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The Prince of Cats

Alcázar

The Broken Tooth had two cellars. One contained food supplies, barrels of beverages, and what else a tavern might need. The other basement held shackles, cages, and devices of torture. Surrounded by these instruments in the dim light of torches, the Mistress of the Black Teeth stood out in her bright, expensive clothing and jewellery.

“How could this happen?” she raged.

“Forgive me, Mistress,” mumbled the torturer. “He must have had a weak heart.”

Amal paced around the room. “Did he at least say anything before he died?”

Her henchman stared at the rack, upon which a corpse lay. “Nothing coherent, Mistress. He merely pleaded that I stop, and I had barely begun. Shortly after, he was gone.”

Amal grabbed the dead man’s jaw, turning his face towards her own. “How dare you,” she muttered with gritted teeth, pushing the head away from herself. “You failed,” she continued, looking at the torturer.

“I am deeply sorry,” he claimed, wringing his hands. “I could not know.”

“I’ll decide your punishment later,” Amal sneered, stalking past him to leave the cellar.

Once she was gone, the torturer’s snivelling expression disappeared. He walked over to the rack and began unfastening the straps on the body. “Forgive me, old boy,” he spoke quietly to the corpse, “but we couldn’t risk you talking.” He patted the dead man on the cheek a few times, whistling as he continued undoing the buckles.

~~~~

In one of the countless warehouses surrounding the harbours of Alcázar, two men entered to find Tahmid waiting for them. He was accompanied by Walid, who used his size and heavy weapons to appear intimidating. Jumping down from a crate, Tahmid pushed its lid open to show it filled with swords. “As promised, my good masters,” Tahmid declared.

The men’s attire suggested they were servants of high rank; the emblem with a falcon on their chest showed them to be in service to the Kabir himself. One of them reached down to take out a sword and pull it a few inches from its scabbard. He ran his thumb over the edge and gave his companion a nod.

“How did you manage to get arms of Nordsteel into Alcázar?” asked the other servant.

Tahmid smiled. “Sidi, you must allow me some secrets. Suffice to say, there are plenty among the northerners who would like to earn extra coin.” He glanced at the man inspecting the weapons. “You are satisfied?”

“With the quality, yes. The quantity is low.”

“Smuggling puts a limit on how many goods can be moved,” Tahmid explained with regret. “But I can arrange for more shipments, as long as you are prepared to pay in advance.”

The two officials exchanged nods. “Do it. As many as you can obtain within the year. It’ll be too late next year.”

Tahmid smiled and gave a slight bow. “With pleasure. As for my payment?”

One of the men threw a heavy bag of silver to the rogue. “There’ll be another in a few days to get the next shipment prepared.” He paused for a moment. “What of the northern spy?”

“All taken care of. You won’t see him in Alcázar again,” Tahmid assured them.

“Good. You have done the exalted Kabir a great service.” One of the officials went to the warehouse gate, gesturing for workers to enter and begin hauling crates.

“It was my pleasure, sidi,” Tahmid said subserviently. He motioned for Walid to follow him, and they quickly left. Once outside, Tahmid gave a small handful of coins to Walid. “See? That’s silver in your hand, friend.”

“I don’t like it,” Walid muttered. “Grabbing people from the Tooth, smuggling weapons from the North… You’re doing all the things the Mistress forbids.”

“The Mistress,” Tahmid scoffed. “We’ve made more silver in a week than we’ve done in months! Besides, you heard them. We’re serving the Kabir. Don’t tell me you’re afraid of Amal.”

“I’m not,” Walid replied. “I’m afraid of the Prince.”

Tahmid gave a snort. “Are you scared of ghosts now?”

“The Prince is real,” Walid simply said. “He’s the reason Amal is the Mistress.”

“Says who? Amal?” Tahmid spat on the ground. “That’s all she has left. Rumours and lies while she clings to power.” He placed the purse of silver inside his tunic. “She’s keeping us from making a real earning, and there’s plenty others of the Teeth who think the same!”

“I don’t like it,” Walid muttered.

~~~~

There was always a great number of northerners present in Alcázar. Most were sailors on the countless trade vessels ploughing the seas between here and Herbergja or Portesur, and they usually sought out the temple for Disfara when observing religious duties or in need of divine aid. Even so, the shrine for Rihimil had its share of daily visitors, especially drakonians, as all citizens of Adalrik felt particular affinity for this deity.

