"Multidimensional characters, creative world-building, and a plot that is literally to die for..."
Reviewed by Debbie Wiley
Posted June 6, 2019
Romance Paranormal | Fantasy
Leena Edenfrell has a bounty on her head. As an exiled Charmer, she
has committed seemingly unpardonable offenses- she's sold her
magical beasts. Noc accepted the bounty for his guild, never expecting
that Leena would offer him a trade that could provide him with the very
cure he's been seeking. There's just one catch... once a member of
Cruor accepts a bounty, the only option is death. Can Noc find a way to
save Leena despite the bounty? Or will his growing love for her mean
her death regardless?
KINGDOM OF EXILES is the first
book in The Beast Charmer
series and wow, what an intriguing world Maxym M. Martineau has
crafted for us! I love the idea of a magical bestiary and the range of
creatures we get to meet. I have to admit that despite the power of
beasts like Mistari, my favorite magical beast is Poof.
Leena and Noc are fascinating main characters. Maxym M. Martineau
does a marvelous job at showing us their darker histories while still
making both of them likable, heck even heroic at times. They both have
somewhat dubious histories and yet they struggle to do the right thing,
even when the odds are stacked against them. I'm excited about what
the future holds for both Leena and Noc!
KINGDOM OF EXILES is a great
start to a new fantasy series, set in a dark but captivating new world.
Maxym M. Martineau gives us a spectacular glimpse at some of the
creatures that populate this world and oh, I hope there are even more in
store for us (although I can't imagine any cuter and cuddlier than
Poof!). If you love fantasy novels with multidimensional characters,
creative world-building, and a plot that is literally to die for then KINGDOM OF EXILES should be on
your must-read list!
Fantastic Beasts meets Assassin’s
Creed in this epic, gripping fantasy romance from debut
author Maxym M. Martineau
Exiled beast charmer Leena Edenfrell is in deep
trouble. Empty pockets forced her to sell her beloved
magical beasts on the black market—an offense punishable by
death—and now there's a price on her head. With the
realm's most talented murderer-for-hire nipping at her
heels, Leena makes him an offer he can't refuse: powerful
mythical creatures in exchange for her life.
it were that simple. Unbeknownst to Leena, the undying ones
are bound by magic to complete their contracts, and Noc
cannot risk his brotherhood of assassins...not even to save
the woman he can no longer live without.
By the time evening fell, three things were certain: the
gelatinous chunks of lamb were absolute shit, my beady--eyed
client was hankering for more than the beasts in my
possession, and someone was watching me.
Two out of the three were perfectly normal.
I slid the meat to the side and propped my elbows against
the heavy plank table. My client lasted two seconds before
his gaze roved to the book--shaped locket dangling in my
cleavage. Wedging his thick fingers between the collar of
his dress tunic and his neck, he tugged gently on the fabric.
"You have what I came for?" His heavy gold ring glinted in
the candlelight. It bore the intricate etching of a scale:
Wilheim's symbol for the capital bank. A businessman. A rare
visitor in Midnight Jester, my preferred black--market
tavern. My pocket hummed with the possibility of money, and
I fingered the bronze key hidden there.
"Maybe." I nudged the metal dinner plate farther away. "How
did you find me?" Dez, the bartender, sourced most of my
clients, but brocade tunics and Midnight Jester didn't mingle.
I shifted in the booth, the unseen pair of eyes burrowing
farther into the back of my head. Faint movement from the
shadows flickered into my awareness. Movement that should
have gone unnoticed, but I'd learned to be prepared for such
"Dez brought a liquor shipment to a bar I frequent in
Wilheim. He said you could acquire things." He extracted his
sausage fingers from the folds of his neck and placed his
hands flat on the table.
Believable. Dez made a mean spiced liquor that he sold on
the side—-a cheap yet tasty alternative to the overpriced
alcohol brewed within the safe confines of Wilheim. But that
didn't explain the lurker.
Hidden eyes followed me as I scanned the tables.
Cobweb--laden rafters held wrought--iron, candlelit
chandeliers. Every rickety chair was occupied with regulars
in grubby tunics, their shifty gazes accompanying hurried
whispers of outlawed bargains. Who here cared about me? A
Council member? A potential client?
My temple throbbed, and I forced myself to return my
client's gaze. "Like a Gyss."
The man sat upright. Yellow teeth peeked around chapped lips
in an eager smile. "Yes. I was told you have one available."
