he eyes were the first sign of trouble, a pair of steel-blue ovals staring out from beneath a storefront awning across the street. Focused and intense, they were watching something on the wagon-choked boulevard, fixing on it the way a predator fixes on prey.
“Those priests have to go,” said a hoarse voice down in front of Kleef. “You can see that, can’t you?”
The voice belonged to a ruddy-cheeked cloth merchant. A moment before, Kleef had climbed onto the side of the man’s wagon, trying to see what was clogging Starmouth Way. The merchant had immediately begun to harangue him about removing a group of street-corner priests who were attracting a crowd and blocking the square ahead.
Kleef continued to ignore the fellow and continued to studied the steel-blue eyes across the way. So bright they almost seemed to glow, the eyes were set beneath a heavy brow, in a gaunt, gray face that appeared to shift hues with the shadows. The shoulders beneath were broad and sturdy and covered by a dusky cloak that seemed to blur at the edges. Through the press of the crowd, it was difficult to tell much more about the figure—except that he had a commanding presence that seemed to insulate him from the jostling mob.
As a topsword in the Marsember Watch, Kleef Kenric had more experience fighting back-alley cutthroats than Shadovar spies—but he was fairly certain he was looking at one now. He had been warned to expect them before the actual assault began, and scouts from the Purple Dragons had been arriving since yesterday with reports of the enemy’s approach.
Hoping to spot the Shadovar’s quarry, Kleef shifted his attention to the middle of the boulevard. It took only a moment to find the likely target: a beautiful woman whose long, flame-red hair cascaded down the shoulders of her fine green cloak. She was moving against the traffic, glancing back as though aware she was being stalked.
Even from a distance, Kleef could see that her eyes matched the emerald-green hue of her cloak. Following close on her heels was a slovenly little man with a round head and a thin frame, dressed in a drab gray robe that hung on him as though it had been draped over a skeleton. Despite the press of the crowd, people were moving aside to let them pass, smiling and nodding at the woman but scowling and wrinkling their noses at her companion.