Read The Elder Blood Chronicles Book 4 The Blessed Curse Online

Authors: Melissa Myers

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The Elder Blood Chronicles Book 4 The Blessed Curse

BOOK: The Elder Blood Chronicles Book 4 The Blessed Curse
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The Blessed Curse

The Elder Blood Chronicles

Book 4

By Melissa Myers

 

 

 

 

Smashwords Edition

© 2011, 2012, 2013 Melissa Myers

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously.

Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or
persons living or dead, is coincidental.

All rights reserved, except as permitted by
U.S. Copyrights Act of 1976.

No part of this publication can be
reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any
means, or stored in a database or retrieval system without prior
written permission of the author.

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication
Data

Myers, Melissa

The Elder Blood Chronicles Book Four - The
Blessed Curse -1st Ed.

LCCN:

 

 

 

For Faythi

You have many nicknames, but this was the
first that I knew you by.

Thank you for your constant support. You
always know
exactly
what I’m saying, and
exactly
what
to say in return.

(Even when the topic is just wrong.)

I would be lost without you.

Prologue

 

 

Cool wind cut across his sweat-soaked back as
Neph let his sword relax in his hand. He wiped his face with the
back of his arm and studied his sister. He’d lost her attention
again. With a sigh, he followed her gaze to the courtyard wall
where two kittens had begun their own duel. “Zyi. We don’t have
time for this.” Neph spoke softly and her eyes flicked back toward
him.

“They are so cute when they are small.” Zyi’s
mouth was curved into a gentle smile and her pale blue eyes danced
with amusement. “All fuzz and energy,” she added with a wistful
glance toward the kittens, her smile slowly fading at the
expression on his face.

“Zyi, the trial is tomorrow. You have to
focus,” Neph pressed, his voice thick with his frustration. He’d
been working with her for weeks on her shields and defense without
much improvement, and she didn’t seem to be taking any of it
seriously.

“I know, Neph,” Zyi sighed. Her back
straightened and she raised her sword again with an expression that
suggested he was torturing her.

“I don’t want to run the trial, Neph. It is
hard for me to focus on something I hate the thought of.”

“You have to, Zyi. All Delvay face the trial
when they reach our age,” Neph said, repeating words he had spoken
a thousand times in the past month.

“Then let me face it tomorrow, Neph, and
let’s do something that’s actually fun today,” Zyi offered, her
smile returning as she stared up at her brother. Her sword dipped
toward the ground again as she stepped closer. “Swimming? It’s
certainly hot enough today. We could go riding. How long has it
been since you have had a break from training, Neph?” Her voice was
hopeful and Neph felt himself smiling in return.

“Zyi, your defense is appalling, your attacks
are weak, and there are field mice with more focus than you. We
need to train.” Neph slowly shook his head at her and her smile
faded. She nodded in return and lifted her sword once more. “I
won’t let you fail this, Zyi. We will work all night if we have
to,” Neph promised.

“I’m not like you, Neph. I don’t have the
warrior’s soul that Father is always preaching about. I don’t want
to fight. I don’t want to kill, and I don’t want to face this
stupid trial.” Zyi’s voice rose as she spoke and Neph glanced back
to make sure they were still alone in the courtyard. “What does
this trial prove anyway? That we are as strong as the mountains,
like father says? I’m not. I admit it freely. So why do I have to
face the trial?”

Neph turned back to look at her, his eyes
locking on her own. Her bitterness was as clear in her voice as the
frustration was in his.

“Because all Delvay do. Please watch your
voice, Zyi. If someone overhears you saying that, Father will
thrash you,” he warned in a low voice. “Thrashing me for being
honest? How noble is that? It would be nice to be able to speak the
truth for a change,” Zyi hissed. Angrily she pushed her pale blond
hair back from her face once more and glared at him. “Well, come
on, Neph, train me to be a better liar. Help me hone skills I
despise.” Her sword raised and she dropped low into a defensive
stance.

