Authors: Pati Nagle
Tags: #Blood of the Kindred book 3
Cedar Crest, New Mexico
Swords Over Fireshore
copyright Â© 2012 by Pati Nagle
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portion thereof, in any form.
Published by Evennight Books, Cedar Crest, New Mexico, an affiliate of Book View CafÃ©
Cover art by Lynne Whitehorn, based on a photo by Vasiliy Koval
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
for my brother, Darragh
~ Chris Krohn (as always), my beloved partner and first reader
~ Lynne Whitehorn for improving the cover
~ Peggy Whitmore, Pari Noskin, and Debbie Smith, for believing in me
~ My wonderful colleagues in Book View CafÃ©
Let all your actions enhance the well-being of others
Khi is a gift to be honored, respected, and served
Guard the world's creatures, for they are the hope of your future
All living beings are kindred, deserving your care
âCreed of the Ãlven, third stave
liani paced back and forth across the road, gazing ever northward past the bridge she would soon cross, as if she could see all the way to Ghlanhras. She could not, for the darkwood forest, dense and high enough to obscure much of the sky, blocked her view. In her mind, though, she saw the city as she had fled it earlier that night: torn by sudden chaos; black-clad, snow-haired alben atop the stone wall that surrounded its graceful structures.
Come daylight, when the alben hid from the sun, she and her escort would return to the city to rescue her cousin Luruthin and Governor Othanin. Those two she felt certain would be held in Darkwood Hall. Any other Ã¦lven in the city must wait for aid until the army arrived from the south. She hoped they would not suffer too severely.
Eliani turned to see Vanorin, the stern-faced captain of her escort, holding out a set of leather armor. “If you will.”
The leather was finely worked, traced with leaves and vines in ornate detail. Nothing like her own comparatively simple leathers, which she had left behind in her escape.
She frowned. “Whose are these?”
One of the escortâRevani, a fair-haired Greenglen femaleâstepped forward, dressed in only her soft tunic and legs. “Mine, my lady. Pray do me the honor of wearing them.”
“Revani will remain by the gate, to carry word to Woodrun if we should fail.”
Revani smiled shyly. “May I assist you?”
Resigned, Eliani allowed the guardian to help her don the leathers. “Lovely work.”
“Thank you, my lady. It is my own.”
“My family are leather workers.”
“Well, I shall have a commission for you when we get back to Glenhallow.”
“I would be honored to serve you, my lady.”
“Eliani, please. If we are sharing clothing, we need not be formal.”
Eliani offered an arm to Revani, who clasped it with a grateful smile. “Spirits watch over you, my lady. Eliani.”
“And over you.”
Eliani watched her walk away, then turned to Vanorin. “Thank you for reminding me that I am not indestructible.”
Vanorin grimaced. “If I thought I could convince you to stay behind, I would try.”
“Still, I ask that you not be at the fore when we reach Ghlanhras. Your gift must be preserved for the good of all Ã¦lvenkind.”
Eliani drew a sharp breath. Luruthin had said something much the same as he urged her to flee the alben. Now he was captive, all for the sake of her safety, her gift of mindspeech.
“I will take care.”
“Thank you, my lady.”
, Vanorin. You have been forgetting of late.”
“I forget nothing.”
An unfamiliar tone in his voice made her glance up at him, but he was turning away. Eliani frowned, wondering if he was angry with her. She had thought she had set him at ease enough to make him treat her with friendliness. Lately, though, he had reverted to formality.
Perhaps the burden of commanding her escort had told on him. She was not easy company, she knew.
Not until the first flush of dawn had strengthened into full brightness would Vanorin allow the party to start northward. Eliani was dancing with impatience by the time he agreed to let them cross the bridge.
She carried her sword against her shoulder, for she had no sheath to it. The sword was the only possession she had brought out of Ghlanhras. As she walked, she turned her thoughts toward the challenge ahead.
Darkwood Hall was not as vast as the SouthfÃ¦ld governor's palace in Glenhallow, but it was much larger than her own home of Felisanin Hall, from which her father governed Alpinon. To find Othanin and Luruthin within its sprawling structure was her first concern, and she worried how to do this without alerting the alben to their presence. She had raised the question with Vanorin, and all they had been able to decide was to wait for daylight, then go quietly and listen in the hope of hearing something that would lead them to the captives.
That did not satisfy her. She frowned, pondering how else she might locate her cousin, and was startled by a sudden bloom of warmth upon her brow: her partner Turisan, signaling that he wished to speak with her.
We are moving, love. May I speak to you later?
Eliani, I beg you to reconsider thisâ
My escort will protect me.
Will you not wait until I can consult with Ehranan at Midrange?
For all you know Ehranan is still fighting. And I cannot afford to wait even one day. In that time the alben will consolidate their hold on Ghlanhras. They might move their captives.