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In the shadow of the dragon tooth, the painted man whispered. “You are certain that this mask is the one I seek?”

Nathyn Sombrio nodded, though no one could see the gesture in the darkness. “It is, and pure silver too. A petty little wizard named Rollo Marco acquired it above the Sorrow Sea. It must be taken from him before he discovers its value.”

“You’re certain that he does not already know? Wizards, even petty ones, are clever.”

Sombrio nodded. “I’m certain of it. He has just returned from his travels, and there have been no overtures from him indicating otherwise. He’s ignorant of its power. He assumes it’s nothing more than an actor’s prop. But he may, in time, try to sell it for its metal, assuming that it can be smelted. So you must act… now, before another day passes.”

It was dangerous to give imperatives to a painted assassin from the Estrela Verde, but Nathyn Sombrio would take his chances. Despite the ample gold that this creature had placed into his hands, allowing this killer free rein in the city of the Dragon’s Mouth was a far greater risk. One mention of such access to the duke and it would be Sombrio’s head on the very dragon tooth that they stood below.

“And there are no other threats I should be aware of?” the assassin asked.

“None. The city is yours.”

The assassin huffed. “It has been my long experience that nothing goes as planned. If things were to fall apart, my client would be very—”

“You have my word. This is my city, my streets. You will have the trinket in hand before Adriana’s Breath whispers in your ear.” Sombrio offered his hand. “So, what else do you need of me? The wizard’s address?”

The assassin ignored the hand. “I need only your departure… and silence. I will find out the rest myself.”

Sombrio nodded and walked out of the shadow. He climbed his horse, pulled the reins to guide it toward the Red Road, and did not look back.

What have I done? Was any amount of gold worth allowing this monster into his city? Doing so had put into motion pieces on a board that could not easily be stopped. If that silver mask were found and joined with its golden partner… What nonsense! The mask is a fake, has nothing to do with dragons, and any fool who thinks otherwise is a fool ten times over. That is why allowing such a killer to roam his streets did not bother Nathyn Sombrio. The assassin would find the mask and take it back to his masters in Pontaboro. And the only crime committed would be the potential death of a foolish wizard. And who cared about that?

He put the whole sordid affair out of his mind. There were more important things to consider now. A new day was dawning in the streets of Cragsport, and one very important person would be back in town, hopefully, today. It had been a long, long time since he had seen her, and no matter what happened in the dark places of the city, he, Nathyn Sombrio, Captain of the Night Guard, would not miss her return.

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