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The Illusion of Steel
by Lenora Rose
Release Date: 12/15/12
Genre: Fantasy
Pages:
Publisher: Eggplant Literary Productions
Format ISBN Price
EPUB 978-1-932207-35-4 3.99
Author Page: Lenora Rose
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Summary Excerpt Comments

 

Daemon came into my room several days after Desecrator's first invasion, on a day when Biadei was slowly returning to sanity from madness.

He was lucid enough to follow a game of Fives, but conversation was staggered, halting. Eventually, I let him mutter a monologue, about the avatar who had stolen fire and been punished by having his liver torn out each day, to grow again each night. "But the vulture could tear the heart instead," he was saying, when Daemon came inside. Biadei did not look up, though his shoulders twitched. He set down a piece on the board, and took the pair of mine he had claimed with the move. "It's within reach. So why does it not? It would hurt more. If the liver grows back, surely the heart will."

Daemon said, "It's not always that easy, with matters of the heart."

I opened my mouth to speak, and saw the belt and pouch folded in Daemon's hands, The pack slung across his shoulder. And a breath later, a guardsman, holding a soft leather case, the neck of a lute rising from the opening.

My case. It was plain, but I could have identified it by the scratches in the leather, the place where the lacings had frayed and been re-bound with thread. The texture, the smell, the way the strap would slide against my palm.

I stood up. "Daemon, what did you do?"

Daemon dared to smile. "I sent a messenger to Adrek."

I hissed. "Adrek would have just as likely kept the messenger as his for a few days, and sent him back empty-handed and grateful."

"And torn out his heart, torn it out, torn it dead." Biadei said behind me.

Daemon's eyes flickered. "Had I sent an ordinary messenger, aye. But Nikol's wife is sorceress enough to protect herself, and too powerful for Adrek to steal without repercussion."

"Nikol again?" I exclaimed.

"Not again," Daemon said; a flicker in his eyes. "Before ever you asked for your things, Biadei suggested I retrieve them. So while Nikol was here, I took it upon myself to send a message to his wife; my sister Ariosta. She was willing."

Why? I was ready to ask. Why would she waste her time on her husband's bastard? But I did not have a proof he would understand.

"Heart gone, love gone, kin gone," Biadei's voice was whispery but loud.

"Tell them I am grateful," I said stiffly. "That they would do such a favor to a stranger."

Daemon opened his mouth; glanced at Biadei, and seemed to remember the guardsman behind him. He said, "I will tell them." He held out my pack and my belt. The guard had set the lute in its case next to the bed. Daemon could have done the same, on the chair in the corner, or the shelf by his side. I knew at once that he was offering to let me into his thoughts, to see what he was thinking but unwilling to say out loud.

I took my property from Daemon's hands, but never let us touch flesh to flesh. If I had wanted to know what he was thinking, I could have already looked.

"Heart lost, love lost, kin lost," Biadei whispered, and burst into tears.

 
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