Arron pushed the door shut against the winter wind and leaned against it with a sigh as he latched it.

What a miserable day. Just walking home from the Laughing Dog had robbed him of most of the warmth he’d gained from their excellent stew.

At least it was only the weather against him. The rest of the day had been satisfying enough; he could turn in to rest in the knowledge that the day had not been wasted.


The inferno raced forward, and Kashti faced it unblinking.

There was nothing there to dispel – not anymore. Maybe the first spark had been magical in nature, but it had struck grass and brush that hadn’t known rain for weeks. The soil was parched and cracking, the leaves withered, the branches easy fuel for the flame. And as it spread, it built, gaining in ferocity, in raw, destructive heat. And so it spread ever faster.

When it had finished, there would be nothing left but ash and cinders. Or so it would be, if this assault hadn’t been directed at him.