BVC Announces The Crystal Rose, Book Three of the Mer Cycle, by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

Taminy by Maya Kaathryn BohnhoffThe Crystal Rose

Book Three of the Mer Cycle

by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

PROLOGUE

The mystic Beloved, before concealed by the veil of words, is now revealed to the eyes of men. I bear witness, my friends, that the benediction is complete, the testimony fulfilled, the proof demonstrated, the sign given. Let all now see what your efforts in the path of the Meri will unveil and accomplish. Divine grace has been bestowed on you and on all that dwell in the Lands of Shadow and Light. Sing duans of praise to the Spirit of All Worlds.

— from the Testament of Osraed Bevol

Blood thundered in his ears. Daimhin Feich listened, heeding its siren call. He wondered at the strange visceral elation he felt just strapping on this sword. He had never worn one, save for ceremonial purposes, and this was no ordinary sword—it was a Malcuim sword, worn, so legend said, by The Malcuim himself. It was a sword intended for fighting, and Daimhin Feich had every intention of putting it to that use.

He strode the corridors of Mertuile with a new vigor this morning. A vigor the black banners and bundles of dead flowers that festooned the halls could not dampen. He was Regent to Airleas Malcuim, and Cyneric if Airleas failed to take the Throne. Dark joy bubbled in his breast, threatening to make him laugh. That would be inappropriate now, with Mertuile in mourning; he would laugh when he stood before the Stone and felt the Circlet on his head.

A Feich on the Throne! He began to whistle a tune, but Mertuile’s empty interior threw it back at him misshapen.

He stopped whistling.

In the lower hall, the Abbod Ladhar met him, along with his own cousin, Ruadh, commander of his fighting force. One was dressed for travel, the other for battle.

The Abbod’s face was screwed into a disapproving mask and he glowered fiercely. “Why do you insist that I accompany you on this war crusade? My place is here.”

“To comfort the mourners?” Daimhin asked. “To pray for the soul of your poor dead Cyne? His soul is wherever it deserves to be, Abbod. With the souls of other men who have taken their own lives. Your place is with those living, those who will march to free the Cyne’s heir from the clutches of the Taminist evil. Your place is beneath the banner of the Meri, facing that evil. Or do you fear facing it?”

“I fear no man, nor woman, nor Wicke. But the period of mourning is not passed. It has barely begun.”

“Mourn on the road, Abbod. Now, we ride to Halig-liath.”

He passed through the door his cousin held open for him, out into the morning Sun that slanted over Mertuile’s landward wall. The gates to the outer ward were open and, through them, he could see the ranks of horses and men that were now at his command. He smiled, letting his earlier elation rise to a boil within him.

Sensual, it was. He felt heat fan out from his groin and listened, again, to the song of blood in his ears. A quest. A crusade. And it would end at Halig-liath.

It was not Airleas Malcuim he thought of as he and his hundreds rode east, but she who had taken him—Taminy-a-Cuinn, Wicke.

oOo

The Feich forces were arrayed before the gates of the Holy Fortress. Daimhin Feich rode at their head with Ruadh Feich at his side. Behind them, the Abbod Ladhar glowered from the back of a sturdy horse, the Malcuim standard fluttering overhead.

Beside it, on a second staff, the Star Chalice was borne aloft. It was a bit of grandstanding that did not sit well with the Abbod, but to Daimhin Feich, it added a twist of historical irony to his crusade. Centuries before, another army had rallied to face down another Malcuim heir, using the same holy relic to confound his forces. And now, as then, hundreds had rallied.

Not only Feich, but Feich allies—southern Eiric, for the most part, to whom the Osraed were a nuisance and the idea of supernatural intervention an anachronism. For the Feich it was a return to the glory days. The days when the great House was a thorn in the side of whatever Malcuim happened to sit upon the Throne.

Daimhin Feich, Regent and would-be Cyneric, turned to glance up at the standards aloft behind him. He would tear down that Malcuim emblem soon, replace it with his own. But for now, the Feich crest appeared only on the arm bands of the troops massed behind him.

He moved his mount forward, all the way to the shadow of Halig-liath’s gates. The heavy oaken doors were open, but the portcullis was down. The Ren Catahn, leader of the Hillwild, stood behind it, the Chief of the House Claeg at his side.

Feich spoke to the lowland Chief. “A twist in history, this, old friend—that Feich and Claeg face each other across defenses.”