At the end of another day receiving offerings and tending to the faithful, Brother Cuthbert bid his acolyte goodnight and retired to his small, private room. It was one of the few privileges that his rank afforded him as leader of this shrine; his acolyte slept in the open chamber adjacent to the altar room.

Cuthbert had only blown out his candle and lain down when a voice whispered to him in the darkness. “We need to talk.”

The priest sat up in his bed with a start. “Who’s there?”

“Quiet. You know who I am.”

Cuthbert swallowed, looking around in the dark. “Yes. Why have you come?”

“A few nights ago, your man entered the Broken Tooth. He has been gone since.”

“What happened?”

“A good question,” the voice assented. “He was betrayed. Pointed out and removed. The Kabir’s men knew who he was from the start.”

“But how?” asked Cuthbert. “Nothing distinguished him from the others who come to our shrine.”

“How indeed. Only someone in your confidence could have revealed his true nature.”

The priest’s mouth fell open, and he looked at the door. “No. It can’t be.”

“It was.”

“I don’t believe you! He’s my acolyte, he’d never betray our order.”

“Yet he did. Whether it was the promise of silver or the threat of violence, he ratted you out,” the voice declared firmly. “He has been doing so for a long time, I suspect.”

“I don’t believe it,” Cuthbert reiterated hoarsely.

“If you won’t deal with him, I will.”

“No, no! I’ll send him away,” Cuthbert promised. “He’s been corrupted by Alcázar. He was too young. There’s no need to kill him.”

“Not how I would have done it,” the voice considered, “but you clean your house how you see fit.”

“What happens next?” asked the priest.

“I do some cleaning of my own. But all of this, including my coming here, has aroused a lot of attention. The Kabir’s men are watching this place like hawks. They saw me enter, and they’ll watch me leave. I risk too much by coming here. I can’t do so again.”

“I’ll find a replacement for the man who was supposed to have met you.”

“Let at least two months pass before he goes to the Tooth. Things need to quiet down.”

“Very well,” Cuthbert assented.

“Tell Khalid this is the last favour I’ll do for him, for Adalmearc,” the voice declared. “The Prince of Cats will not remain beholden to anyone. Once war breaks out, I am done.”

“Understood.” A breeze entering the room told Cuthbert that the small window had been opened, and he heard quick movement as the voice disappeared.

~~~~

Later that night, not long before sunrise, Amal was awakened by a hand clasped over her mouth. Her eyelids shot open, and her hand jerked out to grab a knife. As her arm bent backwards, it was intercepted and the blade kept from stabbing the intruder. “Amal, it’s me.”

She blinked in the dark, relaxing her body, and the hand was slowly removed from her mouth. “What in Haktar’s name are you doing?” she hissed.

“Your ship is leaking,” the voice told her calmly. “If you don’t act soon, it’ll be sinking.”

“I am handling it,” Amal replied coldly.

“Are you? A few days ago, a shipment of weapons was smuggled into Alcázar, despite my ban. Your people don’t respect you, Amal.”

“It is to be expected that some don’t respect the rules in a band of thieves,” she defended herself. “I’m finding the guilty parties soon.”

“I gave you one of them not one week ago,” the voice said. “He should have revealed his fellow conspirators by now.”

“There was a small set-back,” Amal mumbled. “He died on the rack before he could say anything.”

“What kind of imbecile kills the victim before he can confess anything?”

“It was a mistake, obviously. He had a weak heart, apparently.”

A sigh could be heard. “Did your torturer tell you this?”

“Of course, who else?”

“Then he is part of the conspiracy. No torturer worth his salt would begin with anything so extraneous as to cause death, even in the weakest of men. Clearly you’ve never been tortured by an expert,” the voice remarked dryly.

“I haven’t, no,” she sneered, but with little bite in her voice.

“Get yourself a new torturer and put the old one on the rack. That should help your investigations.”

“It’ll be fine. I have this matter under control,” she claimed. “I’ll hunt the rest of them down.”

The voice made no reply; its owner had disappeared from the room.

~~~~

Days after Garrick’s disappearance, everything seemed normal at the Broken Tooth. Several of the patrons were gathered around Tahmid’s prize, the strongbox made by al-Hadid. So far, none had managed to learn its secrets and how to unlock it. Frustrated, yet another of the thieves threw her lock picks on the table. “I thought I had it!”

