There wasn’t any evidence that Sqan killed the bartender, but everyone in town assumed he did just because he was an orc. As sheriff, Dad refused to give him over to a lynch mob and let him out a back door.

So the mob lynched Dad instead. I guess they weren’t picky about which innocent person they strung up.

This meant that me and the twins all got branded as outcasts and shunned too, since we were orc lovers and “an orc killed my grandpappy” and what have you. Now we half-folk are pretty close-knit with big families. Everybody’s related to everybody. It didn’t mean much with Dad when his fifth and sixth cousins were doing their thing, but when it came to taking us in or even just taking our money, it was a big fat no.

The twins took it rough. Last I heard they were working as muckrakers in Harrowshire, for somebody who wasn’t half-folk or who paid them a low enough wage to compensate for their “treason.” Me, I took it rougher. Now I work the ruins of Anairo.

It’s close enough to Harrowshire that most of the folk there look at me askance, and most of the shopkeepers won’t buy what I’m selling. But they’ll take my money, at least, and that means that whatever ingots with dead kings I can find deep below are good for them.

No one knows how deep Anairo goes, or how the tunnels are mostly still intact after a thousand years under the water table. Not even the people who supposedly built it, squatting on the ruins. But there’s money to be made, literally made, with a mold and a hammer and gold smelted centuries ago. I’m not the biggest or the toughest or the smartest, but I’m quick on my feet and canny as hell. I’ll make it work. I’ll buy back Dad’s good name. I might even find and kill Squan, who went into the ruins two years ago and never came out.

Or I’ll die trying.

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