In the great Free City of Yewnyr, the Blackheath Refuge is home to the victims of the most powerful magic in the Elder Kingdoms -- those wounded in body and mind by dark mana, ancient curses, and the hunger of the undead.
When an invisible killer is unleashed within the refuge, the brash investigator Elathien Solo must contend with indifferent authorities, a spurned lover, and a young patient's terrible secret as she searches for the truth.
And even as a dark conspiracy of murder and madness unfolds around her, Elathien is forced to cope with the still-raw scars of the time she herself spent as a patient within Blackheath's walls...
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Elathien was forced to take a step back as Nerani turned on her suddenly. A dark strength had worked its way through the girl, giving her the tone and disposition of a different person. The thought set Elathien on edge as she called up the cantrip of detection, the incantation barely a whisper.
"She knew all their names," Nerani hissed, pushing closer. "She knew what they did, what they needed, how they lied. She wouldn't have told, but their fear blinded them. Made them not believe her. So I felt how long it took her to fall. How her legs broke, her spine shattered when she struck the ground. I felt her bleed to death in the dark..."
There was no magic in her. No sign of the possession or enchantment that Elathien would have sworn she was seeing, no sign of Nerani's thoughts or actions controlled by some outside force. With a sharp cry of pain, the girl pushed past her, stumbling toward the laboratory door.
Which was open now, Elathien saw.
The white light from the corridor beyond pushed up against the pale glow of Elathien's spell-light, shimmering along a boundary like oil and water settling slowly against each other.
The door had been closed when Nerani stepped away from it. A thousand things could have explained it opening, from the most minor incantation to a loose latch and a breath of air from the corridor beyond. Elathien felt a chill twist through her all the same, rising from the base of her spine as Nerani turned to her.
"They killed Irandis," the girl said. "You wanted to know."
"What?" Elathien's voice caught as she spoke. "I wanted to know what?"
"You wanted to know why I came here. To Blackheath."
Nerani's steps were steady as she made her way down the corridor, bare feet silent on the stone floor...