“Aye, well, it was inevitable. The Claeg do what they believe is right. The Feich do what they think is profitable.”

Feich chuckled. “Barbed words, Claeg.”

“May they draw blood.”

“I must speak to the Cwen Toireasa and the Riagan Airleas.”

oOo

From behind the sill of the gate, Toireasa Malcuim heard the words and shivered. Grasping her son’s hand, she willed her feet to move her forward. They behaved as if rooted to the cobbles.

Someone took her other hand, flooding her with strength. She smiled.

Oh, to feel this strong and resilient, always.

With Airleas on her left and Taminy on her right, she went out to face Daimhin Feich. His eyes gleamed when he saw them, and he dismounted, coming to stand before the portcullis.

“This is absurd,” he said. “I merely wish to reason with you, mistress. Can’t we do without further barriers between us?” He gestured at the heavy wood and iron grille that separated them. “Your men have their bows aimed and ready. What could we do against them?”

Taminy turned her head and glanced behind her. The portcullis rose ponderously.

“Thank you.” Feich dropped his gaze to Airleas. “I bring you sad news, Airleas. Your father, Cyne Colfre Malcuim, is dead. You are now Cyneric of Caraid-land.”

The boy’s face paled, but he showed no other sign of emotion. “We know,” he said. “We felt him die.”

Feich moved his narrowed eyes to Toireasa’s face. “I regret to say that he died by his own hand. Your desertion destroyed him, madam.”

The Cwen shook her head, keeping her gaze on him, hard and cold. “I destroyed nothing, Daimhin Feich. It was you who destroyed him. You who deserted him. You who passed him the cup of betrayal. This . . .” — she nodded toward the soldiers arrayed behind him — “this is forever and always what you have wanted, is it not?”

oOo

Feich’s insides cooled at her words. What did she know of a “cup of betrayal?” He only just kept his eyes from seeking Taminy’s reaction. “You mistake me, mistress. I had nothing but the good of my Cyne at heart. And the good of Caraid-land. That good can only be served by the return of the Cyneric Airleas to Mertuile to be set before the Stone.”

“Under whose regency?”

“Under my own, by the Cyne’s decree. Ask Osraed Ladhar, if you don’t trust me. He witnessed the act and counter-signed the document. For the sake of this land, which we both love, I beg you, Cwen Toireasa—let Airleas return to Creiddylad with me. Let him be set before the Stone as is his right.”

Toireasa smiled wryly. “Ah, Goscelin’s dilemma. To be parted from her child, or to hold him fast to her side.”

“Goscelin had no choice, madam. You do. I offer it to you.”

“And the alternative?”

Feich gazed around him at the hills above, the town below, the long slope, meadows and woods behind. “This land is divided, torn by dissension and strife. Blood flows. Lives are lost. Madam, Airleas is a symbol of Caraid-land’s unity. If he is not at Mertuile, Caraid-land is a headless corpse, thrown to merciless eaters of carrion.”

“Then let him return to Mertuile with me. Let Taminy Weave her will in Caraid-land and let its wounds be healed. Let Taminy complete her purpose—to renew and unify Caraid-land as it has never been unified before.”

Feich did look at Taminy now and the hatred that had collected in him over the weeks roared for release. Her face blanched as his gaze touched it, and he knew without doubt that she could feel the black emotion roiling within him. Something else sprang to join it, something that burnt its way up from his groin, scorching him.

Self-disgust followed—disgust that his own body could betray him so thoroughly. He knew what she was—anathema.

“She will Weave her will in chill hell and nowhere else.”

“Then you return to Mertuile empty-handed.”

“You deny your son—Colfre’s son—his birthright. He is a Malcuim.”

“Yes, and so am I. And I shall behave like one. Cowardice ill-befits a Malcuim Cwen. I will not give my son and Colfre’s into your hands, Daimhin Feich. In your hands he would become a pawn … as Colfre was.”

Beside Toireasa, Taminy stirred, returning Feich’s gaze. His innards squirmed.

“Then you shall be declared outlaw—all of you. Heretics like her.” He pointed at Taminy, and sought the faces of those behind the trio in the archway. “I’ll have you declared Wicke. You’ll be hunted down like vermin wherever you go. Fed to the waves or the flames. You’ll watch your husbands and wives and children die horribly before your eyes. Is that what you want? Cyneric Airleas, is that what you want for your mother?”

The child twitched as if Feich had poked him. He glanced from his mother to Taminy, then set his gaze on Feich’s face.

