The first in The Amulet Saga series. Enjoy!
Rina crept toward the body, using the trees for cover, her feet soundless on the wet leaves covering the ground.
Whoever killed him must know he’d intended to meet her, and that meant they were probably close. She had to get to him before they did.
The man’s horse stood near the body. It whickered and looked back along the path it travelled before its rider fell.
Rina pulled a knife from the collection she wore strapped to her belt before continuing. She didn’t see anyone approaching.
The dead man carried a bulging satchel over his shoulder. What she paid him for must be in there.
She took another step.
The crack of a twig coming from behind the horse stopped her. She peeked from behind the protection of a tree, scanning for movement.
A moment later, a crouched, hobbling figure crept out of the brush to the side of the path and approached the body.
Gnarled fingers reached up and pulled the hood of her cloak back to reveal an aged face framed by wispy silver hair. Her eyes darted around, scanning the clearing.
What was this crone doing out here? Did she not know the terrors that lurked in these woods? She must want the satchel as badly as Rina. All the more reason for Rina to get it first.
Rina threw her knife. It landed with a thunk in a tree, inches from the woman’s head.
The woman whimpered, standing still and lifting her hands in the air. “Please don’t kill me. He stole something from me. Let me take it, and you can have any other valuables you find on him.”
Rina remained hidden. “Leave this place at once. You may take the horse, but you must go. If you stay, I cannot guarantee your safety.”
The old woman gave a shaky laugh and took another step forward. “If I do not get back what he stole, I will die anyway.”
“What he has is mine.”
The woman bowed her head and knelt. “I can see the future. If you let me leave with what is mine, I will tell your fortune.”
Rina stifled a gasp. She was the one who gave the dead man the knowledge Rina sought?
The hag took another step. Rina threw another knife, this one landing near the woman’s feet.
“Please,” the woman begged. “My people are in danger. The king is in danger.”
“The king is evil. If what’s in that bag helps you save him, you give me another reason to stop you.”
“You don’t understand.” The woman’s voice cracked. “I have seen the future. The one who kills the king will destroy us all.”
“Perhaps death is better than life under a king who oppresses his people and forces his magicians to fill the woods with monsters so none can escape his rule.”
“I did. And I will help others, using what is in that bag.”
“I cannot let you have it.” The old woman dropped her arms and made a dash for the body.
Rina threw again. The knife struck the hag in the chest.
The woman writhed, her fingers grasping at the satchel.
Rina emerged from her hiding place. She picked up the satchel and opened it. Inside was the amulet.
“You are the one who gave the prophecy that this will break the king’s protection so he can be killed. Why would you not want me to have it?”
The wizened eyes stared up at her, wide with horror. “It’s you. You’re the one who will kill us all.”
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Find snippets of the other stories here: