Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

By accepting the Elders' mission, seventeen year old Ileni will spend the rest of her life in the Black Mountains surrounded by assassins. Stepping into the Assassins' Caves, she knows that she may never come back out, her two predecessors didn't. After just a few steps inside the cave, Ileni finds a knife at her throat. Straining to throw up a magelight, she notices that her assassin attacker seems to be a little younger than her. He didn't realize that she was a Renegai sorceress since they had never sent a woman to be their tutor before. Ileni had been sent by the Elders because she was expendable. Her mission is to at least buy them some time to find out who killed her predecessors if she cannot. They don't hold out much hope in her abilities.

Impressed by the main cavern, Ileni is relieved that she will be shown to her rooms and will not have to meet with the powerful master of the assassins right then. He is known to all as the most dangerous man alive. Her escort informs her that of all her future students, he showed the greatest promise under the past two tutors. They throw barbs at one another along the way and finally introduce themselves to each other. The boy's name turns out to be Sorin. Once at her room, Ileni realizes that there isn't a lock but that all of her predecessors had reinforced the room with magical, protective wards. The wards hadn't been able to keep the two previous tutors alive. Ileni is also most overcome by the room, a vast improvement over hers at the Renegai training compound. Sorin is ready to take her to the training area but leaves when she asks to unpack her few things first. He will return for her after reporting her arrival to the master.  

The master has given Sorin a test, one that it seems he has passed so far. Knowing that Sorin has developed into a finely tuned assassin from the crazed, wild boy who first entered the cave, the master is still surprised at times by Sorin's actions. Wanting to discover new information about the young man, he makes Ileni Sorin's responsibility. He is to take her to the training room so that she is fully aware of what they are capable of. His final words to Sorin are to take this assignment seriously. They don't want what happened to the other tutors to happen again.

Ileni was chosen by the Elders for this assignment because like most Renegai common folk, her powers have begun to fade. The first tutor to die that year had been at the Caves for ten years, so nothing was suspect. When his replacement died two months later, Ileni didn't pay attention to the gossip since they were continuing to see why her own powers were fading. Now Ileni is going to try and discover what happened. On her first night at the Caves, she goes to where Sorin told her Cadrel died. He supposedly died by falling down the stairs. Making her way to the bottom, Ileni uses what little magic she has to cast a simple spell to see if he really died there. Seeing blood illuminate, an image of Cadrel's body with a knife in his back appears. Before she can do much else, she is discovered by a guard dog. The dog stands down when Sorin commands him to. Ileni and Sorin throw questions at one another. She is convinced that Sorin doesn't know what really happened. He asks what she will do when she finds the killers and is surprised she wouldn't kill even if she was the next target. Ileni is even more taken aback when Sorin agrees to help her.

What happened to the two tutors who died before Ileni's arrival? Why did the Elders send Ileni to the Caves? Who killed Cadrel? Why are Ileni's powers fading? What is the master's plan and how is she involved? Why is Sorin willing to help Ileni? What happens when sparks begin to fly between Ileni and Sorin?

Death Marked will conclude Ileni’s story on March 3, 2015.

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