Cross of Death
By: Larriane Wills | Other books by Larriane Wills
Published By: Secret Cravings Publishing
Published: Jan 01, 2013
ISBN # 9781618854995
Published By: Secret Cravings Publishing
Published: Jan 01, 2013
ISBN # 9781618854995
Word Count: 83,266
Available in: Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Reader, HTML, Mobipocket (.mobi), Epub
Cross of Death by Larriane Wills - Romance>FantasyGarran of Lockmer, a soldier for hire, knew an ancient prophecy had marked him as Atat Comm and turned him into the hunted by those who carried the Cross of Death. Still he sought a normal life. Able to leave battle, he became the Governor of Sheritan.
Princess Fayahstella, future Queen of Ives, fled from Caslock, the conqueror of her nation, seeking sanctuary in Sheritan. She can be no more than a helpless pawn to Garran to use the time of negotiations with Caslock surrender her to safely evacuate the people he governed. He cannot consider her freedom more important.
Still, when the sun dawns, the princess has disappeared, Garran is a prisoner on his way to Caslock’s torture chambers, refusing to say where she has gone, and fractions of an ancient religion struggled to fulfill the prophecy, one to save him and another to kill.
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Excerpt:Garran and Evemet had received only a few hastily spoken words from the messenger as guidance in what protocol they were to follow. They had been told not to approach her and not to speak till she gave them leave to do so. Garran and Evemet, slightly behind him, did not move or speak. Likewise, the princess did not speak or move, nor did the ladies behind her.
As the seconds passed, Evemet said from the side of his mouth, "Mayhap something is expected of us."
"You will forgive me, my Princess," a male voice said from behind the women, and a dark shape slithered through the door. Wearing a black, heavy silk cassock, he moved forward. His movements, controlled in mincing little steps beneath the folds of his garment, disturbed not the gold link chain around his waist with a cross of Oldspushner hanging from it. The skirt of his garment didn't move at all, giving the impression he glided to where he stopped a few feet from Garran, his hooded eyes flickering over the governor's plain, gray uniform in distaste.
Garran stiffened at the sight of him and set his jaw firmly. Beside him Evemet, who knew well the signs of Garran's anger, drew a breath and held it.
"You will kneel," the priest ordered.
"I will not," Garran returned coldly.
A collective gasp came from the ladies. Garran, stone-faced and rigid, ignored it. The priest, his height considerably less than Garran's, jerked up straight and slid closer.
"I am High Priest Bashsay, Consular to the King, Guardian to Princess Fayahstella, future Queen of Ives. You will kneel to her."
Garran responded tersely. "She is not my sovereign, and you are not in Ives."
Both Garran and Evemet had heard stories of the royal voice, given to the princess, it was said, by Oldspushner to protect her from evil. They were not prepared, however, for the assault on their senses when the princess spoke. The high-pitched sound pierced their eardrums and grated upon their nerves. Evemet visibly flinched, and though Garran maintained better control, he grimaced slightly.
"Why do you insult us?" She maintained her still posture despite the volume of her voice. "’Tis no carpet for our feet to walk upon, no reception of prominence, we are shown to an office of business, and greeted by servants in common dress!"
"We had no proper notice of your arrival," Garran snapped. "And with circumstances considered, we felt the less attention the better."
Bashsay snarled, "Is not for you to speak of our circumstances."
With the emphasis on the single word, you in the sentence, he conveyed not just disrespect for Garran but contempt. Evemet moaned softly over the look in Garran's eyes, but the priest, too arrogant to notice, continued.
"You will evacuate the mansion. The—"
"Nay," Garran said quietly, but coldly. "You came to us requesting sanctuary, not by our invitation. I will put no citizen of Sheritan from their quarters to accommodate—"
"The Supreme presence demands respect!" Bashsay shouted furiously.
"She is a guest of the Sheritan people. No Sheritan citizen will kneel to her, and she will respect the beliefs of her hosts as any guest of good manners."
