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Pearson Mary E, “The kiss of deception”, public translation into English from English More about this translation.

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She snapped back to attention, tugging on Dieci’s reins. “Just a guess,” she said. “I think you should let me speak with the Chancellor when we get there. I might have more power of persuasion than you.”

“The Chancellor hates Lia. He’d be the last person to speak to.”

She tilted her head to the side and shrugged. “We’ll see.”

CHAPTER SIXTY-SIX

RAFE

“Bite down!” I commanded.

We couldn’t afford for him to scream out, not with the way sound echoed through these rocky hills. I shoved a leather strap between his teeth. Sweat poured down his forehead and dotted his upper lip.

“Hurry,” I said.

Tavish shoved the needle into Sven’s cheek and pulled the bloody gut through the other side of the wound that ran from his cheekbone to his jaw. It was too long and too gaping to leave to a poultice. I held Sven’s arms in case he flinched, but he remained still—only his eyelids fluttered.

We had encountered a patrol of Vendans. The barbarians were becoming bolder and more organized. I had never seen a Vendan patrol numbering more than a handful this far out from the Great River. There were plenty of small rogue bands of three or four, fierce and violent—that was their way—but not an organized and uniformed patrol. It didn’t bode well for any of the kingdoms.

The treacherous Great River had always been our ally. A thin chain drawbridge that could barely support a single horse was their only way across. Were they breeding horses on this side of the river now? The patrol we encountered had fine, well-trained mounts.

We took them all down, but not before Sven suffered the first blow. He was riding ahead of us and was knocked from his horse before I could even draw my sword, but then I moved swiftly, taking down his attacker and three more who followed behind him. In minutes, the Vendans littered the ground at our feet, a dozen in all. Jeb’s face was still spattered in blood, and I could feel the crusted smears on mine.

Orrin brought over Sven’s flask of red-eye as Tavish had ordered. I removed the leather strap clenched between Sven’s teeth and gave him a sip to help numb the pain.

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