Bridge Over the River Krim

Wynefrede is looking for the most unsuitable match, and the Royal Season is the place to find one.

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Installments

  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 1

    Wynefrede Aumberden, as she decided to call herself on Krim, scooted down a little bit in her seat in the back of a carriage slowly making its way along the cobblestones of Knots Hollow Way. She spread her legs a little further apart, giving the man under her skirts a little more space to work in.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 2

    “Are you having trouble down there?” asked Wynefrede Aumberden. “We’re almost at the leper hospital.”

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 3

    The Chubb-Baggins Leper Sanatorium and Heritage Medicine Hospital was fully equipped and it didn’t take long for a Doctor Buryngton to extricate Wynefrede from her thigh holster while Margarett and Benedicta watched, their wide skirts filling up most of the space in the tiny examination room.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 4

    “Ride back with me,” Benedicta told Wynefrede and Margarett once they were back outside the hospital. “We can gossip about the boys.” She angled her chin slightly in the direction of a couple of other Royal Season participants, dressed in the best Elizabethan finery. “And you can help me pick out a dress for tonight. As a famous actress, I’ve got an image to maintain.”

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 5

    “What took you so long?” Benedicta stepped back from the full-length mirror in her dressing room and spun around. “We started without you.” She looked like a fairy tale princess in a light blue ball gown.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 6

    “I like the idea of starting fake rumors,” said Margarett. “It sounds like something a counter intelligence agency will do. I’ll take notes, so we don’t lose track of which rumor we spread where.” She looked around. Nobody was eavesdropping. The guards were standing by the coaches, waiting to take the two women home. Close enough to keep an eye on them, but not so close that they could hear what they were saying. The maid was gone, back inside Benedicta’s house.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 7

    Elea Carlyle’s castle was fully decked out for the ball, with hundreds of candles and oil lamps making the ballroom seem a little smoky. But the lights glittered off mirrors and polished silver to create a magical effect.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 8

    “Raphe Faryndon, at your pleasure.” Raphe straightened up from his bow and stretched out his hand. Wynefrede looked up at him, at the way his hair flopped down over his eyes, his slightly crooked smile, and his warm eyes. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Margarett and Benedicta being pulled out onto the dance floor by two other gentlemen.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 9

    A cold wind blew across Wynefrede’s exposed arms and bosom. “You’re shivering.” Raphe started taking off his jacket. “Here…”

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 10

    Wynefrede never did learn the end of Nigel’s story, as the queen announced that dinner was about to be served. An army of servants invaded the ballroom and escorted each of the guests to the dining room next door.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 11

    “My lady, the coach is here.” Princess Wynefrede Aumberden of the kingdom of Choochovia glanced up from her mail and nodded at her servant in acknowledgement. She was at her breakfast table in the conservatory where she could look out over her mansion’s small rose garden while having her tea and crumpets. Herbal tea. Real tea hadn’t made it to England until the mid-1600s, and Krim was ostensibly based on the year 1500.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 12

    They made one more stop before heading out of town, to pick up Benedicta. With the three of them in the coach, and their picnic baskets and blankets, it was getting crowded. The roads were packed, too. It seemed that everybody was heading out of town to watch the battle.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 13

    Sitting there on the hill looking out over the site of an imminent slaughter, Wynefrede realized that she was enjoying herself. The air was fresh and a pleasant breeze carried the smells of fresh grass and wildflowers. She sniffed. And meat pies. There were vendors making their way up and down the hillside hawking pies, commemorative shirts, whistles, and ridiculously overpriced water skins emblazoned with the Armforge Guild logo.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 14

    Over the next couple of hours, there were minor clashes but for the most part the cult seemed reluctant to put their cannons at risk by letting them get too close to the Armforge Guild’s soldiers. Meanwhile, if the guild’s fighters tried to make it back out over the bridge, they could be easily picked off by the defenders.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 15

    The King’s Armpit was one of the more disreputable bars in Krim City. It was only a few minutes walk from the city center and the main teleportation gate in and out of Krim but few people stumbled into it by accident.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 16