Neph slowly shook his head and smiled down at
his twin. Her eyes narrowed at his expression and he held up a hand
in a gesture of peace. “How about, rather than train you to be a
better liar, I help you earn the right to speak the truth. Once we
pass this trial, Zyi, we are full citizens. As children, we can’t
speak our mind; as citizens, we can,” he offered.

Zyi sniffed and rolled her eyes. “As if you
have anything to speak your mind about, Neph. You are father’s
golden child. He gives an order and you obey. You and Kadan are
just like him,” she grumbled, but her sword was still in the ready
position. “Come on, then. Help me earn the right I should have been
born with.”

“First of all, get your damned shields up
Zyi. Magical protection can save your life. Never forget your
shields!” Neph snapped as he sprang toward her, his sword flashing.
If she wouldn’t listen to his words, he would hammer them into her
skull with his sword.

 

* * *

 

Laughter echoed down the hall behind him as
Neph made his way slowly toward his father’s door. He paused at the
sound and considered turning back to the main hall to join the
others in drinks. With a heavy sigh he shook his head and placed a
hand on the cold stone of the door and pushed it gently open.
“Father, I need to speak with you,” Neph said in a voice just loud
enough to carry to the next rooms as he stepped inside. As he had
expected, the sitting room was empty. His gaze turned automatically
to the door of his father’s prayer room as it opened.

“About what?” RenDelvayon demanded, his
expression filled with warning. His father was a large man,
towering over his children in height and strength.

Bowing his head with respect Neph inhaled
deeply and let the breath out slowly. Nothing he had to say would
please his father. “About Zyi, Father. She isn’t ready for the
trial and honestly, I don’t think she ever will be,” Neph began in
a steady voice. His father despised weakness above all else. Now
was not the time to show nerves.

“She is my child. She will face the trial.”
His father’s words were spoken in a low voice that suggested the
topic was settled.

“Father, you have Kadan and me. Do you really
need Zyi to pass the trial too? Send her to the Academy instead,
please,” Neph pressed. His eyes searched his father’s face for any
sign of mercy and found none.

“All Delvay face the trial. Zyi will as well.
She carries my name. Do you expect me to let weakness grow in my
family?” Ren demanded, his eyes narrow.

“Would you rather see her die, Father? There
is a very good chance that will happen.” Neph’s voice cracked with
his frustration and his father’s eyes narrowed further.

“Yes, I would rather see her die than bring
weakness to our family. This discussion is over, Neph.” His father
glared at him daring him to open his mouth again.

Neph shifted his feet and struggled to fight
back the words he knew he would regret. He could feel his temper
rising and knew if he didn’t leave he would regret it. No one spoke
back to High Lord RenDelvayon, least of all his children. “As you
say, Father,” Neph said softly through clenched teeth.

His gaze moved to the painting on the mantle
as he turned back to the door. It was the only artwork in the room,
and the only image of his mother left remaining in Delvay. He felt
his temper cool as memories of her surfaced. They were bittersweet
to be sure. Part of him hated her, and yet he could remember how
she had treated them. His mother had been strong, kind, and as
stubborn as stone. She might have been able to speak on Zyi’s
behalf. His father might have listened to her. At the very least,
RenDelvayon would have let her speak her mind fully, which was more
than he was doing for his son. Pausing with his hand on the door,
Neph glanced back at his father. “Not everyone is born for war,
Father. Zyi’s calling could be something greater than either of us
guess. She could be a healer, or a scholar, or so many other
things. Please just give her a chance. Exile her and take the
family name from her if she shames you, but don’t force her to do
something she isn’t capable of doing, please.” Neph spoke the words
softly and didn’t bother waiting for a response. There was little
point to it. Mercy wasn’t a word found in the Delvay language, even
when dealing with their children.

