Starting over is hard. Sometimes it’s the only option.
Since she was a young girl, Moneva has worked for the most powerful crime lord in the Empire. A chance encounter offers her a way out. Can she take it?
This prequel story is set five years before the events of Toric’s Dagger, Book One of The Weapon Takers Saga.
Coldeberg, capital of Barissia, was arguably the second most important city in the Empire. But Moneva had never warmed to it. And Coldeberg Castle was perhaps the location she liked the least. Huge stone walls, massive towers, it stood like a giant grey beast on the top of the hill, looking down on the rest of the city, intimidating those in its shadow. No finesse, no sense of welcome to the visitor; just a brutal display of power.
‘What’s in the boxes?’ asked the soldier.
They were standing in the yard of the castle, half a dozen wagons of goods ready to hand over.
Moneva sighed. She really didn’t like Barissians. Some indefinable, can’t put your finger on it reason, that made her think they were all a bunch of arseholes.
‘It’s exactly what we agreed with Lord Orlin that we would deliver. No more, no less.’
‘Yes,’ said the soldier, speaking deliberately slowly as if she was stupid, ‘and what is it?’
Ernst and Gernot stirred uneasily either side of her. Two big brutes of men, she had brought them with her to avoid this kind of bullshit. But it clearly wasn’t working. The Barissians had raised an army of unpleasant fuckers like this one, and clearly weren’t intimidated by her henchmen. This soldier had asked a question, and probably didn’t want to be seen to back down in front of the others in the castle yard. Pathetic little men with ridiculously huge egos. Yes, she remembered now. That was what she didn’t like about Barissians.
She walked over to the first cart, jumping up into the driver’s seat where she had left her cloak. Rummaging in a pocket, she found the itemised list of goods.
This whole job, a delivery run, was so beneath her. It didn’t require any of her skill set to perform. The only reason that Max gave it to her was that the profit they stood to make was staggering, and he didn’t trust anyone else with that kind of money.
She returned to the soldier, his arms folded, a smug look on his face now that she was doing as she was told.
‘Did you want numbers, or will a list of items do?’
‘Items will do fine.’
‘Food: crackers, oats, bread. Peas, carrots, cabbages, and various other vegetables. Meat: chicken, duck, goose, lamb, pork, beef, salmon and various other fish. Hay fodder. Barrels of ale, mead, white wine.’
Moneva paused, looking up at him.
‘Continue,’ he said imperiously.
‘Armour: plate, chain and leather. Shields. Weapons: spears, bows, arrows. Shoes and clothing, various.’
The soldier nodded wisely, giving the list his own personal approval.
Stupid bastard. Moneva sighed. ‘Sundry items: saddles and other accoutrements for cavalry. Oil. Timber. Nails, rivets, hammers…’
Moneva needed a drink, and George’s House was as good a place as any. It was small, out of the way, and didn’t suffer from large groups of foreigners or soldiers. She sat by the bar, letting the tensions of the day seep away.
It had taken a good two hours to get full payment for the items, having to cajole various soldiers and officials into honouring Duke Emeric’s contract with Max. And it wasn’t just that. What also stuck in Moneva’s craw was that they were helping Emeric and the Barissians to win a war they had started against the Black Horse tribe of the Midder Steppe. It was a war of aggression with little pretence at justification, fought to bring glory to an ambitious duke still brooding that he had been beaten to the title of emperor by Baldwin of Kelland five years ago.
She took a swig of wine, a sharp Barissian white, inferior to Kellish wines in every way.
That was how things were going now. Max gave her a job, Moneva fulfilled it, and each time they made a lot of money and made the world a little bit worse than it was before.
‘That any good?’ A man had taken the seat next to her, a soldierly looking type.
That was all she needed. Usually, two swords strapped to her back were enough to put off unwanted attention. But there was always the danger of running into idiots, drunks and worse, who felt like trying their luck. She gave him the once over. He didn’t look like he fell into those categories. Well-kept and not bad looking, though the hint of a smirk on his face that she didn’t like the look of.
‘Tastes like piss,’ she answered.
‘Only that bad? Give me a glass of what she’s got,’ he called out to the barkeep.
‘You’re in the army?’ Moneva asked.
‘Yes, for my sins.’
‘You don’t sound like a Barissian.’
‘I’m not, praise Toric. I’m from Magnia.’
