Something from a Fantasy series that’s become near and dear to me, for its ability to stretch not just my imagination, but my writing skills as well, into new arenas. Hope you enjoy! As always, please leave comments and let me know what you think! 🙂
“The Temple Gates” – Excerpted from THE EAGLE’S MISTRESS (Icarian Chronicles, Book #1)
“You are not welcome here.” The voice was dry and brittle, like old parchment, and the dark eyes that glared at him through the peep-hole were sharper than the point of a blade. But he hadn’t braved death to be turned away now.
“I am Emperor.”
“Not here, you h’aint.” Her natural Aresian dialect slipped through as she continued to glare at him.
Hadrian sighed. He didn’t come here to fight with a snappy guard dog. “I came to see the priestess known as N’Lrissa.”
Silence greeted him, before the murmur of a voice behind the door guard raised fine hairs along his body. Even unable to make out her words, his body knew that voice, as if it were only moments since he last heard it, and not years.
The dark eyes were replaced by orbs of green the exact shade of the forests of his happy youth. Eyes in which he once drowned, and in which he would gladly give his last breath to drown again.
“Your Excellency. You should not have come here.”
He smiled at her wavering command. Part disbelief, part dismay, and not one whit disappointment. All so much his beloved Nira. “You can’t hide from me here, Nira.”
That brought familiar fire to her eyes. “I did not come here to hide.”
He would debate that, but he feared angering her would only bring back the guard, and lock him away from her forever. He lived without her long enough, thanks to Lionora’s conniving ways.
“Nira, I would speak with you. Please,” he interjected hastily when he sensed she was about to deny him.
A weary sigh answered that entreaty, before he heard the heavy bolt slide free, and the huge, Crimorian oak door swung open. “Very well. Say your piece, and then be gone.”
His eyes roved over her, drinking in changes and memories that lingered on her form. She was still slim as a willow branch, delicate in structure, if not in soul. Her form filled out to womanhood now; no longer the terrified waif of a girl he once found in his chamber. But her eyes were harder, now. More cynical, and touched with sadness he could not explain. His heart jumped hard against its bony cage. Did she regret this meeting, after all?
“Not here,” he murmured as he bowed over her hand, not quite daring to touch his lips to the flesh he so longed to taste again. “Walk with me, Nira. Just for a while.”
She eyed the forest beyond him warily. “These are not woods for an idle stroll, Excellency.”
His lips twitched with irony as he straightened. He knew only too well the wild magic of these benighted woods. “Do you not trust me, Reverence?”
She eyed him with equal caution as she had viewed the forest. “I do not know that I should have cause.”
As knife thrusts went, hers was true, piercing him to the heart. And it stung even more to know he had earned that barbing. His was the crime, here, and all the Imperial blood in the world could not change what was already done.