The Warlord's Secret (CHAPTER TWO, page 1 of 8)


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Excerpt from The Book of the Damned,

Second Warlord of Tiyan

The demon's power enabled me to save a life today. I never felt such gratitude as I did in the moment the little girl's eyes opened! If I'd known how to use this magic last summer, I might have saved my dear queen and our daughter after they were attacked in the forest.

Father never warned me the demon would speak to me, but it does. It's been my only companion since my father died many years ago. He insisted I stay within the walls, never take a life, remain faithful first to my people, second to my family. How I miss him! My uncle - -his most trusted advisor - -is now mine, a man I trust but do not like. The demon does not care for him, either, and tells me stories too frightening to be true. It says my uncle killed my mate and daughter, not the bandits.

And yet, the creature is generous and lets me take as much of his magic as I need, enough to build our walls in a season's time and make them stronger than the walls of my enemies. Its words are poison but its magic protects my city. We defeated the last of our enemies - -tonight is a feast in my honor, only none save my uncle and I know it was the beast who saved us all!

My son nears the age where my uncle says the demon must claim him as a host. I remember my own host day. If I could spare my son the pain…but it must be so. The demon protects us, heals us. I will teach my son the demon's power and warn him about its lies. It yearns to be free again to destroy.

In the mind of a weaker man, it would drive him to madness. My uncle tells me this is why I must wait until my dear son is six or seven summers. He tells my heir the same words my father told me: do not leave the walls, never take a life, remain faithful to your people and family. To this, I remind my heir of my father's creed: Tiyan above all else.

***

When a strip of yellow lit the edge of the night sky, Taran returned to his perch in a large window facing the sunrise. He tied a piece of black cloth around his eyes as the sun's rays peeked over the neighboring buildings.

He closed his eyes and imagined himself to be one of the great cats he tracked in the forest. They were magnificent, powerful creatures in varying hues of gold and brown. He admired the graceful predators and often tracked them when he wanted to escape Landis.

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