GENRE: YA Fantasy
Getting past the Protector was all a matter of timing. The time of day, first of all. Dusk, after most of the sunlight was gone but before the torches were lit. Then the trick was to slip by at the exact moment someone else was passing through the gate, while the Protector was occupied with drawing blood from the next one in line.
The form was also crucial. Issa had gotten through a few times in the guise of a small child, so short that the Protector never saw her as she toddled in the wake of someone’s billowing cloak. The stubby legs, though, made it harder to move quickly. She couldn’t afford to stumble and be caught. Last time had been too close.
The other likely choice was taking on a limber body that could scale the wall in the space of a single breath. Issa hadn’t dared that before. She’d practiced leaping the lower walls at the edges of the Den for the past month, and Yeril swore her swift movement was hardly visible if he wasn’t watching closely. She almost believed him.
She’d already wondered and worried too long, resolving every evening that this would be the night, only to lose her nerve and slink back from the wall. Tomorrow most of the farmers would pack what remained of their wares and leave the city. Then her chance would be gone for another season.
It was already nearly sunset. “Now,” she whispered, pulling on the black, threadbare tunic and tugging out its wrinkles. “Do it now.”