‘I see. A mercenary, then.’
He looked at her. ‘Do I detect a note of distaste?’
Moneva raised an eyebrow. He was touchy. ‘Trust me. I’m in no position to judge anyone else.’
He nodded, eyeing her with curiosity. His drink arrived, and he took a gulp, then made an astonished face.
‘By Toric, whose piss have you been drinking?’
Moneva laughed despite herself. That was a good one, she had to admit.
‘So, what’s a nice boy like you doing in Emeric’s army?’
He made a sour face, taking a second gulp.
‘Getting paid. Between you and me, it was a mistake. This war stinks. We’re treated like animals, and we’re ordered to treat the Middians like worse.’
She had to admire his honesty. ‘Can’t you leave?’
‘Not really. Deserters are given an unpleasant death, for one. But it’s not good for one’s reputation to break a contract either. I’m thinking I’ll have to stick it out. Anyway, at least I’m here for the night.’
‘I’m picking up supplies for my company. Salvinus obviously trusts me, or at least he trusts me not to steal too much.’
‘Who is Salvinus?’
‘Gervase Salvinus, leader of my mercenary company. Making quite a name for himself. If you want someone to kill innocent women and children for you, he’s your man.’
Moneva grimaced. ‘That doesn’t make me feel any better.’
‘What have you got to feel bad about?’ he asked.
‘Those supplies you’re picking up are probably the same ones I just delivered.’
‘Ah. War profiteer. I had you down as a spy or an assassin or something. So that’s why you’re in no mood to judge me. Well, at least you’re making proper money out of it. That must be some consolation.’
‘Not really. Even if it was, it’s not my money. I’m working for some bastard, same as you.’
Moneva knocked back the rest of her drink and ordered another. It wasn’t like her to open up to someone else this much. But then, he was being pretty open too. He was studying her, a sly, thoughtful expression on his face.
‘Maybe we can do something about our situation. Do something for ourselves.’
Moneva shrugged. ‘I’m listening. But that’s all I’m doing.’
‘It’s chaos in the army. Between Emeric’s officials, his noblemen and mercenary captains like Salvinus, no-one’s really in charge. Once I deliver these supplies they get inventoried, but after that it would be very easy to go and pick some up with no-one noticing. I get them, pass them on to you, and you sell them back to the army again. It could be a nice little earner, that only we need to know about.’
Moneva considered it. Earning her own money, independent from Max, was tempting—though that could be the drink talking. It could be dangerous too, and she would have to trust someone she’d only just met.
‘I need to go back to Essenberg now,’ she said. ‘That will give me some time to think about the offer. If I think it will work, I’ll find you.’
‘How will you find me?’
‘What’s your name?’
‘If I want to, I’ll find you.’
They cut east, then joined the Great Road that led north to Essenberg, the seat of the Brasingian Emperor.
It felt good to be back home, in a proper city, where the people were too busy making money to be any more than moderately rude. She would have felt happy if she didn’t have to see Max. Their relationship was increasingly strained. She had adored him once. Now she felt shackled, and he knew it.
Max was quite possibly the richest man in the Empire, but even his eyes lit up when he saw how much money Emeric had paid for his war supplies.
‘His chamberlain, Orlin, says they need more,’ said Moneva, handing Max a list.
Max took it and scanned the list of items, whistling in astonishment.
‘How are they paying for all this up front?’ Max said. ‘Where is he getting his money from?’
Moneva shrugged. ‘I don’t know. They’re acting like money is no object. They’re spending so much the war will be over soon,’ she warned him.
‘Don’t worry. While the tap is turned on I’ll be filling my cup. Still, I’ll need some time to get my hands on this little lot.’
‘Good. I could do with a few days off.’
He gave her the look he used whenever he had suspicions about her absolute loyalty. She had never given him reason to question her, and that look was one of the reasons why. It spoke of what might happen if she did.
‘If you had to deal with the Barissians you would need some time off too,’ she said defensively.
He smiled at that, though there was little warmth.
‘Fair enough Moneva. But I’ll need you to handle this for me again. You need to be ready to go back to Coldeberg in four days.’
Four days. Just enough time.
‘This way,’ said Herin, leading her through the early evening half-light.
Moneva’s nerves jangled. She didn’t like the Steppe—it was unfamiliar, alien terrain. Too flat, no buildings. And now she was here, she wondered at the wisdom of it all. For all she knew, Herin could be leading her into a trap.
