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So I decided the other day to serialize one of my novels. It is a work in progress and is therefore not completely edited or finished yet. But I needed some added incentive to post something once a week. This is a story that needs a new title but for the moment I will keep it as 'The Broken Sword' until I or someone else comes up with something better. The story has some very unusual twists within it. It certainly isn't the usual fantasy story. It definitely has some science fictional elements in later chapters, which, if you stick with me, you will see. I will post chapter one here, but I have opened a new page on the website, so will transfer over as I post.
Providing I am not working, I will post every Monday. Feel free to comment if you are so inclined, but it certainly isn't a requirement. However, sometimes it is good to brainstorm certain elements and since this isn't finished, anything goes.
Also, the formatting on weebly sucks, just saying because sometimes it doesn't wrap the text as it should and while I go through the text, it won't always behave itself.




Chapter One - The Broken Sword

 
                
 
Was it the hyatu who made the sun dance between the dappled shadows of oak leaves, using their guile to bedazzle Irian Highgren, or merely the weather? Irian swiped a forearm across his face as sweat stung his eyes. A foot in his crossbow’s stirrup, he hooked the bow string and locked it, placed his quarrel, and made no more noise than the swaying branches above.                
 
Two hyatu stood arguing by a thornbrake, the sun glinting off the bead embroidery of their tunics, three hundred feet from the oak trees where Irian and five soldiers hid. Why were they there? Why now when no one had seen them in years? Savage bastards almost looked human, from a distance, until a person saw the golden
beast-eyes.                
 
Murdering, bastard scum. They’d slaughtered Irian’s grandparents by poisoning wells and burying the innocent under tons of rubble. Always the innocent and the helpless. The children, the old ones. Irian’s fingers tightened on the crossbow’s stock. Like his Daena. His Daena and that wizened thing she’d delivered from her womb, with its misshapen head and its limbs all wrong. Of course she’d died of the shock.

 What of the blighted crops, withering in the ground so villages starved, the plagues of virulent sickness which had taken Irian’s parents? Hyatu wouldn’t fight like real men.
They sought to hurt those who couldn’t fight back.
 
Look at these two, arguing no doubt about what new innocent’s soul to take. Heart thudding a drumbeat within his chest, Irian wiped more sweat from his face and flexed cramped fingers. He wouldn’t kill like they did. Clean and swift was his way. Unfortunately, King Leric would want answers for their presence.                
 
Save one for questioning then. The other could die. With a hand signal, he ordered his soldiers to fan out among the trees. Irian raised his bow,  steadied his breathing, and waited for his men to get in place.  Both hyatu were of a height. Lithe as saplings, with ragged blond hair falling free down their backs. It didn’t matter which he chose. One hyatu ceased speaking and looked around, and in that moment Irian let loose; easy as bringing an animal down for his larder. A hyatu fell, the bolt driving through his back and into his heart. That one would not be rising again. No magic in all the world could bring even a hyatu back from such a wound.                
 
His men rushed forward in a clatter of chainmail and weapons, Irian at their heels as the second hyatu let out a cry that echoed through the trees and shivered through Irian’s blood. The creature did not run, his yellow gaze settling on Irian as if he knew who had fired that bolt. He ignored the five soldiers and leaped with a savage snarl. While his men attempted to grab thrashing limbs, Irian withdrew his dagger.                
 
Time slowed to moments as Irian picked his target, then stopped when a voice sounded inside his mind. He froze in horror as a stream of language filled spaces inside his head. He would not lose his soul to a conscienceless beast! He roared his fear and stabbed the hyatu in one shoulder while his men finally found the guts to drag the still kicking hyatu to the ground.                
 
The creature howled then fell still, shock plain on his angular face. Breathing hard he lay, his body already shuddering from reaction to the iron. No soldier of March went without such a blade. If no hyatu had attacked in a long while, memory of their cunning ran in a man’s veins. From his belt, Irian took a set of manacles and locked them around the hyatu’s slender wrists, while one of his men went for the horses. When the creature groaned in pain, another soldier kicked him. Irian stared, his mind still reeling, then barked a sharp order for the soldier to desist. Irian mounted up
then took the long length of chain attached to the hyatu’s manacles. He dragged the creature behind him all the way back to March, loath to touch him again, his mind aching from the horror of invasion. Somehow the creature stayed upright.                
 
