Title: Tournament of Kings
Genre: YA Fantasy
Kaari pressed a hand to her neck, checking her status mark remained hidden by her up-turned collar.
Before her, the solider waved through another merchant and the line shuffled forward. The sun’s heat prickled her skin and beads of sweat rolled down the soldier’s forehead. He wiped his sleeve across his face with a groan. Good—hot and bothered men made poor guards.
Two round towers stood either side of the pointed archway leading into Bria. Each more than twenty feet high, they towered overhead. A painted statue of King Elric sat in the niche above the entrance, his face turned towards Jakin.
At the very top of the entrance was a row of blackened heads, their eyes plucked out by the birds. Kaari’s gaze swept their faces, the breath catching in her throat. She sought familiarity but their identities had rotten away with their flesh.
“Anything to declare?”
The soldier glared at her. “Anything to declare?”
Focus. She couldn’t afford to draw attention to herself. Dropping her gaze to the ground, she shook her head.
“What’s your business in Bria?”
“I’m only here for the day. I’m going to market.” She flashed the small coin pouch she’d pocket picked that morning to verify her lie. A soft wind pulled at the loose baby hairs along her forehead and she let out a shaky breath. She’d left her re-curve bow and arrows hidden in the hollow of a tree and the small knife strapped to her right calf offered no real comfort.