chapter 1

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Jostlyn stuck to the shadows as she crept along the dark, muddy streets of Ethral. It was several hours after curfew, and even the cold steel of a dagger against her ankle couldn’t calm Jostlyn’s nerves. The cold mist seemed to settle beneath her skin, chilling her from the inside out. A man whistling ahead drew Jostlyn’s attention and she sank deeper into the gloom. Her chest tightened as she recognized the patrolman leaning casually against a light post that stood on the corner of the intersection. Her destination lie on the other side. Brody was once a childhood friend. Their lives, however, veered in separate directions. The blue and grey patrolman uniform made her old friend a natural enemy but Jostlyn did not think she could bring herself hurt her old friend, even in defense. She’d have to find another way. Jostlyn eased herself along the cold brick wall, stepping gently over or around the obstacles that lined the storefront, as she avoided the light. She then slipped into the narrow walkway between the two buildings and scrambled up the wall using bricks that protruded from its surface. Climbing was as natural as breathing for Jostlyn. She used to sneak in and out of the orphanage as a child, using the building’s natural elements to aid her escapes. Once on the roof, Jostlyn slunk to the other side looking for a way across the street that wouldn’t draw Brody’s attention. An electrical wire attached the two buildings. She was sure she could safely make it across, but she was less sure she could do it without being noticed by anyone in the street below. Jostlyn snuck to the front of the building and looked down at Brody, who still leaned against the post. She needed a distraction. She squinted her eyes against the ligh... ... middle of paper ... ...d like questions. You’re calling out to someone.” He was so sure of his observation, and watched her with a sense of satisfaction. The problem was, he wasn’t wrong. “I met Pops when I was 15.” Jostlyn began. “Back then there was this older boy living at the house. Everyone called him Levi. He did pretty much the same things you do for Pops. He got pinched just a few months after we met, but we’d gotten…close.” Kai’s eyebrows rose when she paused. “That was 6 years ago.” Jostlyn continued with a shrug. “He’s not on record at the prison. I don’t know what happened to him. He just disappeared.” Kai looked thoughtful for a moment, then turned away to grab the waitress’s attention. Jostlyn sat back in her chair rolling her eyes as she reached for her pint. At least they only had a few more blocks on their route. Then she could head home and get ready for the fights .

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