He looked about him, forehead creased in confusion.
‘Surely you know where it is?’ she demanded.
‘It’s dark,’ he responded hotly, brushing his hand through his hair irritably, ‘and everywhere in this place looks the fucking same. There,’ he said finally.
He took her to a patch of grass that at first sight looked just like any other. He knelt, brushing away dead grass and debris. Moneva joined him to help.
It was cleverly done. Beneath the grass were wooden boards that they lifted to reveal a large pit dug into the ground. Inside was a treasure trove of the most expensive items Herin could lay his hands on, mainly weapons and armour.
‘Not bad,’ Moneva conceded.
She turned around and put her fingers to her mouth, whistling into the evening sky.
She heard a rumble in response, as Ernst and Gernot brought the wagon to the location. They walked the horses past the pit, jumped down and flung open the rear door ready for loading. A third figure joined them. Ernst and Gernot were big men, but this man was even taller, and all muscles, making them look small by comparison.
‘Are you sure we can trust him?’ she asked Herin.
‘Of course. He’s my brother. I trust him with my life. Can you say the same about them?’
She couldn’t, so she kept quiet.
There was a substantial amount of heavy equipment, but Herin and his brother handled the lifting with ease. She had never seen Ernst and Gernot work so hard before, not wishing to be shown up by the two brothers. Before long, Herin was replacing the boards and camouflage over an empty pit.
‘I don’t foresee problems selling this stuff,’ she said to Herin. ‘We’ll come back soon with your share.’
‘I don’t think so,’ said Herin.
‘What do you mean?’
‘I’m sure you’re a woman of your word,’ he replied. ‘But I’m not letting you get your hands on all the money. Too many things can go wrong. I’m coming with you, to make sure I get my share there and then.’
Moneva shrugged. She would have done the same.
‘Won’t you be missed?’
‘Clarin will cover for me. He’ll tell them I saw a band of Middians and followed them. When I come back in a couple of days I’ll just say I lost them.’
‘Very well. We need to get back to Coldeberg before nightfall.’
They cut it fine, the guards at the West Gate letting them through once they explained their business and handed over a bit of coin.
Ernst and Gernot were happy enough to sleep in the stables of George’s House and keep an eye on their wagon full of loot, especially once Moneva said she would pay to have a meal brought out for them. Herin and Moneva got a room each and shared a meal downstairs, toasting their imminent success with a bottle of Barissian white. They both agreed that it tasted no better the second time around.
Back in her room, Moneva found that she couldn’t settle.
She had never crossed Max like this before. It wasn’t even crossing him, not really. It was striking out for herself.
Still. She didn’t know what she felt about it. He had become her parent since her own died; her mentor; her boss; her lover. He was in her blood, her soul. Was she feeling guilty? Feeling free of him? Feeling strong and bold, or scared? It was all of those things, and more.
Her head spinning, she left her room and went to Herin’s. She opened without knocking. He was lying on his back on his mattress, not a care in the world.
He turned to look at her, then got to his feet.
She shut the door behind her.
‘I knew you wouldn’t be able to stay away much longer,’ he said.
‘Oh, shut up.’
She marched over to him, put one hand round his neck, and pulled him in. Her heart thudded in her chest as they kissed, Herin’s hand sliding down her back. He pulled away.
‘I have this effect on women,’ he said, sounding almost serious. ‘But you should know, I’m not the falling in love, happily ever after type.’
‘This has got absolutely nothing to do with you,’ Moneva said, and pushed him back onto the bed.
Early next morning they brought their wagon to the yard of Coldeberg Castle. A tired looking guard gestured for them to come in.
‘What have you got?’ he asked brusquely.
‘Weapons and armour.’
Maybe he recognised them from last time because he didn’t seem interested in interrogating them further. Or maybe he’d been on the night shift and was ready for his bed.
‘I’ll fetch someone. Wait here.’
Moneva grew nervous with the wait. She would be glad when they had got rid of the stolen loot and left Coldeberg behind.
‘Shit,’ Herin murmured. He dived down behind one side of the wagon, hiding himself. Moneva looked. The guard was returning with one man: tall, well built, he walked like he owned the place.
‘It’s Salvinus!’ Herin hissed. ‘He’ll recognise me. I’ve got to go.’
