SIXTY SEVEN

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ONCE THE WOMAN fled to safety, Ravenna returned her attention to the mouth of the alleyway. The familiar clink of metal hitting metal had joined the heavy footfalls. She lowered into a slight crouch. Her eyes narrowed and, within seconds, another swarm of daggers had materialized around her.

Slivers of ice danced between her fingertips, pirouetting through the air like snowflakes. A part of her was thrilled. Since witnessing that child being attacked in the marketplace, she'd had a severe bone to pick with the guards.

And now Vyses wasn't here to stop her.

A small group of guards slowed to a stop in front of her, their expressions filled with confusion. Their eyes skirted around Ravenna, around the alley, until they landed on the gruesome murder scene behind her. Before their shock could register, however, Ravenna's daggers soared at them. Their startled gasps and agonized screams pierced through the silence of the city.

Ravenna heard the sound of shouting, of more guards rushing to confront her. With a hurricane of daggers surrounding her, she moved forward, into the marketplace. Lights flickered on within the buildings that surrounded her. Concerned eyes watched as, one by one, the guards dropped to the ground. Their blood pooled around the stones beneath them, crawling through the marketplace like a liquified spiderweb.

As each dagger found a victim, another dagger appeared beside her. Ravenna slowly made her way through each street of the city, killing any guard that entered her sight. The guards tried to fight back. Some ran at her, their weapons drawn, or shot at her with arrows from atop the wall that encompassed the city. Even the guards that had been on guard outside of the city had ran through the gate, attempting to stop her. Their weapons never touched Ravenna, however. Her daggers deflected each sword and arrow.

When the arrows stopped, and limp armored bodies littered the streets, Ravenna's daggers halted their attack. She listened, hard, for any sound of movement, for any sound of moving armor.

There was none.

Silence washed through the blood-stained city. Ravenna's daggers vanished. She made her way to the center of the marketplace, to the fountain that stood there.

Slowly, she peered over the edge of the masonry, at her reflection in the water. Strands of starlight blonde curled around her shoulders, falling down her back. Her eyes glowed a bright shade of blue, the same shade as her daggers. Her crown had returned to her forehead. Vyses's cloaking spell had broken. She squeezed her eyes shut.

"Ravenna," a sharp voice sounded from behind her. A harsh, angered, and very familiar voice.

She turned around to face Vyses, her eyes narrowed. "It had to be done," she announced coldly. "I discovered one of the guards raping an innocent woman, and he tried to attack me. The moment that he died, the others came running. I had no other choice."

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