Castle March’s wide grey curtain walls loomed before them. Set on a rise, a
broad river behind it, the castle’s towers dominated the landscape of forest and
rolling hills. Through the outer gate and into the outer ward they rode. Irian dismounted and tugged on the chain. Barely able to stand now, the hyatu staggered. He gripped the chain with both hands and straightened, defiance  written over his pale features. Irian drew his broadsword and gestured toward the garrison and prison tower and when the hyatu did not move, poked him with  the tip of the blade. A shiver passed through the creature before he turned and  stumbled toward the arched doorway and down to the dungeons. He baulked before  the ironbound cell specifically built to hold creatures such as this. Iron was  the only thing which would contain them. Irian raised his sword and for a moment he thought the hyatu would fight, almost hoped he would. His body tensed, but then his shoulders slumped as though he could take no more. A spreading dark stain soaked his jacket. It was the iron which would do more damage than the wound and Irian had been careful where he had driven the blade.  Avoiding the bars, the hyatu walked through the doorway.                
 
With a shudder of distaste, Irian locked the cell door behind the creature, who
collapsed onto a heap of straw. Only then did Irian feel safe. Not that the
hyatu’s physical prowess worried the Lord Commander of March’s army, but
any God-fearing man had a right to be concerned about  his soul.
                
“What were you doing so close to March?” Irian demanded when no more movement was forthcoming.                
 
A rustle of straw and the hyatu turned his head, golden gaze boring into Irian’s eyes. He spoke, but in no civilized tongue, a rill of words filled with enough hatred to make any man quail. Unsettled both by his gaze and the force of his words, Irian said, “You will join your companion soon enough, once you give me answer.”
                
The creature laughed, a bitter sound. He turned to the wall as the laugh changed to
a harsh sob of breath somehow expanded by the cell walls. An animal with feelings? Irian doubted it, but he hesitated and into that pause a vision came to fill his mind.

A woman lay on a bed, face  pale as milk, every breath a struggle. Irian held on to one of her hands as blood no one could stop flowed from her body. By her side lay a tiny wrapped bundle still as stone.

Before he could gasp outrage and denial, the image changed to another place, another time. A quarrel sped through the air to hit a young woman through the chest. So real that Irian staggered back with the force. The sound of the bolt striking flesh, the cry of horror, the bursting of a heart, the brief agony of death and the parting of a soul as it rose to the winds, painted horror into  his mind.                
 
So real, that for moments he followed the spirit’s path where it hovered to embrace death. On the cusp of joining another’s soul he cried out in rejection.     
                 
“Dislike what you see? An unarmed woman who did nothing more than stand.  A woman with no more chance than your wife. You shot her in the back. You
kill without conscience, without thought.”
                
He dared to compare Daena with an animal? The keys were in Irian’s  hands. Blind anger drove him to open the door, draw his sword and press the point into  the hyatu’s chest.                
 
It was wrong for the language of March to come forth from this creature whose face was all angles and slanted eyes. He studied the lean, pale features imagining different ways in which the animal might die. Though he hadn’t moved, the creature breathed as hard as he. His yellow eyes blazed anger, his mouth a thin line of
hatred.                
 
The passion in his accented voice pricked Irian’s conscience indeed,  but reminded so recently of the helplessness of watching Daena die, a hyatu woman’s death brooked no sympathy. “One less to breed your foul get.”
                
The hyatu moved. He grasped Irian’s sword, chains clanking metal against metal.
If Irian moved now the blade would cut fingers to the bone.
                
“Let go or suffer the consequences.”
                
The hyatu smiled. “Of what? Your kindness? Your courage? Your whole race’s
courage? So afraid for your soul. Well it’s already damned, Commander Highgren.”
                
Sweat trickled down Irian’s back. He refused to let his hand tremble as the
impact of his name echoed. “How do you know my name?”
                
“Can’t you feel me inside? I am delving into your darkest secrets, your strongest
desires, your greatest nightmares. Ah, such guilt. Your grief for your wife
is as false as your rage. Who is this pretty thing so prevalent in your thoughts? Dark eyes, dark hair? Shall I find her and stab her in the back? Or shall I take her soul and twist until she is mine to do with as I  please? Shall  I take her….”
                
