The Warlord's Secret (CHAPTER NINE, page 1 of 15)

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Excerpt from The Book of the Damned,

Ninth Warlord of Tiyan

The demon must die with me. I have decided this. I killed my cousin when he tried to act against my daughter so long ago and replaced him with a man I trust with all I have. He will guide her when I am gone. I forbade her from learning to read, so she never learned of the demon.

I feel my madness coming. The demon has its eye on my Rissa. I know if I am too weak to destroy it, it will kill them both when it tries to take her, for no female is meant to be the Warlord of Tiyan.

In the end, Tiyan will survive, even if my line dies with my daughter.

Tiyan, above all else.


"Forgive me," he whispered as she fell.

Taran lowered the bow, ignoring the stunned look on the faces of the wall guards on either side of him. He felt each arrow as if it punctured his body instead of hers. Each shot made him doubt more what he did, until his hands shook as the last arrow flew.

She would die before the moon rose. If he was wrong, he'd killed her. If he was right, he'd saved her. In either case, he'd just caused her pain he'd never want to feel.

He was madder than she was to think killing someone would save them!

He returned the bow to the nearest guard. Vara would do as he asked and saw the ends off the poison-tipped arrows, claim she'd fallen ill, and hide her body in the wagon until it was time to act. Memon's arrogance allowed him to enter the meadow without his men. He'd entered the city with the men he brought - -his personal guard - -and left only Vara with the queen.

Taran strode away, turmoil making his gut clench. He looked in the direction of the Springs, unable to see them but calmed to know they were there. Hilden awaited him.

"Is everyone in place for this evening?"

"Yes. You would wait to seal him in the city?" Hilden asked.

"You must trust me. Take this to Vara, now."

He handed the warrior a bladder of the woman's blood, the last one from the wardrobe. Hilden's frown deepened, but he accepted it and hurried away, sensing the urgency.

Taran wiped the sweat from his brow and blew out a breath.

He'd meant what he said. He didn't want Tiyan without her. She looked better than when he'd last seen her. He wondered if the demon had taken her as it had Memon, who looked well but whose skin was cold as death.

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