Book The Kiss of Deception

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I screamed but then felt the prick of a knife at my throat and heard a warning not to utter another sound. I could smell him, the stench of rotten teeth on hot breath, oily unwashed hair, and the overwhelming odor of sweat-soaked clothing, all of it as oppressive as the arm that squeezed me. The knife pressed into my flesh, and I felt the tickle of blood running into the hollow of my neck. I have no money, I said. Just a Im going to tell you this once only. I want what you stole. My knife was sheathed beneath my jerkin at my left side, just inches from my fingers, but I couldnt reach up with my left hand to get it, and my right arm was held tight in his grip. If I could just buy some time. Ive stolen many things, I said. Which one This knife is courtesy of the Scholar and Chancellor, he growled.more...

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I swiped at my cheeks, forcing any more tears back. I looked up at the stars, glittering, alive, watching me. Id get out of this somehow. I would. But I promised myself Id expend no more effort fighting insults. I had to save my energy for more important pursuits. Id have to learn to play their game, only play it better. It might take me a while, but I had fifty days to learn this game, because I was certain that if I crossed into Venda, Id never see home again. I brought you some food.more...

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With the forest around us, there were places to hide now, but could I ride an unsaddled skittish horse in a furious storm? Just trying to get up on its back without stirrups would be a challenge if I could manage it at all. But if I could lead one of them to a downed logĀ  I got to my feet, crouching at first, and then I stood, waiting to see if anyone noticed. They didnt. I took a deep breath and walked to Kadens feet, then stooped, never taking my eyes from him as I carefully lifted his saddlebag. I was afraid to even swallow. The storm covered any sound I made, but Id rummage through his bag for my knife once I was outside.more...

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He didnt reply. A reply would have been redundant. His face already said it. Maybe now hed be on his way once and for all. Always on the wind. I hear them coming. Tell me again, Ama, about the storm.more...

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If I could have moved quietly away I would have, but I was trapped. It seemed that in one day I had witnessed far more by chance than by intention. I had gone to a pub in town for my evening meal, not wanting to encounter the princess again. I had had enough for one day. Enough of her royal conniving antics altogether. Id already told myself she was an imperious pain.more...

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Now I was following my last lead, a sighting of two people passing down the main street of Terravin with three donkeys, though the riders genders were unknown and they were described as filthy beggars. For her own sake, I hoped our clever princess hadnt done more trading. Ho, there! I called to a mop-haired boy leading a horse to a barn. The brew here decent? The boy stopped, like he had to think about it, brushing the hair from his eyes. Yeah, its decent. So I hear.more...

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What about that third fellow who came in later? Did you get his name too? Third fellow? You didnt see him? He walked in right after the other two. A thin, scruffy fellow. He shot plenty of sideways looks your way. I tried to remember him, but I had been so occupied with the miscreant soldier and then serving Kaden and Rafe, that I didnt even recall the tavern door opening again. No, I didnt notice him.more...

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But people will believe what they choose to believe. Yes, they will, she answered. And right now Venda believes youre a threat. Thats all that matters. They dont want there to be a second chance of an alliance. Venda knows that Dalbreck doesnt trust Morrighan. They never have. The ferrying of the kings First Daughter was crucial to an alliance between them.more...

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The Last Testaments of Gaudrel CHAPTER FORTY-EIGHT They call it the City of Dark Magic. We stared at the ruins rising from the sands like sharp broken fangs. At least now I knew we werent in Morrighan anymore. I know what it is, I said to Kaden. Royals hear stories too. As soon as I saw the ruined city, I knew what it was. Id heard it described many times. It lay just beyond the borders of Morrighan.more...

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She motioned to a basket by the door. Grab an apple and a biscuit and be on your way. Come back after the rush, and Ill have some hot stew for you. Her attention was already elsewhere, and she yelled to someone who called to her from the front room of the inn. A tall, gangly boy stumbled through a swinging door with a burlap cloth in his arms, the tail of a fish wagging out the end. Loafhead! Wheres my cod?more...

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