StoneKing by Donna Migliaccio
February 20, 2018
The Gemeta Stone Book 3
Fiery Seas Publishing, LLC
They call him StoneKing: the lord of four countries, the vanquisher of the Wichelord Daazna, the man who will restore his people to prosperity and peace.
But there is no peace for Kristan Gemeta. Already weighed down by the cares of his new realm, Kristan carries a secret burden – the knowledge that Daazna is not dead. He isolates himself in his ruined castle in Fandrall, where he struggles to control the destructive Tabi’a power that may be his only hope of defeating the Wichelord once and for all.
And there’s trouble elsewhere in his realm. His Reaches are squabbling in Dyer, Melissa and Nigel are experiencing heartache in Norwinn, and Heather’s command in Hogia is in jeopardy. Unaware of this turmoil, Kristan receives an unexpected gift – one that forces him, his knights, an inexperienced squire and a crafty young shape-shifter into a hazardous winter journey.
Kristan crouched to look beneath the bed just as something scrabbled out the other side. When he straightened up, the tabby cat was flinging itself at the chamber door, the girl-shaped haze flickering around it.
“Stop that,” Kristan snapped.
The cat froze facing the door, and Serle laughed. “Look at that! A cat that obeys!”
“She’s not a cat, and she certainly doesn’t obey. Nolle, take your true form.”
The cat did not move, although the haze around it shivered and pulsed.
“Take your true form this instant, or I’ll make you do it.” Kristan took a step forward. The cat spun, reared onto its hind legs and with a hiss, disappeared as Nolle’s form solidified. At the same moment, something round and wrapped in cloth fell from beneath her skirts. As it rolled toward Kristan, the cloth slipped away, revealing the blue glass of the scrying ball.
Kristan picked it up, never taking his eyes off Nolle.
“She’s… she’s…” Serle stammered.
“A girl, yes; and Wiche, and a thief into the bargain. Come here, Nolle.” Nolle came slowly to stand before him, flinching as if expecting to be struck. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t have you punished.
“I only wanted to see it close up,” Nolle whispered.
“Well, was it worth the risk? Worth punishment? Worth losing an easy job and plenty to eat and a warm bed?”
Nolle’s lower lip trembled. “I thought maybe I could See with it.”
It took Kristan a moment to understand what she meant. “And did you?”
She shook her head. Her cheeks had gone crimson.
Kristan looked at the scrying ball, overwhelmed with sudden anger. This is all I have of Simeon, he thought. All he left me. And this girl was going to steal it. I should punish her. She deserves to be punished. I should have her beaten –
His stomach heaved, and he knotted his hands around the ball. Stop. Controlcontrolcontrol.
“Get out,” he said, his voice little more than a growl.
She stood unmoving, as if unable to believe her ears.
“Go on,” he said. “Go back to the kitchen. Get out of my sight before –”
She darted from the room before he could finish. “Close the door, Serle,” he said, and wrapped the ball in its cloth again. He put it in the box, closed the lid, then sat on the bed and buried his face in his hands. In the long silence that followed, he could sense Serle’s eyes on him. “What?” he said gruffly. “What is it?”
“My lord, how did she –”
“She shifts, Serle. All Wiche have a particular skill, and that’s hers. No more questions, now.
Get in your bed and go to sleep.”
Donna Migliaccio is a professional stage actress with credits that include Broadway, National Tours and prominent regional theatres. She is based in the Washington, DC Metro area, where she co-founded Tony award-winning Signature Theatre and is in demand as an entertainer, teacher and public speaker. Her award-winning short story, “Yaa & The Coffins,” was featured in Thinkerbeat’s 2015 anthology The Art of Losing.