Under the careful guidance of the catlike mrem, the City of Niau has grown into a prosperous trading center. It lies, however, far to the east--on the very edge of the kingdom of Ar--ever vulnerable to invasion by the mrem's legendary enemies, the Eastern Lords.
Ordered to guard Niau from an attack that may never come, the mercenary Reswen--a veteran of the great battle at Cragsclaw--accepts his king's will. Working undercover, he rises to become chieg ot the secret police, awareof all the city's intrigue. When a group of mysterious merchants arrives bearing gifts and hoping to strike a trade agreement, Reswen has his supicions. Before it's too late, he must discover the truth behind the visitors' smiles, and allies himself with a beautiful courtesan-spy and a wayward wizard ... whose rusty spells may be Niau's only defense against the sinister sorcery of the all-powerful Eastern Lords.
Panting again, Lorin paused, then looked down through one of the air slits. His heart sank. Nothing. Nothing but more foul straw. Idiot, idiot, his brain began singing--
There was a movement ... and the eye was gazing up at him. It was a dull eye, slitted ... and about as big as Lorin's head.
His breath got caught somewhere south of his ribs. There was the sound of a whuff of breath--then another, and another one, quicker than the second.
It's waking up! he thought, and snatched the piece of parchment out of his cloak, and held it up ... and then realized that it was too dark to read the spell.
Oh Gods! he thought, shoving the parchment back into his cloak--no good dropping it where it might cause questions, or worse, get someone to look inside this box. Hurriedly he recited the rune. He dared not look down into that air slit again to see what was happening inside. But he could hear the sound of the liskash's breathing getting faster in there ....