GENRE: Young Adult Fantasy
Devin Grath hated failure but, given his current occupation, he hated success more.
Careful not to look back, where evidence of his most recent success formed a puddle of blood on the stone floor, Devin wiped his sword clean. If only he could erase the memory so easily. Though his hands remained unstained, he scrubbed them against his pants.
“Sorry, friend,” he whispered, then slipped out the magistrate’s back door into the small garden behind the house. A quarter-moon illuminated neat rows of herbs and vegetables. Three gulps of basil-scented air did little to calm his churning stomach, only lodged in his throat.
Swallowing, he tilted his face to the starry sky and closed his eyes. One. Don’t look back. Two. Don’t think about it. Three. Focus on the next task. Four. Remember Mother. Five.
On five, he opened his eyes, the memories now tucked away with all the others.
Devin climbed the waist-high, split rail fence and crept through backyards of the neighboring houses. Darkness and shadows of enormous apple trees provided cover as he made his way toward the town square.
Ailba was the type of place he preferred to avoid—still hot in late autumn, nothing but dry breezes off the endless plains, no water for miles, the sickly sweet stench of rotting fruit. But this town in the middle of the kingdom served as a gateway from mountains to plains and was therefore important to his boss.
And what Lord Byrne cared about, Devin better care about, too.