The baker glared down at the two youngsters standing before him and then at the coins they’d placed on the counter.

“Tharius the fifth? What kind of fool do you think I am? Take your false coins and get out of my shop before I call the Peacekeepers.”

Aleria was the one to grab the handful of coin up, then she grabbed her twin by the arm and dragged him out of the shop. Andrean growled and whirled to face her.

“What’d you do that for? We both know they’re not fake.”

She scuffed one sandaled foot in the dirt, looking down.

“I know, but if we get hauled up before the Keepers and they don’t believe us, then you get conscripted and where does that leave me?” There were tears in Aleria’s eyes when she looked up again, but her gaze was direct and fierce. “I won’t let them take you away, Andrean. Not now, not ever.”

She took a moment to put all the coins carefully back into the pouch she wore on a cord around her neck. Then Andrean looked at her, uncertainty in his eyes.

“What now?”

His sister looked away, unable to meet his eyes.

“We go home and tell Mother.”

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