ExcerptThe late afternoon sun slanted through the high windows of the silent Thraya, setting motes of dust aglow like tiny stars as they floated through the air and settled on the silken and velvet cushions and draperies. The single occupant of the enormous room ignored the finery around him. He shook his dark hair back off his shoulders, focusing on the book settled on his folded legs. He read in silence, the quiet broken only by an occasional faintly musical jingle. The source of the sound was the reader himself, as he shifted to turn pages, moving one hand forward and tucking the other behind his back with the ease of long practice. His movements made the jeweled chains that bound his wrists sparkle in the sunlight, casting blood-red shadows across the pages as he returned his palms to his thighs, fingertips just resting on the edges of the large tome.
From somewhere overhead, a deep gong sounded. The reader looked up, his expression one of mild surprise. He took hold of the volume in both hands as he unfolded his legs and stood, his long silken loincloth fluttering down around his knees as he moved. He set the book down and turned away from the couch in time to see the heavy doors swing open, revealing an armored woman and a man carrying a tray.
“Lyander, I’m sorry I’m so late,” the man called as the guard pulled the door closed behind him. He moved toward a table, revealing a pronounced limp as he walked. He set the tray down on the table and started setting up the meal. “I hope you’re not too hungry?”
“Starved,” Lyander answered, smiling and coming over to the table. “I was starting to think I’d mislaid my days again and it was a fast day. Delan, what is happening out there? I could hear shouting from the garden when I went out to feed the birds, but nothing was clear and I don’t like to stay out there for very long.”
“Ah, never you mind it, Holiness.” Delan turned and leaned against the table. “It’s nothing. Some upstart warlady, the Holy Mother says.”
“A warlady marching against the Temple?” Lyander gasped. “Is she insane? Eldest Sister will take her apart!”
“So the Holy Mother says. So the Warrior grant. Eat now, while it’s still hot. Then perhaps we’ll see to other things...” Delan smiled, reaching out to brush his fingers over Lyander’s cheek. “There’s time before the sunset meditations.”
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