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Copyright © 2021 Giselle Ava All rights reserved

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

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Introduced in Winter’s Ball

1: Winter’s Ball

2: An Inconvenience

3: Indigo

4: It’s Time

No Eyes

Introduced in Winter’s Ball

Sarina Mithriv, high lady of Lavus

Mikka, a cat who is not like other cats

Tasha Vasil, a hired assassin of Lavus

Sir Tam, the Mithriv family’s loyal guard

Yorik Glaz, a friendly apothecary

The Man With No Eyes, one of the six “Knives”

Andreius Mithriv, the stylish uncle of Sarina

Alyos, a fashionable man obsessed with time

Sofia Satvus, a daughter of the notorious Satvus family

Yuri Untruis, the oldest son of House Untruis

Pambi Challan, a fat imp of a man

Eveline Challan, the most cunning woman in Lavus

Nikolas Kursive, the master of war

Gregoth Trovik, a handsome man from the deep west

Ari Trovik, the new pregnant wife of Gregoth

Desmond Da’vail, a childhood friend of Sarina

1: Winter’s Ball

Sarina loved the winter’s ball. She loved standing on the beautiful gilded balcony which overlooked the marvelous, glimmering ballroom, watching the fancy-dressed noblemen and women filing in; and she loved dancing with Mother to the music which shook the walls; and she loved the food and the boys from other noble families, and she just loved it all.

She was twelve years old and had just realised that if she grew out her hair long enough, it took on a classy red shine, and when she stood under the right lights and tilted her head at the right angle, those red hairs became the best thing in all of Lavus City.

“Um, Sarina?” said Edward, the oldest man in Castle Lavus. “Why are you simply standing there in the middle of the sitting room and is your neck alright?”

She swung around to meet Edward’s multi-colored eyes, one blue and one yellow, one expressing confusion and the other concern. She blushed, straightening her neck and stepping out of the precise center, which was right beneath the glittering chandelier.

“Sorry,” she said with a smile.

Edward knelt down in front of her with moderate trouble, fixed the collar of her pink dress, then smoothed down her hair. “Your mother has done quite a remarkable job on you,” he said, before drawing back his hand and rubbing the sticky product from his large, callused fingertips. “I like your dress. Simple, and yet sophisticated. You look stunning.”

“Thanks,” she said.

Edward smiled at her, then groaned as he leaned down to whisper into her ear, “Keep an eye on that cat of yours. Last year, I believe he managed six minutes before blacking out drunk. An improvement over the year before, yet quite poor nonetheless. Tell him, at eleven o’clock tonight I would like to have an intellectual conversation with him regarding our favorite topic, ancient politics. That ought to keep him sober for a little while.”

Sarina smiled and Edward retreated back to his full height, which was quite impressive indeed, and gave her a secret knowing look before walking away through the double-leaf door into the grand chamber itself. Sarina felt butterflies as she glimpsed the majestic hall that lay beyond it, heard the voices of gathering nobility.

She watched the guests arriving through the large, round sitting room window that stretched from the floor to ceiling. The glass burned frost against her fingertips, and the icy fog of her breath on the windowpane drew a myriad of odd shapes. The sky had a peaceful, stony look to it, crying a gentle drizzle of snow. A thin layer of smog sat about the rooftops and spires, occasionally being ripped apart by bursts of smoke from chimneys. Beneath her, the castle gardens were lit with garish, rainbow-colored lights. Streamers hung from posts and awnings, and the road had been swept of ice, as horses and carriages arrived one or two at a time.

She lifted her gaze to the beautiful city beyond the castle walls. People came here from all over the world to celebrate the last night of winter and the coming of spring. It would be seven days of non-stop festivities, seven days of music and laughter, and carnival games. If you ever wished to do something you could never do, they said tonight was the night to do it.

At nine thirty she was standing under her father’s expensive clock, which he’d imported from Karrim, that lavish city across the sea that was in all those ultra-expensive paintings. The social room was filled with people wearing lots of different colors and fabrics and styles. If you’d spontaneously decided to knock everybody out with poison gas and steal their clothing, Sarina figured you’d end up quite rich indeed, rich enough to sail to Karrim.

“But who would try that?” said Mikka the cat, standing beside her with a glass of wine between his paws, which he occasionally sipped. Mikka was not like other cats. He was smarter, more cunning, and, well, could spit out a few choice words. He was also loyal to the bone. He served father and before him his father, who’d named him after a mouse.

Sarina simply enjoyed his company.

“You mean who would try poisoning everyone here so they can strip them naked and then take their expensive clothes?” Sarina said to Mikka’s question. “Shall I answer that?”

Mikka gave her a concerned look. “You’re too crafty for twelve years old. It makes me very frightened for what you will become give a few more inches.”

“Mother says this will be my final height,” she sighed.

“Your mother has a wit that is matched only by some. Such as this feline.” He pridefully ran a paw across his tiny blue dress shirt, which covered mottled grey-white fur.

The two of them smiled at each other and then Sarina chuckled, trying not to spill her glass

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