The Spirit Eater

The Spirit Eater by Rachel Aaron Read Free Book Online

Book: The Spirit Eater by Rachel Aaron Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rachel Aaron
board. All evidence safely loaded onto his person, he went next door to Josef’s somewhat smaller room and locked the door behind him.
    “That,” he said, “was not how I intended to spend my evening.”
    Josef didn’t even look up from the basin where he was washing his hands. “I think your evening came out better than his, if it makes you feel better.”
    “It certainly does not,” Eli said, flopping down on the bed beside Nico. “Josef, what is going on? We came to this… wherever we are, to get away from the hunters for a few days. They’re worse than mosquitoes lately. I can count on one hand the number of incident-free days we’ve had in the last two weeks. Did bounty hunting suddenly become the stylish profession? Have we stumbled into a hunter boom, or do I have a ‘Please Ambush’
    sign on my back that you haven’t told me about?”
    Josef chuckled, wiping his now clean hands on the towel. “Nothing so complicated. Check out the poster on the table.”
    Eli glanced over at the end table in surprise, and then reached out to snatch the oversized square of folded parchment, shaking it open as he did so. “It’s just my poster,” he said, frowning. “Wait, this isn’t right.” He looked at Josef. “It has to be a joke. Where did you get this?”
    “From the inside pocket of our visitor’s coat,” Josef answered, tossing the towel into the linen bin. “Not that he’ll miss it. And it’s no joke. That’s an official Council bounty notice.”
    “Impossible,” Eli scoffed. “I know my own bounty! Counting what Gaol just threw in, I should be at an even seventy-five thousand, eighty thousand if Miranda would ever do as she promised and combine the Spirit Court’s bounty. But even if she accidentally combined it twice over, it wouldn’t explain this.” He flipped the poster around and held it up. There, below the usual picture of Eli’s smiling face, was a number written in tall, blocky strokes: 98,000 gold standards.
    “This is a breakdown of government,” Eli said. “What’s the Council of Thrones coming to if it can’t even keep something as important as my bounty straight?”
    “Whatever the reason,” Josef said, “we may need to lie low for a bit.”
    “I thought we were lying low,” Eli said, still frowning at his poster.
    “Lower, then,” Josef snapped back. “All this attention is causing problems, like the one that just fell out of your window. That man wasn’t your standard thug chasing the Eli lottery. He was a professional. He didn’t wake you up or brag or try to take you alive. No, he did it exactly how I would have, clean and quick in the night. If you hadn’t woken up when you did, you never would have felt a thing.”
    Eli gave him a dirty look. “Just how you would have? Have you thought about this before?”
    “Only when you’re being a jerk,” Josef said dryly. “Listen, I don’t know why the number is so high, but attacks like this one are only going to happen more often. And once your bounty breaks a hundred thousand, we’re going to start seeing armies coming after us. We need our trail to be ice cold when they do.”
    Eli heaved a defeated sigh. “Fine, fine, where would be low enough for you? And don’t say the mountains. I’ve had more than enough wandering through the wilderness.”
    Josef leaned against the washstand. “I was thinking we could go home.”
    Eli froze. That was not the answer he’d expected. Nico, on the other hand, lifted her head. “Home?”
    Josef nodded. “It’s as low as we get. No one will find us there.”
    “But home is so boring,” Eli said. “Nothing happens.”
    Josef crossed his arms over his chest. “Nothing’s supposed to happen. Do you not understand the concept of lying low?”
    “Fine, fine,” Eli said, shaking his head. “We’ll slip out tomorrow morning before whatever passes as the guard in this boring depression of a town gets too close and decides I look familiar.”
    “I’m surprised

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