    Ellison Davo huddled in a dark, damp alleyway half a block away from the newspaper building. Seymour Gellhorn, the editor, left for the day three hours earlier. Since then, nobody had gone in or out or slipped any suspicious envelopes full of salacious gossip under the door.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 17

    Ellison popped his head into his brother’s office. “Don’t mind me. I’m just here to do some background research and eat some fries.” The back of Jerald’s office was one large window that used to open up on a mountain vista. Today, the office overlooked a dramatic jungle waterfall.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 18

    McGuire’s Big Top Triumph was neither big nor a triumph. The one-ring circus had spent the past few months traveling Krim’s hinterlands, fighting off bandits, and risking life and limb on poorly-maintained equipment. Not just the lives and limbs of its performers, but the that of the audience members as well.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 19

    “Excuse me, sir, excuse me…” a short round man with a bald scalp surrounded by wispy standards of white hair knocked his cane against the Barley Mow’s front desk.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 20

    “I don’t know how much longer she’ll be, but if you wait…” “That’s all right.” Weldon Layton, Krim’s assistant grid manager, put his calling card down in front of the receptionist. “Just tell her I stopped by.”

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 21

    Weldon Layton told his driver to head back into the center but as his coach approached the central square, he changed his mind and leaned his head out the window. “Turn right on Banking,” he told the driver. “Go down to the old Gold Travel Agency building.”

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 22

    The door opened as Weldon approached and a harried Royal Season employee came out. “Well, that was a waste of time,” he told Weldon.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 23

    By the second day of captivity, Wynefrede Aumberden had the routine down pat. First a light would appear: a door opening at the far end of the underground vault where they were kept. Then the food would arrive.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 24

    Pleasance Pratt’s office door was open, so Ellison stuck his head in. “Is there anyone else for me to talk to?” he asked her. “Or did I get everyone?”

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 25

    Ellison caught a ride back into the city with Clinio Lind, Royal Season’s head of security, but jumped off a couple of streets before the Royal Season’s temporary offices.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 26

    After talking to Anne-Lise and Ditte, as well as several of the more gossipy Singletons, Ellison found out that Raphe had been the very model of chastity — but there was a whole list of guards, or, at least, their general descriptions, whom Wynefrede might have been involve

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 27

    “Of course I’m not the Nightingale.” Matilda slammed her mug of watered-down hiring hall ale on the table between them and reached for a dagger.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 28

    Krim’s central square had the main teleportation gate into the world at the north end, and was surrounded by Banking Street on the east side, Upping Street on the south, and Knots Hollow Way to the west. City Hall — which also housed the grid administration in-world offices — was across Upping to the south. The King’s Arms was on the corner of Upping and Banking streets. Both were good places to find new newcomers, but if he was looking for long-time Krim residents pretending to be noobs, they’d probably stop by one other place first.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 29

    Ellison was in luck. Not only did the depot manager recognize the description of the two delivery guys, but they had just returned from a run.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 30

    Ellison glanced at the wall clock on his way out of the depot. It was getting close to dinner time, so instead of trying to hunt Matilda around the city he decided to go to the Barley Bow for his usual meal. There was a good chance she’d show up on her own, anyway, to steal his food. The Barley Mow got a new cook recently, and the menu had actually gotten pretty good.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 31

    Ellison left Matilda with her dinner. His dinner. All three of them. Afterwards, she would check in on the mercenaries they’d hired to watch the newspaper, just in case the Nightingale showed up. Then she’d go and recruit some assassins.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 32

    The transition back to real life was always jarring. One second, he was falling down a bottomless tunnel, the next, standing upright in Krim’s welcome area. He staggered, then caught his balance. He was back in his real body and all the aches and pains and mysterious itches he’d accumulated since the last time he’d died were all gone.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 33

    The cell doors creaked open and the guard stuck a lamp inside. Wynefrede Aumberden blinked and pulled herself to a seated position. A few feet away, Raphe Faryndon moaned and rubbed at his face, leaving dark streaks across his cheeks.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 34