A shrill hiss rent the air, making even Garran flinch. Everyone knew where it came from, but looking at the princess it was impossible to tell she had made any sound at all. She made no perceptible movement until giving time for every eye to be upon her, as if they would not be. When she did move, the gesture was so slight Garran and Evemet nearly missed it. However, none of her ladies, nor Bashsay, missed the bare flick of her hand.
Although astonished and confused, the ladies responded to the command. In a well-practiced move, they stepped backwards and sideways at the same time, fitting between one another in line as they backed out the door.
Bashsay, whose astonishment turned to anger, slid toward her, his hands folded together at his chest and his head bowed. He spoke to her in an urgent whisper, and she hissed at him.
"Do you want this man to leave?" Garran asked. His cold, dark gaze met Bashsay's muddy green one when the priest turned toward him.
Her high-pitched whine answered him. "That is our command!"
"Show him out," Garran told Evemet.
"You take too much on yourself," Bashsay retorted at Garran and turned back to the princess. "If you persist in this forbidden—"
Bashsay cringed at her double hiss while Evemet rushed forward to push him from the room, moving both to save his own ears and to prevent a possible explosion from Garran.
Changing tactics, Bashsay moved ahead of Evemet to prevent being touched and told Garran, "You will speak only of matters concerning our brief stay. Matters of the royal house are forbidden."
She responded with the royal voice shriek. "The door will close with leaving!"
Evemet stopped in the act of shutting the door from inside the room to look to Garran for instruction. Evemet assumed she meant for him to leave as well, since Bashsay was already in the hall, deep in shocked whispers with the ladies.
Curious then as well as angered, Garran asked, "Did you wish for my second to leave as well?"
Evemet mouthed, "Use caution," and shut the door softly.
With choked down anger, Garran tried courtesy again. "Would you care for some refreshments?"
"Our veil of innocence prohibits consumption of food or drink in other than the privacy of our chambers!" she screeched
"Are you permitted to sit?" he asked sarcastically.
"If a proper connivance is provided!"
"If our furniture…." He looked at the nearest chair and broke off. The chair was too narrow to accommodate her extravagant gown. A quick look around told him what he already knew, since it had vexed him repeatedly. All the chairs were narrow between the arms. She seemed to have already made the same assessment and moved toward him.
Where Bashsay had seemed to glide, she seemed to float. Despite the weight of the train pulling the front of her skirts back, not once did the movement of her legs ripple the fabric. Fascinating to watch to such a degree, he stared and jolted when she spoke again in the piercing sound, especially since she was only a few feet away from him.
He asked sharply, "Must you speak so?"
In a whisper so low he found himself leaning forward to hear her, she told him, "It is required, and Priest Bashsay will be listening. Tell us quickly what you know of our circumstances."
She caught him off guard by revealing herself as a person beneath her tower of silk, feathers, and gold ornaments. He recovered with biting sarcasm. "Matters of the royal house are forbidden," he quoted, throwing Bashsay's parting words at her.
To gauge the effect of his words upon her was impossible. Her face and any expression there might be was invisible behind the cloth of her shroud. Even her eyes were obscured. The heavy clothing masked her body movement, and her shrieking voice hid all emotion. Yet he was sure she was angry enough, had she been able, she would have spun and stalked to the door. As it was, hampered by her elaborate dress, she walked a rapid circle with the heavy train dragging behind her. She still seemed to float, but at a much quicker pace until she stood at a distance from the door equal to its swinging width where she stood silent and motionless.
It took a moment for Garran to realize why she didn't just leave. "Can't you even open a door?"
Using the royal voice again, she told him, "You are beneath me! You may do so!"
"I am not a servant, nor will I be treated as such in my own quarters. Call for Bashsay. No doubt he is lurking just beyond the door."
In the barest of whispers she answered. "He always lurks."