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The drums and horns of war still sound through the Middle Kingdoms, though the invading Empire of Thessid-Gola has been dealt a setback. The powers at play - the High King of Therapoli, his nobles and officers, the lurking Isliklid King, his warrior-servants, and the Sultan, commander of the Empire''s armies - are all maneuvering for advantage, setting snares and traps for each other, with prisoners of war become hostages held in the balance. And through this den of vipers marches Artesia, self-proclaimed Queen of Dara Dess, with magic coursing through her veins, the whispers of ghosts in her ears, and an army at her back as she confronts the temptations, limits, and consequences of power.