55- Blades

I reacted on instinct, stepping into the hammer blow, my arms coming up to deflect and then twist to gain control of the knife-arm.

53- Promises Promises

The steward directed the train a short distance down a hallway to a series of chambers where the party could change for the next thing—which was a presentation to the crowd outside and the signing of the treaty. There was no time to go all the way back to the Palace of Domes. Everyone split…

53- The Wedding Begins

The wedding sun rose golden and accompanied by appropriately decorous white clouds. We’d barely slept the night before, staying up late while I practiced mimicking the Countess’s voice and mannerism and she told me everything she could think of about what to expect from this day. I squeezed her hand before slipping out to my…

52- Unmasked

When I was admitted to the Countess’s chambers, she shifted her burning glare from Druskin to me. “You cannot be serious.” “I’m perfectly serious.” I walked up, crossing my arms, and looking from a harried Druskin to a furious Countess. “I will not hide and let others take the risks meant for me!” She was…

51- The Long Game

Ilya Terr, Lord of Linden, took the news quietly. His second, Mihalak, stood behind him with his arms crossed while I explained the Countess’s pending absence from dinner, and that she had a bit of a shock this afternoon when she found out her sister had hired an assassin to kill her. An assassin we…

50- It Changes Nothing

“If she won’t call off the assassin, we still have the difficulty of either finding or thwarting the Scythe,” I said to Quill. We were in my rooms. After the confrontation with Hadella, Quill had left to bring the others up on the latest, and I had left to finally bathe off the street grime….

49- Heart Wounds

The walk back to the palace felt longer and much more unpleasant barefoot than the chase out had been. I didn’t have urgency to drive me across cobble and refuse, and therefore had to drive myself. When I recognized the street where the Lute and the Bowl was located, I was genuinely tempted to divert…

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…