Return 18

The lock on the outbuilding door was a simple one, meant more to prevent easy access than for genuinely high security. Tyrel crouched to examine it, while Madoc and Mirren and Lysandra kept watch, and finally just used his smaller katar to dig into the wood of the frame and force the heavy blunt tongue back enough that he could pull it open. In the trickle of moonlight, he could see Kieran in one cage, on his feet and watching the door, ears perked forward alertly… and Kaveri in another, huddled in a corner, though she raised her head in …

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Return 17

Narcissa had learned very young how to stand confidently still without looking stiff. At the moment, staying on her feet gave her a psychological edge on those around her. Juro positioned himself at her side, though back far enough that he wasn’t crowding her—no matter how Gernot and Wira read that, and Narcissa could think of a number of possibilities, he would almost certainly find himself in serious difficulties if he stayed here. Gernot had seated himself on an elaborately carved and painted rectangular stool, and Wira on another close to him, more or less mirroring Juro’s place in fact. …

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Return 16

It took a moment even for moonblood eyes to adjust to the light of a pair of oil lamps that were brought in and left on small shelves to either side of the door. Considering the size and musculature of the two men who opened her cage, Kaveri expected little to come of physical resistance, but she fought anyway while they dragged her out. One had a scarcely-visible halo of aquamarine, the other of green-gold. The way the coarse rope was looped tightly around her wrists suggested that no one cared whether it slipped even tighter and did serious damage. …

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Return 15

Tyrel, Madoc, and Mirren pressed close to the stone wall, hoping to stay concealed in the shadows. Lysandra clung to the wall above them, her tiny body wedged into a bit of decorative carving at the top, as she watched what was happening on the other side of the sturdy wooden doorway that blocked their access. Tyrel couldn’t actually hear Narcissa and Juro at the front. Shouting wasn’t like Narcissa at all. A single expressionless look from her could convey more about her confidence in her own power, and her opinion of whoever was so foolish as to challenge her, …

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Return 14

Onyeka cuddled one child against each side while she spun a story for them, a legend of long ago. Together, the hero and Ejiro’s Bride had slain a dangerous spirit-creature belonging to a water-god, one that had been preying on people attempting to cross the river or even draw water or do laundry or fish. Two years later, after she’d passed on her responsibilities to her successor, the Bride had chosen the hero as her husband. No one then had questioned her faithfulness to Ejiro or accused her of inappropriate behaviour. That morning, though, outside the temple, Onyeka had heard …

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