Rebel Spring
secure. They’re a dangerous place, even for us.”
    She turned on him, her eyes flashing. “Is this about me being a girl? Don’t you have any female rebels?”
    “A few,” Jonas admitted.
    “I’ll fit in just fine, then.”
    “Don’t get me wrong, we’re thankful for your interference back there—”
    “Interference?” She cut him off before he’d managed to get an entire sentence out. “I saved your lives.”
    She wasn’t exaggerating. Those guards would have executed both him and Brion on the spot if she hadn’t interfered. He had come to Hawk’s Brow seeking new recruits and Lysandra appeared to be full of potential. Still, there was something about her that made him hesitate.
    That fire in both her eyes and her words—it wasn’t something shared by every Paelsian. Jonas’s own sister Felicia was a fighter, a warrior when necessary, but Lysandra’s passion and willingness to fight was as rare as diamonds.
    Still, his gut told him—rather loudly, in fact—that Lysandra Barbas would be trouble.
    “How old are you?” he asked.
    “Seventeen.”
    Same as both Jonas and Brion. “And where is your family? Do they know you’re off seeking a life of danger?”
    “My family is dead.”
    The words were delivered flatly and without emotion, but they still made Jonas wince.
    “King Gaius’s men came to my village to recruit everyone to work on a road he’s started to build,” she explained. “When we said no, they came back and burned my village to the ground. They butchered almost everyone who tried to run away. Those who lived were enslaved and carted off to one of the road camps. For all I know, I was the only one who managed to escape.”
    King Gaius’s road—the one he’d announced during his speech a week ago. “When was this?”
    “Two weeks ago. I’ve barely slept since. I’ve tried to keep moving, keep searching. Most in Paelsia are so accepting of fate—of destiny. It sickens me. Those here in Auranos are delusional, thinking King Gaius isn’t as bad as his reputation. They’re wrong—all of them. Now that I’ve found you, I can join your numbers and help to free our countrymen.”
    Jonas swallowed hard, his chest tight. His feet pounded against the ground as they continued to put distance between them and the dead guards. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
    “Don’t be sorry. I’m here and I’m ready to fight against the King of Blood. I want to see him suffer. I want to see him lose his precious crown and have his world burn to the ground as he dies screaming. That’s what I want.”
    “That’s what we all want. My rebels are ready to make a difference and we’re—”
    “
Your
rebels,” Lysandra said sharply. “Are you saying you’re the leader?”
    “Of our group, yes.”
    “What’s your name?”
    “Jonas Agallon.”
    Her eyes widened. “I’ve heard of you. Everyone in Paelsia knows your name.”
    Yes, the murder of his brother Tomas—the inciting incident that brought about King Gaius’s bid for war against the Auranians with naive Paelsians fighting at his side—had made both their names well known throughout the land. His fingers brushed against the jeweled dagger he held on to only so he could one day use it to end Lord Aron’s life.
    Lysandra flicked a glance at Brion. “And who are you?”
    He smiled eagerly. “Brion Radenos.”
    She frowned. “I’ve never heard of you.”
    Brion’s expression fell. “Well, not yet. I will be famous one day too.”
    “I have no doubt.” Her attention returned to Jonas. “What have your rebels been focused on?”
    He eyed the alleyway they swiftly moved past, but there were no guards lying in wait for them. “We’re recruiting all over Paelsia and Auranos—there are nearly fifty of us now. We’re causing trouble where we can, so the king knows we’re here and that we’re a growing threat. And while we are in Auranos we’re spreading the word to the citizens that the king is a liar and they shouldn’t

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