He screamed as Irian pulled his sword. Fool! Irian knew at once he’d  been goaded deliberately. The hyatu wanted a quick death instead of lingering  by poison.
                
“Not that easy,” Irian rasped. “I will not kill you fast but watch you wither to
a weeping sore of ruined flesh while you beg on your knees.”
                
The hyatu stopped his scream with bloodied hands. Breath sobbed in his throat. 
                
“Why were you so close to March?” Irian growled again.                
 
Not truly expecting an answer, he watched with avid concentration as the hyatu bought himself under some semblance of control. It took phenomenal effort while his hands dripped blood.
                
“For the same reason which killed your wife and child.”
                
His voice was startling clear for a creature under such pain and duress. Unnatural. “To spread your poison?”
                
“Stand there and crow, Commander, but your delight will not last long.”
                
“What have you done?”
                
“Oh, I have done nothing except be a fool.”
                
Irian stared at him. “There are ways to keep someone alive far longer than they
would like.”
                
“And there are ways of killing more subtle than a sword,” the hyatu spat, and turned
his back.                
 
Irian took a rag from his belt and cleaned his sword. “We shall see,” he said, and sheathed the weapon. Before he could leave the dungeon a messenger came skidding to a halt before him.

“His majesty wants you, at once, my lord.”

What could be worse than hyatu? Irian hurried to the great hall of March where King Leric already sat at supper. Irian refused to look beyond the dais to the young girl the hyatu had seen in his mind. Leric handed Irian a message from one of the regular troops who kept close eye on March’s borders. More urgent than any hyatu, Oswith of Foll, a neighboring petty king, had raided three villages to the south, not only taking cattle but destroying homes.

Irian gave Leric his report on the hyatu, although in truth there was little to tell until Irian could persuade more words out of him. He might be gone for days, in which case the hyatu could well be dead by the time he returned. A pity in some ways. He left him in an old sergeant’s care as he prepared soldiers for a sortie into Foll. Tigh was steady enough not to be manipulated by a hyatu, he hoped.






#




              

The acrid stench of urine-soaked straw played contrast to Faella of March’s silks. As out of place in a dungeon as weeds in a knot garden, Faella’s yards of taffeta and her pearl-studded bodice were incongruous as thistles. Faella lifted a pomander of aromatic herbs to her nose. The princess’s sharp-featured face held a sneer of disgust as she studied the creature in the ironbound cell. The prisoner’s wretched condition tore at Sera Ayabara’s heart no matter what he was, and Faella’s expression dashed any hopes of improvement to his circumstances.
                
“A  just position for such a creature,” Faella said, lowering the pomander a
fraction.
                
“There is nothing ‘just’ about letting a man rot in his own filth!” Sera  said,
the words bursting forth before she could stop them.                
 
Faella turned, lifting a plucked eyebrow, her coronet of royalty glinting in the light of a fresh-lit oil lamp. “You would spare pity on such a beast?”

Even knowing the danger of arguing with Faella, Sera stood her ground. A princess in her own right, even if from a much smaller kingdom than March, conscience would not let her remain silent. “How can anyone not spare pity? Do not our priests preach kindness and forgiveness to those less fortunate than ourselves?”
                
“Not to our enemies.”
                
The hyatu lay unmoving within the cell. “Why is this man an enemy when the last
time hyatu warred upon us was a hundred years past? Why this man and not
our neighbors who raided our kine and slaughtered our villagers not ten months
since?”
                
“You question my sire’s commands?”
                
“I question the way in which this prisoner is treated, yes. I question the orders which keep a man chained in his own filth for something his ancestors did.”
                
“So you would welcome the hyatu to your bosom?”
                
“No, but has anyone asked him why he came so close to March?”
                
“I am sure Commander Highgren did not shirk in his duty, but if you are so
keen to find out, why don’t you ask him?”
                
Sera glanced through the cell door. The prisoner was in no state to be asked anything
and Faella well knew it. Used to the princess’s games after two years in court, Sera shivered with premonition of trouble. Faella twirled her ribbon, the smell of the pomander cutting through the stench of the dungeon in a waft of cinnamon and
cloves.
                
“If he was released into better conditions, then perhaps I could.”
                
“It is treason to help them.”
                
“In the name of common decency? Look at him! How long is it since he ate food?
Since anyone changed his straw? That blanket would better serve a hound.”
                
