The Warlord's Secret (CHAPTER FOUR, page 2 of 28)


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Tiyan, above all else.

***

He was too angry to watch the procession leave. He joined Lean and Allin as they dined, listening with forced indifference as they told him that Rissa had left alone with her guard at dusk.

She was a fool, he reflected darkly. He pushed flavored lamb around his plate with a hunk of bread. Sirian sat at the head of the long table, graciously accepting the warlord's normal seat while the warlord risked her life to return to her people. Taran did not understand the need for her to return so soon, but the woman was beyond any man's control.

He glanced at the warriors around him, wondering if the people's loyalties were as divided as Allin and Lean seemed to think they were. He could not imagine any siding with a man like Sirian, but he knew men well enough to know there were those like Sirian and Memon who cared only for power and gold.

As he gazed around, he realized the people fought for Tiyan, fought for her, not out of duty or fear but out of respect and gratitude. They would fight for her until their deaths, each of them as brave as the members of her guard.

He knew nothing aside from Memon's heavy-fisted ways and those of the surrounding clans, but he felt far more comfortable sitting in a hall full of what should be the enemy than he ever had at Memon's court. Tiyan resembled the life he would choose if he could. He had always wanted there to be more than Memon's reality.

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