"They don't come cheap."
He grimaced. "I know. Dez said it would cost me one hundred
One hundred? I tossed a sidelong glance to Dez. Elbow--deep
in conversation with a patron at the bar, he didn't notice.
One hundred was high for a Gyss. He'd done me a solid. I
could've handed over the key right then and there, but I had
a rare opportunity on my hands: a senseless businessman in a
dry spell looking for luck. Why else would he want a Gyss?
He launched to his feet, nearly upending the table, and his
outburst grabbed the attention of every delinquent in the
place. Dez raised a careful eyebrow, flexing his hands for
effect, and the businessman sheepishly returned to his seat.
He cleared his throat, and his fingers retreated to the
thick folds of his neck. "One--fifty is high."
Crossing my arms behind my head in an indolent lean, I
shrugged. "Take it or leave it."
"I'll find someone else. I don't need to be swindled."
"Be my guest." I nodded to the quiet tables around us.
"Though none of them will have it for you now, if ever.
They're not like me."
He hissed a breath. "Are all Charmers this conniving?"
I leaned forward, offering him my best grin and a slow wink.
"The ones you'll deal with? Hell yes."
"Shit." He pinched his nose. "All right. One--fifty. But
this Gyss better work. Otherwise, you'll have to find a way
to make it up to me." With obvious slowness, he moved his
fingers to his chin, tracing the length of his rounded jaw
with his thumb. A faint gleam coursed through his gaze, and
I crossed my ankles to keep myself from kicking him under
the table. I needed the money, and I didn't want to dirty my
new boots with his groin.
I barely kept the growl from my voice. "I can assure you the
Gyss will grant your wish. One every six months."
"Excellent." He extended his hand, waiting for the shake to
seal the deal.
"You know Gyss need payment for every wish, correct?"
His hand twitched. "Yeah, yeah. Fulfill a request, get a wish."
"And I'm not responsible for what the Gyss requests. That's
on the beast, not on me."
"Fine. Get on with it already before Sentinels ransack this
Sentinels? He wished. The capital's muscle--bound soldiers
wouldn't come near this scourge. The festering dark woods of
the Kitska Forest were crammed flush against the west side
of Midnight Jester. The errant, bone--shattering calls of
monsters scraping through the air were enough to deter even
the bravest of men.
No, Sentinels would never come here.
I clasped the businessman's outstretched hand. Clammy skin
slicked along my palm, and a chill crawled up my arm. He
moved away, reaching into his pocket for a velvet coin
purse. As he pulled at the leather strings, a handful of
silver chips and gold autrics clanked against the table.
One hundred and fifty bits. Funny how pebble--size pieces of
flat metal carried such weight. Those of us living outside
of Wilheim's protection had to fight for our coin. Ration
our supplies. My last bits had gone to a much--needed new
pair of leather boots. This man probably had fine silk
slippers for every occasion.
With this kind of money, I'd have the chance to get
something much more important than footwear. I slid my hand
into my pocket and extracted a bronze key. Power vibrated
from the metal into my palm, and I shot the businessman
another glance. "Are you familiar with the Charmer's Law?"
His eyes skewered the key. "Buying and selling beasts is
strictly forbidden—-I know."
I rolled the key between my forefinger and thumb. "Not that.
The Charmer's Law is meant to protect the beasts. If I find
out you're mistreating this Gyss, I have the right to kill
you. In any way I deem fit."
The man's face blanched, sweat dampening the collar of his
tunic. "You're joking."
"I don't joke about beasts." I dropped the key on the table.
Offering him a wolfish smile, I cocked my head to the side.
He wavered for only a breath, then made a mad dash for the
key. Thick hands pressed it flush to his breast pocket.
"That won't be necessary. I'll treat the Gyss right."
As he pushed away from the table, he offered a parting nod.
I jutted my chin out and kept my expression tight. "Think
twice before wishing. The consequences can be extreme." A
familiar sliver of unease threaded through me. I hated
dealing in Gyss, but his needs seemed straightforward
enough. Money. Power. He'd never be able to fulfill the boon
the Gyss would require for more.
This Gyss wouldn't be used against me. Not like before. The
breadth of their ability was dependent on their master, and
this man didn't have the aptitude for true chaos. No, my
exiled existence would be safe a couple hundred years yet.