“If we deny Taminy-Osmaer, we’ll live horribly. A Malcuim does not poison himself.”

“Your father did. Day by day his soul writhed in torment because he believed in that.” His finger pointed at Taminy again. “It tore him asunder in the end.” He glanced at the Ren Catahn, standing just behind the three. “Perhaps it was the Hillwild blood in his veins that made him susceptible to pagan goddesses—that made him weak of will and shallow of mind.”

“Or perhaps it was having a fox for a Durweard,” Catahn growled.

“My father worshipped power,” said Airleas. “That’s what made him weak. And you knew it. I don’t care if you call me a Wicke or a heretic. I love Taminy and I love my mother. I won’t leave here no matter what you say. Go away, Durweard Feich, and leave us alone. You can have the Throne and the Circlet if you want them so much.” He looked up at his mother. “Can I go now? I don’t want to talk to him any more.”

Toireasa smiled into Daimhin Feich’s face. It was a smile fierce with pride. “You’ve heard The Malcuim. Leave us.”

She turned her back on him then, and prepared to usher Airleas away. Desperate, he leapt forward. “Airleas! Come to me! These women deceive you! They’ve poisoned your mind. Your father made me your Regent. Trust me, Airleas, and come to me!”

Airleas turned back to give his father’s Durweard a scathing look. “You stink,” he said.

Feich made a move to draw his sword and follow the royals into the courtyard. Before he had tightened his grip on the hilt, the portcullis crashed down again, digging its sharpened tines into the earth. Feich jumped clear, swearing. When he regained his poise, the Cwen and Airleas were gone and only Taminy faced him from the other side of the grille, Catahn hovering warily behind her.

“You—!” Feich moved forward again. He stopped at little more than arm’s length from her, the portcullis bars creating a thick frame about her head and shoulders. “You are a dagger in the heart of this land.”

“And you are the man who directs the blade. Stop this now. Let Airleas and Toireasa return to Creiddylad free. Let me pursue my mission in Caraid-land and the wound will quickly heal.”

He gazed at her a long moment, then nodded. “All right. I see that what you say is true. My actions are a determining factor in what happens here. Yes. You may return to Creiddylad a free woman.”

Taminy smiled while, behind her, the Ren Catahn laid a hand to his sword hilt.

“I have changed since we last spoke, Daimhin. Then, I was caught at a crossroads, stranded in a state of transition. Powers ebbed and flowed, awareness informed me only fleetingly. I am past that now. And because I am past that, I know that you lie. If Airleas were to pass into your hands, Regent Feich, he would become, as his mother said, a pawn. As it seems his father was, as you intended me to be. There is still pain in that memory. How close I came to allowing my purpose to be consumed by yours. And for what—a flash of white heat, a touch of warm flesh? That was an ordeal by fire, Daimhin. And I still ask, ‘Did I pass?’ Or did Osraed Bevol rescue me?”

Feich jerked. “Bevol? Bevol is dead.”

“After a fashion. And yet, he lives, after a fashion. You wouldn’t understand.” She shook her head and he felt her sigh rush through him like a cool breeze. “I want so to appeal to your spirit. I want so to speak to your conscience. But by all the powers that vibrate in this great rock, I cannot reach either.”

Talk of spirits and consciences made him squirm. “Enough nonsense. I have no choice but to return to Creiddylad and have myself declared Cyneric.”

“You already think of yourself as that.”

Feich hurled himself against the barricade. It rattled only slightly, though he threw his whole weight into the motion. “Bitch! Stop pretending to read my mind!”

Catahn’s sword was out as he came to Taminy’s shoulder, ready to run Feich through—if Taminy would allow such a thing, which she wouldn’t.

“Afraid of me, Wicke? Does your trained bear dance attendance because you fear me?”

“Lady?” Catahn’s intent was clear in his voice. He wanted to put an end to Daimhin Feich. Yes, of course—he wanted to keep the Crystal Rose for himself.

“I’m not afraid of you,” Taminy said, and Feich scoffed.

“Then send your bear away.”

Taminy apparently felt Feich’s demand posed no mortal danger. She looked up over her shoulder into Catahn’s dark face. “It’s all right, Catahn. Stand down. He can’t harm me.”

Reluctantly, the Hillwild removed himself from Taminy’s side, fading into the shadows beneath the arch. Taminy moved close to the portcullis.

“You feel nothing for me, Taminy?”

“I feel pity.”