More laughter erupted from the main hall, but
the thought of drinking and laughter no longer appealed to him at
all. Turning slowly, Neph headed for the stairs and his own rooms.
Tomorrow would be a disaster and he knew it. Zyi had left the
courtyard with bruises lacing both of her arms and very little sign
of improvement to her defense. No matter how many times he had
worked with her on spells or blades, she never improved. Her heart
simply wasn’t in it. His steps paused as he neared her door. He
could still see the glow of candlelight from beneath the door, but
there was no sound from within. Without bothering to knock, he
pushed the door lightly and leaned on the door frame to look
inside.

Zyi was seated under the window, her back
pressed against the dark stone wall with a snow cat kitten curled
in her lap. Her eyes were bloodshot and dried tears streaked her
face. Looking up at him, she smiled weakly and waved him in.

“I tried to talk to him,” Neph offered softly
as he stepped inside the room. His eyes roved over the colorful
paintings and tapestries that filled the small room and he smiled
faintly. Every other part of the Delvay keep was somber and dark.
Zyi’s room, however, was as bright and cheerful as a sun-filled
meadow.

“He didn’t listen,” Zyi concluded with a sigh
and nodded to him. “He never listens. Thank you for trying, though,
Neph.”

Neph nodded slowly as his gaze fell on the
packed bag hidden just beneath the edge of her bed. He studied it
for a long moment and nodded again. “I even tried to get him to
exile you,” Neph continued as he turned back to her.

Zyi gazed up at him and then slowly stood.
Carefully she shifted the kitten in her arms and offered it to
Neph. “I waited for you to come upstairs,” she said, her tone so
low the words were barely a whisper.

Watching her carefully Neph took the kitten
and stood silently as she gathered her bag over her shoulder.
“Where?” Neph asked. He knew he should be stopping her, but he
didn’t have the heart to. Their father had been quite clear on the
subject of her leaving, and he would be furious when he found out
that Neph had known.

“Away. Anywhere is better than here, Neph,”
Zyi whispered, her eyes growing glassy once more. “You are the only
thing I will miss here.” Moving quickly she wrapped her arms around
his waist and hugged him tightly.

He could feel her tears soaking through the
cotton of his shirt as he wrapped his own arms around her tiny
frame. She was so much smaller than the rest of them, so delicate
and fragile. The idea of her being alone in the world terrified
him, but then the thought of her facing the trial frightened him
more. If she couldn’t stand against him and hold her shields, she
didn’t have a prayer against the odds they would face tomorrow.
“Let me go with you,” Neph began unsure exactly where the words had
come from. He didn’t actually want to leave Delvay, but then, he
didn’t want to see her go alone, either. No one else would
understand her. Not like he did anyway. She was his twin; he knew
her better than anyone else ever could. He had always protected
her. What would she do without him to guard her from others? In
Delvay, it had been childish teasing. The outside world would be so
much worse and he knew it.

Zyi laughed, and the sound was choked with
her tears. Pulling back from him she shook her head and smiled. “I
love you so much for offering, Neph, but your place is here and we
both know it. I only waited here so I could say goodbye. I never
thought that you might go with me.”

Her voice was thick and Neph felt his chest
tightening.

“I don’t mind leaving her, Zyi. Let me get a
few things and we will go,” Neph placed the kitten carefully on the
bed and started to turn for the door as she grabbed his arm. He
paused and looked down at her once more as she shook her head
again. “Zyi, neither of us has ever been outside of Delvay. You
don’t even know what you are walking into,” Neph said gently.

“A better life for me, but it’s not a life
for you Neph. You belong here. You do have the warrior’s spirit.
You are one of the strongest in Delvay now. In time you will be
more than Father could ever hope to be,” Zyi whispered as she
placed a hand on his cheek. “Keep them in balance, Neph. Father is
as cold as winter and Kadan is heartless. You are the only one in
this damned place with any compass ion at all. Maybe one day you
will lead here, and I can come home again.”

BOOK: The Elder Blood Chronicles Book 4 The Blessed Curse
10.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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