Shadows of Prophecy [Ilduin Series Book 2] [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Rachel Lee
eBook Category: Fantasy/Romance
eBook Description: What will happen when the assassins are defeated..." For Tess Birdsong and her companions there will be no warm homecoming. The death of one evil exposed the beating, seething heart of another far more dangerous power. Together they must go to Anahar, to help free the Anari people from their enslavers, and purge the darkness in their own hearts. But that ancient city holds more than the key to Anari liberation. In its temple lie the secrets of the Ilduin, women of almost godlike power. Tess, who remembers nothing of her past, is terrified by the power of her Ilduin blood. But Tess's mind conceals more than fear. There is war, and pain, and death, and anguished grief. And somehow she must face it all again, guided only by the shocking secrets of a temple as old as time itself....
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/LUNA
Fictionwise Release Date: January 2006
This eBook is part of the following series:
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Giri Monabi crept silently over the sand, his dark eyes focused on the patrol below. Across the steep valley, his brother Ratha moved with equal silence, invisible in the dark night. It was not the homecoming the brothers had imagined.
The Bozandari patrol moved with the casual arrogance born of power, twenty-four men in two columns walked the road, swords sheathed, shields slung over their backs, helmets hanging from sword hilts, equipment clanking with each step. Their voices were loud against the stillness of night, the voices of men who did not anticipate trouble and believed they would be trouble's master if it arose.
The hatred of three generations of servitude burned in Giri's heart as he watched the soldiers. Almost without thought, his hand moved to his sword, fingers tightening in anticipation of dealing quick and ugly death. But he knew that, despite their casual manner, these men were skilled soldiers, and easily a match for Giri and his companions. There would be another time to wreak vengeance.
He began to slither backward, knowing that Ratha would be doing likewise at this very moment, having reached the same conclusion. Even an alert guard would have been hard-pressed to see the movement, and these Bozandari were hardly alert. Giri and Ratha had shadowed them for nearly two hours now and knew that the patrol leader had not even taken the most basic of security measures. There were no advance or flank guards to scout the route or surrounding terrain. It was as if they were walking down the streets of Bozandar itself.
Giri had moved perhaps ten yards when he felt the prick of the sword against his side. He froze and heard the almost silent warning.
* * *
Tess Birdsong sat beside the fire, staring into the flames as the bitter wind blew down from the north. Three of her fellow travelers, Archer Blackcloak and his two black-skinned Anari companions, had vanished into the desert to keep guard. A strange desert, dotted with strange plants that grew out of sandy soil, creating eerie shapes among the tumbled boulders.
There was much in this world, she thought, to keep guard against—at least in the weeks since she had awoken in the midst of a slaughtered caravan with no memory of who she was or how she had come to be there. Indeed, she wasn't sure if the name she was using was truly hers. All she knew was that it had felt right somehow when she had been asked her name.
Other than that, all she knew about herself was that on her ankle there was a tattoo of a white rose. Sometimes she looked at it, wondering what clue to her past it might contain. But tonight it was too cold for such musings, and too much threat had pursued them from Lorense, where they had slain a mage.
Something hooted, echoing in the silent forest. One of her companions? Or some beast that had not fled with all its fellows?
She knew not, and the shiver that passed through her came not only from the bite of the wind.
Across the fire, Tom Downey slept the sleep of untroubled youth. He alone of the party had been spared the need to kill back in Lorense, when they had defeated the mage Lantav Glassidor. Tom had seen many ugly things, but he bore none of them on his conscience.
Unlike herself. Tess looked down at her hand, at the healing scar there. Those were memories best left in the dark recesses of the mind until they were needed.
Nearer to her sat her friend Sara Deepwell, an innkeeper's daughter who was proving to be one of the legendary magical women known as Ilduin. As was Tess herself, though she still rebelled emotionally at the idea.
Sara slept rarely now. Her mind and heart were too burdened with grief.
With a sigh, Tess stirred the coals of the fire, watching pinpricks of burning ash rise to the darkened sky. They were headed to war, yet she doubted that either she or Sara was ready for such a thing. Horror behind them, horror ahead of them.
Suddenly Tom sat up, instantly awake and alert. "Something is happening," he whispered.
But around them the desert remained silent.
* * *
Announce yourself, spoken in the clipped, northern Anari dialect. Giri, still frozen, replied carefully with the formal address of greeting.
"Giri an Monabi-Tel, ahnorren tir al sarlohse il Anari gelehsahnen." Giri of the Monabi Clan, returning of free will to the service of the Anari.
"What have you seen?" the man demanded, prodding Giri with the sword.
"Of you and your companions, I have seen nothing," Giri replied. "Of these men below, I have seen much—and much to despise."
"How many are you?"
"My brother is across the valley, and my friends await us behind the bend of the road. We are returning to help, to fight for our freedom."
The man let out a satisfied grunt. "Well, a fight there will be. And if you and your friends are true to your words, it shall begin for you tonight."
Giri spread his fingers in the Anari gesture of peace. "May I roll over and know into whose service I have come?"
The sword moved away, and Giri slowly rolled onto his side, looking up into midnight-black eyes. The man was definitely northern Anari, his features slightly rounded, his skin that fraction of a degree paler.
"Jenah of the Gewindi Clan," the man said. "Now rise and lead me to these friends of yours. One ambush would be more than sufficient for this night."
Copyright © 2006 by Rachel Lee