It’s #TeaserTuesday time for The Thirteenth Month!

by | May 9, 2023 | 0 comments

Can we talk about time travel?

The Thirteenth Month is coming in only two weeks!


Because time travel is one of those things that I always said I would NEVER do, so when I was in Kenya a few years ago, staring up at the stars, and I got the idea for this book, I’m not going to lie… I was less than thrilled.

As many of you know, I have recommended time travel books in the past, like April White’s Immortal Descendants series, and I enjoy time travel media (huge Doctor Who fan) but the idea of building my own mythology that could be reasonable and make sense and still combine it with magic and history and cultural depth was SO INTIMIDATING.

So yeah, it took me about four years to write it.

And now that it’s finally on the (near) horizon, it’s both terrifying and exciting. This book IS different, however, it’s different in a way that feels like a natural stretch for me, and it also holds to a lot of the things that I concentrate on in my fiction.

  • depth of character
  • bonds of family and friendship
  • the magic hiding within the mundane

So yes, it’s set in 2071 Addis Ababa.

Yes, it has past and present timelines.

Yes, there are words you won’t know. (I am including a glossary!)

But I think for those of you who have read my work and enjoyed my other series, this book is going to feel right at home. It has the magical world building of the Irin Chronicles, the political twists of the Elemental universe, and the heart and passion I try to put into all my work.

There WILL BE ROMANCE, but it’s a slow burn and it definitely takes a back seat in this first book.

You’re going to meet new friends, some you love and some you loath and some that are going to grow on you. You’re going to fall in love this world and this magic that bridges the gaps between technology and fantasy. I just have a feeling that you’re going to love all of it. So yes, excited and terrified.

For those of you who hate teasers LOOK AWAY NOW!

For the rest of you, enjoy this peek at the twisting world of the Seba Segel.




From The Thirteenth Month…

Moments later, Abdi left the room, catching Narine’s eye as he left so she would follow him.

Narine nodded at the two mages she’d been sitting with, both young men with evident hedge power, and followed her mentor.

“That went well,” she said. “Didn’t it?”

“It went as well as can be expected when you tell a people they’re about to be ruled by a foreign power.”

“House Mkisi was not unhappy.”

“You read the situation correctly. The political power in Mombasa has rested in Zanzibar for too long from their perspective, and they have made connections with the British. House Mkisi will rise in power when the Europeans take over.” He kept his voice low. “They have been very savvy in their political dealings.”

“So the order will maintain influence with the new government,” Narine said. “That is the priority, correct?”

“It’s the priority of the order,” Abdi said. “Correct.”

Narine noticed the careful answer. “We are of the order.”

Abdi glanced to the side as he walked down the open-air corridor that would take them to their guest quarters. “We are.”

“So the ebb and flow of human governments should be secondary to maintaining the influence of the Seba Segel.”

“That is true,” Abdi said. “But for what purpose?”

“To do the best we can for the most we can.”

Abdi offered her a smile, and she felt the internal glow of his approval. “Remember that as you grow in power, Narine Anahid Khoren, scion of House Kayl. The power the old houses accumulate is to be used for the good of the world, not hoarded like a prince hoards wealth.”

“Yes, Abdi.”

Her own house had once advised princes and queens, but war and genocide had driven House Kayl from Armenia and taught them a kind of humility. They had found refuge for generations within the Seba Segel of Ethiopia, but they were considered minor—if important—political players, more useful for their ability to produce travelers than anything else.

Narine had taken vows with the order when she was only fourteen and been working ever since, sometimes as a messenger, often as a spy. She had never been given her own assignments, though Abdi had suggested her for missions more than once.

“Do you think after this jump—?”

“I have no idea.” Abdi’s smile was as gentle as the hand on her shoulder. “We shall see, Narine. You have done well, and your understanding of negotiation grows every day.”

* * *

Addis Ababa

Narine rose from the travelers’ pool, feeling the pull of magic that wanted to keep her submerged. She eased away from time’s power as Abdi surfaced in the water beside her. Both were wearing the pale linen tunic and loose pants standard for travelers.

The room was dim, and the dome over their heads was midnight blue and sparkling with artificial stars set to specific coordinates. A faint smell of frankincense wafted through the humid air.

“Welcome back.” Elder Kebret was standing along one wall, waiting for them to return. “Brother Abdi, Narine.”

She nodded and looked for someone—anyone—with a wrap or a warm towel or gebi.

“Elder Kebret,” Abdi said. “I didn’t expect to see you so soon.”

Narine wished she’d been able to keep the luxurious red-trimmed caftan she’d worn in Mombasa, but keeping mementos from jumps wasn’t encouraged. She’d come back with nothing but the clothes on her back, and seeing Elder Kebret standing there, she was grateful.

“You were both right on time.” Calla was the archivist in charge of setting their jump that morning. She walked from behind the sleek black console that calculated and set the constellar coordinates in the traveling chamber. “How did everything go?”

Narine climbed out of the pool and let Abdi answer. Her mother was always quick to jump in with an answer to everyone, but Narine had taught herself to wait and let her mentor speak first.

“It went well.” Abdi’s voice was matter-of-fact. “Is Muna around?”

Calla laughed. “Just outside the door, waiting for you. She said you were going to want to talk to her when you got back.”

Abdi glanced at Kebret. “I’ll have time to talk in a few minutes, but let me check in with Muna on something.”

Kebret patted Abdi on the shoulder. “Of course.” He turned his attention to Narine. “And Narine. Did you learn anything new?”