There were Charmers who lived well into their late two
hundreds. At the ripe age of twenty--nine, I had plenty of time.
The invisible daggers, courtesy of my mystery lurker, dug
deeper into my back. Maybe I was overestimating my life span.
Tracking the businessman's escape, I settled into the
booth's cushions to count my coins. No need to rush with the
stalker's eyes on me. A thief, maybe? Bits were hard to come
by, and I had enough to get me to the south coast and back
with room to spare. The Myad, and the opportunity to prove
my worth to my people, was within my reach.
I just needed to acquire the blood of a murderer—-given
freely, with no strings attached. It was a necessary
ingredient for the Myad's taming, and something that
wouldn't happen in Midnight Jester where bartering patrons
couldn't distinguish favor from paycheck. I'd deal with it
in Ortega Key. For now, I needed to get there before the
"You taking off?" Dez sidled into the opposite side of the
booth, a toothy grin pulling the jagged scar running from
his earlobe to his chin tight. With a square jaw and a nose
broken one too many times, he had a rugged charm about him.
"It's nice having you around."
I toyed with one of the silver chips. Living above the
tavern had its perks. Giving Dez a quick appraisal, my mind
flashed back to the night before when we'd been tangled in
the sheets. A carnal release with none of the attachments,
at least for me. We'd never broached that discussion, but I
often caught his gaze lingering when it shouldn't have. I'd
have to deal with that eventually. There was only so much of
myself I was willing to give.
"I'll only be gone for a short while. There's been a rare
beast sighting in the south, and if I hang around here, I'll
miss it." I reached for my coin purse and slid my earnings
off the table.
"You know you don't have to prove anything to anyone here."
Voice low, he let his gaze wander from head to head. "Hell,
you're easily the best person in this establishment."
"In your eyes." My people would rather welcome a
flesh--eating Tormalac into their homes than allow me back
into our sacred grounds. "Charmers are only as strong as the
beasts they keep. I have to be prepared."
"Prepared for what?" Dez asked. I knew what he wanted. A
little bit of honesty. An ounce of trust. I just couldn't
cave. There was a reason I was the only Charmer for miles
around, and telling him the truth meant he could be used to
find me. The Charmers Council had worse rulings than exile.
"I'll come back. You know I love this place."
"You know you love me." Another glimmer of hope.
"And you know I don't do love." I leaned in, a slow smile
claiming my face. "But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy your
His eyes shone. "I'll take that. For now."
Heat ignited in my stomach. Maybe a few more hours wouldn't
hurt. "Can Belinda watch the bar?" All thumbs with her head
in the clouds, the bar maiden skipped across the floor,
sloshing frothy beers and ales as she went. She couldn't
handle a serving tray to save her life, but her tits raked
in money Dez couldn't ignore.
He didn't bother to look away and check. "She'll manage."
"Good." As I made a move to stand, a high--pitched whine
sliced through my mind, and my feet cemented to the floor.
Iky—-my camouflaged beast I kept on hand during all
black--market dealings. With senses sharper than a
Sentinel's blade, he would've been able to discern any shift
in the tavern's close quarters. We'd had a few brushes with
two--bit murderers and thieves before. Nothing he couldn't
handle. It looked like my unseen stalker was going to make
his move after all. "Actually, we'll have to revisit that idea."
I scoured the tables. By all appearances, everything was
fine. No one jumped. No one made a move to block the bar's
only door. The regulars I'd grown to know over the years
were neck--deep in their own worlds and not the least bit
interested in my dealings. But with the weighted stare
abruptly gone and the body count the same, something was
"What? Why?" Dez shifted uncomfortably in the booth.
"Any shady characters in recently?"
He raised a brow. "Seriously?"
"Shadier than usual."
All humor wiped from his voice. "What's going on?"
"I'm being watched. Or I was. Iky noticed a shift."
Dez's hardened gaze spied the lopsided coatrack tucked
against the wall. Forgotten threadbare coats clung to the
hooks like leaves that wouldn't die. It was Iky's favorite
place to lurk. Dez discovered Iky once when he most
unceremoniously tossed another left--behind cloak and
missed. A floating red garment gave even the regulars a scare.
"All right. Promise me you'll take care?"
"Of course." I rested my hand on his shoulder. "I'll be back
before you know it."
