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Lady Sandrilene fa Toren opened the door to her room and stepped into the dark corridor. She was dressed for riding in broad-legged breeches, tunic and blouse, and in one hand she carried her riding boots. In the other she held a round blob of crystal threaded with dark lines. It shone brightly and steadily against the gloom. The hour was early enough that most of the servants were still abed, and the torches set to burn in the halls the night before had guttered out.

Holding up her stone to light the way, Sandry padded down the corridor on stockinged feet. It was because of the servants that she made so little noise. In six weeks’ residence at the castle, she had learned that most of them were light sleepers. No amount of persuasion that she could look after herself quite nicely, thank you, was enough to send them back to bed. They would rise at dawn anyway–why cause them to lose as much as an hour of rest when they worked so hard?

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