1 Chapter I

Day as every day. Order - trivial. Nothing a common emeritor could handle. Not to mention his purpose - stupid as a shoe. It was enough to give poison to the cup and pretend to be a stupid, naïve maid. And that's what I've been working on for the last nine years? For a stupid title and trivial orders for which sometimes gets horrendous prices? Not that I'm loiting. After all, I don't have to cut myself to collect a pair of coppers for food for me and my family. The worst was when we arrived with mom and Cecylia to Werrne. We had to live in slums next to the main headquarters of criminal caratels, but now we are waiving in the luxuries of the city center. However, this does not mean that I am so carried by this insescriptive pride. Most of it was so-called blood gold by professionals. It is rather not necessary to describe, the name speaks for itself. By the way caratels, you probably do not know that in cooperation with some of them I received a small souvenir called blindness in one eye and a huge scar passing through them in half of the face in addition, right? And I said: Why are you taking this axe? All you can do is blow someone's eye out! But what will happen is not going to happen anymore. In general, I lost nothing but vision in one eye. Since I was a child, no one has considered me an unparalleled beauty. I always walked in torn and soiled clothes, my hair was dull, unsatismed. Stripped knees, always broken nails, and at the end of the week I was feeling for half a kilometer. Just a picture of misery and despair. As a result, I was often taunted by children from wealthier families who christened me the nickname Monster of the Royal Slums. The only part of my appearance that I practically digested in my appearance after that period of my life was my violet eyes inherited from my mother. And now?

Everyone who once slid me into the mud and pointed the finger at me is afraid of me or just respects me. Or both. Now I really became their nightmare. And I'm not going to change that fact. I am the Queen of Mercenaries. A person that everyone in this city has to reckon with. Well, unless you want me to cut your throat with a dagger, or to lose your senses with my parapsychic skills. Mages call them possessed. Well, everyone calls him how alive he likes. Don't judge me. And I say in advance – I'm not magically gifted. I know it sounds idiotic, given the fact that with a single nod I can cause someone unimaginable pain, but that's the truth. The above-born call people like me Dragons Speaker – endowed with magical skills that are not considered magical - making it an ideal excuse to plant an impossibly powerful tyrant on the throne. For the sake of clarity, a person who is magically gifted to perform can take the throne. Why? The answer can be found in the history of the Seven Kingdoms. Before a few eras at the head of the Ruberro Empire was the elf sorceress, who began the bloodiest war between the kingdoms in history. The time of these horrible flours and tortures associated with all races in all the Seven Kingdoms is called the Age of Fangs. It is a name commemorating the fact that during these bloody times the Crown of ancestors was sought, which was created from dragon tusks for the last King of all seven kingdoms - the Great Reinhol. It's like that in a nutshell.

And everything is beautiful and delightfully - by the time it comes to light that they appear than from the clumsy than from the parsley illegitimate children endowed with the powers of their fathers and take away what they like in exchange for the "miraculous" treatment of them like garbage by their parents. And no - I'm not going to call them drums, because they're just victims of the reckless actions of their parents. Be one of the people who accidentally became one. For example, my father. A high-ranking baron with more gold than reason, who seduced a young, beautiful washing machine working on his manor house, who married him an illegitimate daughter or me. Moreover, being engaged to a countess as rich as him – ma'am Turrte – who is now his wife and gave birth to a daughter. Fate has a cruel sense of humor. But what can you do? There's nothing I can do. If I even killed her - what would it give me? After all, she probably does not know that she exists, and for the contribution to the treatment of me by her father I do not suppose her participation. From what I know it's called Fleur. Fleur Tressa Rene and she is one year younger than me. He has plump pink cheeks, long blonde hair, round shapes and is generally the complete opposite of me. Not surprisingly, the higher-born male half of the city is applying for her hand. But I didn't want to tell you today about how poor and aggrieved I am by my father, who doesn't even deserve to be named, so let's start from the beginning...

I no longer remember who once leaned my back against the wall and waited for a fee for my probably already trillion-year-old order. In my black velvet coat, in the rain looking at my leather black shoes. After a while, I heard the horse's hoof knock on the stone roads of the city.

