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Continuing a chapter from Ghosts of Innocence, Shayla has stolen the identity of a new high-ranking Imperial appointee, Brynwyn bin Covin. She’s been met by a soldier (Kurt) from the Imperial Palace Guard, who’s escorting her to the Palace. They have just stepped outside while Shayla’s baggage is loaded into the car. Kurt spotted a row of punishment stalls across the square, and Shayla realizes the crowd will expect her to inflict some pain on the prisoners there.
She tried to ignore the stench of urine and excrement while she thought. How would Brynwyn behave here? She was sure that Kurt would be taking note of her actions. He may appear to be genial and bumbling, but she had felt him observing her. Who might he be reporting to back at the Palace? If nothing else, people there would be curious about her. She was an unknown from the Provinces taking up a senior public appointment. Whatever she did here, whatever she said, every word, every gesture, would find its way to attentive ears in time.