Home > Dryad-Born (Whispers from Mirrowen #2)(15)

Dryad-Born (Whispers from Mirrowen #2)(15)
Jeff Wheeler

Annon turned back to the window, thinking next of others who were far away. His sister Hettie, for example. He missed her already. They were twins at birth, she the firstborn. The midwife was a Romani and had stolen her. Hettie had been raised by the Romani and had been sold at the age of eight to a Finder with a single earring to mark her. Ten years had passed and it was time for her to be sold again. But an elaborate ploy had been used by the Romani to bargain her freedom for a weapon of deadly magic that Tyrus had cleverly hidden. In the end, Tyrus had offered her freedom to live in Silvandom, the only Romani to be granted that privilege. Annon did not doubt for a moment that her freedom would be contested.

His thoughts turned darkly to Kiranrao. If a black widow spider could also be a man, he would exist as Kiranrao. Both were deadly and silent. Kiranrao was a little of everything. He was Vaettir-born, like Khiara and Aransetis. But he was the secret master of Havenrook and controlled the caravans and goods transferring between kingdoms. It was said his wealth rivaled the Arch-Rike’s. Years before, Tyrus had tricked him into stealing the blade Iddawc from the Arch-Rike, a deadly weapon that caged an evil spirit for a thousand years. Tyrus had finally given Kiranrao the blade in the final encounter with the Arch-Rike’s minions and the man had simply vanished away with it, a gleeful look in his eye, realizing that the rest would probably die without him. Had Tyrus done it deliberately? Had he set loose a monster to distract the Arch-Rike? Or had the panic of the moment caused him to misjudge Kiranrao’s motives? Annon did not know.

While Annon did not trust Kiranrao, he knew that Paedrin hated the Romani. Paedrin was an orphan from Kenatos who had been raised at the Bhikhu temple. He could fight with a staff, a piece of rope, or with his own hands and feet. Annon was more than impressed with his abilities and grateful to have someone like him as an ally. Even better, his sense of humor made him pleasant to travel with. He and Hettie had battled constantly during their travels together, and Annon secretly felt the two were growing in favor with one another, until it was revealed that Hettie had betrayed them. Annon hoped they would learn to trust each other again. They were both very stubborn, though, and he did not know whether it would even be possible.

He sighed, shaking his head slowly. What a mismatch of loyalties. How was he ever going to unite them into a common purpose? Tyrus’s goal had been straightforward from the start. The land was troubled by devastating Plagues that happened every generation. Eighteen years earlier, Tyrus had led a group into the Scourgelands, which he believed contained the secrets of the Plagues’ origins. The group had been massacred. Only Tyrus had survived because of the Druidecht woman who was Annon and Hettie’s mother. She had explained the lore of the Dryads to him, how they could steal memories and were guarding the Scourgelands. Tyrus had also deduced that the Arch-Rike had surreptitiously foiled the expedition. From that ultimate betrayal came the seeds of his latest plan.

The secrets of the Scourgelands could only be learned by someone who was Dryad-born.

Tyrus himself had sired the one chance they had to uncover the secrets. Prince Aransetis had been sent to find the girl in Stonehollow and bring her to learn her destiny. Paedrin and Hettie were sent to uncover a weapon of power to help them survive the dangers of the Scourgelands. Kiranrao had been tasked with causing mischief with the Arch-Rike’s plans. And himself? Tyrus had given Annon the most difficult challenge of all. At the conclusion, they had agreed to meet at the Dryad tree that Annon had protected from an attack by Boeotians. Annon had charged and dispatched several spirits to watch for the arrival of the others and to lead them to the Dryad tree.

He felt Nizeera nuzzle against his leg.

They are ready.

Annon glanced down at the sinuous cat, part mountain lion, part spirit creature. Her eyes were a beautiful shade of silver. Through the talisman he wore beneath his clothes, he could hear her thoughts. She had made an oath to protect him. Her claws and teeth would savage anyone who tried to harm him.

“Thank you,” he murmured, stroking the fur near her ears. He walked back to the table where the dead Rike from Kenatos lay prostrate. Khiara spoke in low tones, in her tongue, to a wizened old man who had been summoned to perform the ceremony. He did not have many years left to live, but the gift they were asking of him was enormous. Part of his life would be required to revive the dead man. It had taken all of Khiara’s persuasion and the Prince’s reputation to secure his cooperation in the end.

Annon stared at the body. The man on the table was fair-haired with streaks of silver. Erasmus had used his great abilities of observation to conclude that he was the one most likely to know the information they needed. It was a risk though. There was a great chance he might not know anything useful.

Hot Novels
  • Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Chris
  • Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)
  • Never Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #2)
  • Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)
  • Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculi
  • Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)
  • Fallen Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #1)
  • Forever Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #3)
  • Ugly Love
  • Allegiant (Divergent #3)
  • Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)
  • Bared to You (Crossfire #1)
  • The Destiny of Violet & Luke (The Coinc
  • Captivated by You (Crossfire #4)
  • Uprooted