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…

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,…