“Prove that. Give me your hand.”

She put her left hand, palm up, through the grille. The star there, golden, gleaming, shone at him. He started to take it, hesitated, and jerked away when their fingertips brushed. His face burned red and he wriggled as if ants crawled upon him.

She withdrew the hand. “Now who is afraid?”

“I will return to Creiddylad and I will, myself, be set before the Stone,” he said again.

“While Airleas lives? Then you will be Cyne of a land divided completely. Your only chance of maintaining Caraid-land’s unity is to have Airleas at Mertuile.”

“Half a country is better than none at all. I will be set before the Stone, and the Throne and Circlet shall remain in my possession and be passed down to my sons. The Osmaer Crystal will be in the hands of Feich from this day forth. And no Malcuim shall ever take it from us. As for you, dear lady, I shall hound you and yours until I have eradicated every last one of you. These hands—”—he held them up before him—“These hands caressed you and drew such passion from you not that long ago. Today I would cheerfully use them to strangle you. But I think you’re worth more to me alive. The people love you, Taminy-a-Cuinn.”

“And I love them.”

Calm—she was too calm. He spoke to her with passion threatening to tear itself loose and devour him, and those green eyes gazed back with the coolness of sea water. He quaked with the effort it took not to scream at her—not to thrust his hands through the grille and tear at her throat.

Why did she not love me?

“You can’t receive what you refuse to give,” she murmured, and there was nothing left to do but stare at her, hating and wanting, until he could make himself turn away from her gaze and return to his horse.

When he was Cyne, he thought, as he turned his troops about, things would change. He would hold the Crystal and, with Ladhar’s help, he would learn to wield it’s power. He had always been fey, though he’d kept it well-hidden. Then, as Cyne—no, as more than that, as Osric, Cyne by divine right—he would let that Gift come to the fore. Caraid-land would find itself possessed of a very powerful leader. First, the Taminists would be eradicated, then the Deasach would be made to tremble.

He turned in the saddle just before the trees obscured the gates of Halig-liath from sight. She still stood there, watching him, looking small and vulnerable and absurdly young. Heat licked up his spine, irritating him. He dug his heels into his horse’s flanks and rode to the head of the long column.

oOo

Taminy felt Catahn’s presence at her side as a spot of soft warmth in the cold, iron shell about her. She allowed the shell to melt away into the earth and sagged back against the Hillwild’s comforting bulk.

There was a creak of leather and one large hand came to her shoulder. “He will return, Lady.”

She nodded, thanking the warmth that spread from his hand to suffuse her. “He will return when he realizes that Airleas is Cyne of Caraid-land’s heart and that to possess that heart, he must possess Airleas.”

Catahn snorted. “He’ll be happy enough with the body for a while.”

“Not long.”

“When he returns, will he find us here?”

She shook her head. “No. With us here, the people of Nairne are in danger. We must be elsewhere when Daimhin Feich revisits Halig-liath.”

She turned and re-entered the courtyard, Catahn maintaining his place beside her. She ignored the questioning faces that greeted them for a moment, and paused to gaze up and over the high eastern walls. Five of the seven peaks of the Gyldan-baenn marched away toward the south. Far and away, she could see the snow-capped thrust of Baenn-Ghlo, for once, not wrapped in the mists that gave it its name. The smaller summit of Baenn-an-Ratha stood out in stark relief against its bright, massive flank.

Somewhere among those crags and forested passes Catahn’s stronghold, Hrofceaster, snuggled in near-inaccessible safety. It would be a difficult place for those used to milder climes to winter, but there they would be safe, and there they would not be subject to sudden siege.

Catahn had followed her gaze to look lovingly and longingly on those same peaks. “Shall we begin preparations for travel, Lady?”

She smiled and squeezed his hand where it still rested on her shoulder. “Thank you, Catahn,” she said and moved to where Cwen Toireasa and Airleas waited in the midst of a cluster of other believers.

Catahn watched her till she was absorbed by the group, then pulled his eyes back to the Gyldan-baenn. His heart swelled with a surge of something big and fine and warm. He would go home soon, and he would bring the Lady of the Crystal Rose with him.

CHAPTER 1

How can a loving heart conceive that destruction should bring about good? Is wrong made right by further wrong? Can the slaughter of an innocent atone for evil deeds? Can religion be furthered by immoral conduct?

Make your hearts pure and kill not.

