The Royal Sentinel: Prologue

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‘Fifteen is my final offer.’

Naomi looked at the street vendor, keeping her face carefully neutral as they tried to stare each other down. She hadn’t missed the way his eyes had lit up when she had first put her bow and quiver down on his counter with the intention to sell, and she wasn’t about to let it go for fifteen, either.

Her ship had docked in Asuya after the long voyage across from Ffion, and she needed money to support herself for a few days. The bow and arrows were the least likely of her possessions she would need again, and she had already traded the few sets of clothes she’d had for warmer Tsumetese clothing. Thankfully, despite one of the last surviving members of Ffion’s royal family, the Redwoods, Naomi knew how to barter.

‘The bow alone is worth twenty,’ she said flatly. ‘I’ll take thirty for the lot, or nothing.’

‘Thirty?’ the vendor scoffed, throwing his hands up in a dramatic fashion that almost made her smile. ‘Are you trying to rob me? Twenty-five, and that’s final.’

‘Done,’ she held her hand out to shake, and the bargain was struck. Twenty-five was fair, and it would cover her expenses for a few days. Granted, it would be one of the less reputable inns, but she had slept rougher in her time.

‘You selling anything else?’ the vendor asked, and she looked sharply back at him, unsure of his implication. When she saw he was giving the beautiful sword at her hip the eye, Naomi relaxed again.

‘The sword isn’t for sale.’ she told him firmly, tucking the small pouch of coin into the breast of her warm wrap-over top.

As she did so, her fingers brushed against the dagger secreted out of sight there, and she hesitated. It wasn’t hers, not really. She had borrowed it months ago in the forests of Ffion from King Arun, to bleed poison from a dart wound she’d taken protecting him and had never really gotten around to returning it. Just thinking about their parting of ways made her blood boil.

It was her hope she would never see the cussing man again as long as she lived, and so returning it was unlikely, but somehow she felt wrong selling it. In the privacy of her own mind, she dryly observed that any man who could be so horribly possessive over another person was likely ten times worse for inanimate objects. For a brief moment she wondered how he was doing, if he had made a full recovery after their brutal battle with the reanimated corpse of the harpy, Genevieve…

The smallest brush of something in the back of her mind, not even a whisper of movement, made her start so violently that the street vendor jumped as well. Naomi might have been annoyed with herself at the slip, had she not been so disturbed by the sensation. It had been so light, she almost wondered if she had imagined it, but clutched the woven charm that hung about her neck tightly, searching for any indication that her shields had been broken.

She found nothing. Relieved beyond measure, Naomi sighed heavily and glanced at the vendor, now watching her warily.

‘Pleasure doing business with you,’ she nodded to him, and walked away to find lodging for the night.

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