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I tread carefully, ears perked at every stray breath of wind. Another guard could be right around the corner. The solider turned sharply on his heel, armored glove resting lightly on the pommel of his sword. It swung freely in its sheath at his hip, a slice of the shiny metal glinting in the setting sun.

My heart leapt into my throat but I forced my careful breathing. He couldn't see me. That is, he didn't know to look. He was the prey, not me.

Clunk, clunk, clunk, thud.

The guard took a few steps and stopped again, holding up a hand as he yawned.

I sidled quietly from the alley and slipped across the street, ever closer to the guard. The shadows of dusk welcomed me gladly into their arms, the uncertain gray light enveloping me.

"Hey Uhle!"

I nearly jumped out of my skin as a voice right beside me boomed in the silent street. The other guard's voice echoed off the stone storefronts, muffled only by empty, covered stalls.

"Yeah?" The first guard answered.

"Switch me, I'm bored down this way!"

I ignored the guards conversation. Let them argue, I needed to get on the roof.

Guard Two went away grumbling. Good.

It was a trick I'd used a hundred times, but my heart was beating fast. I chucked the rock with all my might past the guard and didn't wait for it to land before I shot out of the alley on light feet. My swift steps on the cobblestones were padded by thin cloth shoes, and it was second nature choose each stone for my foot to land.

I was three steps out of the alley when the rock smashed on the street, and the guard jumped nearly as much as I had just a moment earlier. He took a hesitant step toward the noise, then clanked farther down the street, leaving his position near the doorway.

The opening was all I needed, the clank of armor all the cover I could ask for.

My legs pushed off the ground and I was soaring for one exhilarating eternity before one hand caught the protruding joist, then the other. My light frame was easy to pull onto the precarious perch, the flickering torchlight of the street making it easy to blend in.

Just a few more seconds...


The solider stopped dead right below me.

Did he just not care about the rock? I thought wildly. I was balanced on a stud, pressed against the flat wall of the multi-story building. That was loud!

He just had to look up. I was a tough shape to make out, but the light stonework didn't do well to hide my dark cloak. He could shout and three other guards would come running.

The guard casually whistled a few notes, scanning up and down the street leisurely.

My lungs were bursting from keeping my breathing steady. All I could think about was taking a massive gulp of air.

"Uhle! What about now!"

I silently celebrated the return of Guard Two. Guard One, Uhle, was not happy, and their bickering covered my ascent to the second floor windowsill. Having three floors, this house was one of the taller buildings in Yeandol, and I saw why the Corvel chose it for a meeting. Not that the height could stop me eavesdropping.

They should've put a man on the roof.

A few more swift moves and I was huddled against the shuttered window, straining to hear the soldiers' voices inside. A slit of light slipped through the shutters where the two wooden flaps met, perfect to press my ear against.

Solace Curse: Part IWhere stories live. Discover now