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Once Tryls had finished explaining, he and Herrin sat quietly and waited. Mirra sat very still and pressed her fingers to her lips.

“That explains a lot,” she said finally. “When you think about it.”

Herrin looked at her, his head on one side. “You are taking this remarkably calmly, my dear.”

Tryls stood up before she could reply, fear and concern on his sharp face. “What does it explain?”

Mirra laughed. “Well, all the attempts on my life, for a start. Always wondered why so many people had it in for a humble barmaid.”

Herrin and Tryls exchanged glances.

“Why do you think I’m so handy with a crossbow,” she asked. She raised an eyebrow and looked up at Herrin. “And didn’t you wonder why I kept my hand under my pillow?”

He looked blank. Tryls coughed to break the awkward silence.

“I think she means she kept a knife there.”

“Oh.” His eyes went wide. “Oh!”

She winked. “It’s a good thing you didn’t disappoint me,” she said to him. “Now if you gents will excuse me, I have customers waiting, and you both still need to wash.”

She stood up and left.

“A knife?” Herrin looked at Tryls. “Well. That was news to me.”

© Kari Fay