The Warlord's Secret (CHAPTER FOUR, page 1 of 16)


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Excerpt from The Book of the Damned,

Fourth Warlord of Tiyan

I found my advisor with his sword drawn standing over my daughter's body. I don't know what happened next, but when I awoke, I was covered in blood. The demon told me I'd gone mad when I saw what my cousin did.

I always obeyed the First Warlord's decree: I never left the walls, and I've been true to Tiyan and my family. But I took a life, even if it was deserved. My father said I am cursed already. After the demon healed his legs, he threw himself from the Western Cliffs. My cousin and I thought the madness died with him.

The madness took me, and I killed a man who was like a brother to me.

Today, there was only the demon to help me. I threw my cousin's body from the Cliffs into the ocean, and I told my mate a bandit killed our daughter. The demon said I would lose my ability to heal my people, since I broke the First Warlord's decree.

I begged it to forgive me, to continue healing my people. I would give two bladders of blood, if it means my people are well! It agreed, but only if I do something that makes me sick.

My cousin's son will take his place as my advisor. He doesn't know what I have done, what I must do for the demon.

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.

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