Breaking volume 6 of the Twelve Systems Chronicle into two full-length novels for release in early 2019 has proved even more challenging than imagined. Nonetheless, both The Nightingale: The Apprentice, Volume 6, and Bond Proof: The Apprentice Volume 7 are on track. There is still much to be done, but in the meantime, a brief excerpt from The Nightingale.
The rumble of the propulsion systems softens as the vessel reaches the maximum velocity allowed for intrasystem transit. As the transport passes the second moon, Metricelli Prime is naught but a small green ball.
Milord’s fingers close on Lilian’s. “When did you last review the odds managers’ positions on you?”
“Not since milord forbade it. Shortly after the festival brawl.” Almost two years gone, but the pattern has not faded. Not only did most of the Twelve Systems wish her dead, the odds managers were certain her death was imminent.
At eighty to one, the odds reflected the massive difficulty of Lilian’s situation. The burden and humiliation of an apprentice bond was expected to lead to despair and a willingness to accept the Final Draught. The notion that a warrior could never submit to the control of the bond for three years was also a factor. Finally, Remus Gariten’s tainted offspring were loathed. As an apprentice, Lilian was property. There was a high probability that some disgusted warrior would simply kill her and pay the fine. Several attempts were made.
Milord’s thumb strokes her knuckles. “After the battle of Serengeti, the odds moved to three to one in your favor and there was no interest.”
Adelaide’s thorn. The odds managers are hedging their bets. The pattern shimmers and solidifies. “It is too late. I have proven difficult to destroy. They cannot recoup the pools at this late date.”
Milord’s hand lifts to her chin, holding her to capture her gaze. “You understand, do you not? Why for the next four months you are forbidden to be outside the cartel, Katleen’s house, the penthouse, or our travel quarters without a guard. I care not the extremity.”
Lackwit. How could she have missed this pattern? “Milord anticipates assassination.”
Milord’s fingers turn to cup her face. The dark eyes hold naught but a brilliant will. “I anticipate attempts, not success. Seigneur Trevelyan has set our gray and black commerce associates to attend to this.”
Gray and black commerce? Lilian knows milord has dealings with the raiders to protect his empire, but what has it to do with her?
“Assassins perform for reward. A reward is useless when one is dead. It must be an extraordinary reward to run the risk of a death that would horrify a Despoiler. It is not the Governing Council an assassin needs fear in this.”