In Taladia, youths are conscripted to die in foreign wars, expanding the king’s empire. And in Taladia, I have starved on the streets, dodged the guards and watched my family burn.The Knife is more than just a canyon. It’s our route to freedom.But the king’s hunters are on our trail. And by blowing their airbase to smithereens, we’ve also blown ourselves to the top of their kill list.I hug my knees, huff out a cloud of breath, and keep my eyes ﬁxed on the dark. The wind is restless tonight, with a whiff of impending rain. When you grow up on the streets, you learn to tell when it’s time to seek shelter. This isn’t quite the smell I knew back in Rourton – that familiar stink of rubbish in the damp – but I still recognise the threat. A storm is coming.If we’re lucky, it might slow any hunters in pursuit – or make them think twice before they charge after us. But if a hunter like Sharr Morrigan is nearby, we’re in serious trouble. The Knife is a treacherous route at the best of times; I’ve already survived a few near-slips on its ledges. If we have to run for our lives tonight, in the dark, in the rain . . .I swallow, trying to quash the idea. No reason to panic. The hunters might not even be in the Knife; perhaps we’ve given them the slip. Perhaps we can ride out this storm in our cave, shielded by stone
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