Moneva felt her stomach lurch. These weapons were from Salvinus’s own stores. Would he be able to tell?
Ernst looked about for Herin, unsettled. Moneva caught his eye and gave him a stare. They had to act normal. He nodded at her, pulling himself together.
‘So, you’re our weapons dealer?’ came a voice. It was measured and composed, spoken by a man who was completely confident that he was in control of the situation.
Moneva instantly disliked him.
‘If I’d known you were such a fox I’d have made the effort to meet you earlier.’
Now she loathed him.
‘If I’d known you were such an ass I’d have avoided you.’
Salvinus laughed. ‘Well, that would have been a shame,’ he said as he approached, walking up so close to her that she had to prevent herself from taking a step backwards. ‘Let me see what you’ve got,’ he said quietly, still so close that she could feel his breath on her face.
Moneva gave a silent sneer, but walked around to the back of the wagon, pulling down the door. He followed her, peering in. He picked up a sword, studying it closely.
Oh fuck, he knows, he knows what we’re doing.
He thrust the sword forwards, parried with it, swinging it left then right.
He was showing off. Thank the gods, he was more interested in showing off his sword skills in an effort to impress her, than he was in actually studying the items.
‘It’s well balanced,’ he admitted grudgingly, keeping hold of the weapon. ‘How come you’ve only brought the weapons and armour? Last time you brought everything at once.’
‘Max had these ready,’ she said with a shrug, as if it was of no real interest to her.
‘Unusual,’ he said. ‘To have a stockpile of weapons and armour just lying about. Normally those are the most difficult items to source.’
So, he was suspicious after all. She would have to be careful.
‘He anticipated that you would want more. He’s good at what he does.’
‘Oh, I’m sure he fucking is, making himself a fortune while the rest of us are putting our lives on the line. He’s my hero. If he’s so damned successful,’ he said, an unpleasant tone to his voice as he walked up to her while he brandished the sword, ‘he won’t mind me borrowing you for a while.’
She looked at him, astonished.
‘I want you to work for me. I’ll pay you just as much. Max isn’t the only one with money anymore.’
Moneva laughed the idea off. ‘You really think Max just lets his people walk away?’ She didn’t have to fake the bitter humour in her voice. ‘I don’t get to choose who I work for.’
Suddenly, Salvinus’s arm shot out and he grabbed her face, thumb and forefinger pressing her cheeks into her teeth.
Gernot started forwards but Salvinus’s other arm lashed out, blade pointed at Gernot’s head. ‘Not a good idea, friend.’
Gernot stopped. He knew well enough not to interfere.
Salvinus turned back to Moneva. ‘You don’t seem to get it. I’m the one you should fear, not some Kellish merchant sat at home in Essenberg counting his money.’
‘Not entirely true,’ said a new voice.
Salvinus released her, looking at the newcomer.
Orlin, Emeric’s chamberlain. His piercing blue eyes studied the scene dispassionately. He was a cold, calculating bastard, and Moneva had never expected to be pleased to see him. But she was.
‘Lord Orlin,’ said Salvinus, giving an elaborate bow that smacked of sarcasm. ‘How’s that, then?’
‘Duke Emeric demands a victory from us in this war, nothing else will do,’ said Orlin reasonably. ‘We will only achieve victory if the Barissian army continues to be well supplied. To my mind, then, and of course more importantly, to the duke himself, our relationship with Max is crucial. Whereas, as valuable as your services are Gervase, you are replaceable.’
‘You think Max gives a stuff what happens to her?’ Salvinus asked, waving his sword at Moneva.
‘That is his business,’ said Orlin, angry that the conversation was continuing. ‘She is his representative. I will give her the money that Duke Emeric agreed to pay and she will take it to Max. It’s really that simple. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get on with it. I hate wasting time unnecessarily.’
Moneva, Ernst and Gernot returned to George’s House. They went straight to the bar, where Moneva ordered them drinks.
They looked at each other, each of them sporting a slightly hysterical expression.
‘That’s a lot of money we just made,’ said Ernst in a slightly bemused way, as if he couldn’t quite believe it. The leather bag containing Emeric’s gold was slung over his shoulder, and he couldn’t refrain from patting it.
‘And a lot of risk that went with it,’ Gernot reminded him.
‘True enough,’ Moneva said. ‘We earned it.’