"Sure." Dez stood, spreading his hands wide and gesturing to
the crowd. "I just came up with a new special, folks! Cured
pig with red flakes." A signal only local outlaws would
truly understand: danger, potential spy.
For a moment, everyone stiffened. Eyes darted in erratic
patterns before the slow murmuring of mundane
conversation—-weather, the royal family's upcoming ball,
anything other than what we were all here for—-flitted
through the air. With his coded warning in effect, Dez took
up his place behind the counter, polishing glasses with one
eye on the door and the other on his patrons.
Always assume they're snitches. Dez's previous
warning rattled through my brain as I reached for the busted
iron doorknob, a still--invisible Iky right on my heels. How
long had my deal with the businessman taken? I'd stationed
Iky behind me before that, which meant his hours in our
plane were waning. I'd have to send him back to the beast
sanctuary soon. With no time for delay, I pushed through the
door and met the evening air with guarded eyes.
Staying in the tavern wasn't an option. What if the Charmers
Council had finally caught on to my crimes? I couldn't
jeopardize Dez or his establishment. This place was a haven
for those who had nowhere else to go. Myself included.
I glanced east in the direction of Wilheim, our capital
city. I'd never had the opportunity to pass through those
gleaming white walls of marble and diamond. Stretching tall
to kiss the underside of the clouds, the concentric,
impenetrable towers guarded an impressive mountain where the
royal family lived. Where the fortunate lived. Most of us
scavenging on the outskirts were banned for one reason or
another from passing through the magic--clad ivory gates.
Shaking my head, I quickened my pace. Though the royal
family's jurisdiction technically covered the continent of
Lendria, everyone knew that law didn't apply past those
glistening stones. Out here, magic and darkness and
questionable dealings reigned supreme. Iky let out another
private whine, and my gaze jumped to the forest line. My
stalker was back. Invisible to me, but not hidden from my
beast's senses. My destination was the train station, but if
this lurker was from the Council, I didn't want them getting
a whiff of the Myad and stealing my beast. I needed to deal
with the threat first.
I know you're there, creep.
Flipping the collar of my jacket up, I picked my way down
the winding dirt path away from Wilheim and the train depot.
Lure them out, trap them, free and clear. Easy enough. The
descending sun crept toward the riotous treetops of the
Kitska Forest. Steeped in shadows, the dark leaves shivered
in the dusk air, and a small whistling met my ears. The
sheer density of the woods invited a certain level of
hysteria to the unfamiliar—-out here, one couldn't tell the
difference between a pair of eyes and oversize pinesco pods.
Needles and mulch crunched beneath my knee--high boots, and
my feet screamed at the ache of unbroken leather pressing
against my joints. Soon enough, I'd wear the boots in and be
wishing for more bits to replace the holes.
A twig snapped in the distance, and I splayed out my right
hand. One of the forest's many monsters, or my stalker?
The Charmer's symbol, a barren rosewood tree on the back of
my right hand, exploded to life. A crisscross network of
roots inked down my knuckles and wrapped around my
fingertips in gnarled directions. Iky responded to the flux
of power and distanced himself from me. Searching. Pursuing.
The lack of his watery scent left me unnerved, but I needed
to give my lurker a chance to strike. Then Iky would snare him.
A frigid breath skated along the back of my neck.
I whirled, thrusting my hand forward and focusing on the
well of power humming beneath the surface. But Iky had done
his job without fault. Just beyond my reach stood a tall,
slender man dressed entirely in black. With a voluminous
pompadour, thin--rimmed silver specs, and freshly polished
dress shoes, he looked suited for a night in Wilheim—-not a
stroll in the Kitska Forest. His arms pressed flush to his
sides, he was rendered immobile, and an unused, glittering
black knife limply dangled from his gloved fingertips.
I dropped my hand, and the ink work along my skin receded.
"Iky, be a dear."
Iky materialized at last. Tall and amorphous with
see--through skin, he adjusted his body constitution, color,
and shape to suit my needs. With elongated arms, Iky had
wrapped the man in a bundle, pressing him so tightly his
chest struggled to inflate.
"Give him a bit more breathing room."
Iky loosened his arms, and the man let out a sharp gasp. The
shadows clinging to the forest's limbs seemed to darken.
"Who are you?"
No response. Harsh ice--green eyes speared me. The high
planes of his face sharpened, and a small vein throbbed
along his temple.