"Gold is going" I thought.

I was not wrong. I lifted slowly, lazily looking up. In front of me stood a black, with a white spot on the stallion's mug, and on it sat a tall, skinny, also coat-covered man who unceremonionally threw a bag earlier on the back of the horse under my feet. The contents have been buzzing since the fall.

- Reward with a small commission for quickly dealing with the problem.

- All pleasure on my side. – I answer by picking up the bag and opening it.

It is filled to the brim with shiny coins. I take one in my mouth and bite. Sincere gold. Wonderfully. Although I wonder why a merchant guild has so much money for the services of a linguy.

- The White Talon Caratel sends greetings, the Mercenary Queen. – he says, then with the movement of his legs and the stretch of the body, he instructs the horse to gallop in order to disappear from the awil under the cover of night in a moment.

- And it's all clear. – I squirm with an ironic smiley, tucking a gold coin into the pocket of my pants, which I had previously had in my mouth, and tied the thud of the bag so that not a single coin would relieve from it.

I threw the bag in a bag suspended on my shoulder and went to where the rider came from. Towards the house, which was reached by a wet, slippery, stone walkway. In truth , the weather for the reception of money they chose the perfect one. As nasty as they are. Karatele and their sick actions – no one will ever understand them. White Claws and Ravens in particular. These are two competing emeritus groups that toss logs at each other's feet. I once worked in the Ravens, a faction made up of former members of the Order of the Raven, an abbey of assassins that was officially shattered by the decree of queen Charlotte von Riordan's sacred memory seven years before her death. Our cooperation ended with the acquisition of my blindness. I would be overdue to say now that they left me alone after that, but they didn't leave me. I do not intend. Well, unless I kick in the calendar. Most likely. What I doubt. A more possible version of events that takes into account the onsle of my mother or sister. More mother. Because why run after my sister all over the kingdom when my mom is in Werrne? But luckily, a little gold coins are enough to silence them... For a week. Or a month. Then these vile beasts come again. Fortunately, they don't demand any horrended prices for my earnings.

I was walking past the aubergine when I heard an agony howle of more than a dozen men from inside it.

I'll give myself a head cut that a nobleman put everyone on the queue and as the rightful Arrtanczyk befits could not refuse.

It's only the fifth, and where are the other 25? – as my friend Noud asked after one of my thicker actions.

Such a beautiful national feature of ours. Unlimited drunkenness. I would even be tempted to go inside and drink with them, but the money from my bag would be as fast as the guy I had to kill for them. Not worth it.

I quickly walked past the inn and turned into the right street on the fork. Halfway to the next parting was my house, where my mother and my half-sister, Cecylya, three years older, was waiting for me, who reportedly came here for a bigger affair at the royal court. Of course, because of her activities, she could not travel during the day because the city guard could easily catch her. And he knows very well that I don't like to woo five prisons in Werrne in search of anyone. In particular, her boy Kassa.

I couldn't stop the heat of the wave that surrounded my cold body after entering the heated house. I immediately dropped the soaked coat and put it on the hangers mounted in the porch, a bag of money, and dressed my soaked shoes for a dry pair.

- How many times has your mother told you to wear more feminine outfits? – I heard a familiar voice when I entered the main chamber of the house where the fireplace was located.

I slowly turned towards the arch through which I walked into the room. Next to the framing, I saw a wall-based tall, brown-haired, freckling girl with a slim face, a torn nose, beer eyes and small but full lips. Her figure was slender, but there was no shortage of roundness here and there. The whole of Cecylia – a mirror image of mom. The only difference between her and her mother was the eyes she inherited from her father. She's just beautiful, and I'm like my father. However, even though I was the fruit of a mother's frolic with a baron, this cute woman treats me like a born sister. Also from character he is similar to his father – he was also nice and treated me as best he could. At least from what my mother was saying, because when I was four years old he died of winter fever. This, in turn, unfortunately caused the mother to have to work wherever possible, because for the wages of an ordinary woman it was difficult to feed two sponges and still herself. As a whole, Target had to start working very early. In the beginning, it was a job for which she was getting coppers, but over time she switched to the smuggling industry. It was just better paid. My mother was not happy with Cecylia's class at first, but over time, as our situation improved, she accepted it. For me, she has always been my heroine. She was, is and will be forever.