Still twirling the pomander, Faella’s eyes narrowed, calculating. She smiled.
“Since you have uttered treasonous thoughts in my hearing, and care so much
for an enemy of my father’s kingdom, I think it only right you help him. Guard!”
                
Sera frowned, unsure what Faella meant, although she knew it wasn’t going to be
good. She should have kept her mouth closed.                
 
The guard arrived. Sera listened in growing disbelief to Faella’s orders.  Of course the guard couldn’t question the daughter of the king, although to give him his due, he tried. Faella cut through his arguments, informing him she would tell her sire
what had occurred and leave it to his judgment if Sera should remain the seven days
and nights Faella specified. In the space of minutes, Sera found herself on the wrong side of the ironbound cell, the door locked, and her protests unheard.
                
“Faella, you have no right to do this,” Sera said.                
 
Regal in her pearl-studded bodice and gown of starched taffeta, Faella smirked. “I have every right. It is my sire who rules here and his subjects obey me as they would him. Of course, as soon as I have a moment, I will inform him of your words. Until then, enjoy the company you sought. I would be careful for your soul, though. Heaven knows I hope God protects you from damnation.”
                
Bitch. But she wasn’t so foolish to say it out loud and gain even more trouble as
Faella walked away with a swish of taffeta across the stone floor.                
 
Someone other than the king would notice her absence in a few hours and rescue her. Faella could not get away with this. Sera managed a shaky smile. King Leric would not let his daughter imprison a highborn lady for uttering a few words that hardly added up to treason.                
 
Convinced of her rescue, Sera glanced at the prisoner behind her. When it was obvious that no one was going to release her immediately, it occurred to her to do something instead of stand here like a frightened rabbit. The hyatu was in no state to take anyone’s soul, or so she hoped, and besides, no one had ever sufficiently explained to her how they did that anyway.                
 
With shaking fingers she reached out and moved aside a swath of matted blond
hair, to reveal a face so begrimed by dirt she had difficulty making out any
features. He didn’t wake, giving her a chance to examine the cause of her 
misfortune. Before she had a chance to complete her study, the guard returned.
Good, someone had finally woken up, but apparently not to release her. He held
no keys, was making no attempt to open the door, and no one had come with him.
So what had Faella threatened him with? She’d had to have threatened him
with  something otherwise this made no sense.                
 
Sera forced a smile onto her face. “When is Commander Highgren  returning?”
                
“Not back for a week nor more,  milady.”                
“Could a message be sent to him, do you think?”
                
“Has to obey the princess’s orders, milady. Ain’t got no choice.”
                
Irian would have noticed she was missing at once, so that’s why Faella had the
gall to do this, Sera was sure, and since her brothers were back home in Ayabara that only left Sera’s maid who Faella, no doubt, would threaten with something or lie to, also. Well, if she couldn’t do anything about her own situation for the moment, at least she might for the prisoner. She pulled a ring from one finger and handed it through the bars to Tigh and then gave him a list of what she wanted. She wondered if he would bring what she asked for.                
 
He began with a fresh heap of straw loaded into a barrow. He unlocked the door and stood guard with a halberd of all things. He didn’t offer to help as Sera forked out the old and brought in the new. Mind you, how could he without dropping his halberd? He did deign to trundle the barrow away once he’d double-checked the re-locked door.                
 
No simpering maiden, she wasn’t some brawny wench either.  Pure determination moved the hyatu off his filthy bed and onto the fresh one.  She wondered if Tigh would bring all the things she’d asked for and was gratefully surprised when he brought some hot water in a covered crock along with some washing rags. The blankets, herbs, drinking water, soup, bandages, and salve appeared as time passed.
                

She put aside modesty to undress him and wash the filth-caked clothes, ripping seams for later repair when she could not get past the manacles. When Sera had finished her doctoring and cleaning, she wouldn’t have left the hyatu if King Leric himself had come down to the dungeon. Fever rattled his breath with horrid and painful regularity. Tears threatened to fall as she dressed suppurating sores and untreated wounds. Manacles had turned the skin beneath into a festering mush. She managed to ease bandages under the metal, to salve wounds and drip a concoction of herbs down his throat, watching every swallow lest he choke. She even washed his hair in an infusion of tree bark to upset the lice. Sera needed no physician to tell her the hyatu was near death. If she could offer him some dignity, she might achieve
something.
                

