Death Mages Ascent: Revised Edition (Death Mage Series Book 1)
not need her blessings.”
    “We did no better,” Jaxom said, taking Cribble’s attention away from Da’san. “We’ll try again tomorrow, but if we don’t make any progress, there will be no choice but to continue on. Jerup, did you find everything we need?”
    “Yes, the innkeeper directed me to merchants. The supplies are in the rooms I rented for tonight.”
    “Then we begin our search again in the morning. For now, I intend to spend the rest of the night enjoying the drink and food,” Cribble said. To show how serious he was, he finished his mug of ale and waved for another. Aside from Da’san, the others also indulged in the wine and ale for the rest of the night. Jaxom brooded on the events that transpired after their last night in an inn. He could not afford to let his guard down.
    The next morning Jaxom and his group resumed their search. Brenin left with Cribble and Da’san, while Jerup joined him. Deciding to try the taverns in town, they stopped at every drinking establishment they passed. They found no one who would consider their offer, even after Jaxom offered five gold pieces in payment. He was on the verge of giving up when a woman stopped them outside.
    She was around twenty-five, but her grey eyes suggested many more years. She wore her shoulder-length light brown hair tied back in a ponytail. Beneath a man’s dark brown shirt and pants, Jaxom could tell that her five foot eight frame was well muscled. Her smooth, dark skin told of days spent in the sun. Jaxom realized that he enjoyed looking at her.
                  “I heard you are looking for someone to take you into Teriken,” she said, her gaze unwavering.
                  “Yes, do you know someone who can lead us?”
                  “Depends on what you are paying,” she said.
                  “Eight gold coins, half up front and half when we find what we are looking for. Once we do, I will pay the rest, and he can leave without us,” Jaxom said. Jerup whistled at the sum, which was more than he made in a year.
                  “Done, but I want something else as well,” the woman said. Jaxom hoped he covered his suprise. He hadn’t heard of any women hunting in the forest. Though he could tell from her appearance that she was not a simple seamstress, he wasn’t sure they wouldn’t be better off going it alone.
                  “And what would that be?” he asked.
                  “I will take you in and out again,” she said. “And when you leave Chams’dell, you take me with you.”
                  That took him back. She knew nothing about who they were or where they had come from. Her demand meant either she was extremely foolish or extremely sure of her ability to handle herself. Even with the added stipulation, he wasn’t sure she could hold up her end of the deal. His skepticism must have shown on his face.
                  Her gaze hardened. “I know what you are thinking. How can a woman lead where men refuse to go?” Her voice trembled with anger. “My father taught me to hunt the forest when I was twelve. I know of its dangers, not only the wolves and other animals, but the unnatural creatures as well.”
                  Jaxom hesitated, not sure he could risk having her along when they returned to Ale’adar. “Where is your father? Perhaps he could take us,” Jaxom said.
                  “My father died last summer. I am the only one who knows what you are looking for. Before he died, he showed me the city inside Teriken. If you want me to take you there, you will agree to my terms.”
    Setting her jaw, the woman waited. Jaxom considered. If she did know where this city was, it could save them days or weeks of looking. “We have a deal,” he said. She smiled, and Jaxom gasped faintly as her face went from beautiful to radiant.
    “I will meet you tomorrow morning at the

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