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Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves, #1) by Mary E. Pearson Read Online (FREE)

Dance of Thieves Read Online

Read Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves, #1) by Mary E. Pearson online free here.

CHAPTER ONE

KAZIMYRAH OF BRIGHTMIST

The ghosts are still here.

The words lingered in the air, each one a shimmering spirit, cold whispers of caution, but I wasn’t afraid.

I already knew.

The ghosts, they never go away. They call to you in unexpected moments, their hands lacing with yours and pulling you down paths that lead nowhere. This way. I had learned to mostly shut them out.

We rode through Sentinel Valley, ruins of the Ancients looking down upon us. My horse’s ears pricked, watchful, a rumble deep from his throat. He knew too. I rubbed his neck to calm him. It had been six years since the Great Battle, but the scars were still visible—overturned wagons eaten up with grass, scattered bones dug from graves by hungry beasts, the skeletal ribs of giant brezalots reaching skyward, birds perched on their elegant bleached cages.

I felt the ghosts hovering, watching, wondering. One of them slid a cool fingertip along my jaw, pressing a warning to my lips, Shhh, Kazi, don’t say a word.

Natiya led us deeper into the valley, unafraid. Our gazes scanned the rugged cliffs and the crumbling devastation of a war that was slowly being consumed by earth, time, and memory, like the awkward swallowing of a fat hare by a patient snake. Soon, all the destruction would be in the belly of the earth. Who would remember?

Midway, as the valley narrowed, Natiya stopped and slipped from her saddle, pulling a folded square of white cloth from her saddlebag. Wren dismounted too, her thin limbs gliding to the ground as silently as a bird. Synové hesitated, watching me uncertainly. She was strongest of us all, but her round hips remained firmly planted in her saddle. She did not care for talk of ghosts, even in the brightness of a high sun. They frequented her dreams too often. I nodded to reassure her, and we both slid from our horses and joined them. Natiya paused at a large green mound as if she knew what lay beneath the woven blanket of grass. She absently rubbed the fabric between her delicate brown fingers. It was only for a few seconds, but it seemed to last forever. Natiya was nineteen, only two years older than us, but she suddenly looked much older. She had actually seen the things we had only heard stories about. Her head shook slightly, and she walked toward a scattered pile of rocks. She began picking up the fallen stones and puzzling them back into place on the humble memorial.

“Who was it?” I asked.

Her lips rolled tight against her teeth. “His name was Jeb. His body was burned on a funeral pyre because that’s the Dalbretch way, but I buried his few belongings here.”

Because that’s the vagabond way, I thought, but said nothing. Natiya didn’t talk much about her life before she became Vendan and a Rahtan, but I didn’t talk much about my earlier life either. Some things were better left in the past. Wren and Synové shifted uncomfortably on their feet, their boots pressing the grass into small, flat circles. Natiya wasn’t prone to sentimental displays, even if they were quiet ones like this, especially if they delayed her well-planned schedule. But now she lingered, just like her words that had ushered us into the valley. They are still here.