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I pray I have not disappointed her. The goddess knows I have done my best.

It should be made clear from the outset that it was my destiny to become a spy. With a spy for a mother, and an assassin as my guardian, what else was I to become?

Chapter One

My mother left me with Admon Zamadi al-Tahlid when I was only three. I have little memory of her, other than the vague impression of blond-streaked hair that smelled of jasmine, and sparkling, hazel eyes. I grew up on Admon’s estate deep in the heart of Tahlid province, isolated from the company of other children and families. But at an early age, I sensed my home life was different. When I was seven, I finally got up the courage to ask Admon about it.

I had been wandering the estate grounds one spring afternoon after my lessons for the day were complete. Although I was only a child, Admon took the responsibility of my education very seriously. He began teaching me himself as soon as he deemed me old enough, beginning with reading, writing, and figures. I soaked up the information like a sponge, eager for knowledge and my master’s approval. But now I was walking near the shadow of the Elven Forest, which backed onto Admon’s estate, considering a dream that had been haunting me for the past three nights. One of Admon’s nondescript men was standing a respectful distance away, keeping watch as he had no doubt been instructed. I blocked out my unwanted guardian, trying to recapture the images.

Closing my eyes, I tilted my head back to let the sun shine on my face. The leaves of the nearby trees rustled in the light breeze, sounding like whispered words just beyond my hearing. The lush scent of the gardens wafted towards me, carrying a hint of jasmine. My mother’s face appeared in my mind’s eye. She was smiling, but her hazel eyes—so very like my own—were welling up with tears.

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