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Novae Caelum

Court of Magickers: The Stars and Green Magics Book 4 (Ebook)

Court of Magickers: The Stars and Green Magics Book 4 (Ebook)

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Shapeshifting powers, forbidden love, and a kingdom hanging in the balance.

🏳️‍🌈 Sapphic arranged marriage

🏳️‍⚧️ Trans and nonbinary main characters

👑 Royal court intrigue

👥 Shapeshifters

🪄 Space magic

Synopsis

THE POWER TO DESTROY A KINGDOM. THE POWER TO HEAL A HEART.

Ari’s new powers have awakened, threatening to tear apart a kingdom already on the edge. Sent back to Valon to face her father’s—and the people’s—judgement, Ari must decide how far she’ll go to reclaim her former life, if that’s even possible anymore.

In the heart of the turmoil, Iata, the reigning ruler, is losing control of his increasingly unstable magics. As his secrets threaten to spill out, his brother’s wife, Haneri, draws ever closer—and he’s not sure he wants her to stop.

At the border to Kidaa Space, Rhys grapples with the ominous and impossible patterns in the Kidaa attacks, and comes face to face with the Kidaa themselves in a harrowing meeting that could change the future of the kingdom.

And Dressa, who secretly married an enemy prince, must now face the consequences of that marriage.

Because Lesander was activated by her family.

And Lesander has a choice: obey her family, or betray her wife.

With enemies without and enemies within, can the Truthspoken save their kingdom, or is this kingdom doomed to fall?

Court of Magickers collects episodes 94-150 of The Stars and Green Magics, previously published in serial form.

Note: This book has main characters who use gender-neutral pronouns (they/them/their, fae/faer/faerself).

💡Please check content notes.

Published by Robot Dinosaur Press.

Read Chapter One

"I formally request that more magickers be trained in the support and strengthening of our warships. If we had more magickers on hand, our fleets would be drastically more maneuverable."

--Rear Admiral I.L. Ntrant in a request to Valon Navy Headquarters

Rhys tapped their heel nervously on the deck of the cargo shuttle, rubbing the fingers of one hand together in the same rhythm. Out the starboard porthole, they watched the tiny dot of the V.N.S. Occam’s Storm drift closer. Well, or they were drifting closer to the Storm

Out here, just before the hazy border with Kidaa space, no one made any fast moves. One of the few things the Valoran Navy definitely knew about the Kidaa was that Kidaa ships always came when there were quick maneuvers near their space, drawn like moths to the light. No one wanted much to deal with the Kidaa on most days.

“Will you stop that?”

Rhys turned to Misha, who had taken out her earbuds and was glaring at Rhys’s bobbing knee.

They pressed their feet flat to the deck. “You were doing it a few minutes ago.”

“I’m listening to music. You’re just…doing that.”

So in the week and change that had come after meeting Misha, Rhys wasn’t having to restrain themself from wanting to kiss her. They would be very happy, exceedingly happy, if Misha would be out of their sight for a solid ten minutes.

Ten minutes being exactly how long the shower had given hot water in that first lumbering freighter, which had gone off course and added a few days into its travel time because it had blown some engine part or other. Rhys swore the racket the engines had made would haunt their dreams for years.

Misha rolled her eyes. “Oh, grow up.”

“You grow up.”

It was a tired argument. 

They both settled back against their seats, not looking at each other.

Rhys glanced up at the carefully neutral body language of the pilot in front of them, who was doing his best to ignore them both. The shuttle was all one compartment.

Oh, Adeius. They’d been too lost in their own thoughts. They’d absolutely been too undisciplined in this last week or so—they should have been all Lt. Rhys Petrava, junior ops lieutenant, in space. They were technically on duty any time they were in space, but it hadn’t felt real again yet, not after leaving the palace and its glittering, familiar world. They’d been struggling more than usual to separate themself from the worries of what was happening at the capital, and Misha’s informality had been a welcome diversion. Misha had—mostly—been a welcome diversion. 

This pilot, borrowed from the second freighter they’d taken to reach the border, was a civilian, but that didn’t mean the dignity of the Navy wasn’t at stake. And Rhys was acting like a child, they knew it.

Rhys was minutes away from boarding their ship, resuming their life in the Navy. They had to pull themself together.

It was just… Misha was driving them absolutely insane. If she wasn’t humming some random song—and yes, oh Adeius, she’d gotten “Off-hours Haunt” stuck in Rhys’s head again—she was making random comments on random things that didn’t have to do with anything else, or trying to think up random games to pass the time, and well, those were sometimes okay, but she was just—ugh.

And the way she kept flipping her green bangs out of her eyes. The way her just-barely-lipglossed pink lips puckered when she was thinking hard about anything. The dimples, Adeius, the dimples.

They closed their eyes and leaned back, pretending to settle in to rest, fooling absolutely no one.

Misha nudged their arm. They heard crinkly things. 

“Want one?”

A peace offering. One of the last of the chocolates she’d bought when the first freighter had docked to pick up the engine parts, and they’d decided to try to continue on without it. They wouldn’t have been able to take it all the way to the border anyway.

Rhys took the chocolate without comment and popped it into their mouth.

The phosphorescent green dye was dimming from Misha’s hair, and so was Rhys’s white phosphorescent dye, though theirs was still a little brighter. Her dimming phosphorescence, though, made Misha’s green aura more apparent.

And the most infuriating thing about Misha? They’d been with her for most of two weeks, and they still knew little more about her than that she liked phosphorescent hair, was a magicker and apparently kept a folded up portrait of First Magicker Mariyit Broden in her pocket at all times, and had a bad taste in partners.

