THE CHRISTENING is coming 9.13.19!
The pre-Order link drops this Friday, August 16th!
We’re exactly one month away from the release of THE CHRISTENING, the final installment of The Lightning Conjurer Series! To help celebrate, here’s an exclusive sneak peek! Please Like, Comment, and Share to help spread awareness! 
See the original FB post HERE
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Prologue

Dancing flames emanated from dozens of wax candles, casting long, ominous shadows on the ancient stone walls of the Inner Sanctum. Nine hooded figures regarded the formidable man who stood at the head of the long table, their expressions solemn. It had been exactly two months since the Day of Enlightening, the day the Pentamancer had been named in front of hundreds of witnesses, just as Barish had intended. The Aggregator had played her unwitting part even better than anticipated; she not only brought the child to him, full abilities intact, but as the pitiable woman unraveled under the mounting pressure, Savannah became the ideal scapegoat.
Still, the Magistrate’s meticulous plans were not without complication, as that bespectacled worm, Strauss, nearly brought the entire scheme to an abrupt end with his impudence. If not for the auspiciously resurrected breaths of the girl’s mother, the Prophet would have been lost to them forever. But two months had come and gone since that fateful day, and the Pentamancer – glory to her dawning epoch – was still cooperating.
Albeit with unanticipated challenges, Barish surmised, stroking his silver beard thoughtfully. The girl never ceased to surprise even him with her own unique – and at times provocative – brand of unorthodoxy. The Magistrate turned once more to face the others, deliberately meeting every weary eye in the chamber as he did so. Now was not the time for delicacies or lenience; he could feel the misgivings, the unrest, that permeated within those sacred walls. It was time to quell it.
“She will not negotiate on this matter, Kaal, as I’ve already stated. We will have to yield to her wishes, or risk further discordance.” His deep voice resonated within the thick, stone walls of the circular room, and while his tone carried the same compelling authority that it always had, a strange timbre echoed alongside his words, tingeing them with the slightest pitch of uncertainty, of fear… Or was it disdain?
One of the Prelates had risen from his seat, his crimson and violet robes draping across the marble floor. His gray, unkempt eyebrows furrowed, carving deep wrinkles into his papery skin. As he stood, he clasped his forearms in front of him, a feigned show of deference that shrewdly provided a glimpse of the faded red and purple sigil embedded in his dark skin; Kaal was a powerful Elementalist, even among the Inner Circle.
“Request to speak freely, Magistrate,” his thick accent reinforced his South Asian features, and today, there was a particular roughness touching his words, an implication. A challenge.
The Magistrate’s eyes narrowed imperceptibly, but he nodded, allowing Prelate Kaal the courtesy of the Inner Sanctum’s floor.
“I must again raise concerns that have been privately echoed by my fellow Prelates outside the walls of this Sanctum…” As Kaal spoke, several members of the Inner Circle shifted uncomfortably in their ornately carved, gilded chairs. “Like everyone in this chamber, I hold the Pentamancer – glory be upon her – in the highest esteem. Nevertheless, I must declare that I – and several others,” he was quick to add, searching the room for a sympathetic nod. He found none. He cleared his throat, his resolve momentarily slipping.
“Magistrate, I – that is, we– worry about the precedent that we are setting, sanctioning the girl’s every whim, allowing her to forego the rites and formalities that have embodied this organization for millennia. I also feel a growing apprehension about the ramifications of some of these…unique policy changes we are allowing her to carry out without due process…” His voice trailed off as his eyes darted around the table for an ally willing to openly voice their agreement – Keres or Jahi, perhaps…? – instead he found only downcast eyes and firmly clasped hands as the others took refuge in their own duplicitous silence.
Cowards, he scowled as he smoothed invisible wrinkles from his scarlet sleeves. How could he have ever hoped for such a brazen display of candidness within these walls, where every calculated utterance was steeped in tacit motives? He would need to seek out alliances, obtain formal oaths, then try again… Perhaps then, he would have enough votes, perhaps then he could—
“As I have already stated, Kaal,” the Magistrate said, pressing his fingertips together, “we will continue to allow the Prophet these concessions in order to secure her trust. If it requires adding months, or even years, to our greater long-term objectives, it is of minor consequence. So long as we have her allegiance – as well as the support and enthusiasm she continues to garner – that is all that matters in the interim. We will usher in the glorious new epoch and our visions will be realized, with the Prophet as our unifying instrument.”
“But to what end?” Kaal demanded, leaning forward on the table. The rest of the Inner Circle carefully avoided his steely gaze. “She has made no move to formalize her affiliation with us, yet we allow her to gallivant about the globe as a false representative, unhindered!”
At that, several eyes darted to the Magistrate, whose face appeared serene despite the Prelate’s heretical outburst. Taking Barish’s silence for indulgence, Kaal soldiered on. “How many laws will we allow to be broken without repercussion? How many Deficients will we allow to witness our existence without taking the proper steps to rectify? How long are we to blindly follow this girl and her idealistic nonsense before we—”
“Enough!” the woman seated across from Kaal hissed, just as the Magistrate’s eyes flashed with anger. “You repeatedly defile the holy name of our Pentamancer with your irreverent tongue and I for one will no longer stand for it!” Kaal gaped at her in surprise.
Keres stood to address Barish, her emerald, blue, and gold robes swirling at her heels. “Magistrate, I move to depose Prelate Kaal on the grounds of overt blasphemy and insubordination!” Barish’s eyebrow twitched slightly, but he said nothing.
A quiet gasp escaped through Kaal’s lips. “How dare you? Such a proposal hasn’t been made in—”
“I second the motion,” Jali interjected.
“Motion granted,” the Magistrate murmured. Keres suppressed a smug smile as she settled back into her chair. Kaal remained standing, the color slowly fading from his sunken cheeks.
“Y-You can’t, it simply isn’t—”
“All in favor of deposing, and thereby replacing, Prelate Kaal?” the Magistrate asked softly.
After a brief pause, and several furtive glances, six hands rose into the air. Kaal stared at Keres and Jahi in open horror, but both refused to meet his gaze.
“The motion passes,” Barish murmured.
“No, wait – please!” Kaal cried out, but it was too late. The Magistrate’s hand had barely lifted before Kaal crumpled to the ground, his heart frozen mid-beat.
“We must uphold the sacred name of the Pentamancer at all costs,” Barish whispered, his violet eyes flashing. Eight hooded heads nodded in agreement as their eyes darted past their fallen Prelate, his velvet robes splayed across the floor like a crimson pool of blood.
“Keres,” Barish spoke again, addressing his most faithful servant.
“Yes, Magistrate?” Her silver eyes shone with anticipation.
“You may summon Kaal’s sub-Prelates – King, Park, and Lawson – for their final appraisal. I expect his seat to be filled by the week’s end.”
Keres dipped her head obediently, hoping her wide hood would conceal the upturned corners of her mouth. “Of course, Magistrate.”
 
© Rachel Rener 2019 – All rights reserved. Artwork by Selene Regener.