She chose her words carefully. “I always learn something new with Brother Abdi.”

Kebret was a hedge mage who took the security of the order seriously and, according to her mother, had his sights set on the chief elder’s seat on the council. He was judgmental, abrasive, and he hated Anahid Khoren.

Narine did her best to avoid him, but when she couldn’t, she always made sure to defer to her teacher in some way. Abdi was a mage from the Southern Mage Clans and was seen as a neutral and wise arbiter among the often-squabbling political houses of the capital. Narine’s mother had personally asked Abdi to mentor Narine.

“Well done.” Kebret patted her shoulder awkwardly. “Keep that learning spirit and you’ll surpass your mother soon.”

Narine glowed with pride. There was no greater compliment, and she could admit it. She did everything she could to distinguish herself as an individual, which was not an easy task with a mother like Anahid.

Elder Kebret walked out of the traveling chamber, following Abdi’s path, leaving Narine damp and shivering in the near-empty chamber.

“Aida!” Calla called for her own apprentice. “Get Narine a towel, will you?”

“Already grabbed one.”

The young archivist walked over with a towel to wrap around Narine, the assistant in Aida’s left ear buzzing as the microscreen came down and images flashed. “Sorry—ignore that. My mother keeps sending pictures from their holiday in Iceland to the family chat, and every time my screen pops, more transmit through.” She slapped at her ear. “Sleep.” The assistant seemed to wilt as it folded itself away. “The drying tube is available if you want it.”

“Stellar.” Narine took the towel anyway. She was starting to shiver with cold and exhaustion.

They’d returned only minutes after they’d left, but Narine was still exhausted. While she could spend days in the past, the traveling window was set in the present and only minutes would pass before her return, leaving her body and internal clock out of sync with the rest of the world.

She clutched the towel around her and walked out the side door of the traveling chamber where a plush ready room was waiting.

Every mage had different rituals before and after a jump, and Narine was no different. She liked to take her time meditating, she wanted incense in the chamber, and she didn’t take anything modern near the pool.

Partly because the travelers’ pool was heated and the humidity in the chamber tended to be bad for electronics. She kept all her electronics in her locker and didn’t touch them until she was dried out and dressed.

Right now though, she wanted music.

“Computer, play Addis morning mix.”

“Streaming Addis morning mix, local speakers only.”

A thumping beat hit the speakers in the locker room, and Narine felt the music brushing away the last cobwebs that clouded her mind after a jump.

She glanced over her shoulder and saw Aida was still with her. “So how is your morning going?”

“Good.” Aida perched on a stool near the drying tubes. “Have you seen your mother today?”

Narine punched in a code that opened a pale yellow locker where her personal items were kept. “What did she do now?”

Aida’s eyes went wide. “Nothing. That I know of. I was just… making conversation?”

“With my mother, you never know.”

There were strict rules about how long travelers could stay in the past, how far they could go, when they could travel, and Narine’s mother, Anahid Khoren Madlene had pushed the boundaries of most, if not all of them.

Travel to the future was one of their most serious taboos and probably the only one Anahid hadn’t broken.


Narine left her locker open, hung up her towel, and jumped into the warm vortex of the drying tube that used a combination of heated air and directed jets to dry a person and their clothes in minutes. It was the same type of tube that the city pools used, but the order’s machine was twice as fast.

Entertainment screens were built into the walls, already streaming the videos that accompanied the music playing through the speakers. Narine glanced at them, then closed her eyes and focused on the music and the warmth of the wind.

“Did you hear something about my mom?” Narine could still hear Aida while she was in the dryer.

“No, but I was over in the archives this morning—you know how everyone gossips over there—and I mentioned that I was assisting you in a jump today, and they asked if it was your mom or Abdi you were going with. They seemed surprised it was with Abdi.”

“My mom has been pushing the elders to let me go on missions on my own.”

Aida shivered a little. “It’s hard to imagine being alone so far from— Not that you’re far… I mean, I guess you are?”

Narine smiled. “We were just in Mombasa a few minutes ago. About two hundred years ago.”

“Oh my God.” Aida’s voice went high. “Did you see the ocean?”

“It was beautiful.” Narine closed her eyes and pictured the vivid deep blue and a clear horizon. “Like you only see in the past now.”

Like most of the East African coast, Mombasa had adapted to the changing climate even after Iceland developed the carbon-capture technology that finally stabilized the warming planet, and Indian companies had made it accessible to the world. The oceans were still recovering. Beaches at certain latitudes were often too warm to enjoy.

“So is it true that third-tier mages can take people with them on time jumps?”

Narine popped her head out of the drying tube. “Where did you hear that?”

Aida shrugged. “Where else? Archives gossip.”

Narine glanced around the room, but there was no one there but the two of them. She put her finger over her lips and nodded.

“Really?” Aida whispered. “So you can—?”

“Shhh.” Narine shook her head and returned to the tube. “Don’t ask me things I can’t tell you. It’s not like archivists share all their weaving secrets with the rest of us, is it?”

All the different mage orders of the Seba Segel could be cagey about their magic. Diviners had an obvious job interpreting the stars and predicting future events, but hedge mages were notoriously closemouthed about their methods of protecting order facilities and people. Archivists were vague about the extent of their power and how they interpreted the Tibeb. And alchemists? They were the kings and queens of disguising magic in new tech.

Copyright 2022, Elizabeth Hunter
All rights reserved.

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