- It's nice to see you too, Cecylia... - I answered after I approached and apprecied my scary sister.

- I thought the Ravens had time to drop you along the way. - she said, pulling away from me vigorously and grabbing my forearms. - I couldn't wait to see my little sister.

- I'm not small, Goal.

- For me, you are always this little, snotty five-year-old with two braids and ragmed knees. - she said, putting one hand on my right shoulder and the other leaving along her torso.

- Maybe for you, but not for others.

- Oh, Cathlyn. With an older sister, you don't have to pretend to be so tough. - she said, visibly amused by my reaction. - Maybe because the mother went to rest we will relieve ourselves in our national way? What do you say? I brought our favorite wine. Straight from the royal vineyards.

- Someday they'll catch you. - I said with an involuntary smile, on the news of my favorite wine.

- And you as an exemplary sister will save my big-goose like a full moon ass. Moreover, until then I will be waithing flowers from underneath, my dear. - she said, walking away from me and then falling into her chair.

Near the fireplace, where there were two armchairs and a table with two cups most likely prepared by Cecil, my cat, Mr. Purrs, was a gray, striped sloth who could bask in his poochy butt in front of the hearth all day long. And to think that he was once an ordinary roofer chased by almost every housewife in the slums.

My sister opened the wine and poured half a cup of me and myself.

I lifted the nasal cup. A beautiful, sweet, grapeic fragrance filled my nostrils immediately, stimulating the bib for intense work.

Definitely Rotte. I put the dish on my chapped lips, and the scarlet liquid got into my mouth, filling it with a taste of the luxury of the royal vineyards. If it weren't for the fact that most likely Cel pulled up a box of this wine from smuggling, it would have tasted worse to me. After all, the forbidden fruit tastes best, doesn't it? Still give me a pint of my ginger beer and it will feel the true vibe of Werrne.

I feel like I'm too decent for a clead that kills people for money...

- I decided to stay in Werrne for a few days - she continued, raising the vessel in her mouth - Mother doesn't mind me stopping at home for a week or two, but I know it's your home and I don't want to impose myself if I'm not welcome here.

- Of course, you can have fun here for a few weeks, Cecylia. I'll recommend Entle to prepare a room for you, but first I need to find out... Why?

Cel looked at me with a confused eye.

- I do not understand the question.

- Why did you come to the city?

- I was in the area and decided to visit my little sister with my mother and a few old friends.

I was throwing an ironic look at my sister. The pupils of her big eyes were much smaller than when I hugged her, and her hands rubbed against each other every now and then. She breathes hard, and her heart is pounding like a rabbit to the point that I can hear it. Cecylia can't lie.

- That's just why you came to the city? To brush me on the hair and break a couple of gnats old friends? I sincerely doubt it.

For a moment she stuck her eyes in her hands, then squirmed under her nose and raised her eyes back at me.

- You and your simplicity, Cat. You can't keep something in you for long, chow? she asked with a bitter smile.

- As you can see. - I said - Cecylia, what's going on?

- Nothing I could handle on my own, Cathlyn - she said in a cool tone, rising suddenly from her seat.

- Apparently not, because you would send me at least a letter with a notice of your visit, which indicates that you were brought suddenly. All of a sudden enough that you didn't even have time to take your cracks. You've always been a perfectionist, Goal. It's not your style to come without a notice.

- How you... - she began.

Her eyes expressed surprise, but also anger. She knew I wasn't doing it to hurt her just to help her, but she was still furious that she controlled her without her knowledge. What would allow herself to do this, and in particular, which has a reputation as the Queen of Smugglers? I beg you!

- I have my handles. – I said fast and firmly following her movements with her eyes.

Cecylia sighed loudly and redirected her gaze to the red tongues of fire dancing in the fireplace.

- I go to the audience to the king.

