The Warlord's Secret (CHAPTER THREE, page 1 of 13)


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Excerpt from The Book of the Damned,

Third Warlord of Tiyan

No one must know of it. I found a way to heal without revealing the demon. I add a bladder of my blood to the Springs in the center of the city each season. My people never fall ill, and those who are injured, heal.

Except for my own wounds. The demon won't heal me or allow the magic of the Springs to heal me. My great-uncle said I must only use the demon's power for others or risk the demon's curse. Before his death, he admitted he didn't know what the curse was, only that none in our line must draw the curse.

But when I asked the demon, it said there was no curse, that all I needed to do was tell it I wanted to heal. This seems too simple, and I cannot yet dismiss the caution my great-uncle - -and his son, my cousin - -took when discussing the creature.

My father believed the demon should only be used to do good. Maybe there is no harm in asking it to heal me as it does everyone else. After all, how can asking for the same treatment it gives all others be bad?

Does not the Warlord of Tiyan deserve to walk as the rest of his people do? It's been too long since I was last able to use my legs. I was but a child. The demon says it can heal me. My father warned me about its lies, but I know this is not one of them. I see its magic with my own eyes. Can this one boon be as bad as my cousin believes?

Tiyan, above all else.

***

The first arrow planted itself firmly in the rump of Sirian's spirited grey. The horse whinnied and bolted. It shoved Rissa's horse off the trail in its haste, where a branch knocked her to the ground. Her guards watched in surprise as Sirian and his horse disappeared around the bend. She scrambled to her feet, drawing her sword.

White and black feathered arrows suddenly poured from the surrounding forest.

Taran met the first attacker head on with his sword and sought to turn his horse with his legs. The panicked animal fought him for its head instead, refusing to obey him. He caught a glimpse of Rissa through the melee and wrestled the horse for control. He struck down another attacker.

Three guards surrounded Rissa, whose writhing, squealing horse was as much of a menace to her as the attackers flooding from the forest. She struggled to mount behind one of the guards shielding her, when an attacker's blow landed solidly against his horse's flank. It bolted, leaving the woman exposed.

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