The Warlord's Secret (CHAPTER SIX, page 1 of 17)


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Excerpt from The Book of the Damned,

Sixth Warlord of Tiyan

I've never known anything but war, from the time I was old enough to ride a horse, until now, when I rule as the oldest of all Tiyan rulers. I've outlived two advisors and three mates…I purged the kingdoms to the east of their evil ways.

As old and frail as I am, I still wish to fight the barbarians, but my advisor warns me I'll soon follow the path of my mad father. The creature tells me otherwise and cheers me on whenever I take the head of another cursed barbarian. Their women and children fall beneath my sword…the joy we feel…

***

"Vara."

The muscular man turned at his name, staring hard into the brush where she hid. He appeared to be alone, and she took a deep breath to still her hammering heart before emerging into the small clearing lit by the moon. The resemblance between father and son was enough to make her stop two steps into the clearing. Shadows made his appearance sinister. One of his hands rested on the hilt of his sword.

"Who are you?" he demanded.

Rissa hesitated, fear skating through her. Hilden, the only man she trusted, trusted this man as well. She wiped sweaty palms on the men's breeches she wore.

"Speak, boy! If I have not cleaved your head, 'tis because I took an oath to kin to spare you. Do not try my patience!"

Anger crossed through eyes as green as spring buds. She pushed back the hood on her cloak to meet the man's gaze. Vara's jaw clenched hard enough for muscles on either side to tick. He searched her face silently.

"I learned of your desire for your father's kingdom," she started.

Surprise registered across his chiseled features, and he took a step forward.

"We are not allies, though we are both enemies of the same man!" he snapped. "What a foolish creature you are! My father would gift me his kingdom if I brought you to him."

The creature stirred within her, sensing the threat.

"You won't," she replied.

Vara's hand dropped from his sword hilt, and he stared hard at her.

"I am not your ally," he repeated.

"I have no allies," she said in a hollow tone. "But I have something your father wants, and I have something you need if you are earnest about saving your people."

"I need nothing from you I cannot take when my father defeats your kingdom," he assured her. Vara turned to leave.

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