They’d hit an impasse, neither of them wanting to share more about their private selves. Misha was obviously a magicker, and she knew Rhys knew the semi-forbidden royal art of evaku, able to read nuances in and subtly manipulate the people around them. Able to lie really well, while Misha was able to read the truth. 

And so they danced around anything actually interesting and ended up learning a lot about their favorite songs and what shows they each liked, but it had been more frustrating than anything else.

Rhys’s favorites hadn’t truly been their favorites, at least not all of their favorites, and as a magicker, Misha knew that. They had their standard set of favorite music and shows all lined up for Navy life, but they hadn’t wanted to share the things they’d held dear during their life at the palace. The dramas that they’d binged when they were younger, watching every nuance and appreciating that the directors must have had a healthy knowledge of evaku to pack so much meaning into various eye twitches and sneezes. Yes, Misha knew they knew evaku, and she hadn’t pressed any further than that, but that life wasn’t a life that could overlap with their life on ships, or their life in uniform.

And they hadn’t told her who their siblings were. Or who their mother was. That they could talk to Truthspoken without having to bow. That the back wall of their apartment in the residence wing of Palace Rhialden adjoined the Seritarchus’s own.

Misha, for her part, hadn’t wanted to talk about her family, either, or her life as a magicker. She only wanted to talk about her exes, of which there were many.

Rhys’s obsession with researching the puzzle of the unknowable Kidaa had only given them two days’ worth of something to do before Misha had grown bored with it.

So they both had things they didn’t want to talk about, they weren’t overly compatible in their interests, and they both couldn’t start a relationship anyway, if they were going to serve on the same ship together. So…maybe there was no problem.

Some time later, the shuttle gave a shudder as the docking clamps mated with those on the Storm. The freighter’s shuttle was meant to carry heavy cargo and hadn’t been small enough to fit safely into the Storm’s docking bay, which was meant for two person scouts and small atmospheric craft.

When their first freighter had diverted, Rhys had been a little frantic to find someone who could get them to the border fast. Their leave was already up, and while military leave usually allowed for the vagaries of long travel, it wasn’t infinitely elastic. To get to Arianna’s engagement in time, Rhys’s captain on the Storm had pulled rank and gotten them a transport back to Valon at military speeds—and that was still mortifying and something Rhys didn’t want to have to face coming back. But Rhys hadn’t been able to manage the same for the trip back, which doubled the time in transit.

There had been another freighter at that station where they’d docked for parts, though, a freighter already going near the Kidaa border. Rhys had, at least, managed to convince that captain to take them all the way back to the Storm, with the help of a far too generous donation from Rhys’s private bank account, and a lot of begging. 

The freighter captain had looked hopeful that Misha might help shift the strength within the freighter’s structure and hull so that it could travel faster in Below Space than it was rated for, if not quite military speeds, but she hadn’t offered. Rhys wasn’t sure about the protocol with Green Magickers serving on Navy ships—she’d be the first on the Storm since they’d been stationed there—and hadn’t pressed her.

Still, the money had been enough to get them here. And Rhys was quite a bit poorer. At least the account had been only in their Petrava surname, and not their mother’s Dior.

Rhys touched the front of their uniform jacket. They couldn’t feel the tiny data chips tucked inside the front pocket, but they knew they were there. Iata, the Seritarchus’s bloodservant, had given them those chips—one, when activated, bore the seal of the Seritarchus.

Which was another reason they wanted to keep that life separate from Misha, and they hated that particular reason.

“There you go,” the pilot said as the docking lights on their displays turned green. “Thanks for flying with us.” 

There was absolutely no sincerity in that statement. But Rhys nodded and thanked him back because it was polite.

Rhys, as the ranking officer, went first through the airlock into Occam’s Storm. The air was cool and dry, slightly metallic, and much better smelling than the variations of stale sweat and grease that had permeated the two freighters. The bulkheads here were clean, gray and soft white, the light in a soft spectrum of daylight on the day shift.

Home, they told themself. This was home.

They straightened, hand to their heart as the ensign on airlock watch straightened. 

“Lt. Rhys Petrava requesting permission to board.”

Ensign Neri Wawuda was a compact woman with brown skin a few shades lighter than Rhys, her hair tied up in a tight knot, her mouth, as ever, barely repressing a smile. And she was a welcome sight, too, someone Rhys was coming to call a friend.

“Permission to board granted. You’d better go see the captain right away, she’s not happy at all that we had to divert to pick you up. Or that you’re a week late. Those are not her exact words.”

Yeah, Rhys bet.

They grimaced, formally nodded to Neri, and stepped aside as Misha entered.

“Ensign Misha Moratu requesting permission to board.”

“Granted. Best go see the captain, too, though I think she’ll be much happier to see you, Ser Magicker.”

Rhys blinked. Yes, they’d known Misha was coming to be the ship’s magicker, and that she was the new ensign their captain had requested before they’d left, but knowing that and seeing it in context were apparently different things.

Misha’s aura, which Rhys had begun to take for granted as just a part of Misha, flared bright green around her. Her bearing hadn’t changed, but her composure had. Not quite somber, but not as openly…Misha.

She’d be responsible for the structure and safety of the entire ship when the ship traveled through Below Space at military speeds, which it could do now that she was on board. During quick maneuvers. During battle, if they ever saw battle, and Rhys secretly hoped they never would.

Misha gave them a look, all smiles and teeth, and they sighed. Okay, still definitely Misha.

“I’m going that way anyway,” Rhys said, and started off. They called back over their shoulder, “Did the captain specify immediately? I’d like to drop my duffel off at my quarters.”

“Yes, sir, there was definitely an ‘immediately.’”

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