    The main floor of the old Elysium Financial Corp. building was littered with banknotes. Ellison stopped to pick one up. It was slightly bigger than what he expected paper money to look like, stamped with the bank’s logo, and bore a hand-written note promising the bearer the sum of 100 gold coins

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 35

    Ellison expected Matilda to just kick down the doors but the 12-ten-foot-high slabs were formidable up close. Instead, two of her mercenaries pried the lock off with a crowbar and they were in.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 36

    “You really want to send these two little guys in first?” asked Medium Dave. “I’ve seen them both run, they’re fast.” Matilda stuck her head down after Ellison. “Both of you, head straight to the far exit. One of you stay there and close it off if you can. The other one can come back and tell us where it comes out so we can have a team search the area.” She leaned her head down further. “How tight it is down there?”

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 37

    By the time Shanwei helped Ellison stagger the rest of the way down the corridor, crawl up the staircase, and get to the docks, most of the battle was over. Two men with their hands up in the air were sitting on a wagon holding six wooden crates and a couple of other fighters were bleeding out slowly on the dock leading to a half-loaded cargo ship. Ellison didn’t recognize the dying fighters. They weren’t part of Matilda’s crew, so maybe they were with the kidnappers. Or innocent bystanders.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 38

    They loaded the gun crates back on cargo wagon and propped Ellison up next to the driver. “You guys did a good job,” Clinio Lind told him and Matilda. “Whether Rodge personally knew about this or not, it definitely looks like the Armstrong Guild was involved.”

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 39

    “This is unconscionable,” said Raphe Faryndon. “I’m a captain of industry. I don’t hike through the wilderness.” “Plenty of captains of industry are hikers,” said their new guard, who had introduced himself as Rambo but who reminded Wynefrede more of a low-rent Napoleon, with his bicorne hat, tight white pants and navy jacket.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 40

    “Weren’t you guys hired to protect us?” asked Raphe. “Why are you letting these guys just take us?” He looked around at the sentry and the other men in the camp. “I recognize your colors. And your tattoos.” Now that he mentioned it, Wynefrede could see a tattoo of a red fist smashing an anvil on Sewell’s bared upper arm. He also had a red patch in the shape of a fist was sewn onto the chest of his padded jacket, as did the other fighters in the camp. They looked warmer and more comfortable than Rambo and his men, who all wore metal breastplates and other, pieces of armor on their shoulders, knees and hands.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 41

    Once his head was patched up, Raphe Faryndon really threw himself into the bridge construction project.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 42

    “We found them.” Ellison Davo walked into Pleasance Pratt’s office on Barking Street followed by Matilda Scarletstrike in all her armored, muscled glory. The room immediately felt smaller when Matilda stepped in.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 43

    Wynefrede Aumberden didn’t even look at Raphe Faryndon when she lay down on her cot. The day after her thwarted escape attempt had been miserable. Rambo and his squad kept a close eye on her and she wasn’t allowed near the bridge construction. Instead, she was forced to watch from a distance as Raphe and the Armstrong Guild made design mistake after design mistake. She’d tried to offer advice, but nobody trusted her anymore. Even Raphe refused to consider her suggestions, which stung a bit.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 44

    “Sard it.” Matilda slapped the tree she was standing next to as the Armforge Guild sentries raised the alarm. “I was hoping we’d catch them asleep.”

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 45

    Ellison collapsed to the ground and his attacker flung himself down after him, probably to finish him up from close up. That was odd, Ellison thought as he struggled to get free. Normally people just kicked him when he was down. He could smell the sweet, metallic taste of blood in his mouth and felt it on his hands.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 46

    They walked in a diamond formation with the two Singletons in the center. Mad Eyed Brendon was at the front, still carrying their prisoner, Wanda and Clinio to the right and left, and Matilda and Ellison brought up the rear. A couple of other mercenaries were walking through the woods, ahead and to the sides.

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  • Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 48

    Ellison Davo made one last circle of the ballroom before heading out. He bumped into Wynefrede Aumberden near the over-sized doors that opened out onto the garden balcony. She was now wearing a pair of glasses.

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