Chapter 20

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And darkness will follow the one-eyed man

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And darkness will follow the one-eyed man. It will draw The Child of the Storm to the feet of the dark lord who sits on Earoni's throne. And it will corrupt her. A thousand years of darkness will follow. Then the death of the world.

Forgive me, mother. Despite your warnings, this is a vision that I know I must change.

-Journal of Reane Matir

The lock pick slipped in Sheala's fingers

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The lock pick slipped in Sheala's fingers. Battling for control of it far more than she should have, the thief worked to remove the cuffs binding her hands behind her back. After a brief stumble, it once more moved with renewed effortlessness. She regained her long-practiced control of the sliver of metal, sliding it into the keyhole.

"Easy," she muttered. Her mind was once more solely focused on the task at hand, having done this a hundred times.

"Come on, Sweetheart!" Brentai's voice rose from among the crowd of gathered sailors. All watched as she worked her magic on the deck of the Oracle while it continued to limp along under partial sail towards Fimmirra.

She didn't let the noise of the crowd distract her, keeping her cool as the pick fell neatly into place within the mechanism. The sound of the timing metronome at her feet reminded her that this was not only a test to see if she could free herself but also a race against the clock.

"Come on, baby!" Brentai called again. "I've got two weeks pay riding on you!" Sheala wished he would shut up.

With a twist, there was a click. Metal released from her wrists, and the shackles fell to the deck with a clatter. A mixture of cheers and groaned complaints rose from the crowd as Sheala slid her pick back into the small tear in her cuff.

"Thank you," Sheala gloated. "Thank you very much." She bent over and picked up the metal restraints, as though displaying the carcass of a dead beast she had slain. "Please don't be sore losers! Remember to pay your debts! Maybe we'll do this again sometime?" And with that final taunt, she collected the assortment of coins that laid at her feet.

Brentai came up and gave her an affectionate hug. "That was wonderful, baby! You even beat your old record. You're great."

"I know. I almost feel sorry for those poor fools. It's too easy." Sheala looked across the deck and spotted Anthony as he leaned on the railing and stared across the sea. "Perhaps I need a new challenge?"

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