She felt exhausted, as the tension of the day left her body. Salvinus had made it worse than it needed to be. That was bad luck, but it didn’t take anything away from what she had achieved. This was the day she finally freed herself from Max. She looked about her, determined to remember this moment.
And that was when she saw. Fool that she was, she had been too wrapped up in their success to notice before. A group at a table were looking her way, as was the barman who had served them. None of them were looking at her, exactly. They were all looking at her glass of wine.
She saw Gernot raising his drink to his lips.
‘No!’ she shouted.
He stopped, confused.
‘Weapons!’ she screamed.
The expressions of the men at the table suddenly changed. They got to their feet, pulling out weapons concealed under their cloaks.
The first of them collapsed as Moneva grabbed her knife and threw it, the blade embedded in his forehead.
The door of the inn burst open. She knew they were Salvinus’s men. Knew he would be outside somewhere, directing the operation, with orders to take her alive. She knew it all now and she should have known it sooner.
She threw herself towards the bar, drawing one of her swords as she did. She leaped onto the bar, sliding over it, at the same time clobbering the barman with her sword. It wasn’t an accurate hit, but nonetheless she connected with him and he fell to the floor.
Moneva landed on the other side of the bar. She had no time to spare a backward glance for Ernst and Gernot. Maybe they would follow her. But she knew that wasn’t their style. They would fight it out in the bar, and the chances of them getting out alive were already virtually nil.
She ran behind the bar, into the private rooms of George’s House, where barrels of drink were stacked against the walls. If Salvinus had really wanted to make sure, he would have put men here too. But he had expected them to drink the poisoned wine, and he had the inn surrounded just in case that went wrong. Would that be enough?
Moneva had a habit, instilled in her by Max, and beaten into her by experience, to take note of all the exits from a building. And she had found out that in George’s House, the barrels of wine were delivered, not to the front door, but to the street behind the inn, one street nearer the castle and slightly higher. Here, metal grates in the pavement could be opened and barrels sent down a wooden chute into the back of the inn.
It was possible that Salvinus knew this and had stationed men there. Possible, but not likely.
Moneva moved into a storeroom and found what she was looking for. Concrete steps went up to the metal grates. She moved quickly, fiddling with the metal locks that held the grates in place. She pushed them open, not caring that they banged onto the pavement above. There were either men there, or there weren’t. Being quiet wouldn’t make a difference either way.
She walked up the last steps and out onto the street. No-one was there. She looked down the chute, hearing noise from the storeroom. A head appeared, looking up at her. It wasn’t Ernst, or Gernot. It was one of Salvinus’s men.
She turned and ran away, into the city.
As she ran, turning this way and that through the maze of streets, her fear of being followed faded, and was replaced with a cold fury. Ernst and Gernot were almost certainly dead now. Salvinus had their money. That was bad enough. But worst of all, she had let it happen, sleepwalking into George’s House without looking out for the threat. Celebrating her success, without realising that for Salvinus, it wasn’t over.
Without being conscious of what she was doing, without thinking it through, Moneva realised that she had been travelling in a circle through the streets of Coldeberg and had returned to the area around George’s House. She stopped, trying to regain control of the emotions that threatened to spill over and make her do something stupid. She had worked too hard, been through too much, to give her life away cheaply. If she was going to avenge Ernst and Gernot, if that was what she really wanted, she had to make the right move at the right time.
She moved slowly, drifting past houses, keeping to the shadows. This was what she was good at. Cat-like, she climbed onto the roof of a shop on the opposite side of the street to George’s House, shuffling forwards until she could peer down onto the scene outside.
The hacked bodies of Ernst and Gernot had been dragged onto the side of the street, a red smear from the pavement to the door of the inn. With fierce pleasure Moneva noted that two other bodies lay next to them, while a third man sat slumped against the front of the inn.
To one side of this spectacle stood Salvinus, giving out orders. Two men walked off in the direction of the castle, the bag of money they had taken from Ernst slung over a shoulder.
She remembered Ernst’s expression, bemused but delighted that they had come away with so much money.
And that was when she lost it.
Fuck thinking things through. Fuck always being in control. Fuck being patient, waiting for the right moment. And fuck Salvinus. She was going to kill him, here and now.
She wriggled backwards, her legs dangling over the edge of the house, then dropped down, landing in a crouch. She moved around the back of the shop, walked past another, looking to get as close to Salvinus as possible before being seen.
