Chapter One

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Chapter One 

Ten Months Later...

Darkness fills the alley, the only light coming from a flickering candle in a window. I stare up at it, watching the candlelight struggle to seep through the clouded glass. It’s strange seeing the light obstructed like that. I’m used to the clear windows of the castle, each pane specially made by the Fae.

They’re expert craftsmen, Father told me one night, as we stared out a window at the stars. More skilled than any human. And they’re your namesake, Faye. Someday, you’ll grow up to be just as brilliant as their best craftsman. 

I close my eyes against the memory. Against the failure.

Footsteps echo behind me. “You’re early,” a throaty voice says.

I turn slowly, careful not to show fear. “No, Derrin. You’re just late.”

Derrin chuckles. Most of him is hidden behind a long, black coat, but he’s thrown the hood back. I’m not as brave, and stay hidden beneath my cloak.

“Any news?” I ask.

Derrin cocks his head to the side, looking like a curious bird of prey. His face is ruined by a jagged scar, but I’ve seen it enough times to not react. “You know, my little friend, I was beginning to think you were crazy.”

I shrug. Most people do.

“But then I found this.” He pulls an envelope out of his cloak and extends it toward me. “Says your man is back in Kastellor. And he can be found.”

I try to snatch the envelope from him, but he jerks back. “It’ll be extra if you want to read what’s inside.”

“I already paid you,” I growl.

“You paid me to find the information. You never said anything about letting you read it.”

I grit my teeth, holding back a frustrated groan. Father gives me an annual salary to take care of myself, but that’s almost gone, and it’s barely a third of the way through the year.

“I don’t have any more money to give.”

He chuckles, shaking his head. “Oh, really?” Derrin steps toward me, until I can smell his breath that reeks of alcohol and decay. “Don’t think you’re fooling me, princess.”

I stumble back a step. Stay calm, stay calm, stay calm

Derrin grins at my reaction. “Yeah, that’s right, isn’t it? The king’s little girl running around at night, trying to find a man. Let me guess, he knocked you up, and you don’t want the kid growing up without a daddy. Right?”

“Wrong.”

Derrin scoffs. “Oh, really? Then why are you so desperate to find this guy?”

“That’s not your business.”

“Yeah, princess, I guess not. But that doesn’t change that I could tell the king what you’ve been up to. You think he’ll appreciate hearing that you’ve been hanging around the Water District?” He laughs at my expression. “I thought not. Tell you what, hmm? You give me all the money you have on you, and I won’t breath a word. Plus I’ll give you this.” He wags the envelope in my face.

I grind my teeth, unable to tear my eyes from the envelope. My search for the man has been pointless so far, only resulting in false leads and frustration. What Derrin holds is probably just another dead end, but… what if it’s not?

“Fine,” I snap. I reach into my cloak and pull out a small bag of coins. I hesitate just a moment longer before tossing it to Derrin.

He considers the bag for a moment, his thumb rubbing the smooth velvet fabric. Then he smirks. “All of your money, princess.”

I curse and pull out the other bag. This one is slightly larger, and Derrin grins as I hand it over.

“Very good,” he says. “That will keep me quiet. At least for awhile.”

I ignore the threat and put my hand out. “The intelligence,” I demand.

To my surprise, he actually presses the envelope into my palm. “Enjoy, princess.”

I walk around him, heading for the exit of the alley.

“Princess,” Derrin calls after me. I turn, finding him tossing the bag of coins up and down, his smile growing each time it lands in his palm. “I require one more thing for my silence.”

“Name it. Quickly.”

“I want to know why you’re so desperate to find this man.”

I take a deep breath. “Because I’m going to kill him.”

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