"Why were you trying to kill me?" I glanced pointedly at the
knife. He dropped it to the ground, and Iky nudged it toward
me with a newly formed extremity. It receded as quickly as
it appeared, folding back into his body mass with a quiet
The man pursed thin lips, and a rattling breeze ushered in
more thin shadows. It was no secret that these woods were
cursed, but this darkness was thicker. Unfamiliar. Something
else was going on here.
Deal with the threat, and get the hell out.
"Iky?" I nodded toward my beast. Iky's arms tightened, and
the man sputtered. "If you don't tell me something, this is
only going to get worse."
The sharp snap of a splintering rib broke the silence. He
wheezed, words I couldn't make out intermingling with pained
gasps. I glanced at Iky, and he stopped.
Murder dripped from my would--be killer's glare. "I'd never
dream of telling you a damn thing."
My brows furrowed. "That so? Iky, you know what to do." A
new extremity formed, wrapping its way around the man's
pinky finger. With a sharp and fluid motion, Iky snapped it.
The man swallowed a cry, face gone parchment--pale as I
studied him. He wasn't a familiar presence in Midnight
Jester. Most of the men and women who stumbled through the
tavern were scarred, reeking of bad choices and worse fates,
but this man? From his immaculately trimmed hair to the
smooth glow of his clean skin, everything about him screamed
I resisted the urge to glance back toward Wilheim. "Who are
you?" Taking a few steps forward, I studied his black garb.
Long--sleeved, button--up tunic. Satin, no less. Slim--cut
trousers hemmed just about his shoes. Not nearly ethereal
enough to be a Charmer. Certainly not brilliant enough to be
a Sentinel. Their armor threatened to outshine even the
He glowered. "I don't see the need to repeat myself." In my
peripheral vision, onyx tendrils slithered across the forest
floor and edged toward me. A heartbeat pulsed from their
swirling depths. Whatever monster watched us from the
forest, we were clearly running out of time.
"You're too scrawny to be a Sentinel, though you certainly
have the arrogance of one." I inched away from the cursed
wood. "You don't have the emblem of a Charmer, so you're not
one of my kind." Thank the gods for that.
"Are you done fishing?"
"No." I flicked my wrist, and Iky broke another finger. The
man's scream rattled pinesco pods, sending misshapen dead
leaves to the ground. Shadows devoured them whole. "You were
trying to kill me, which means you're likely a murderer for
A slow smile dared to grace his lips. "You won't make it out
of this alive."
Oh, but I would. And a new idea was brewing in the back of
my brain. One that had to do with favors and blood and the
golden opportunity standing right in front of me.
I started to circle him, assessing his potential. The
problem was, offering freedom in exchange for his blood
didn't exactly mean the blood was "freely given." Semantics,
but in the game of taming beasts, semantics were everything.
"And why is that?"
"Because I'm a member of Cruor."
The world slipped out from beneath my feet. Heavy ringing
filled my ears, and the treetops spun together. I'd assumed
assassin from the get--go, but Cruor? Who would go to such
lengths as to hire the undead?
Realization struck hard and fast, and my gaze jerked to the
pooling mass of darkness near his feet. He leached shadows
from the corners and hidden crevices of the forest. Even the
once--solid blade had dispersed, joining the curling
tendrils around my captive. They licked his skin and
gathered in his aura, waiting to do his bidding. That wasn't
some Kitska monster gathering the darkness—-it was him.
He'd been toying with me all this time, and I had seconds to
"Iky, serrated. Now." Iky shifted, coating his arms with
thousands of miniscule barbs that punctured the man's
clothing and skin, and locked him in place. Blood trickled
from a multitude of pinprick holes. Gleaming red droplets
that wormed their way out and oozed down his ink--black coat
like veining through marble. Blood I couldn't use. The first
wasted rivulets dripped from his fingers and splattered
against the gravel path. He watched them with fierce eyes,
and the dark wisps receded. Good. At least he had enough
sense to realize when he was beaten. "If you try to
dissipate on me, you'll end up as mincemeat. Why am I on
Cruor's shit list?"
Irritation tightened his face as my beast and I so deftly
turned the tables. "I'm not going to dignify that with a
response. As if I'd tell a job the details of my work."