“A valiant effort,” Tahmid declared with an overbearing voice. “But alas, only an effort and nothing more. It would seem my hundred silver are safe.”

The other rogues glanced at each other with obvious chagrin. “I’m not letting this chunk of metal get the best of me!” one of them claimed. “Out of my way!” He pushed forward, digging out his lock picks to try his luck.

Grinning, Tahmid dropped into a seat next to his usual companion, Walid. “Fetch us something to drink, will you?” he asked.

“Depends on who’s paying.”

Tahmid dug out a silver piece and flipped it to Walid. “Here you are, my boy. Make sure it’s from the barrel, not the pitcher with all the leftovers poured together.”

“I know, I know,” Walid muttered as he left.

While his large compatriot was gone, Tahmid let his eyes survey the room. They soon came to rest upon a short, slender man in his fifties entering the Broken Tooth. The newcomer exchanged words here and there while glancing around the room, staying inconspicuous. Nothing about his appearance was noteworthy. His clothes were typical, and his belt held nothing, not a coin purse or even a knife. Only his movements and gestures betrayed his dexterity and swiftness, which to other rogues were tell-tale signs of a skilled thief. This in itself did not set him apart from the other patrons; most of them were experienced in that craft. The only thing that might give an observer pause was the consideration that he had grey hairs in a profession that rarely allowed for old age.

When Walid returned, Tahmid nodded towards the new arrival. “Do you know him?”

“I might have seen him before. I couldn’t tell you his name,” Walid replied, putting down two mugs.

“He seems quite at home, yet I’m certain I’ve never seen him here,” Tahmid considered, taking a deep sip from his drink. “That bothers me.”

“You’re not thinking of making a mark of him, are you?” complained Walid. “It hasn’t even been a week since the northerner.”

“Be careful where you mention that,” Tahmid warned him while looking around.

“Because the Mistress would have our hides if she knew,” Walid murmured with a dark look at Tahmid.

“You’re a ray of sunshine tonight,” Tahmid retorted, taking another sip. “I’ve put more coin in your purse than anybody else in the Teeth could have!”

“Coin’s no good if you’re a dead man.”

“I got better things to do than listen to you whine,” Tahmid declared, emptying his mug in one gulp. “Sort yourself out! There’s plenty of muscle in this room who’d gladly take your place.” He got up and left the common room, stalking upstairs. Left behind, Walid got a second ale, drinking by himself and looking dour.

“Well met. You’re Walid, I am told.” The very man previously observed by Tahmid slid into the seat opposite Walid.

“What do you care,” came the brusque reply.

“I am Jawad,” the stranger introduced himself. “Perhaps you recognise this?” He showed a silver coin in the palm of his hand, but it was of strange make. It did not have the eagle of Adalmearc or the falcon of Alcázar as its symbol; instead, a jagged blade was printed upon it.

“You’re one of Amal’s dogs.”

Jawad gave a smile. “One way to put it. I have her trust.”

“So what are you sniffing around me for?”

“It has come to the attention of our Mistress that not all obey her edicts,” Jawad began to explain. “People under the protection of this place being assaulted, robbed, or worse. Timber, iron ore, and weapons smuggled into Alcázar from the northern lands despite her ban.”

“I wouldn’t know anything about that,” Walid declared.

“I’m sure. But your friend does. In fact, he’s deeply involved in all of this.”

“Listen, I don’t know what you’re after –”

“The truth, Walid, that’s all.”

“So why are you talking to me and not the Mistress? If you already know.”

“I like to be thorough. All I need from you, Walid, is that you confirm Tahmid has broken our laws.”

“If you think I’m going to rat him out, you’re a fool,” Walid growled with contempt. “If I stab Tahmid in the back, the other Teeth will stab me,” he argued, “only they’ll use actual knives.”

“Nobody will know it was you.”

“As if,” Walid scoffed. “Anything I say is only useful if I say it in front of everybody. Amal needs proof to accuse anyone.”

“Amal does,” Jawad spoke quietly, “but the Prince of Cats does not.”

An expression ran across Walid’s face. “I’m not falling for that.”

“Some nights ago, a man was lured away from the Tooth and never came back. Unfortunately, he was under the protection of the Prince.”

“I wouldn’t know anything about that,” Walid claimed.

“He was seen leaving this place in company of another. Someone short. Seeing as you are rather noticeable, I know that wasn’t you. So I’m guessing your role was to carry out the ambush, while Tahmid was the one who lured him outside.”