Exhausted from her efforts, she sat on her heels when she wasn’t bathing the hyatu to reduce his fever. Could hyatu really take your soul? Dusty tapestries and fireside tales weren’t enough evidence, and those tales were told to frighten children to stop them wandering from their cribs. She had argued with Faella about that lack of knowledge even before they’d reached the cell. Now she could only watch a man fight for survival. By the end of a long night, she wondered what drove him to such a fight. A woman, perhaps—a wife and children—did hyatu even have wives? Yet his dark clothes  were beautifully embroidered by someone and the dark blue cloth finely
woven and dyed. His tall boots were of the softest leather and his shirt of the whitest cotton. If this was a beast then he certainly knew how to dress.
                

Morning arrived, or so Sera supposed. The lamp had long since burned out, but the darkness had lessened enough she could study his ravaged face. Fever delineated every angle of bone and flesh. An exotic face. She wondered what made him hyatu rather than human. Yet there was, even in his fever, an inexplicable otherness about him she had no words to define.                
 
He muttered something and Sera sighed. The fever did seem to have abated a
little. She soaked a rag and reached to bathe his face, only to find her wrist caught in a surprisingly strong grip given his illness.                
 
Throat dry, Sera looked into uncanny golden eyes, lucid as  day.
                
“Do not,” he said in a cracked voice.                
 
Stung by his tone she said, “Unhand my arm and I will not.”
                
He did, with a suddenness that made her wonder if it had been voluntary. His
eyes were closed again.                
 
Damn. One touch and she’d wanted to run in fear of her life, which was ridiculous, wasn’t it? Perhaps not when priests offered eternal damnation if you lost your soul and preached about the evil influences of magic.                
 
Tigh turned up with a breakfast of bread and cheese and when she asked for
more herbs he hesitated. 
                
“Why bother,  milady?”
                
“For a principle. It doesn’t matter what he is. The king’s hounds are kept better.”
                
“They be loyal to the king.”
                
She understood, or thought she did, but it no longer seemed to matter. “Could
you take his chains off?”
                
“No,  milady. Don’t you be fooled. Iron’s the only thing keeps him here, and
that’s a fact. He’ll trick you without it.” And he hurried away as if afraid she’d ask
again.                
 
No one had bothered to search her in Faella’s haste to lock her in. Like many another lady, Sera carried a sewing kit at her belt. It contained thread, buttons, needles, pins, and a small pair of embroidery scissors shaped like a bird. If the iron was poisoning the hyatu then he would die. That fact nagged at her all through the following hours, until she looked at the simple lock holding the cuffs. An idea blossomed then flowered. She took her scissors to the lock and began twisting. It took a while, before the first cuff fell. After that, the second went more swiftly. She hid the cuffs in the straw and covered his limbs with his blanket. She trembled, terrified she had done
something beyond recall.                
 
For several hours nothing happened but at last he opened his eyes.
                
“People aren’t the same,” she whispered. “If nothing else, remember that.”
                
She didn’t know if he could understand, but he said, “Why?”
                
She knew what he meant. She laced her hands in her lap, studying the filthy,
broken fingernails, not meeting his gaze. "It seemed an adventure. I wanted
to do what no one else had, and talk to an hyatu. I suppose I thought myself some heroine, until reality and the dark set in. The bitter truth is I can't do anything except ease your circumstances, and that very little. They will hang you for a spy."

 "Then they risk war.

  Sera looked up.   "Over one hyatu?"

   "A king's son,"  he said, and closed his eyes.

   If that was truth, it was a coin that might be used. Yet why had he not used it
before? Sera stared at his angular face.

 Tigh arrived and  the hyatu remained silent. Sera pulled another ring from a
finger. "I know you said Commander Highgren was away, but I must send a
message to him."

 Tigh shook his  head, looking with regret at the ring. "Can't be done, milady. I'm 
sorry."

 Damn Faella. Why now had the princess acted? Because of Irian, Sera's thoughts told her. Faella  was jealous. But Irian wasn't interested in any woman right now, not after the death of his wife in childbed six months ago. Irian was her friend. A brother she could spar with since they'd known one another since childhood. Irian had lived with Sera’s family for ten years. Sera knew the princess to be calculating,
but that clever? To wait until Irian was away and then trap Sera as she had? But she would be free before Irian returned, so what point.

