Sol licked his lips nervously. “I am Solomon Ranaan, a lawman of Alden. Who am I addressing?”

“Chief Gwenhwyfar Glaw.” She looked between Sol and Grant, noticing the silver badges they wore. The way she looked at him when she turned back to Sol made his spine tense. He didn’t doubt she would put a noose around his neck if he said the wrong thing. “Do you have a reason for interrupting this execution?”

“Damn right he does!” Grant said before Sol could answer. “You made a mistake stringing me up. Sol will see to it you get what’s coming to you.”

A sharp look from Gwenhwyfar silenced Grant. She put a hand on her hip, the movement drawing Sol’s eye to the pistol hanging inches from her fingers. She could hang him or she could shoot him. She looked eager to do both.

“Grant, I suggest you stay out of this.” Sol adjusted his worn duster so his own pistol showed, but she didn’t flinch at the implied threat. She only looked angrier. He pointed to the man in middle of the platform. “This man is wanted for murder in Alden. My charge—” he indicated Grant “—and I followed him to your village. He will be tried and sentenced by the court.”

“Were you going to take him by force?” Gwenhwyfar asked.

“If necessary, yes. I hoped he would come willingly once we cornered him.”

“Would’ve taken too damn long,” Grant muttered.

Sol ignored him. “With your permission, Chief, I’d like to return this murderer to Belenisa so he can answer for his crimes.”

“He’s about to answer for them.”

“He needs to be tried by the court in Alden.”

“And what fate will they resign him to?” Her emotionless façade cracked, but only for a moment. “Do you not hang killers the way we do?”

Grant spat at Gwenhwyfar’s feet, saliva spattering her boot. “You’re hanging me and I didn’t kill anyone!” The crowd rumbled its displeasure as Sol drew his gun. Gwenhwyfar’s weapon appeared in her hand at the same instant.

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