Cover Art by Deron Douglas.
The sequel to Aase's Daughter and the eleventh and final title in the Nublis Chronicles, The Wages of Deception tells of a light-hearted practical joke gone horribly wrong, and the consequences to two worlds that are a galaxy apart.
The Wages of Deception is a bittersweet sendup of Mark Twain's The Prince and The Pauper. In Saundby's futuristic universe where sorcerors and space ships coexist side by side, anything can happen, and it usually does. A few weeks before his scheduled marriage to a designated bride he's seen but once and scarcely knows, the Emperor Julian the Second of Nublis, otherwise known as Carey, and his illegitimate half-brother temporarily trade places. The imperial bride, Serena, is in love with someone else and no happier with her fate than her future husband. When she unwittingly falls in love with the Emperor's half-brother and he with her, that is only the first complication in a fast-paced story with more twists and turns than the proverbial corkscrew. Along with a cast of unforgettable characters, not all of whom are human, Seamus the Omega Genius Class robot of Wages of Greed fame not only makes his reappearance, he even manages to find a romance of his own in the unlikeliest of places. Will Carey get back in time for his wedding? As the weeks pass, his half-brother eyes the calendar anxiously. If he confesses he's an imposter, it will mean his certain death. If he doesn't and Carey fails to return....
Kicking back his chair, the Phasgan stood up and swept the banknotes into his pocket. Grabbing the startled Amber by the arm and careful not to turn his back on his enraged host, he edged toward the open doorway. She wriggled in his grasp. "What about my stuff?"
Yanking her through the tavern's outside doorway he threw her to the ground and fell on top of her just as a laser blast erupted from the room they’d just left. He did something with his hands--Amber couldn’t see exactly what--and the tavern was instantly engulfed in a sheet of blue flame. Ignoring the screams from within, he jumped to his feet. Pulling her with him, he raced for the heavily-fenced spaceport complex on the other side of the camp’s residential compound.
When they reached the guardhouse gate, Amber gulped and shrank back. But the gray-armored sentry merely touched his visored helmet and waved them on through.
Her companion’s eyes swept over the terminal’s crowded concourse. The weekly freighter had just arrived from Andromeda; and a group of chained prisoners, at least half of them young females, was being herded through the exit gate. Obviously still nauseated from the ship’s hyperdrive mode and not yet oriented to terra firma, they resembled a flock of bewildered sheep and the impatient spaceport guards had all they could do to keep the poor creatures shuffling ahead.
Opposite the exit the boarding gate stood deserted. The Phasgan zeroed in on it like a homing pigeon. "Come on, little nightbird. That oblivion spell is only going to hold for another minute or two. All hell’s about to break loose and we’d best be out of sight when it does."
"Oblivion spell," she panted. "What are you? A sorcerer?"
He just laughed and pulled her into the ship’s main bay, then down a deserted corridor toward the freighter’s private cabins. "How did you guess? Well, I’d best scratch this place for any future business. Not that it was good for much in the first place. The mine here’s just about played out and they’ll all be moving on soon, anyway."