Myn hated her goblin tutor, Hacta Scribbleshank, but didn’t realize the feeling was mutual until Hacta tried to kill her.

It had been another lesson in history and etiquette. Another lesson calling for Myn to squeeze herself into uncomfortable court garments. Another lesson with her tottering about in shoes made to sound pretty on polished floors rather than fit comfortably. And all the while, Hacta had been calling out facts and figures to memorize.

“Why do the boots of court dress reach the knee?” Hacta barked.

“To make people with big feet want to kill themselves?” Myn growled.

“It was imposed by the Layyians when they ruled Pexate for 50 years!” Hacta cried back.

“Then why do we keep doing it?”

Their conversation was abruptly interrupted by the sound of a cannon on the walls of Toan Castle. Two more followed, a triple blast.

“What does that mean?” said Myn, struggling to remember the lesson about cannon shots. “I know this one, I swear. It’s either the birth of an heir to the throne or welcoming a prince from a petty duchy.”

Hacta reached into her bustle and drew a slim, finely-wrought misericorde dagger. “It means the lesson is over,” she said. “I will now teach you the most important etiquette of all: how to die with dignity.”

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