Home > Defy the Night (Defy the Night #1)

Defy the Night (Defy the Night #1)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer

 


THE POLITICAL LEADERS OF KANDALA

NAME ROLE SECTOR

King Harristan King Royal

Prince Corrick King’s Justice Royal

Barnard (deceased) Montague Consul Trader’s Landing*

Allisander Sallister Consul Moonlight Plains

Leander Craft Consul Steel City

Jonas Beeching Consul Artis

Lissa Marpetta Consul Emberridge

Roydan Pelham Consul The Sorrowlands

Arella Cherry Consul Sunkeep

Jasper Gold Consul Mosswell

 

*Sometimes called “Traitor’s Landing” after the former king and queen were assassinated by Consul Montague, leaving Harristan and his younger brother, Corrick, in power.

THE OUTLAWS

NAME ROLE

Tessa Cade Apothecary

Weston Lark Steelworker

Lochlan Rebel

The Benefactors Unknown

 

THE CURE

 

 

The only known cure for the fever is an elixir created from dried Moonflower petals, a plant native only to two sectors: Moonlight Plains and Emberridge. Moonflower petals are strictly rationed among sectors, and quantities are limited.

Those with means can purchase their own supply.

Those without, cannot.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Tessa

The hardest part of this job isn’t the stealing. It’s the escaping. At best, it takes me two minutes to scale the wall out of the Royal Sector, but the night is cold, and my fingers are starting to go numb. Dawn is only an hour off, and sentry spotlights slide along the high stone walls at irregular intervals. I clutch my father’s old apothecary pack tight under my arm, clinging to the darkness, waiting for an opportunity.

Several of the sectors have electricity in the wealthy areas, or so I’ve heard, but the spotlights here are brighter than any candle has ever been—even brighter than the bonfires the towns light to burn their dead. The first time I saw them, I stared like a fool until I realized those lights meant danger. I spent days trying to figure out some kind of pattern to the surveillance, until I admitted that to Weston. He snorted and said there was no pattern, just bored men spinning a light around a pole.

They’ve been spinning this light pretty steadily for the last hour.

I flex my fingers and mentally adjust my estimate to three minutes—then bite my lip and think. The light has been returning to this section of wall at least every two.

Wes is probably at the workshop already, waiting. He can scale the stone wall in half a minute. Thanks to his height, he can leap, catch the high spires with his treble hook, then brace against the wall to bounce to the top like a cat. I’d be jealous, but it’s kind of entrancing to watch.

Not that I’d ever tell him. I’d never hear the end of it.

Entrancing, Tessa? It’s just a wall. Nothing like this. And then he’d climb a tree or do a cartwheel off the workshop roof or walk on his hands.

And then I’d have to punch him, because that would be better than him seeing the blush creeping out from under my mask, because yes, all of that is equally entrancing.

I need to stop thinking about Wes. This sentry light needs to stop spinning. I need to make my rounds, or we’ll lose days of healing. Some people don’t have days. A few might not even have hours.

I have to get out of here first. If I’m caught with a pack full of Moonflower petals, King Harristan and his brother, Prince Corrick, will tie me down in the palace gardens and let the birds peck out my organs.

Suddenly, the light stops, way down near the corner where the wall dips into shadow because of a slope. It’s where the amateurs always try to make their escape.

I’m not going to waste an opportunity. I tear out of my hiding place like a rabbit scared from a glen, my own treble hook already swinging. I can’t fling it all the way to the spires like Wes can, but I can reach the brackets that sit midway. The hook whistles up at the wall ahead of me, and I leap before it pulls taut. My boots scrape against the stone as I climb, slipping a little on the granite. I reach the bracket, the tiniest little ledge, but it’s enough to brace against while I pull the treble hook free and swing for the top. It clangs onto the spires, and up I go.

The light begins to move.

I suck in a breath and urge my feet to push me faster, higher. The pack bounces against my ribs as my feet slip and shift against the wall. My hands are burning where the rope slides. The light sweeps close, and it’s suddenly blinding.

Then I’m over the wall, half rappelling, half dropping to the forest ground like a sack of oats. I give the rope a jerk and the hook falls beside me, a little jingle in the gravel at the base of the wall. Dirt and debris cling to the homespun wool of my skirts, but I don’t dare move to brush it away. I can almost taste my heartbeat as I hold my breath and wait for the sentries to ring the alarm.

But no. Brightness glides along the edge as the light continues on its path.

I swallow my heart and wind up my hook. A crescent moon hangs high in the sky, but the barest hint of purple gleams at the horizon, a reminder that I hesitated too long, and time grows short. I slip through the forest with practiced ease, my feet silent on the fallen pine needles. I usually smell fire from the woodstove by now, because Wes always beats me back. We have a system: he starts the kettle and grinds the petals so we can make the elixir, while I weigh and divide the powder into the appropriate dosage. Then he bottles the liquid as it’s ready, I wrap it into our packs, and together we make our rounds.

But today, there’s no smell of wood smoke.

I get to the workshop, and there’s no Weston.

I think of that light stopping on the wall. My heart is in my throat again.

Wes isn’t stupid. He wouldn’t try the corner. I didn’t hear an alarm anyway.

But he’s still not here, and I’m already late.

I light the fire and try not to worry. I can hear his voice telling me to keep calm. Mind your mettle, Tessa. They’re the first words he said to me on the night he saved my life, and he’s said them a dozen times since.

He’s fine. He has to be fine. Sometimes we can’t meet at all, and one of us waits at the workshop for fifteen minutes before running solo. Mistress Solomon occasionally keeps me late, brewing and measuring and weighing the herbal remedies that she promises her customers will work—but they rarely do. Sometimes Weston’s master needs him at the forge early, because some spoiled sportsman needs a new sword or a horse has thrown a shoe. It’s happened before.

But Wes was here earlier. And he’s always back first.

The workshop is tiny and warms quickly from the fire. There’s no electricity out here, so the workshop is dim, but I don’t need much light for this. I busy my hands to keep from worry, grinding each petal into dust, careful to scrape every speck onto the tray of my scale. Even dry, they’re fragrant. The elites pay dearly for every fraction of an ounce, then waste it by drinking the elixir three times a day, even those who show no signs of disease. Preventive measures, the king calls it. Once a day is usually plenty, and I have my notes to prove it. Even Wes was distributing too much in the beginning, until I showed him that we could help far more people with less. My father would have called it a waste. A waste of good treatment when those who can’t afford it are dying.

Then again, my father was executed for treason and smuggling, so I don’t call it anything at all. I just do what I can.

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