Your rituals are empty; your prayers are silent; your inyx are powerless to save. Rather, you should abandon envy and passion, to become free from cold and evil zeal, and give up all hatred and animosity, that is true sacrifice and worship.

— Corah, Book II, Verse 8-10
CREIDDYLAD

“Damn you! Damn you to icy hell!” The goblet left Daimhin Feich’s hand and hit the closed door with a solid, metallic clang. Wine stained the wood like blood spreading, sudden, from a wound. “A dagger, next time, friend.”

The applause of a single pair of hands mocked him. “Bravo, cousin. An affective speech. A shame the object of your invective wasn’t around to hear it.”

“Piss ant,” growled Daimhin Feich, but he smiled. He would tolerate a certain amount of mockery from his uncle’s youngest son; Ruadh was easily his favorite relation. “He will hear it … in my time.”

“In your time? Hardly. And that’s Feich hell, isn’t it cousin—to need the Claeg.”

“Hell, indeed. But where the Claeg go, so go the southern midlands.”

“You’ve already lost old Iobert Claeg to the pretty Wicke. He’ll no doubt take a large share of his House with him. And more, if you can’t convince one of the other Claeg elders to take his seat on the Privy Council.”

“The Privy Council is the least of my worries.”

Daimhin Feich lifted himself from the Throne—the Malcuim Throne, he reminded himself bitterly—and paced to the near door of the audience chamber. There, he bent and picked up the goblet he’d flung, holding it up to the light that fell, bright and clear from the high, slanting windows. The Sun found tiny pathways of silver and gold in the delicately incised bowl and made them rivers of radiance.

“Things, Ruadh. I have gotten from the House Malcuim its riches, its possessions, and as much of its territories as Feich forces can hold from these walls. But I do not have its people. If Colfre Malcuim—God damn his spineless soul—had dropped this cup, it would not have reached the floor but a servant’s hand would have caught it and whisked it away. Except for a mercenary few and the folk you brought from Feich, this castle is a spacious, luxurious tomb. You heard the young Claeg just now.”

Ruadh crossed arms over his chest. “Oh, aye. ‘The Throne at Mertuile has always held a Malcuim. I doubt it will suffer itself to be sat upon by a Feich ass.’”

Daimhin gritted his teeth so hard they hurt. “His exact words. How kind of you to recall them for me.”

“Welcome. And you didn’t drop that cup, you hurled it. Even a Feich servant would think twice before answering that summons.”

“We’ll bring in more servants. Perhaps we can hire from the poor neighborhoods of Creiddylad. There should be plenty of those after Colfre’s years of excess.”

“Aye, and we can bring more Feich men, and hire more mercenaries, I wager. But never enough, cousin. Never enough to hold Caraid-land by force. Unless this castle is all you aspire to, we do need the Claeg and as many of the other Houses as they can bring to us. But I fear Saefren Claeg is right; a Feich on the throne of Caraid-land is not something the Houses will tolerate. If not for loyalty to The Malcuim, then for envy alone.”

“The Malcuim is dead … and I have the Stone of Ochan.”

Ruadh smiled wryly. “Ah, no. The Malcuim is a twelve year old boy hunkered upriver with a pack of apostates. If Colfre had died childless, you might rally the Houses to you. But he didn’t. Airleas Malcuim exists, and as long as he exists beyond your control, the Osmaer Crystal is useless to you. You can’t set him before it, nor can you use it to place yourself on the throne.”

Sour, that thought, but true, and Daimhin Feich knew it. Airleas Malcuim was the key to winning Caraid-land out of its present chaos and into his hands. Even now, mobs rallied in the streets of Creiddylad, roiled beneath the castle walls. Their voices and torches kept him awake nights. Their voices reached him wherever he lay his head. They cried for Cyneric Airleas, they cried for Feich blood, they cried for Taminy-a-Cuinn, Wicke—or Taminy-Osmaer, Seeress, Prophetess. He hated her. Passionately. And yet, when he finally slept, his dreams informed him of a different passion.

Daimhin Feich was a man in conflict where Taminy-Osmaer was concerned.

oOo

He was hunting. Flying over the ground on a fantastic black horse so powerful thunder rolled from beneath its hooves and assaulted the sky. He gripped the reins in both hands, feeling the tension of the animal’s massive neck, the superb, nervous lightness of its mouth on the bit. Between his legs the broad, muscular back rippled with unimaginable power.