 "Seven days and  nights with a man. What price your virtue then?"

  Startled by the hyatu's rasping voice, Sera spun. "No one knows, I'm sure. She couldn't have got away with this otherwise. No doubt she's threatened or bribed the
poor guard."

         "You  think she'll keep it quiet? I doubt  it."

         "You aren't a man."

         
He laughed, but the laughter turned into a wracking cough. Exasperated,  Sera fetched a cup of water. She made to help but he held up a warding hand.

         
"Am I so abhorrent you cannot bear my touch?" Sera asked in irritation.         
 
"Yes."

         "You don't know me. Don't even know my name."

         
"I have no  wish to."

         "Did you tell Commander Highgren who you were?"

         
He paused, his face a grimace of hatred that set her heart thudding. “He
seemed more interested in stabbing me."
          
Sera drew breath, studying the wildness in those golden eyes. For a moment
she’d forgotten what he was. "What is your name?"
          
"I give that only to those I trust."
          
Hurt by his scathing tone she retorted, "I thought if we knew one another better, some  understanding might be reached. Pride will not stop the hangman, knowledge might. We have hated one another for hundreds of years. Why? Why has it persisted when others have not? What did you do that we cannot see  you without seeing an
enemy?"

         "What we did? So you presume."
          
The anger in his voice startled her.  "Does it matter who did what? I just want to
know why."

         
He hesitated and then said, "We existed where you did not want us."

         
Sera studied his face and the vivid golden eyes. There was a beauty to that face she could not deny. Yes there was anger, but did her imagination also read bitterness and hurt? "I do not believe you would harm me. I am not even convinced you can influence our souls."

         "Then you are naïve."
          
She didn't answer. His eyes were closed, but of course he was weak from the
fever. His shadowed face showed that well enough.

         
He was not what Sera had expected. He was right, she had been naïve, and
stupid, to think she might succeed where others had failed. She did not believe she was the first to try. Arrogant, too, she realized. Safe and unworried in Castle March’s solar she had come down to this pit of darkness and been forced to think beyond her own little world of embroidery and simples and petty court politics.
          
She arose to pace, forgetting the straw that already laced her long gown. Was this the hyatu's danger, that they made one think? No, it had to be more than that. Did they understand thoughts as well as words? Thinking back, the hyatu had answered things Sera had not spoken aloud, but that might have been sheer intuition. He was intelligent and astute, but she shuddered at the idea of such an invasion, horrified by what else he might have read  there.
          
Her thoughts came around to Faella again. Could the princess have planned
this from the beginning, knowing Sera's avid curiosity and sympathy for anything
in need?

         "Oh, damn you,"  she whispered to the cell door as doubts flowed in. "You are
dangerous indeed to make one look at oneself in such a manner." Still, it did not make him the monster her people claimed, just a clever man.

         "K'sar Raheeth Tianon."
          
She turned at his voice.
          
"My name," he said in explanation, as though giving her a  gift.

         "Sera Ayabara," she said in return. "Thank you." And turned away. For some reason she felt like crying and did not wish him to see. Of course it was exhaustion, so she went to her pitiful corner and tried to sleep.  
          
K'sar Raheeth Tianon remained tucked in his blankets. Tigh came and went
without noticing the prisoner's lack of chains. He left food that Sera
forced herself to eat. She knew that K'sar's fever had broken when she
awoke to find him standing wrapped in his blanket. He seemed very tall from
her perspective on the straw. Perhaps his gauntness emphasized it, but he
stood taller than Sera's brothers. She read the determination on his face,
though he remained pale and his lips trembled. He was still several feet
from the cell door.

         "Sit  before you fall," Sera said briskly, in a tone she might have used with her
brothers.

         
He turned too quickly and she stopped him falling. He released himself as though loath to touch her, but Sera said nothing, just made sure he got back on his pallet.

         "Tell me this much," she asked when he was settled. "Did you intend harm to
March?"          
 
"No."

         The  conviction in his voice made him easy to believe; neither did he flinch
from Sera’s gaze.  "Then what were you doing here?"
          
"We watch over the land."
          
"So you were spying?"

         "Only to make sure you encroached no further toward us."
          
