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Sneak Peek of
Ghost Eyes: The Empires of Terra by Viktoria Laudo

     She couldn’t breathe. Her chest heaved as she ran down the labyrinth of streets. The smack of her shoes on the empty cobblestone path gave away her trail in the relative quiet of the early morning.

Running.

That was the only thing on her mind. There was a small voice in the back of her head on a constant loop, wondering how long she could keep her disguise from the soldiers, keep up the façade that she’s not one of them.

      Her crime? Hunger. At least, that’s the only crime they knew about.

The deep baritone of the cathedral bells clanged in tune with her footfalls as she eluded the guards, just like she had a thousand times before. The turn to the ghetto marked by a change to uneven, cracked cobblestones didn’t make her retreat any easier, but it was still more manageable for her than the soldiers.

Just over her shoulder, Leila could hear the guards, weighed down by their muscles and armor, closing in with their heavy breathing echoing off the walls of the alley. They were getting faster, or at least becoming more familiar with every crack and pebble in this slum.

      No one outside the ghetto’s residence, not even soldiers, were brave enough to penetrate the stench and squalor, except when chasing thieves or looking for favors from Madam’s business, The House of Klytie.

      Whipping around the corner and into the tent city, the soldiers advanced in their pursuit. Leila couldn’t lead them to the brothel. Madam would kill her for bringing trouble. Her aunt, Greta, could only protect her so much from Madam’s wrath. No, if she could get to the center of the square, her scent would mix with the unwashed bodies, sewage, and smoke from the underground fires. Then she could be free.

      Darting around a traveler’s tarp and hurtling over another, the plaza center hit her like week-old stockings in the face. Thankfully, the smell of the crowds from earlier that day still permeated the air due to the humid night.

      If the soldiers were demons, they wouldn’t be able to track her and if they were human, they might be too disgusted to go on. She grinned at the thought of having the upper hand again. Being malnourished had its perks. She could fit into tight crevices and alleyways they could not. Her size had helped her escape from them on more than one occasion.         

      Fools.

      She knew this city inside and out, every secret twisting passage, every turning staircase, and whether or not they led to an open or locked door.

      She wasn’t expecting, however, for her usual path, a small, near impassable alleyway, to be barricaded with massive marble boulders. They had discovered her standard route. Of course she had to be cocky on this run.

      Slowly, her run turned to a walk. Dragging her feet in defeat, her eyes darted this way and that trying to find an escape route, but no such luck. She had been corralled and cornered.

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