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The Forgotten Prince - Paul Collins

Thieves’ Guild apprentice Crocodile Sal is sitting her prac exam, Deceit and Daring 101. Her goal is to find a job and stay in it for at least three months. During this time, she has to steal something really valuable and use it in a successful, diabolical crime. Simple enough. But she hasn’t reckoned on royal and political intrigue, assassins, shape-shifters, betrayal, kidnapping gypsies, rift-world travel, trolls and murderous swamp creatures. Can anything else go wrong?

Suddenly the creature’s ears twitched forward as though training them on its prey. It gave an almighty roar of triumph and straightened, thumping its chest in exultation. Its companions surged forward.

‘I don’t suppose you have a spell for this?’ Fac said.

‘You’re right. I don’t,’ Sal said. ‘Nothing that will work that quick, at any rate.’ She discarded her machete and drew her sword instead.

‘You can’t possibly be serious?’ Fac said. ‘They must weigh all of six hundred pounds apiece.’

‘If they bleed, they can be beaten,’ Sal said. She stepped out of the foliage and met the first creature.

Although not a swordswoman, Sal had learnt many deft tricks with a blade. A friend of hers, Corran, had taught her many underhanded tricks ? manoeuvres that would be frowned upon in courtly contest.

The first and second creatures were injured in quick succession. Their companions, too eager to tear and sunder the rift travellers, got in one another’s way. Sal skewered another in the arm, but sheer weight of numbers drove her back. She turned and saw Fac retreating before three rampaging beasts. Her heart lurched. There was no way she could help him.

Fac back-pedalled furiously. He tripped twice, recovered, and stumbled backwards, forever keeping his sword swishing in front of him. By sheer luck, Fac stepped back on to a clump of solid swamp reeds. He almost lost his balance and threw his hands out to save himself. The creatures swept forward, and sank to their knees in the gurgling swamp.

Fac leapt from the tussock. He barely made solid ground, his back foot sinking to the ankle. He pulled his foot out and tumbled to the ground. Behind him, the creatures were fast disappearing into the swamp, their screeching cries unheeded.

He watched in morbid fascination, or perhaps shock, as the creatures’ heads sank without trace. Then Sal’s frantic gasps and grunts snapped him out of his stupor.

‘Hold on!’ he called, waving his sword. He lunged into the jungle. The next moment he ran straight into the back of a creature. His sword arm jarred. A creature bellowed its pain and fled into the jungle. Another swung around, its beastly eyes drilling into Fac’s.

In sheer terror, Fac clenched his eyes shut and threw his sword at the creature.

bullet The Gimlet Eye
Equen Queen
Battle for Quentaris
The Spell of Undoing
Vampires of Quentaris
The Skyflower
The Prisoner of Quentaris
Pirates of Quentaris
The Forgotten Prince
Stars of Quentaris
Stolen Children of Quentaris
Nightmare in Quentaris
The Murderers’ Apprentice
The Cat Dreamer
Princess of Shadows
Rifts Through Quentaris
The Plague of Quentaris
The Mind Master
Treasure Hunters of Q.
The Ancient Hero
Angel Fever
Stones of Quentaris
Dragonlords of Quentaris
Quentaris in Flames
Swords of Quentaris
The Revognase
The Perfect Princess
Slaves of Quentaris
Beneath Quentaris

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