“I would never break the peace of the Tooth!” Walid declared, loud enough that people nearby turned to look. “You can’t just accuse me. There’s no evidence I’ve done anything wrong,” he continued in a lower voice.

“No, but the Prince doesn’t need evidence. He can be indiscriminate at times.” Jawad leaned forward. “He wants to know who did not show him proper respect. I can give him two suspected names, or one guilty name.”

“I’ve done nothing wrong,” Walid maintained.

“The Prince won’t care. He’s out for blood. The choice is yours.”

Walid licked his lips. “You’re right, it was Tahmid. He made the plan to ambush the foreigner and sell him. But I ain’t saying that again, and you’re keeping my name out of it!”

“Of course,” Jawad smiled.

“Else I’ll know who to come for,” Walid growled.

The smile evaporated from Jawad’s face. “My dear friend, you’d never be given the chance. Now, I suggest you spend the rest of this night elsewhere.” Immediately, he got up himself and left.

Moving through the crowd of patrons, Jawad approached the elevated area of the common room. The guards sent him menacing glares while the companions of the leader barely spared him a look; the head of the thieves herself clenched her jaw.

Jawad showed his silver token. “I should speak with the Mistress.” Surprised, the guards stood aside. The old rogue walked past them to step onto the elevation. The smell of incense reached his nose; sprawled on couches and pillows lay the favourite servants and henchmen of the Mistress, many of them wearing delicate clothing and jewellery. Seeing Jawad approach, their stares floated between him and the woman in the centre.

The woman, roughly his equal in age, raised a hand to wave her attendants away. “Leave us,” she commanded. A few of them grumbled and sent the newcomer a dirty look as they dispersed. He ignored them all until they were gone, sitting down by her side. “What is it?” she asked.

“As I suspected, Tahmid is the guilty party.”

Amal bit her lower lip. “He has been very aggressive of late. Playing up his reputation, courting the other thieves. I’m starting to think he might be aiming for my position.”

“It’s always the greedy ones.”

“How do you know?”

Jawad gave a slight shrug. “I bluffed his compatriot, Walid, mentioning all the unsanctioned activities. I figured that Tahmid would be involved in at least some of it, and Walid admitted that Tahmid was behind assaulting the ajama.” He looked back into the common room at Walid. “Have someone keep an eye on him. We don’t warn him warning his friend.”

Amal nodded. “The question is what to do about Tahmid.”

“I’ll arrange his death. Soon.”

“That’s not without issue,” Amal argued. “If Tahmid dies simply because he is a threat to me, the other Teeth will not tolerate my leadership. They’ll riot.”

“They won’t if Tahmid is found guilty of stealing from you.”

“He’d never be that stupid.”

Jawad smiled. “Unless we arrange it.”

Amal sent him a scrutinising look. “How will you do this?”

Jawad’s eyes lingered on the great sapphire in her necklace before he turned his head to stare at the lockbox in the middle of the room. Even several days after, the masterwork of al-Hadid had defied every lock pick among the Black Teeth. “That’s an interesting strongbox. Tahmid’s pride, I have been told.”

“Yes, nobody else can figure out how to open it. It would take even you hours, I’d wager.”

Jawad smiled. “That’s what I’m counting on.”

~~~~

The following night, Jawad went back to the Broken Tooth. He found the place busy as ever; the common room in the Broken Tooth never slept, and it was frequented by patrons at all hours. In his usual, inconspicuous manner, the old rogue made his way upstairs.

After a while, Jawad returned from the upper floors to enter the common room once more. Glancing around, he searched until he spotted a particularly vicious-looking man with arms like masts. The brigand was having a late night, drinking with much fervour and gambling with little luck.

Jawad slid up next to him; despite standing up while the other man was sitting down, their height difference was negligible. “Dice aren’t your friends tonight, I see.”

The ruffian slowly turned his head to glare at Jawad. “Be gone, gnat.” Intoxication was heavy on his breath.

“I hear that guy over there, Battar, isn’t your friend, either,” Jawad continued undisturbed. “I’m told he took all your winnings the other night. But I could be your friend.” He added in a quiet voice. “As could this pouch of twenty silver.” He hefted the purse under the table, out of sight from others.

His conversation partner stared at him with narrowed eyes. “What do you want?”

“I don’t like that guy either. But look at me, I’m hardly a challenge,” Jawad admitted, shrugging his scrawny shoulders. “So I’ll give you these twenty birds, and all you have to do is land a punch on a guy you already dislike.”

The brute squinted for a moment before his face lit up in a grin. “Deal.”

Jawad handed over the pouch, still keeping it below the table, and sauntered away. Moments later, the common room erupted in chaos and commotion as a fight broke out. Several others were dragged in, furniture splintered, the guards rushed over to separate the combatants, and everybody else was busy spectating, cheering, and placing bets on the outcome.

Meanwhile with everyone’s eyes elsewhere, Jawad moved to the table with al-Hadid’s infamous lockbox upon it. He fiddled with it for a few moments while glancing around, ensuring none were watching him. The sounds of fighting and shouts followed him as he soon after left the Broken Tooth.

