Mark of the Thief (Mark of the Thief #1)
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Now, with the deadly power of the bulla pulsing through his veins, Nic is determined to become free. But instead, he finds himself at the center of a ruthless conspiracy to overthrow the emperor and spark the Praetor War, a battle to destroy Rome from within. Traitors and spies lurk at every turn, each more desperate than the next to use Nic's newfound powers for their own dark purposes.
In a quest to stop the rebellion, save Rome, and secure his own freedom, Nic must harness the magic within himself and defeat the empire's most powerful and savage leaders.
was warming now, in fact. Surely that was no coincidence. “Thanks for the olives,” I said to Felix. It seemed like a safe way to begin the conversation. “Where did you get the bulla?” Obviously, Felix was more direct than me. I scratched my head while I considered an answer, and finally came up with, “I found it.” It might not be the full story, but it was true enough for his question. “How long have you had it?” “Only a couple of days.” “And that mark on your shoulder was a scratch from
“You can pay me for it later.” “I have nothing.” “Take it.” Crispus pressed the loaf into my hands. “Please, Nic.” I immediately ripped pieces from it, as large as I could fit in my mouth without choking. The bread we got at the mines was little more than a baked paste of coarsely ground flour and dirty water. This was soft and fragrant and slightly sweet. It filled my stomach and warmed my body, and for the first time since I had eaten all those strawberries, I didn’t feel completely hollow
away from Rome. We slept in the woods, sheltered by trees, or in the corners of barns. If I’d ever had a real bed, I didn’t remember it. Now I walked closer and stroked the mattress. It was so thick with feathers that I wondered if it might swallow me up once I lay upon it. So I didn’t. I grabbed the light blanket from on top of the mattress, and then lay down on the hard floor, where I felt more comfortable. With my cheek on the cool concrete, I faced out the doorway, staring at the moonlight,
was strength, and power, and raw energy. And with each use, I was becoming those things too. Using that strength now, holding on to the rope became easy, so I focused on the stack of bricks. A quick test from my fingers rustled them. “You’re doing it!” Aurelia said. With some effort, I allowed more magic into my hand. When I first sent it to the bricks, they rose in the air by a few inches. Then as I started to descend back to the ground, more magic emptied than I had intended. It shot from my
happen to me if he’s discovered here? Why would I risk myself and my family if I wanted him dead?” She shrank against the force of his anger, then gathered her courage enough to say, “You don’t understand —” “And you do?” Valerius asked. “Who are you? A girl of the streets, of the sewers even? You have no education, no family name, and yet you question my plans to save the empire? All you have is that crepundia, proof that you were unacceptable to the family who gave you life!” Tears welled in