Yep! Time for another teaser!
I hope you all like this sort of thing…gotta admit, it’s fun for me to do!
‘Amari: Three Tales of Love and Triumph’ is a collection of the first 3 stories about the Amari race. I say ‘first 3’ because I can honestly say I haven’t given up on the world entirely. There may be more stories yet to come.
Christoph leaned back in his chair, pushing his empty plate away. “Not sure I should say this,” he hesitated, “but I think Alaric’s a better cook than the ones in the palace.”
“Only from necessity. Trystian was the real chef among us.” Alaric stood, picked up his plate, and moved to the small counter that served as their kitchen area. “Christoph, how about some air?” he asked.
The other man looked at him, confusion on his face. Alaric pointed over to their wives, deep in conversation.
“Oh, ah, yeah,” the man sputtered. “Sounds good to me.”
The pair left quietly. Alaric knew Fin was close to the end of her pregnancy. She hardly left their home now, complaining about how lonely things could be. Having Lyssa and Christoph come over to eat was his idea. Fin was so used to people around her, she didn’t take solitude well.
The two men settled into a pair of chairs that sat underneath a small overhang. “She’s giving Lyssa ideas, you know.”
“Those two get enough ideas between them to change the world. Putting them together may have been a mistake,” Alaric laughed.
“She wants us to have a child. Started talking about how secure things are now, that my line needs to continue.” Christoph leaned back in his chair, running a hand through his hair. “I just don’t know that I’m ready for fatherhood.”
“No one’s ever ready for it, Christoph,” Alaric replied. “You do have a bit more pressure on you than I ever did though.”
“I know,” he sighed. “One day I’m glad I’m the king, the next…”
“You want to run away from it.” Alaric finished for him. “I know that feeling. Far too well.” For a moment, he let his mind drift back to his childhood back on the island. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good. There were times, when his brother was sick, he prayed for him to recover. If only to spare Alaric from inheriting the throne.
“You know, Fin told me something about you when you were gone. Wouldn’t mind getting the story from you, though.”
Alaric turned, his brow furrowed. “Just what did she tell you?”
“When I told her you were heading back to Lorien, she asked if Kaerdan was still on the throne. Though she didn’t use those words.”
“Exactly what words did she use?”
Christoph looked away, watching the few people wandering the street. “She called him ‘not even half the man his brother is. And a rotten bastard that needed to be slit open’.”
Alaric laughed, but there was no mirth in the sound. “That sounds like him. And her.”
“Am I going to get the full story?”
Alaric looked down the street, choosing his words carefully. Christoph had been nothing but kind since they came here. No reason not to trust the man. But his own experiences with royalty made him leery. “It’s a long one.”
An elderly woman, flanked on each side by a youth, stopped in front of them. She bowed once, with great care, at Christoph.
The king rose, holding out his hands to greet the woman. “Great Mother, you honor me tonight. Will you now let me release you from your bondage?”
Alaric looked closer. A small iron bracelet encircled the old Amari woman’s wrist. Strange, he thought, Christoph set all the Amari free when he came to the throne. Why is she still wearing that? It was the first time he’d seen any Amari in Caerlynn wearing any iron.
She nodded, “The time is come for the truth to be said. For all stories to be told.” She leveled her gaze on Alaric. “Fin must learn the truth before her child comes. Before the first truly free Amari comes into this world. One whose parents never knew the burden of being a pet.” She dug a withered hand into a satchel that hung across her body. Withdrawing a worn leather book, she looked back at Christoph. “I accept now, the freedom you have offered. And then I will discharge my most sacred task and give this to Seraphina nan Grear.”
Christoph’s hands moved to the woman’s wrist. “And I am grateful, Great Mother, that I am honored to be the one to free you at last.” He slid the bracelet across her bony hand, pocketing it as soon as it left her body. Standing aside, he watched as the old woman entered the house.
“Who was that?” Alaric asked, confused. “I’ve never seen her in town before.”
Christoph settled back into his chair. “She was ancient when the raid happened on Uamh nan Amari. Stayed with Lyssa, raised her. Every other Amari my father chained deferred to her. I’ve tried, every year since he died, to get her to let me release her. She always said it wouldn’t happen until her most sacred task was near completion. I never asked what that was. It felt…wrong for me to do so.”
Alaric rose and started to move toward the door. Christoph stretched out an arm, blocking his way. “I wouldn’t, my friend. Whatever is going on in there is for Fin and Fin alone. I know that much. I know you’ll be told, in time. There are no secrets between the two of you. For now, though, I think we’ll be out here for a while longer.”
Settling back into his chair, Alaric kept a wary eye on the door. “I suppose so. But what do you propose we do while they’re in there?”
The king smiled. “You did say the story was a long one. Looks like we’ve got the time.”
Nodding, Alaric replied, “Yes, I think you’re right.”