"I haven't been trying to build a weapon! I have been trying to prevent a war. Ellie, please don't make me do this."
A short story about a brilliant mage and an insecure empress; of love and ethics, partnership and conflict. After generations of relentless expansion, Empress Eleanor is ready to put her family's habit of conquest behind her, content to cease her army's forward march and solidify her position as the ruler of the territories already in her possession. But these countries her fathers' conquered are eager to leave the Empire and willing to resort to revolution. Amalthea grew up poor, her homeland destitute after being invaded and occupied. But her new status as a citizen of the sparkling empire gives her access to the Academy of Mages and all of their teachings. However, once there, she defies their rules and pursues her own experiments with dangerous and forbidden magics. Despite this, she catches the Empress's eye and is soon the first official Imperial Scientist and the unofficial consort. Together, the two have the power to sow cohesion, spur innovation, and improve the lives of everyone in the Empire; or they could obliterate any resistance at a perilous cost.