"You don't live close by," Sera pointed out. At least she presumed hyatu didn’t since they were so rarely glimpsed.

         "Close enough."

         
If that was evasive then she would let that one pass.  "I can't help you if you don't help me. I don't wish to see you hang. Irian will listen to me."
          
"He isn't here."
          
"He will be."

         "Not in time."

         
The flatness of his voice made her ask, "Don't you care?"
          
"Of course I care. I care that my people are safe."
          
"As I do."

         "Then help me escape."
          
Stunned, Sera  stared at him. It was the first real emotion she had heard from him, a heartfelt plea filled with passion.

         "You ask me to betray my own people."
          
"Betray whom,  Sera Ayabara? The girl whose petty jealousy will ruin your reputation? Imagine the doubts and whispers when you re-emerge. Oh, subtly engendered for sure. Hints here and there from Faella. The sidelong glances, titters behind the ladies' fans—can you not picture it now?"

         "Stop it! You don't think I can rise above Faella? Who will believe this ever
happened? I know my virtue is intact."

         "But is your soul? How might I have influenced you?"

         "You are cruel," Sera whispered, "and foolish. No matter my reputation, I cannot
open a cell door without a key, and if I could, how would you escape the castle? There is a mile of greensward before the forest, just perfect for an archer's view. Besides which, you can barely stand."

         "The iron's proximity hurts me."         
 
"Why?"
          
"My body rejects it like a poison."
          
Sera hesitated, studying him, and said, "Tell me why I should even think about it."

         "Because I spoke the truth. My death could start a war. My brother... my brother
will not take my death lightly."

         "Why should I believe you?"
          
He reached across and lifted one of Sera's hands. Startled, she kept still. He looked down at their hands, golden eyes shadowed. "I do not like to touch you because your thoughts pour into mine. I do not want your thoughts, Sera, and I doubt you want mine, but see them all the same."
          
Before she could pull free in alarm, images entered Sera's mind. Images of another place so unlike this cold, stark castle she knew she could not have imagined it. A place of trees and flowers and flowing waterfalls, beautiful houses in idyllic
settings. She watched the place destroyed by fire, the felling of trees, the killing, the futile protest of K'sar's people going unheard.
          
Like a dream, images changed. A woman walked beside K'sar as they traversed
the forest before March Castle. A quarrel whistled out of nowhere and K'sar's companion fell. Cries could be heard, the thump of men running. With a cry of anguish, K'sar ran at the people who had sent the quarrel, yet he was unarmed. Five men manhandled him to the ground where he fought until a pain like a red-hot poker cleaved his body. He screamed in naked agony as poison flooded his system.
          
Through K'sar's eyes she saw Irian climb to his feet, a bloodied dagger in his hand. He cleaned it and then ordered the captive trussed and taken to March. K’sar had expected to die. Prepared for it before Sera came to give him hope.
          
Tears running down her face, Sera looked at K'sar. "Was the woman your wife?"
          
He closed his eyes, and when he opened them again tears magnified the gold.
"Not mine. My brother's," he whispered.

          "I doubt Irian even saw it was a woman."

         "You think it would have made any difference? You kill indiscriminately."

         "Irian wouldn't..."

         "You harbor dreams."
          
"We see each other as monsters but both are only trying to survive. We must
talk to each other."

         "Yes, but not here. Not in this situation where tempers are bound to fray. Do you
think I could face G'dera's killer without anger?"
          
She saw the truth of it. Perhaps he did manipulate her soul, but Sera saw the necessity of his escaping. She had seen that first war through his eyes. She huddled in a corner, staring at the lock on the door, wondering if it would be more difficult than the chains. She had no idea how she could get K'sar beyond the guard. She took out her scissors and toyed with the lock. It was much stronger than the cuffs and would not yield. So absorbed in her task, she did not notice  she had company until a voice
said:

         "You know, generally a key works much better."


 
 
 
 
 
 
                
 


 
 

 


Comments

04/22/2013 9:51am

So good to see you writing regularly! Keep it up!

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Susan
04/22/2013 10:15am

Thanks Rhonda, I just wish weebly wasn't so damned hard to navigate. It is great for blogging, but when you want to post something like this it is a PIA. It will not transfer files 'straight' for some reason. Hopefully it is legible and not too embarrassing.

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