~~~~

Next morning, Tahmid descended from the stairs of the Tooth. Like most members of the Black Teeth, he resided permanently at the inn, eating his meals and spending most of his time there. He was busy with a plate of porridge when Jawad sat down opposite him.

“Do I know you, friend?” asked Tahmid. His tone was cordial, but his eyes were not.

“You do even if we have never met,” his companion replied. “My reputation tends to precede me.”

Tahmid’s eyes glanced over Jawad’s unimposing presence. “Doubtful,” he mumbled with a spoonful of porridge in his mouth.

“I am the Prince of Cats.”

Tahmid coughed, and his spoon fell onto the table. He sized up Jawad once more. “You’re lying.”

“It doesn’t matter if you believe me,” Jawad remarked casually. “In fact, nothing you say or do matters anymore. I simply wanted you to know why this is happening to you. You crossed me.”

Tahmid stared at Jawad while his expression flickered between disbelief, suspicion, and dread. “What have you done?” His eyes darted around the room while his hand sought towards the dagger in his belt.

Jawad did not reply but stood up and walked away. Tahmid stared at him and finally resolved to get up. Before he got any further, the assorted crew of brigands employed as guards spilled into the room from the upper floors. They quickly moved to block every exit, herding people away and keeping them inside. From the top of the stairs, Amal descended. She walked through the room as whispers and voices multiplied, reaching the elevated part of the room.

“Last night,” she spoke where everyone could see her, “someone stole from me. My sapphire necklace, my most precious belonging taken as I slept.” Her fingers moved over her chest where it usually adorned her. “You all know the rule about thievery within our association.” Her cold eyes moved over the faces of the crowd. “It cannot be tolerated.” None dared speak, and she continued. “The guards are searching the rooms upstairs. You will all be searched as well. Nobody will leave the Tooth until it is found.”

Tahmid’s eyes moved between Amal and Jawad. “Is guilt proven if the necklace is found in someone’s room? It would be an all too easy way to frame someone,” he claimed. “If any of us stole it, would they hide it here? No,” he continued, turning towards the crowd, “they’d be far gone by now.”

“Tahmid’s right,” several murmured. “Nobody’s dumb enough to steal and stay.”

“Unless,” Jawad interjected, “they knew they’d never make a clean escape. The Black Teeth has eyes and ears everywhere, right? If some disappeared the same night as the theft took place, they’d not get far.”

“And who are you to make such statements?” Tahmid asked aggressively. “I’ve never seen you before. Your teeth are white. You’re not one of us,” he said pointedly, gesturing to the crowd.

“Jawad is an acquaintance of mine,” Amal proclaimed. “He’ll be searched the same as everyone else.”

“To which I make no objections,” Jawad consented. “In fact, the only one who seems concerned is you, Tahmid.”

All eyes turned towards the aforementioned thief. Tahmid made a big show of patting his pockets. “No necklace here, I’m afraid.” This evoked a few grins from the crowd.

“I’m told you’re a good thief, Tahmid,” Jawad said, addressing the spectators as well. “If you did steal the necklace, you’d have a brilliant hiding spot for it, I’m sure.”

“How can you allow this outsider to accuse me?” Tahmid asked Amal with outrage. “I’m one of the Black Teeth, you all know me!”

Amal raised her hand. “I’ll hear him speak. If his accusation is false, you may decide his punishment.”

Mollified, Tahmid smirked. “Very well. Go on, Jawad.” He spoke the name with a sneer. “Let me guess. You stole the necklace and placed it in my chamber. Did you hide it in my water jar? You wouldn’t be so droll as to hide it under my mattress, I hope. That would just be embarrassing.”

