Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves 1) - Page 46

“You speak Vendan?” Nash asked. “Will you teach me?”

I looked at Vairlyn. She nodded approval.

“Le’en chokabrez. Kez lo mati,” I said slowly, waiting for him to repeat.

He struggled to repeat the words that were foreign to his tongue but smiled with accomplishment when he finished. “What did I say?”

“I’m hungry. Let’s eat.”

“I’m all for that,” Uncle Cazwin said and began eating.

Everyone dug in, and Lydia and Nash practiced the words over and over as they giggled and slurped mouthfuls.

“You are clever,” Vairlyn said abruptly.

I lowered my spoon and eyed her, uncertain if it was a compliment or an accusation.

“Jase told me,” she added. “He said you were resourceful in the wilderness.”

“As was he,” I answered. “We worked together and made the best of it.”

Jalaine smiled. “I’m sure you did.”

I couldn’t see it, but I was certain Priya kicked Jalaine beneath the table because Jalaine jumped in her seat, then shot Priya an angry scowl.

A rumble of heavy footsteps echoed just outside the dining room, and the doors flew open. Mason walked in, looked around, his eyes landing on me first, then Vairlyn. “Sorry,” he told her. “We won’t make dinner tonight.”

She asked for no further explanation, as if she had already expected this. “We’ll keep your plates in the warmer.”

Mason turned back toward me. “Jase would like to see you.”

I spied two tiny crimson dots on his sleeve. Blood. A spray of blood to be precise.

“Sounds ominous,” I said, expecting him to laugh it off. He didn’t.

“Ready?” he asked.

I pushed my chair back, my mind spinning with possibilities. Everyone watched me leave like I was on my way to an execution.

“How do you say good-bye in Vendan?” Lydia called.

“Vatrésta,” I answered, “if it’s a final good-bye.”

“Is this a final good-bye?”

I didn’t know, and Mason shuffled me out before I could answer.



I have something for you to steal, Kazimyrah. I would do it myself, but as you can see, I’m unable to travel. And the truth is, regardless of my passion for this quest, you are the preeminent thief in Venda. But the prize I want is not a square of cheese or a soup bone. It is loud and large. What is the largest thing you’ve ever stolen?

I had sensed that she already knew—it was spoken of in whispers on the streets. Did Ten really steal that? No, impossible. Why would she? But anonymity was essential in what I did, if I wanted to keep doing it. The queen didn’t question the if or the what—she wanted to hear the how. Could I do it again? I thought back to my large, loud, and very dangerous acquisition. It had taken me more patience than I had thought I possessed, more than a month of many skipped meals, saving and stashing, and favors procured by stealing numerous other much smaller things. There was no doubt I had seen it as a challenge. But there was more to it than just that.

The tiger had drawn a large crowd when the Previzi driver rolled into the jehendra. No one had seen one before or even knew what it was, but it was obvious it had to be one of the magical creatures of legend, and when it suddenly lunged and roared, the thunderous sound vibrated through my teeth. I watched three men fall back, wetting themselves. I also saw the thick iron collar and chain that kept the tiger from leaping from the back of the dray, and on closer inspection, I noticed that its glorious striped fur hung like a loose coat over its ribs. The Previzi driver was, amazingly, unafraid of the beast. He shouted a command, then laughed and scratched the animal behind its ear when it lay down.

The butcher had stepped forward, lusting for an animal that was good for soup bones at most. I watched him as he pulled on his beard, the skin puckered to attention around his eyes, his lips glistening as he licked them over and over again. And then he asked the Previzi driver if he could make the beast bellow again. The roar. The fear it induced, the enormous white fangs. That was what the butcher lusted for, and it came as no surprise. And that was when I knew I would steal the tiger.

Tags: Mary E. Pearson Dance of Thieves Fantasy
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