Sensual. Heat invaded his belly, wrapping hot fingers around his heart. He tightened his hands on the reins, his thighs on the horse’s barrel. The animal responded with a forward surge, its hooves leaving the ground as if in flight.

He laughed in complete delight and the horse turned its great head to look at him. An eye as pale as his own fixed him, sending a chill up his spine. In that reckless moment he understood that he was both the horse and the rider of the horse. The animal was an extension of Self; it was he who held the reins and he who breathed fire and struck lightning from the earth.

Beyond exhilaration, he soared, barely taking in the world around him—an aislinn world, he now realized. Shapes flickered past, looking vaguely like trees, rocks, brush.

A hunt. Of course. He hunted. And the Object of that hunt lay somewhere ahead in this strange and wonderful realm.

His gaze strained ahead now, to where the path opened into a corridor of giant trees, light falling like golden snow through the dense lace of branches. The end of the corridor was indistinct, dark, a mysterious destination that resisted approach. He willed himself to reach that dark forest heart and it began to grow before him. Deep green, it was, emerald, like a spot of night in the depths of a daylight wood. Less and less sunlight filtered through the trees as he rushed toward it and a veil of mist rose to obscure his way. Though he knew he still rushed forward, he felt time stretch like a lazy cat, drawing his senses out, prolonging each moment, underscoring each hoof/heart beat.

He was upon it then—in a breath, in an eternity. The emerald deep swallowed him whole. It was a distorted place of shadows and glimmers of light that danced just beyond the eye’s grasp.

He was drawing near the Hunted. Hard by the end of his quest. He could feel her, smell her, taste her. He reached up over his shoulder and found the crossbow there. Fingers met cold metal and smooth, hard wood and he chilled at the touch.

But no, this was wrong. He hunted with a longbow. His hand tightened on the curve of ash wood, felt the notch where the bowstring lay, taut.

Yes.

He dropped the reins, knowing the horse to be obedient, and pulled the bow into his hands. A quiver of arrows lay along his left thigh. He took one up and nocked it, eyes roving ahead.

In the deep a soft light quivered—a fitful flame. There! The Prey. He couldn’t see her, but he knew she was there at the heart of the flame. He could feel her through the thick air, smell her on the wind, taste her on the tip of his tongue.

How impersonal a bow seemed in the face of that intimacy. A sword would be better. No, a dagger. He looked at the thing lying across his palm, blade sharp, glittering.

Yes.

With a crack like close thunder, time ceased its stretching and lunged, hissing, into a blaze of light. The Universe roared and the great, black beast he rode spasmed beneath him. He took up the reins again. Fought for control. But the horse’s mouth no longer responded to his touch. The Universe reeled, roaring crescendoed, light blinded.

Then it all winked out—snuffed like a candle flame between fingers—leaving an echo of light and sound and sense, a nightmare after-image.

oOo

His breath left his body in a gasp; he sucked it up again on a sob of frustration and lay sweating in his bed, blankets tangled around his limbs, his fist clenched painfully on nothing.

He disentangled himself, shivering—not an ember glowed in the huge hearth—and moved to light a lamp. His hands stopped short of their goal and, for a moment, he feared the dream had followed him. Before him in the black night of his bed chamber hung an image. It moved where his eyes moved as if burned into them: A crystal. A face. No. A crystal, and within the crystal, a face. Her face—sweet, beautiful, treacherous.

A sigh slipped between his lips before he could drag it back. The hand that reached for the lamp now quivered toward the mirage; fingers grasping … nothing.

Sudden hatred wrung a howl from him. He swung at the black air, hitting the unseen lamp and sending it to the floor in a spray of broken glass and fragrant oil.

Stunned to silence, he trembled, listening for the movement of his guards in the corridor, struggling to rein in his rage.

The door rattled. “Cousin?”

Ruadh. He dragged in a cleansing breath. “It’s all right. I’ve only broken a lamp.”

“Shall I call a servant to clean it up?”

Stupid brat, I said I was all right. “No. It can keep. Leave me.”

There was a moment of silence, then the soft scrape of leather on stone.

He was cold now, his shivering born of chill, rather than rage. He flexed his fingers, still tight from gripping the aislinn reins. When next he hunted, he promised himself, he would control his mount. He would choose the right weapon. He would finish the Hunt.

__________

We hope you have enjoyed this sample of

The Crystal Rose

Book Three of the Mer Cycle

by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

Buy The Crystal Rose at the Book View Café Ebookstore

 

Author

Share

Comments are closed.