had disappeared by this time so Serafina leaped out the window and Belaric caught her. Always the romantic.
Sani uncovered the would-be assassin. Feoral? The three took the body of the assassin to Asala’s house. Asala seemed to care very little for these middle of the night visits with bodies. While she agreed that this looked like Noella’s doing, there was no evidence and Noella was on house arrest. She could do nothing at this time but would investigate in the morning and send the Dark Dolgari to Belaric’s house.
Dissatisfied, Sani went to Harin to see if he could drum up some unscrupulous information. Belaric went home to keep the girls safe. Serafina went to find Marine. Sani learned that a group of assassins called The Flame Maidens led by Riestra had been hired. Serafina and Marine returned to the house where the Dark Dolgari were standing watch with Dougans. The family seemed safe. Sani returned with his news and they set off with Belaric, Deltin, and Naiora.
First, they asked ten of Braxys’s people to watch over Julian’s house and another ten to watch Rondal’s house. They then set off to the inn where they could find the Flame Maidens. Using Marine as a scout, Belaric took out the lookout and they trapped two of the Maidens inside.
“First one to give me useful information lives,” Serafina told them in Feoral. When one would not cooperate, Deltin stepped in. Fortunately, one of them valued her life and gave up information. Two groups left. One went to Rondal’s house and another group went to Asala’s.
When they arrived at Rondal’s house it became clear that this was an unnecessary stop. Pools and splatters of blood were all around the home and Rondal didn’t even have his axe. As soon as they had entered, he protected baby Stangil and Aleetha with his bare hands.
Asala’s house was a different story. They found Asala and her two children cornered by half a dozen of the Maidens. All but one were disposed of and Riestra jumped out a window and ran off. Sani chased her down into an alley and captured her.
Asala had been badly wounded, they treated her and told her kids to wait with her until more help came. Everyone knew at this point that Serafina was not going to stop until Noella was dead.
They searched Noella’s house and tracked her through a secret passage that led outside. The trail led all the way to Luke’s house. She had been ahead of them for hours. By the time they arrived at his house, he would not let them in. Sani left to get Rodren.
In a wholly unforeseen act, Seripathia convinced Luke to let Serafina and the others inside where they did find Noella. Everyone stood aside, waiting for Sani and Rodren, while Serafina spoke with Noella. Ever the agitator, Serafina goaded and waited until Noella was angry enough to attack. Sani and Rodren arrived just as Noella, feebly, but with all her strength, revealed a dagger and lunged at Serafina. Unsurprisingly, Serafina caught her hand. To everyone’s horror, Serafina burned her to death.
Luke stood in the way as she turned to leave. “My son would be about two years older than you if he were still alive. His name was Bael,” Serafina told him, emotionless. Luke broke down into tears and Serafina was arrested.
Sani and the Dy’Voth left to bring Cadimus to Asala. Belaric walked with Serafina, Rodren and Riestra to the cells. Belaric and Serafina said goodnight.