Book 1 of the Sundered Crown Saga- Heir to the Sundered Crown can be bought here http://authl.it/3hw
City of Kingsford
Sophia Cunning pulled the hood of her cloak tighter around her head. The marching soldiers ignoring her as they passed. Quickly she moved from the doorway and crossed the narrow cobbled street to hide once again in the shadows of an alleyway. She narrowed her eyes as the man she had been tailing appeared in the inn’s doorway. She could tell he was worse for wear from drink as he staggered slightly and gripped the doorway with a shaky hand to stop him-self from falling over. In the distance, the sounds from the docklands carried on the breeze. Ships bells tolled out to warn each other of their presence in the misty darkness.
The man was dressed in a smart red velvet tunic and white breeches, a white cape, which reached his knees hung from his broad shoulders. Around his waist was a leather belt complete with a sword in its scabbard.
Cautiously he walked down the path leading away from the inn and into the street. At this time of night there was little in the way of traffic, only a group of pedlars and their pony were visible. A laughing band of drunken sailors staggered past her hiding place. One of the inebriated men vomited causing his friends to bellow with laughter and mock him mercilessly. All the while, she kept her gaze fixed on her target. Slowly her target staggered off down the street, Sophia close behind. She kept to the shadows as she stalked him. Side streets and dimly lit doorways were her friend.
She followed him for a few streets until he reached a narrow crossroads. Silently she slipped into a doorway and once more waited. To her mild surprise, the man went from acting like a drunkard to someone who had never touched a drop of ale in his or her life.
“Where are you Sintinius? My master has little patience for your games and neither do I,” the man whispered into the darkness.
A quiet mocking laughter came from the shadows.
“So the baron sends you to do his dirty work does he? I had hoped to meet him face to face. We have much to discuss.”
A thin tall man stepped out from a nearby doorway into the clearing of the crossroads. He wore a long black cloak similar to the one Sophia wore and his features were hidden by a thick hood. Out of the shadow cast by the material two white dots were visible. Sophia stifled a gasp as she realised that what she was seeing was a pair of eyes.
The smartly dressed man coughed nervously before holding his head high.
“Lord Accadus could not leave Retbit safely. The King’s legion would have had him arrested as soon he set foot outside of his lands. There is a war on, you know,” the man said in a shaky voice.
He was clearly nervous around Sintinius, and Sophia could not blame him. Just looking at the strange tall figure with the white shining eyes was making even her uncomfortable and she had hunted witches, and Fell beasts.
“I do not care if Accadus is afraid for his safety. I sailed all the way from Sarpia for this little meeting,” Sintinius replied dismissively. Accadus’s man shifted uncomfortably under that unblinking gaze.
“Tell your master that my forces are ready, we only await his signal. I trust that he will keep to his end of the bargain. I do not take treachery lightly and my people have become accustomed to…’ Sintinius paused before sniffing the air. “You were followed you fool,” he snapped.
He raised his arm and pointed back down the street, straight at Sophia.
Accadus man spun around and drew his sword, just as he was about to advance upon Sophia the strange tall man behind him dashed forward. A vicious looking dagger sliced through the man’s throat. It happened so fast that not even a gargled scream emanated from his ruined oesophagus.
Sophia tried to run but Sintinius moved faster. He caught her nimbly by the hair causing her to scream in pain and threw her to the stony ground. He placed a boot onto her back to keep her pinned to the ground.
“You will regret this. I cannot allow you to live,” he hissed into her ear.
Sophia tried to struggle, but his grip was too strong. She reached into her cloak pocket with a free hand and fingered the hilt of the dagger tucked inside. Sintinius grip lessened slightly as he raised his own blade high to deliver a killing blow. Sophia took her chance, drew her dagger and stabbed its point deep into her attacker’s leg. The pressure eased slightly as Sintinius reeled backwards. Pain lanced through his injured limb.
Sophia scrambled to her feet shrugging off the cloak still trapped under her attacker’s foot. She reached into a pouch at her waist and threw a smoke bomb at her feet. The dark vapour enveloped them both. By the time it had cleared, Sophia was gone.
Sintinius stared at the now empty alleyway his eyes narrowed into slits. On the floor and still under his boot was the woman’s cloak.
He picked it up and smelt it. He breathed in the woman’s perfumed aroma and put the scent into his memory. Accadus had sent a fool to do his work and now their plans were at risk, something that he could not allow. Sintinius stalked down the street towards the cities docks. He would sail to Retbit and see the baron in person. As he walked, four cloaked figures silently fell into step with him.
“Take this. Find the woman who it belongs to and silence her,” he commanded. He gave the cloak to one of the figures.
“Your will be done eminence,” they replied as one before drifting back into the shadows.
Sophia ran as fast as she could through Kingsford’s streets. She could feel strange eyes upon her she shook her head angrily. The strange man’s creepy white eyes had spooked her greatly. She kept running until she crossed most of the city. Finally, she came to a halt outside of the tavern in which she had taken up lodgings. Her breaths came in ragged gasps. If the man were not alone then the city gates would now be watched for her presence. She glanced around the empty streets for any sign of pursuit before taking a deep breath and entering the brightly lit tavern. It was past midnight and most of the patrons had staggered off to their beds or to their homes. Only the tavern keeper was awake and active.
The barman looked up from cleaning glasses when he noticed her standing in the doorway.
“Rough night?” the tavern keeper asked. Her hair was ruffled and a number of small cuts were on her cheek from where she had hit the ground.
She walked through the tavern, carefully stepping over the tavern owner’s dog, which was snoring happily next to the fireplace.
“You have no idea,” Sophia replied before heading up a small flight stairs, which led to her room.
Copyright 2015 M.S. Olney
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