“You’d find the perfect hiding place, I’m sure. Somewhere in plain sight, where nobody would think to look,” Jawad continued. His head slowly turned until he looked at al-Hadid’s lockbox. “Like there.”

Tahmid gave a snort. “You’re getting desperate. That thing hasn’t been opened for days. It’s as empty as your head.”

“If that’s the case, you won’t mind unlocking it and letting us see,” Jawad smiled.

The accused thief looked around the room, suddenly having the expression of a cornered animal. From all sides, faces stared at him in anticipation. “This is a trick,” he mumbled. “You’ll make some kind of switch, make it seem like it was always there.”

“I’ll be all the way over here,” Jawad assured him, taking a few steps backwards.

“Tahmid, open the lock,” Amal commanded. Some of her guards stepped closer towards him.

“Fine,” he declared. “But once it’s shown to be empty, I want his lying tongue cut out.”

“That seems reasonable,” Jawad assented.

Tahmid walked over, taking out his lock picks. He poked around for a few moments until an audible click was heard. Immediately, one of the guards opened the lid and stuck his hand down. All eyes were fixed on him as he withdrew a necklace with a huge sapphire pendant. “Impossible,” Tahmid stammered. “You! You put it there!” he yelled at Jawad.

“How could I? Even the best of thieves would take hours to learn how to unlock that,” Jawad pointed out. “The strongbox has been in plain sight for days. Has anyone seen me tinkering day in, night out?” The onlookers shook their head, murmuring denials of such an occurrence.

“You did it!” Tahmid shrieked as the guards seized his arms. “He’s a liar! He’s –” Someone clubbed him in the back of the head, which had a calming effect upon the rogue.

“Throw him in the cellar,” Amal told them with disdain in her voice. She held up her necklace for everyone to see. “Always remember, we take from them!” She gestured to the city that lay outside the tavern. “Never from each other!”

“Hear, hear!” Angry looks followed Tahmid being dragged to the basement. Meanwhile, Jawad retreated into the crowd and slipped away.

~~~~

Later in the day, Amal had dismissed her attendants and retired to her chamber. She felt a breeze move through the room. “Do you ever use the door?”

Jawad smiled. “The less I am seen, the better. Besides, it keeps me in practice.”

“I assume you didn’t come just to be congratulated for your ruse?”

“No, though you are right. I deserve praise for that,” he claimed with a grin.

“How did you do it?” Amal asked. “How were you able to get the necklace into al-Hadid’s lockbox? It seems like magic.”

Jawad licked his lips that were still smiling. “I’m tempted to let you believe that, but the temptation to explain my brilliance is greater.”

“I forgot how insufferable you can be,” Amal mumbled. “Go on, tell me. How did you manage to unlock it?”

“Simple. I went to al-Hadid. I had him make an identical lock for me to practise on until I knew its secrets by heart.”

“Clever.” The admission was spoken with reluctance. “Is al-Hadid dead now?”

“What for?” asked Jawad with a frown. “That would be a waste of his skill. He helped me willingly in exchange for observing my efforts. I’m visiting him next week to test his improvements.”

“What will happen if he succeeds in making a lock you can’t pick?”

“I suspect that will be the last lock he ever makes.”

“He has no idea who you truly are, does he?”

“Of course not.”

Amal stared at him. “I cannot tell if you are Jawad playing the role of the Prince, or if Jawad is the mask.”

“Good. Enough idle talk. Your position is still not secure.”

“I thought Tahmid was the ringleader. Regardless, he’ll give up the rest under torture.”

“If they are known to him. Your ship has been leaking for a long time, Amal. Too many unsanctioned activities have been taking place. Tahmid could not have been involved in all of them.”

Amal drank some wine from a cup, hiding the nervous expression on her face. “That seems like a stretch. Having a single group responsible seems the more obvious answer than two separate groups.”

“I always adored your optimism.” Jawad’s cold smile gainsaid his professed feelings. “I’m sure it will help you root out any dissidents.” Before Amal could respond, he turned and leapt out of her window, disappearing over the rooftops.

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About the author

Quill

Bio: Indie writer with various projects, though The Chronicles of Adalmearc is the one dearest to me. Because of this, I have decided to make it free to reach as many readers as possible. If you enjoy it, I would ask you to consider joining my Patreon; all tiers from $5 and above will earn towards receiving the full series as hardcovers. Advance chapters are available from $2 and upwards. See also my website for more information on my work and world.

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