All My Crimes

All My Crimes

Author: Tal Valante

The war with the elves is over. But for Teregryn Eve, the human king’s former right-hand man, another nightmare is about to begin.

It’s taken Teregryn two years to recover his health and magic in the aftermath of the war. He’d rather retire from the world of men, but an assassination threat and a malevolent ghost force him on a quest to save the king who no longer wants him. The elves are dead to the last, so who’s the mysterious assassin? And why has his king—who was once so much more to him—forsaken him?

The answers may lie in Teregryn’s mind, but those memories are locked beyond his reach. As a web of lies and love unfolds around him, Teregryn must fight the past and present in a desperate bid for the future. Can he save everything he loves, or will the sum of his crimes drag him under first?

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Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes:

explicit violence

I hover in the dark stairway, between the calmness of the second floor and the merry riot of the common room, clinging to these last seconds of anonymous freedom. The abandoned hall above tempts me. I want no part of the revelry, and the townspeople—if they recognize me—will not want me among them.

And yet, it’s the anniversary of the king’s victory they’re celebrating. I owe him a toast, at least.

My magic tingles and coils under my skin as I take the last steps and enter the common room. The revelry breaks upon me like waves upon a rock: music, the stomping feet of dancers, laughter and calls, roast meat and drinks. I skirt around the room and settle down at a corner table, away from it all.

“Port,” I say to the serving girl.

She returns with a glass and a lingering stare that makes my spine prickle. But she turns away to a company of three who clamor for her attention, and pays me no more heed.

It is ten minutes to midnight.

The tavern door opens, and in walks a giant of a man. My stare snaps to him as he brushes snow from his furs and pulls down his wolverine hood. The lamplight blazes off his bald pate and gold nose ring.

I straighten up with a jolt of recognition.

The giant weaves his way to the counter. Judging by his walk, he is either avoiding invisible columns or already deep in his cups. I shake my head when he orders a pint of shroom beer. That’s Rorrik, all right; only he will drink that foul slime.

He turns from the counter with his tankard and scans the room. My lips curl in anticipation of his surprise when he finds me, and his name teeters on the end of my tongue. But his eyes skim over me without pause. I sink back into my chair as he makes for an empty seat across the room.

On impulse I take the Third Sight. At once, light becomes music, a symphony so poignant it makes my heart hitch. The hearth is bellowing a bold aria, and all around me, a choir of candles answers in a softer voice. This is the music that plays on people’s eyes, the music that evokes pictures in their minds.

I reach out and tweak the music that washes over Rorrik. For Rorrik and for him alone, a green fireball seems to sail through the air and plunge straight into his tankard.

He still has the sense of mind—and the swiftness of reflex—to hurl the cup away and stagger back, shielding his face against the inevitable explosion. Which never comes. I make the illusionary fireball bob peacefully in the pool of spilled drink, and after a moment, I banish it completely. Rorrik curses and whirls around.

This time his stare rakes the room with feral intensity. When he notices me, his anger dissolves into confusion, which melts into glee.

“Teregryn Eve!” he booms. “I’ll be jiggered!”

The revelry grinds to a halt: the singing trails off mid-verse, and some dancers knock into each other as they stumble to an untimely stop. Every face turns to me. I hunch under the volley of stares, struggling against the lure of the Third Sight and the invisibility it can offer.

“Go on, back to your merrymaking,” Rorrik says to the hushed crowd. “Ain’t you ever seen a man drinking before?”

Gradually, the noise and dancing resume. Rorrik orders another pint of shroom beer—I hear him charge it to me—before heading over to sit opposite me.

“Sorry about that,” he says. “I wasn’t thinking.”

I raise my glass in dismissal. Now that Rorrik is here, I’m beginning to regret ever drawing his attention in the first place.

“So.” He takes a swig of his beer and wipes off a foam moustache. “How have you been? Where have you been?”

I shrug. “Recovering at St. Ceperess Monastery.”

Rorrik’s eyebrows climb up his forehead. “For two years? Gods! What did those blasted elves do to you?”

I’m about to tell him to mind his own business when another question rings in my ears: “How many swordsmen does your king have?”

I look around, but no one else is close enough to speak to me. My gut clenches. I grip the arms of my chair, but at the same time, I can feel leather cords around my wrists and the bark of a tree biting into my back. The tavern fades from my sight.

“How many pyromancers?”

The questions come from three stone-faced elves standing in front of me. One of them raises his fist. His slender fingers are already smeared with blood, the same blood I now lick from my lips.

“When is the next raid planned?”

A blow to my guts. The leather cords bite deep into my wrists as my body tries to double over.

“Where is the First Battalion bivouacked?”

I let my gaze wander over their shoulders, like I do in boring council meetings. Behind them stands an elf with black curls and gray eyes and the lithe grace of a panther. Young, except these creatures are ageless; feminine, except there’s something hard and masculine in his poise. He might have been beautiful, if not for his emotionless features.

I stare into his eyes and give him a slow, insolent smile. He turns and walks away.

“How many swordsmen does your king have?”

“How many pyromancers?”

“Lord Eve?”

Rorrik’s voice reaches me from across a table and two years. “Teregryn!”

My stare snaps to him.

“Did you hear a word I was saying?”

My hands are shaking. I grip my glass of port to steady them. “I . . . What?”

“I said, did he ever tell you how he did it?”

“How who did what?”

General Details

Word Count: 10,100

Page Count: 39

Cover By: L.C. Chase

Ebook Details

ISBN: 978-1-937551-43-8

Release Date: 06/23/2012

Price: $0.59

Print Details

ISBN: 978-1-937551-93-3

Release Date: 01/14/2013

Price: $3.99