Warprize (Chronicles of the Warlands) by Elizabeth Vaughan


  He planted his feet and lifted his hands, letting the water trickle between his fingers, giving thanks to all the elements for all that he was. For the strength in his body, for the challenges before him, for the life granted him on the Plains.

  Soap was kept in boxes along the edge, and he took up a handful and scrubbed hard.

  As much as he was enjoying the heat, he was mindful of its power to drain the strength from a warrior. The Plains held such pools, to the south, and he knew that he couldn’t stay within the water for any length of time. But it felt good, to be clean. He’d have to see to his sword later—the moisture would do no good for the metal. But Simus knew better than to go unarmed. In no way would he be that naked.

  One last rinse, and out. He sank back down, letting the water cover him again, then rose, letting the water cascade off his head and shoulders.

  Only to find Othur seated on a bench by the door, staring at him in bemusement.

  “GOOD MORNING, LORD SIMUS.” OTHUR NODDED pleasantly as he leaned back against the stone wall with a sigh.

  “Lord Othur.” The black man smiled from the middle of the bath. He was in the deepest part of the spring, with the water at his waist. “We’ve yet another Council today.”

  “Yes.” Othur nodded. “I fear that in many ways the Warlord and Xylara have left us with a heavy task; trying to bring our people together. To work in harmony. In peace.”

  “Ah,” Simus said.

  “I’m afraid that places us in a delicate position,” Othur said softly, his voice echoing against the water. “For I believe that the best leaders lead by example.” He raised a polite eyebrow in inquiry. “Have you found that to be true as well?”

  Simus’s heavy sigh floated over the water. “Yes.”

  Othur wrinkled his forehead in confusion. “Then what were you thinking?”

  SIMUS SIGHED, AND RAN HIS HAND OVER HIS head. He thought for a moment before he spoke. “Othur, your people think that Firelanders are not people. They think we are blue, red, and black, and belch fire from our mouths. Monsters, not men.” Simus spread his arms. “Now they will know that we are men, built as any other, and word will spread. Word too will spread that our ways are different.”

  “Yes,” Othur said dryly. “I rather think you have made that clear.” But then he nodded slowly. “I do see your point, Simus. I’m not sure I agree with your methods . . .” Othur gave him a shrewd look. “Deny to me that you enjoyed your little stroll.”

  Simus just grinned.

  “I look forward to working with you,” Othur said as he stood. “I’ll leave you then, to your bath. I took the liberty of bringing you one of my cloaks. The Xyian custom is to bring a change of clothing to the baths. It should suffice to get you back to your chambers.”

  “My thanks,” Simus said.

  “My pleasure.” Othur bowed his head. He placed his hand on the door, then looked at Simus over his shoulder. “I believe that Anna is preparing your morning meal. I suggest you brace yourself.”

  Simus threw back his head and laughed, his mirth echoing off the stone walls.

  Berkley Sensation Books by Elizabeth Vaughan

  DAGGER-STAR

  WHITE STAR

  DESTINY’S STAR

  WARPRIZE

 


 

  Elizabeth Vaughan, Warprize (Chronicles of the Warlands)

 


 

 
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