Coming June 18, 2024 from DAW Books!
Spring in Marrowdell promises joy and new beginnings. For the villagers, it’s a time full of hope—as well as mud.
In the magical Verge, however, this spring is a time of special significance. The toad queen’s long wait is almost over.
At the spring equinox, when the light of the Verge and Marrowdell’s sun are in Balance, the border between will become perilously thin. Turn-born feel the urge to cross at that moment. Jenn Nalynn, newly turn-born herself, tingles with anticipation she can’t explain, unless it’s her first spring in the arms of her beloved Bannan Larmensu. Arms she doesn’t plan to leave.
But the toad queen will insist. Her plan is to lure Jenn into the Verge, to a place Jenn can’t escape on her own.
First, she’ll need the right bait.
Excerpt from A Change of Place
~ Prologue ~
Thirteen Years Ago, Within the World of Vineyards and Goats
The three stood at the causeway’s edge, dark velvet cloaks flapping around their legs, leaning recklessly on the crumbling rail to stare out over the abyss.
They appeared oblivious to the raging river at its base and the immense valley it cut like a knife. Nor did they ever glance at the mighty bridges in the distance spanning the halves of Vorkoun, Rhoth’s easternmost city, or the ancient stone towers that climbed the valley walls and each other. Their bewilderingly rapt attention was for the far side of the valley, where the slope gentled alongside the river, becoming striped with vineyards nestled between fields of green and gold, pasture and barley. A cluster of sturdy buildings stood within a copse of trees, protected from the chill north wind by the mountain rising at its back.
A small troop of horses and soldiers waited by the carriage that had brought the three from Ansnor. The wind was heavy with damp, a storm brewing, but that wasn’t what had the soldiers casting worried looks over their shoulders. In earlier, peaceful times, Ansnans had dwelt in this half of Vorkoun, calling it Mondir, full partners and friends of the Rhothans. Together, they’d carved this causeway to better connect their domains and foster trade, safely above the spring floods.
Now the flat span of pavement and rail was home to feral goats and the wild dogs that hunted them, part of a disputed border stained with the blood of soldiers like these, who knew full well they trespassed.
The three exchanged words, then the leftmost gave a curt nod. Raising a filmy scarf, she let the wind pluck it from her grasp. The soldiers watched it fly up, dance lightly in the air, then fall at their feet.
A roar shook the causeway. The horses reared and fought to run. Holding their reins, the soldiers cursed and shouted their own fear. The three stood unflinching, faced outward into a rising cloud of acrid dust.
As the dust settled, the soldiers could see for themselves what had happened.
The pastures and fields, vineyards and buildings were gone, buried beneath a sweeping talus of rubble. Above, the mountain bore a new and terrible scar, marking where part of it had given way.
And a young soldier named Edis Donovar reeled with the rock’s anguish, it being her family’s gift to hear stone. To hide her reaction, she bent to pick up the scarf. It bore a crest with a fox and sunflower.
Rhothan. The enemy.
She dropped it hurriedly. Took a quick step to distance herself even as a sigh of wind caught the scarf and sent it soaring again.
It drifted across the river valley to land in the ruins.
Where no one saw the scarf be pulled, ever-so-slowly, beneath the ground.