Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves 1) - Page 135

“Business? That’s what you call it? Stockpiling an arsenal of weapons?”

“Yes! That is our business! And we had every right—”

“To put all the kingdoms under your thumb? To put a rope around the queen’s neck?”

“There you go with your Vendan embellishments again!”

“You were hiding known fugitives!”

“And you were—”

“Back, both of you!” Eben came between us, pushing us apart, our chests still heaving. I hadn’t realized I had stood up or that she had stepped so close we were screaming inches from each other.

She glared at me, her breaths still coming in gasps. “The queen is not a liar. She couldn’t submit to your thinly veiled demand to come to Tor’s Watch because she’s confined to her bed. She can’t travel. Or I promise you she would be here to take this scum back to face justice herself!”

Her eyes glistened. “Don’t ever talk to me about truth again.” Her voice was broken, shaky. She turned on her heel and disappeared back into the shadows.



I stooped at the creek’s edge, filling the last water skin. Broken stone walls jutted up from the landscape around me. I had been grateful for the ruins last night and the dark cave they gave me to sleep in away from everyone else. It was likely the last shelter we would have for a while.

I corked the full water skin, and when I stood and turned Eben was there watching me.

“I’ll help you with those,” he said. He gathered five skins up in his arms, paused and looked at me again. “You all right?”

It wasn’t like Eben to ask a question like that. You had to be all right, always. “What do you mean?”

He looked at me hesitantly. “That was him back there?”

Him. My blood rushed a little faster. Now I understood. Of all his secrets, how could Jase have not told me this? He knew what Zane had done. “Yes,” I answered. “That was him.”

Eben’s lip lifted in disgust. “The bastard. But you did the right thing, Kazi. I know it wasn’t easy for you to leave him behind. There will be another chance. We’ll go back.”

I shook my head. “No, Eben. We both know he won’t be there. By then he’ll be long gone, hiding in some other faraway hole. I can’t spend another eleven years looking for him.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No need to be sorry,” I said, trying to force cheer into my voice. Instead my words came out wooden. “Look at the other bastards we caught. The one we set out for and a bonus of five.”

“Six,” he corrected. “What about the Patrei?”

I swallowed. “Yes. Six. The Patrei too.”

But there was something I needed to tell Eben.

Something I had to tell them all, including Jase.

* * *

It was the laughter.

It had always been the laughter that needled through me, a repeated stitch that surfaced over and over again.

Laughter reveals in the same way a sigh or a glance does. It’s an unintentional language. Worry, fear, deceit—they hide in the things unsaid.

Something about the laughter hadn’t felt right that first night I discovered the captain and the others in the enclave, but the shock of their words had overshadowed it.

Tags: Mary E. Pearson Dance of Thieves Fantasy
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