Shadow's Son by Jon Sprunk

CHAPTER ONE killer stalked in the shadows. Hidden within the gloom shrouding the hall's lofty ceiling, he crept across the rafters to the flicker of the torch fires below. As unseen as the wind, silent as Death itself. Festive music rose from the chamber beneath him. The flower of northern Nimea, two hundred lords and ladies, filled the great hall of Ostergoth Keep. The sharp crack of a whip cut through the din. The centerpiece of the evening was an aged hillman, stripped to the waist and bound to a wooden frame. Livid welts oozing blood crisscrossed his shoulders and back. While Duke Reinard's guests gorged on fine victuals, his torturer performed for their entertainment. The bullwhip cracked again and the old man shuddered. The duke laughed so hard he spilled wine down his ermine-lined robes and spoiled the yellow dress of the pale, shuddering girl on his lap. She quivered as he blotted at her bodice with a stained napkin and then squeaked at an indiscretion committed under the table. She tried to squirm away, but the duke held her fast and laughed all the harder. Calm's gloved hands curled into fists. It was time to go to work. He dropped down to an empty balcony
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