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The night was thick and humid. I could taste the air on my tongue and could hardly bring enough breath through my nostrils; Rak made me stand still and breathe shallowly. We had been roof-topping our way about Norfine, and now Rak had me wedged so tightly into a window joint that I could almost count his ribs as they pushed into my own.
He needed the room to work, and my discomfort was only momentary, as he slipped a small hook up through a gap in the windowpanes. There was a soft click as the lock inside gave way and he used the hook to pull the opposing side open. Unfolding himself like a cat leaving a perch, Rak dropped inside. I was careful not to use my hands to steady myself on the glass and waited for him to signal I should follow.
Below me, he stood completely still, listening. A mosquito whined around my ear, and I willed it to go away. It landed where the pulse beat, hot and fast. Damn it Rak. Hurry up. I reached up and pinched the insect off, though one’s first impulse was always to swat. I felt my blood squish between my fingers, and wiped the hand down my pants leg.
Rak beckoned me down. I was already itching.
I stepped through the window, balanced precariously for a moment as I latched it, then dropped down to him.
The treasury was a floor down and through a passage behind a large hanging depicting the knotted and tangled family tree that had ruled over Norfine for nearly six centuries. I finally made this discovery several days earlier, after working as a servant boy in this household for nearly a week. It was a risk, but for the money we were going to get from the Drake, it was worth it. Rak said we could live like kings while the men who actually had the desire to reinstate the monarchy fought it out over our heads.
Dane, he had said, in the aftermath of war, men can buy their way into the gentry, and we’ll do just that, you and I.
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