- What's that?! - I screamed as I pulled out of the seat. - The king invited you to the audience and you didn't want to tell me anything?!

- It's... It is not planned by His Majesty's audience.

- How's that?! You don't want to tell me... - I broke my eyes while waiting for answers.

But I didn't get it. Cecylia didn't even twitch.

- He will kill you.

- No. He won't kill. - she replied without cutting her eyes off the hearth. - The reason why I am here and why I need to talk to the king concerns all smugglers, peasants and assassins. This is not a trivial matter.

- What do you mean? - I asked when I heard my voice break down.

My half-sister turned her head to the side, but still not towards me, causing her face to be half-lit by the fire of the fireplace.

- Remember how we robbed people at the Royal Order Competition ten years ago? - she asked with a slight smile.

- Yes. - I said confused. – What does it have to do with things, Goal?!

- The Royal Order competitions are organized by the royal family once every ten years and are the only opportunity for people from the lower social strata to obtain the title of nobility. she said, redirecting her beer gaze towards me. – Including smugglers. However, now according to our sources, the king wants to ignore the tradition.

- What do you mean? – I asked with an upset voice, improving on the spot in the chair.

- The fact that the king is going to prevent the profession of people who are not noble born.

I felt my eyes open involuntarily to the limit with astonishment.

Did I hear? Competitions have been organized on the same basis for more than three hundred years! They are the only way, in addition to becoming a national hero, so that people from society rise to the rank of nobility! It's an age-old tradition! A lot of people have been learning for years how to use weapons to take part in this tournament, and suddenly there's a lot of people who can't take part?! I myself know many mercenaries who have been trained specifically for competitions for many years!

- Are you kidding? After all, the Streeters have done nothing noble! They haven't touched their thick, clothed asses for the last ten years!

- Unfortunately, this is not a joke.

- Do you know what this means for the country? For people?

- I know, therefore, in three days, together with the commanders of the main groups of Streeters, we decided to pay a visit to the King during the presentation of candidates and candidates of noble families to the Competition of the Royal Order and... Together with them, we also agreed on a proposal for you.

- For me? Proposals? How nice that you thought of me, but I say in advance – if you punish me again to dress up as a royal buffoy, I will thank you and your people.

- You still remember it? - the target squeaked with laughter.

- Yes.

- Calmly - we do not mean that you dress for anything. It's about you going to fight for mercenaries. So that they too can legally participate in it.

- And what else? Don't get me wrong, I too would like the emeritus to take part in the tournament too, but if the caratels put up their candidates, the court would be just a real mine of scum fighting for power. Especially if the Ravens or The White Claws did.

- I know, but still one or two pigs in a barn full of piglets will not make much difference, and for mercenaries it would be something. she said, walking around my chair and standing from behind, she put her hands on my shoulders. - Just imagine it. The emeriists would eventually mean something. They would not be treated like pests. Worms. Beings tanging under the legs of nobility. This would solidify their positions, which would be equal to them or even higher than the assassins. Think about how the lives of a lot of people would improve, not so much in the capital as in the whole kingdom?

- Really? Funny that the king does not look favorably on either assassins or mercenaries.

- But they can participate. - she said, taking her hands off my shoulders and sat back in the second chair in front of me.

- It is difficult not to admit right.

- I know I have it. she said, staring at me intensely as she leaned over the table. "And I also know that the only person who can do this is you, Cathlyn. The possessed people will join the Werrne Street, giving freedom to their confreers. You will be the queen liberating your people from slavery as your title obliges. As the Great Dreaming Ludgardia did during the Age of Fangs. Therefore, hence my question: Will you be with us or against us, sister?

She was up to her feet and her right hand was going towards me. Although her high physique was tense, there was a firmness and confidence in the words she spoke. The belief that I could really help these people.

What if I can't do it? What if it just evokes burning hopes among people? But from the other side... People have treated me like rubbish since I was a child. I would like this to change not only in my respect, but in terms of other mercenaries. And younger and older. Maybe Cecylia is right? Maybe I'm really the only person who has the opportunity to help? And politics? Their power games? I don't care. Now I don't care anything except my people. Our people.

- Consent.