She waited until the manor was asleep, and then she left, moving with stealth as she made her way on foot into the city. Another fight had broken out while she’d been dining at the palace.
Her hair was tucked tightly under her cap again, and she’d smeared her face with soot from the hearth. If she did stumble across Keane or Lindow, she was sure they wouldn’t recognize her.
By the time she’d reached the city, the fighting had died down. Wounded bodies littered the streets and were being carried off to safety by those who were able. One man struggled as he tried to drag another along. She rushed over and gripped the injured man’s legs. Together they carried him to a home where he was taken into a room and seen to by a healer.
She waved away the man’s thanks as she left them and returned to the street. There was a scream up ahead, and she broke into a run to see what was happening. When she got closer she slowed, and pressed herself against the shadows.
Under the light of the moon she saw a man on his knees, pleading to the Guard who had their swords pointed at his chest.
“Please,” he cried. “I didn’t do nothin’.”
“You were seen with a knife.” A cold voice cut through, and Tempani gasped when Lord Ricton stepped towards the man. “You are a traitor to the crown.”
“I’m a baker,” he said. “I need it for work.”
Ricton laughed, but it was a laugh devoid of humor. “You lie.” He raised his hands, and the baker’s body convulsed before bursting into flames.
A hand covered Tempani’s mouth, stifling her scream. The slight noise she did make was drowned out by the screams of agony from the baker.
Her eyes were wide as she watched the man die before her. When his screams ended, his body was doused with water.
“Leave him here,” Ricton ordered the Guard. “Let them see what we do to traitors.”
Tears ran from her eyes and dripped over the hand that was still clasped to her mouth. She was turned around and held tightly against someone. His coat was rough against her cheek, and he smelled of familiar spices.
His lips pressed against her head. “Come.” His arm remained around her shoulders as he guided her home.
“They’re monsters,” she choked. “Murderers.”
Rando looked down at her, and sighed. He offered no explanation as there was none to give. What they had witnessed was the way of the kingdom.
Bridie Blake is a writer and book lover based in Melbourne, Australia. She waited years for someone to write the story she had in her head, but it never happened. So fuelled with a lot of caffeine, and listening to movie soundtracks on repeat, she wrote it herself.
Her first book, The Jewel of Kamara, was released in October 2013.