Poison Bridget Zinn

THE MASTER TRIO POTIONERS’ flat didn’t look impregnable. From the outside it just looked like an enormous ramshackle old house. One in bad need of a paint job.

But Kyra knew better.

The first-floor doors and windows bore elaborate magic wards that would alert the Potioners as soon as Kyra touched a windowsill or doorknob. And—unless the Potioners had disabled the bellows contraptions Kyra herself had set up—the wards would knock her out with a puff of sleep potion. Only charmed residents could pass when the wards were in place.

No, there was no getting in on the ground floor.

But Kyra also knew there was a window on the second story that had been stuck for years. That would be her way in.

Which is why she found herself scaling the side of the old house in broad daylight to clamber in through a half-open window. It wasn’t the best idea in the world, but it was Kyra’s only option.

Kyra had been watching the house for days.

Once upon a time the home belonged to a wealthy merchant, but there’d been a tragic fire years before that had killed Lloyd Newman and his family. These days it was split into four apartments. The downstairs was occupied by two noisy families, and in one of the upstairs units lived an old hermit named Ellie.

Then there was the fourth apartment.

The illustrious Master Trio Potioners’ lodgings. The one she was about to break into. These weren’t just any old potioners—if Kyra did say so herself—but rather the most highly esteemed in the kingdom, sought out by even the king himself. Their specialty was poisonous weaponry, and they not only manufactured the weapons, they knew how to use them. Better than anyone else around.

The rough, sun-warmed shingles that sided the house were perfect for climbing, and the nearest village was a good twenty-minute walk away. It wasn’t like anyone was going to see her. Almost no one was home.

The families were out to work and school in the village; the potioners, she assumed, were out hunting Kyra. And the hermit—well, he never went anywhere, anyway.

Kyra hoped he stayed put behind his papered-up windows and didn’t go tromping outside on one of his rare outings. Even a hermit would likely be bothered by the sight of a young woman dressed entirely in black clinging to the side of a house.

Kyra’s left hand cramped as she reached for the next shingle. What she wouldn’t give for a sturdy length of rope to climb. She cursed quietly. What was she doing wishing for rope? If she was going to wish for something, it should be something really important.

Like pie.

Warm from the oven, all crispy, crackly crust and oozing, juicy berries.

All of this hiding and skulking about was going to her head.

There were other things on her wish list—some of them even more important than pie.

At last reaching the window, Kyra pulled herself onto the ledge, flattened her body, and slid through, rolling to the floor and springing to her feet.

It was eerily quiet. She half wished Ellie the hermit would make a sound. Move a piece of furniture or something.

Kyra automatically checked her weapons. Slim holsters on her legs contained several dozen of her signature six-inch-long throwing needles, each tipped with poison.

The outside of the holsters held weapons of a different kind—special pockets of poison that no one knew about but Kyra. People had seen the effects, of course; and a mystique had built up around Kyra’s ability to take out combatants with a mere breath. One tap of her palms against her holsters and she had a fistful of poison to blow