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Despite the overflow of humanity present for the congress at the royal palace, the hall where Keladry of Mindelan now walked was deserted. There were no servants to be seen. No echo of the footsteps, laughter, or talk that filled the sprawling residence sounded here, only Kel’s steps, and the click of her dog’s claws on the stone floor.

They made an interesting pair. The fourteen-year-old girl was big for her age, five feet nine inches tall, and dressed informally in breeches and shirt. Both were a dark green which emphasized that color in her green-hazel eyes. Her dark boots were comfortable, not fashionable. On her belt hung a pouch and a black-hilted dagger in a plain black sheath. Her brown hair was cut to earlobe-length. It framed a face tanned and dusted with freckles across a delicate nose. Her mouth was full and decided.

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