This would do. She could see him, talking with half a dozen of his men. What was he waiting for? For some of his soldiers to arrive, dragging her with them? Then he wasn’t ready for this.
Moneva sprung out from her position, both swords drawn, and ran at them.
They were all caught by surprise, reacting with instinct, and the natural response to their situation was to escape the blades.
Salvinus’s soldiers moved out of her way, pulling weapons from belts, surrounding her. It gave her a free shot at Salvinus. She swung at him, aiming to slice his neck open. He dived away at the last minute, hurling himself to the ground, but she felt her blade connect nonetheless.
Then his men were on to her. She blocked with one sword, parried with the other, caught one of them on the hand causing him to drop his weapon. She took a blow on the arm, one on her back—glancing strikes—and a third on her thigh, which was excruciating, giving her a dead leg.
She felt and heard something buzz past her head, thinking at first she had narrowly missed a fourth blow.
But one of them yelled, ‘Archer!’
She didn’t know who or where the archer was, but she knew she had to get out of there, fast.
She half ran, half hobbled back the way she had come. Her leg responded well enough for now, but she knew it would stiffen and seize up before too long. She sensed the soldiers following her, but another arrow came at them and they threw themselves to the ground behind her.
She made it to the gap in the buildings, from where she couldn’t resist looking back. Salvinus was up, one knee on the floor, one hand clutching his face. She had sliced deeply into his cheek, the flesh almost fully cut from the bone. Where Salvinus held the wound closed blood still flowed freely. He looked her way, a strangely neutral expression on his face.
She had failed to kill him. But she’d given him something to remember. That would have to do. It was time to disappear for good now.
Moneva wasted no time in leaving Coldeberg. If Salvinus had ordered the gates shut and conducted a thorough search, it would have made things difficult, even for her.
She found herself walking, painfully, in a vaguely south-westerly direction across country, away from Coldeberg and Salvinus, away from Essenberg and Max. Where to, she didn’t know. Not yet.
She heard horses coming behind her. Had they tracked her down so quickly? Damn them. She wasn’t half as good at moving across country as she was in a city.
‘Hold up!’ came a voice.
She frowned. It couldn’t be?
She stopped and turned. Coming her way was Herin, mounted on one horse and leading a second.
He pulled up.
‘Where are you rushing off to? You left without your share.’
He grabbed a leather bag from amongst the various items he had attached to his saddle and threw it in her direction. It landed with a satisfyingly heavy jingle. Her share of the money.
Moneva took a second look at the paraphernalia he was riding with and pointed to a bow.
‘Didn’t know you could use one of those,’ she said.
‘Yeah well, I’ve been practising. Still room for improvement.’
He offered her the reins of the second horse.
Taking them, she tried to lift her foot up into the stirrups but grunted in pain instead, as her leg refused to bend at the knee.
Shaking his head, Herin dismounted and walked over.
‘Here, let me give you a hand.’
Moneva nodded, but when he approached she put her arms around him.
‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘Not many would have done this.’
‘I’m sorry about your friends. Here, let me get you up.’
Moneva let herself get manoeuvred up into the saddle, and Herin swung himself easily back into his.
‘Where are you going?’ she asked.
‘You’re joking? After all this?’
‘None of them saw me. My brother’s still there. Plus, I signed a contract. Have to see it through.’
So, that was that. She couldn’t complain. He’d told her he wasn’t the falling in love type.
‘How about you?’ he asked her.
‘Thinking of staying away from the Empire for a while,’ she said.
He gave her a smile. ‘Yeah, I think that’s best. I’ve always thought Cordence might be a good option. Lots of money there, not much going on. A good place to lie low for a while.’
‘Cordence,’ she said, mulling the idea over.
‘Yes. Then there’s the wine, of course. The place is flowing with smooth red wine. You’ll never have to drink Barissian piss again.’
She smiled. ‘You’ve sold me.’
‘I’ve nearly sold myself. Maybe after this war’s over.’
Moneva turned her horse to the south.
‘Farewell Herin,’ she said over her shoulder, not looking back.
‘Until next time.’
Moneva pushed her weight forwards and told her horse to go. They had to make good time, because they weren’t going to stop until they had left Barissia behind for good.
Copyright Jaime Edmundson