06 - Rule of Thieves

06 - Rule of Thieves by C. Greenwood Read Free Book Online

Book: 06 - Rule of Thieves by C. Greenwood Read Free Book Online
Authors: C. Greenwood
had fascinated him when we were there recently, and I suspected he would like the chance to visit it again.
    The hour was growing late, and by the time we said our farewells and I descended the temple steps, the moon had risen high to bathe the temple grounds in its silvery light. Once again, I found myself risking curfew violation if I was found roaming the streets without legitimate business. I needed to get to the under-levels, where I could lie low until morning.
    Leaving the temple grounds, I decided to cut across the water cemetery to save time. It was an eerie place at any hour but especially now, with the tall granite obelisks that marked the graves rising from the black waters to paint threatening shapes against the starry sky.
    Not trusting my night vision, I avoided the precarious walkways skimming the water’s surface, instead following the outer wall. Here, the shadows were so deep I could hardly see where I was going. But if my eyes failed me, my ears at least were attuned to the night sounds. It was strangely still. The crickets had fallen silent. There was not even a breath of wind to stir the near hedges.
    Yet something did stir the one closest to me. Warily, I sent a questing trickle of magic toward it, even as I drew the twin knives from up my sleeves.
    A dark shape burst suddenly out of the shrubbery, rearing like a shadowy mountain before me. I caught the metallic ching of chain mail and the glint of moonlight on a drawn blade. Reacting instinctively, I swiped one of my knives at the figure blocking my way and felt it drag across flesh. His arm, I thought, although I couldn’t see well enough to be sure. It must have been a shallow wound, because my assailant was undeterred. My eyes fixed on his sword, my legs coiled, prepared to dodge its coming swing.
    Just then, something heavy slammed into my back, bearing me to the ground. Facedown, I could see nothing but the cobbles and the boots of my first attacker as he came to stand over me.
    I silently cursed myself for forgetting that Fists hunted together. I had been too distracted by the first man to look out for his companion behind me. Trying to flip over now, I found myself immobilized by the weight of the second man. As I struggled, something — a boot — smashed down over my hand, crushing my fingers into the cobbles until I couldn’t help crying out and loosening my hold on my knife.
    Instantly, it was kicked out of my reach.
    “Not so tough now, are you, forest scum?” asked a gravelly voice.
    Strong hands grabbed the back of my cloak and dragged me up onto my knees. I used the opportunity to thrust the remaining knife still clutched in my good hand into the knee of the man standing over me. His chain mail thwarted my effort, but his startled scream told me the tip of my blade had left some impression.
    He might have been frozen with pain, but his companion was not. He threw me against the near wall and bashed my head repeatedly against the stone until the world grew hazy before my eyes.
    Numbly, I groped after my magic. But I couldn’t seem to remember what to do with it. The bow railed frantically at the edge of my mind as my consciousness slipped away.

Chapter Four

    It was the rough landing that woke me. I came to just as I was being unceremoniously dumped onto a cold stone floor. My head throbbed dully as I squinted up to see a pair of blurry figures walking away — Fists. Memory flooded through me. I had been ambushed. Captured. And now I was in some drafty, dimly lit room with bare floors.
    The rusty screech and clang of my cell door being slammed shut provided me with all the explanation I needed. I was imprisoned, probably in the dungeon beneath the Praetor’s keep.
    My jailers were leaving now, taking with them the flickering torch that was the only source of light down here.
    Scrambling to my feet, I lurched after them.
    “Wait!” I shouted. “Under whose authority do you lock me in here? I serve Praetor Tarius and cannot be

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