Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
A traitor dangled from the meeting hall rafters. Blowflies and beetles hummed around him. They clung to the tattered frays of his King’s guard uniform and crawled over his bare feet. I tucked my nose into my shirt and wiggled my toes. My thin leather boots cracked.
Pity someone had already stolen his shoes.
I kicked a beetle across the floor. I’d never seen this room so empty. The view through the sewer grate was always crowded by boots with new recruit stamps on the heels. I used to sit under the grate and listen to the march of boots at the evening’s shift change. I’d catch a glance of the pair stomping off to storeroom duty. Then, I’d beat them there and snatch some food before inventory. This was the first time I’d ventured through the old grate.
The room I’d imagined was bigger, grander. This was the room recruits stepped into after swearing away their lives and kneeling before their noble patrons. I expected pomp. The only decoration was the hanged man.
That was one way to stop defection.
“Ill met,” I said with a mock salute.
He didn’t respond. All the better. I was too hungry to be in a talking mood. The soldiers he’d left behind were still doing their jobs—breaking up groups, closing the markets, and guarding the tribute wagons. The soldiers who’d gone to guard the barrack’s storehouse tonight were new and eager to please. They’d catch me in a wick.