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Chapter 1
Interlude 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4


     page 41     

June 22, 1748 EQ, Just West of the Village of Selma

Forest West of Selma

The shadow knight kept under the forest’s dark canopy.  It took little effort for him to sneak across the border into the Andril Kingdom and hide in the mountain forest.  The little resistance he did encounter came not from the boarder guards, who were not vigilant, or from the Long Wall that separated the two peoples, which he discovered had a breach.  No, the resistance came from the mountain terrain itself.  His shaggy desert pony was used to the temperature extremes of the high Erdi Desert; she was not used to steep slopes.  She, like the rest of her breed, could not see her hind hooves and get a proper footing.  It made for a slow and dangerous journey but if he got the information he was hoping for, it would be all worthwhile.

Now he had to wait.  He did not like to wait; he craved action.  His arm itched.  He pulled up his sleeve and scratched the skin around a new bio-implant.  The doctor had told him it was healing well but it didn’t seem so to the shadow knight.  He didn’t trust his own tribal shaman let alone some foreign doctor that Araknik dug up. 

Then he heard someone coming up the wooded path and threw himself back against the tree. 

*          *

The iron guild master from the Capital of Cannor smiled to himself as he walked up the wooded path.  A fresh pine scent filled the air, but he didn’t notice it.  The birds, which were singing earlier, had stopped, but he ignored them.  Fresh pony tracks lead to a cluster of trees to his right, but he paid them no attention, even if he did know what to look for.  No, his mind centered on how well things had been going for him: how he had accumulated a small fortune and how he had kept this fortune hidden from his master.  It was only a mater of prudence, he told himself, to take advantage of his position and set aside a little for his own.  His master had given him an assignment and he had fulfilled it -- something his predecessor had failed to do and it cost him his life -- and now he began thinking how he might discretely spend all that wealth.  He mentally brooded over his stash, counting every coin as he prioritized his buying list.

That is why he was almost upon the shadow knight before he realized he was there.  The sight of the dark robed warrior standing in his path with arms folded startled the guild master and he froze in his tracks.  They locked eyes for a moment until the shadow knight finally spoke.  “You’re careless and walk like a pregnant goat.”

“So shoot me.”

The shadow knight only chuckled.  “You’ve lived among these people far too long.”

The guild master smiled and then took on a more somber expression.  “I have found the traitor.”

“Really?  The master will be pleased,” the knight nodded.


“No, observe.  The master wishes to savor this one.”

Chapter 3


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