Conspiracy. Magic. Courage.

All Bellica Yarrow wants from life is to stay the course. Her military career fulfills her childhood dreams and affords her a freedom royalty never did. Yarrow doesn't need anything more than the steadfast friendship of her Major, Caelum, and her Chief Medical Officer Jules.

The Goddesses have other plans, however. They set in motion events that threaten the bellica with madness and despair. Constancy has been Yarrow's standby, but betrayals on every side push her further into chaos. She watches the puppet-Empress, her aunt, destroy the country, and dreads the day Zardria, her power-hungry twin sister, takes the Sceptre and rules openly.

Should Bellica Yarrow keep her military oath, or topple her sister's cruel regime? Can she?

The choice is nearly impossible. The longer she equivocates, the more she risks the lives of everyone she holds dear. Meanwhile, Zardria has her own idea of how events should unfold – and what Yarrow doesn't know could cost the bellica her life.

**

Glossary and Calendrical Notes

fustanella (pl. fustanellae): pleated skirt worn by Atherian men. Standard attire for men in formal and casual settings unless they are in the military, sailors, or otherwise in an occupation where practicality demands pants.

peplos (pl. peploi): an Atherian woman's outfit similar to a dress. Made of a large rectangle of fabric, it knots at the shoulders or down the back, depending on the style. There are sleeveless and long-sleeved types, the ones with sleeves being buttoned down them. There is sometimes a long slit down the side, sometimes not. Generally worn with a bodice as a belt, which is usually rather thin and underbust, with the peplos folding out over it. Considered a formal outfit; if worn outside of court settings the woman wearing it may be considered a bit masculine.

klina (pl. klinae): a reclining couch used for sitting, lounging, talking, reading, and eating. Or making love, if one is adventurous.

efemira: a journal.

karykos (pl. karykai): the healer's symbol. Two snakes wrap themselves around a staff that has wings at the top.

husband: female spouse. Women may marry men or other women, and are not restricted to one spouse. (This term is particular to Athering and is not used in places such as Mt. Voco.)

wife: male spouse. Men may marry women or other men, and are not restricted to one spouse. (This term is particular to Athering and is not used in places such as Mt. Voco.)

Empreena: heir apparent to the title of Empress. Zardria felt "princess" was a lesser title when her aunt took the title of Empress, and so she came up with Empreena.

Terrabane: a dangerous, virulent poison. No cure. Use of it merits instant execution.

Bellica: highest rank in Athering's military; similar to a general. Only women are able to attain this rank.

majora: feminine form of major. One rank below bellica; major is the highest rank men can achieve.

priva: lowest rank in the military; similar to a private.

Magek: magic, spelled differently. It's spelled with an e-k because of the Magi-Atherian history: Magea Rosa became synonymous with the concept of magic at some point and the spelling changed to accommodate that.

ara: altar.

Reiaume: means the entire land as ruled by the female sovereign ruler. Female equivalent of 'kingdom'.

Date and time system: Athering has a 26-hour day and each hour is 90 minutes long. They run on military time so there is no post- or ante-meridian. Because each hour is 90 minutes long the mid-point of the hour is at 45 minutes.

The year is 390 days long — 10 months of 39 days each. Each month is divided up into three tredicems, or units of 13 days — however the unit of a sevenday is also used for naming the days of the week. The days of the week are Jourd'Aradia, Jourd'Juno, Jourd'Althea, Jourd'Selene, Jourd'Bellona, Jourd'Muerta, and Jourd'Umbra.

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