Vengeance, sacrifice, and the art of war. In medieval Arabia, a slave must grasp her destiny. Alaina flees her master's rose perfume and court gardens for the tents of a Twilket prince. The wazir sends an army against Faisal's tents, and a traitor lurks in the Oasis of Oaths. For the wazir's reach is long; a slave who runs must be caught. While her sister sails for Britannia to free them from a death sentence, Alaina must find the strength to put down her quill and her healer's bag and take up the staff of war. She holds disastrous keys of choice in her forbidden love, her martial skill, and the wisdom of one greater than her heart. So begins a war for freedom, justice, love . . .But the greatest traitor may be her heart. InLance and QuillShannon Hale's The Goose Girl meets Mary Pearson's The Kiss of Deception Excerpt: There was no one else. Alaina gripped Etain's mane and saddle-and paused. If she stayed as Faisal ordered, Hafiz would fall. He would never challenge or betray her or her prince again. He could not warn her not to steal. She rested her forehead against Etain's warm flank with a wordless groan. Dark pits of choice opened. There was no one to show her the way. She hated blood. And her own thought worse yet, that she would leave Hafiz to die; for advantage, for fear, for a path that led in old, sure ways; to Kyrin, to safety. She was strong, and feared that strength. Whatever she chose, she could never go back. Help me! She stared down over the rock. Surely the sheyk or Tae would stop the Baghdad warriors. Below her, the archers Tae had posted in reserve moved toward the mountain's foot-shadowy shapes flitting from rock to tree to tamarisk. But there were not enough. The Twilket line would not hold much longer. If she did not try, and Hafiz fell ... her people would be surrounded. It had come to that. Down there screams would ring in her ears. She would spill blood. Or die in a puddle of her own before she reached the man in red. It was likely. Who was she-a scribe, not yet a prince's wife-to ride down the hillside and raise her staff to stop a tide of death? Alaina found her teeth chattering, her face wet. Shivering, she pulled off her hattah and cast it away. Whether Faisal, Hafiz, or the warriors wanted her or no, they were her people. If she was going, if this was the end, she would give them something to look at. She withdrew Tae's hair pins and tucked them in her sash, fumbling around the sharp points. If she had to use those it would be close work ... a shudder shook her. Her hair tumbled around her shoulders, and cold swirling snowflakes rushed to meet her on the air, tugging at the red-gold. She drew her staff from its thongs and mounted Etain. Wiping her running eyes and nose on her sleeve, she pointed Etain's head downward. The path she'd picked for a swift descent after the battle ran in a rough zigzag, often in the open. She'd not thought to ride it in heavy leaps and jolting, sliding turns. Alaina gripped Etain with hands and knees and shivered and could not stop. Kyrin would tell her to go on. Etain moved down, steady and strong. Another leap and a shuddering jolt. Her face was freezing. Why hadn't she learned to use a sword? Men fell just below her. Master, Father, give me strength ... Alaina smelled rosewater. She leaned back and Etain lunged for the last slope. Kyrin, I love you. Faisal, my heart ... A heavy landing clicked her teeth, snapping her head back. Two Twilkets parted in the howling melee that strove to hold the line. A Kathirib lancer leaped his mount between, a battle grin on his bearded face as he chose which to kill. . . .His collarbone snapped like a twig and his sword arm faltered. She left him. There was something, someone she must find. Crossover: Find the E"