Egotism, even in the face of death. The Charmers Council had
to be behind this. If they'd somehow caught on to my
underhanded dealings, they'd sooner hire someone to kill me
than leave the sanctity of Hireath. But Cruor? I chewed on
the inside of my cheek. Charmers valued all life. Execution
was rare. Hiring someone who walked with the shadows all but
guaranteed my death. With me already sentenced to a lifelong
exile for a crime I most certainly did not commit, they must
have felt a more extreme response was appropriate. No chance
to plea my case. No chance to return to my people.
Gripping my hands into fists, I glared at the assassin.
"Gods be damned. Killing was not on my agenda today."
A brittle laugh devoid of humor scraped through the air. "If
you kill me, another will be sent."
He was right, of course, and I prayed my next words wouldn't
be my death sentence. I needed this bounty gone. I had
business in the south I couldn't postpone. The Myad was my
only hope of ever going home. "Then take me to Cruor."
His green eyes widened a fraction. "Your logic escapes me."
"Good thing it's not your job to understand how I think.
Take me to Cruor, or Iky will end you. Plain and simple."
"As if you could kill me."
Iky snapped another finger without my prompting, and the man
"What were you saying?" I asked.
"Fine." He rotated his head, peering around trees before
jutting his chin to the left. "You won't like this."
Tendrils exploded in a swirling vortex that blanketed out
the Kitska Forest. Rivers of black surged beneath our feet,
and my stomach turned itself inside out. We were thrust
forward, and yet we hadn't moved a muscle. Intertwining
shadows sped through us, around us, careening us toward a
destination I couldn't even begin to pinpoint. Tears pricked
the corners of my eyes, and I sucked in a breath.
And then we came to a screeching halt, the outside world
slamming back into us as the darkness abruptly receded. I
white--knuckled a fist against my stomach and glared at the
assassin in Iky's arms. His smirk was maddening.
The comfort of Midnight Jester was now what felt like a
Slowly, I unfurled my hand and caught sight of my Charmer's
symbol, weighing Iky's branch and my apparent insanity
against his time. Every beast had a weakness, and his was a
shelf life. Two hours of strength for every twenty--two
hours of sleep. With every minute that passed, Iky's limb
retreated to the base until it would fade from existence,
forcibly returning him to the beast realm to regain his stamina.
I had fifteen minutes, give or take.
Stepping to the side, I gestured to the woods. "Let's get
this over with. Iky, pick him up." His hooks retracted a
fraction, and Iky cradled the man to his chest like an
The assassin scoffed, unintelligible curses dropping from
The void had transported us close, but I still couldn't see
the hidden death grotto known as Cruor. Yet I could feel it.
The weight of eyes and shadows. My hairs stood on end as we
made our way through the suffocating foliage, darkness
dripping from limbs like tacky sap. Above us, birds squawked
and feathers scraped together as they took flight, swirling
upward and chasing the setting sun into the horizon. A heavy
branch creaked. A shadow more human than night rocketed from
one tree to the next. The assassin stared after the figure
without saying a word, but smugness laced his expression.
One of his brethren, then, going to alert the others.
Icy hands wrenched my heart, and I gripped the book--shaped
locket hanging about my neck—-the miniature bestiary all
Charmers carried—-and begged the gods for favorable odds. I
could have waited. Could have called forth another beast,
but Iky's strength took a serious toll on my power, and my
arsenal that could fight off the legendary might of Cruor
was small. Besides, summoning another could be the
difference between a peaceful negotiation and a declaration
of war. The latter I would surely lose. I needed every
chance to run I could get, in case negotiations went south.
Mangled iron fencing battled against the overgrowth of the
cursed forest, marking the edge of Cruor's property, and I
paused at the gates. In the distance, the evening sky
birthed a manor shrouded in darkness. Alone on a hill and
two stories tall, with more windows than my eyes could
count, the guild was just shy of a castle.
Slate black and covered in vibrant red gems, a rycrim core
glittered from between neatly trimmed hedges and the side of
the house. Magic energy pulsed from it in an invisible dome
over the mansion.
I'd begged Dez to invest in a rycrim core for months.
Changing every candle by hand, warming the bathwater over a
fire—-I wanted the simplicity of self--lighting fixtures, a
faucet that immediately poured scalding water. But
convenience cost more bits than we could afford to spare.
Murder apparently paid well.
Iky whined aloud, a low vibration thrumming through the air.
Less than ten minutes left.
With a heavy breath, I pushed the gate open and tried to
shake the eerie grating of hinges as I stared down the
winding path leading me straight to death's door.
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