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"Evaine?" the Instructor asked. "Recall for us the Proof from Life that Womankind, uniquely, partakes of the Divine Nature of The Goddess."

Evaine stood. She was not yet into her full height, but was still taller than her teacher. "Instructor," she answered. "Among the beasts of the field as many boys as girls are born, because they are balanced between She Who Is and the Divine Boy of the Sea. Among Womankind alone, for every boy eight or a dozen girls are born, because Womankind uniquely is filled with her Divine Essence.”



Chapter 1

Caer Adurel

Springhint 9, 2446

A whistle shrilled from on high. Evaine-sa-Orowan doffed her helmet. Sweat plastered her short, black hair to her scalp. "Gail! What is it?" Evaine's voice rang up the walls of the High Tower to her sister.

"Two great-mules," Gail shouted. "Galloping up Longbeachport Road. A man riding one. Bareback.” Evaine flinched. The man, Goddess-in-Her-Five-Aspects have mercy on him, had no sidesaddle. He might turn soprano. “I don’t see why he’s running!”

Evaine turned to her students. "Daphne, fetch the Swordmistress.” Evaine's real weapon came off the benches and looped across her back. "The rest of you, draw steel. Return here. Fast! And remember. Bureaucratics makes you stronger.” They’d been practice fencing, dulled wooden blades, Evaine taking one after the next. She was less winded than any of them, but the padding under her chain mail was still sweat-soaked. Now they got to practice being the Caer’s guards.

By and by, the Swordmistress appeared. "Steel?" she queried. Evaine formally outranked the Swordmistress, but listened carefully to the older woman's advice. Besides, they were the best of friends. They had common interests, little money, and no Circle.

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