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Of Liars And Thieves

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Twelve year old magnate Kiel has to play her cards carefully. Especially when the Council she and her family have served for generations is taken down by the Revolutionists and her father dies from mysterious circumstances. She must withdraw from society, from the people she has grown close with in order to protect what she loves dearest: her family's legacy. Karter Porfivorna wants only to forget her time serving in the Rebellion until she remembers the strange girl who she fought alongside with, then disappeared without a trace. As memories of this girl come flooding back and Kiel's web of deception becomes clear, Karter must face the facts that destroyed her life: Kiel isn't dead. And she's been in control this whole time.

Sophie Lee
5.0 1 review
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Chapter 1


I was running through a forest. The air tasted sour. Above me, explosions filled the sky, going off like flash fire. A resounding boom echoed across the canyon walls, loud enough to make my ears ring.

My feet felt clumsy and I stumbled. My breath came in frantic gasps. Another explosion. More gunshots. These were louder, faster.

Blood dripped from my temple, clouding my eyes. I wiped the blood away with my sleeve, ignoring the pain that arced through my ribs.

All around me was a forest, tall pines, and dense underbrush that crunched underfoot. I couldn’t see more than five paces ahead of me. I felt my waist, my fingers closing around the cold metal of my pistol. Without breaking pace, I drew it from my belt. I clumsily loaded it, spilling precious cartridges over the dirt. I pulled back on the hammer until it clicked, then flipped the safety off.

I had wanted this once.

Now I would do anything to go back to before. Our mission wasn’t noble. It was suicide.

Suddenly, the trees began to taper off, the tangled underbrush giving way to lone clumps of cloudberry bushes.

I slowed to a walk. Before me was an outcropping of rock that jutted out like a knife over the lake, giving me a spectacular view of the canyon.

It was shaped somewhat like a bowl, with steep rock walls that sloped down to meet the surface of the lake below. The slopes used to be covered in dense greenery, but now a large portion lay black and smoldering.

Some kind of bomb. A hollow, perhaps? Or maybe a Winchester.

Down on the lake, the boom of canons lit the water in brilliant tongues of orange and yellow, accompanied by the flashfire rat-tat-tat of a repeating rifle.

But I wasn’t alone.

Standing with her back to me was a girl.

I raised my pistol, taking careful aim, but before I could do anything, the girl turned. I lowered my pistol, half in shock, half out of confusion.

“Hello. What do you think you’re doing here?”

She looked to be about twelve. She wore the clothes of someone of noble birth: a waistcoat, knee-high socks, a cravat, a knee-length pleated black skirt. Her shoes were black with shiny brass buckles, Victorian-era esc. She raised her head slightly. Her eyes were deep, cold blue. Unsettling.

I could only blink at her, my chest heaving from all the running, my pistol limp at my side.

“Who are you?” was all I managed.

She shrugged and bent over to pick something up from the undergrowth. It was a sort of walking stick, beautifully made. She seemed lost in thought as she examined the emerald-like stones embedded in the handle.

After a good minute, she seemed to remember I was there.

“You can come to look, you know,” she said, gesturing at the valley below with the stick.

Doubtfully, I ventured forward towards the edge of the outlook. She moved aside slightly so I could see.

Our troops had taken refuge on the south side of the canyon. I could see the cluster of tents and people milling about like ants. A thin trail of smoke escaped from a campfire.

There was a bright flash of light from a cluster of trees on the opposite side of the canyon. A second later, the aftershock of the explosion boomed over our heads.

I yelped and threw myself to the ground as the ground seemed to vibrate beneath my feet. The girl barely reacted at all, except to dig the end of her walking stick into the ground for balance.

Everything had started out fine. We’d located the Council’s base camp without any altercations. The Force Captain had divided up our forces into three groups.

Then everything went wrong. Bombs started going off right and left, killing off thousands of our men. I could see the explosions lighting up the night sky like fireworks. And then they started firing the cannons. That was worse.

Much worse.

You couldn’t avoid them; they were everywhere. I remembered running through the woods with my five or six companions. And then a blinding flash. I felt my body fly and slam into the ground. Then nothing.

After it was over, I stood back up, wincing as pain arced through my ribs.

“They’re losing,” I murmured to myself.

The girl nodded her head, looking thoughtful. “They’re firing from the hills. Fascinating.”

I blinked, startled from my reverie. It’s almost like I forgot the strangeness of this whole situation entirely.

I stooped down and picked up my pistol. “Who are you?” I demanded, trying to put some authority into my voice.

“Kiel.” she said vaguely, still fixed on the battle below.

“Kiel. Okay.” I said. “Which side are you on?”

“I don’t pick sides. You know, I’m only twelve. I’d prefer not to involve myself.”


“Well. You’re coming back to the camp. Now.” I aimed the gun. Kiel looked at me, at the gun’s barrel pointing at her face.

“No. I don’t want to.”

“You’re coming.” I said, trying to keep my voice level. “This is no place for a child.”

“I’m not a child.” she returned her attention to the lake below.

I made a grab for her arm. She pivoted on her heel and back stepped in the direction of the woods. I slammed my hands into her shoulders, tackling her to the dirt. I landed on top of her, pinning down her arms with my knees.

“Get off me, you imbecile!” she hissed, struggling to free herself from my grip.

“Will you try and run again?” I asked.


I got up off of her. She sat up, brushing the dirt off her waistcoat with an air of aloof annoyance. She bent and scooped up her hat, placing it back atop her head.

I grabbed my pistol from the dirt where it’d fallen.

“Will you stop pointing that at me?” Kiel snapped.

I shook my head. “I’m sorry, but no. I can’t take any chances. I’ve been shot at, bombed, knocked out, and almost killed in the last hour. And now a random kid has shown up out of the blue and I’m stuck babysitting. This is not what I signed up for.”

Kiel’s face twisted into a glare. “Don’t you dare boss me. No one bosses me except idiots and imbeciles.”

I was taken aback. I felt myself glare.

“You know what I think? I think you sound like an angry chihuahua.” I gestured with the gun. “Now move.”

She sighed and started walking. I followed at a jog.

We left the walking stick.

I don’t even think she remembered it existed or didn’t care. I remembered thinking that stick cost more than my life was worth. And Kiel left it lying in the dirt.


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