48- Stalking

Hadella went first to her rooms, when she emerged, she was carrying a dark bundle. I kept a distance, moving at a hopefully innocuous pace but keeping just a glimpse of Hadella in sight around this corner or that. I picked my hair out of my night braid in case she’d noticed me in the…

47- The Shadow of Death

When I finally returned to the Countess’s chambers, I was exhausted. We had done what we could, and now there was nothing but to wait till morning. The guards let me past, and the female guards in the sitting room nodded to me as I knocked on the Countess’s bedroom door and then let myself…

46- Herrings

My feelings were a storm. His confession meant that my capture would almost certainly lead to his. Even the shadow of suspicion could be enough to destroy a man in the Empire, especially if that shadow was thrown by me. I snapped at Bel, “Why risk this? Why approach me if you didn’t mean to…

45- The Scent

The atmosphere in the feasting hall reminded me of the time my grandfather brought us out to watch him feed the sharks. The giant fish had known he was coming, and were milling restlessly near the ledge, the feel in the water so entirely different from when we’d met the sharks before. I sat with…

44- Dreams

There was nowhere in the room to easily stash a man—perhaps by design—but we were professionals. Quill managed to shimmy under the bed and I rumpled the bedclothes so they spilled over the side and hid him. Karolya gave the rumpled bed only a glance before going to the wardrobe and pulling out the gown…

43 – Pieces

I was halfway to the palace library with its genealogies when Karolya found me. “There you are, Zephra!” she exclaimed, “I’m to take you to the Countess, she’s been asking for you” Swallowing my chagrin, I said, “Lead on,” and followed her down the hallway at pace brisk enough to make our long coats billow….

42 – The Lute and Bowl

I left the Countess asleep in her bed and two armed female guards from the Queen’s retinue camped on the floor. King Keleman had sent them, and I wondered that he hadn’t thought of that before. The air of shock that lingered in the chambers made me uncomfortably aware that my own acceptance of dangerous…

41 – Blood

“You don’t think they’re upset about me going overboard?” I whispered. Quill’s expression was grim, “As upsetting as that was, I think this is something else.” The sailors leapt to the docks the instant the barge was in range, pulling it in far too quickly. Everyone on board stumbled as the barge bumped the docks,…

40 – Soggy

Five nymphs surfaced, swimming for the boat and elves, and another surfaced alongside me. A female with blue-green swirls gracing her face, her hair dark and short, slicked back by water. “Alright now, friend,” she said, cheerfully, reaching out to grab the elf’s other arm. “We’ve got you.” Eloi, I was not used to this…

39 – Quick Thinking

Tirien’s bell tower loomed closer on the western banks of Juni and I found my gaze straying to it often. The Countess had noted my presence, and when she expressed thirst it was Galo who left to make sure a pitcher was brought. Disabusing them of the assumption that I’d sensed something wasn’t worth the…