Dryston has been captured and stands before Lord Aeglech
who has tried to get him to confess to being part of the
rumored rebellion against the ruthless Saxon
self-proclaimed king. He and Sierra meet for the first
"Britannia is dead. It is the dawn of a new age. Even those
in Rome are wise enough to see it,â€ť the king said with a
â€śBritannia will survive by the strength of her people,â€ť
said Dryston. The king wavered before him, and Dryston
realized he was close to losing consciousness.
Aeglech slouched in his throne, perfectly relaxed. His ring
encrusted fingers tapped against the curved arm of the
throne. â€śBritanniaâ€™s numbers are dwindling. My men are
seeing to that. Soon all of Britannia will belong to the
â€śYour men have not yet met all of Britanniaâ€™s people.â€ť
â€śYou seem to know much for one who was found in a Celt
village, welding a newly sharpened blade.â€ť His eyes
narrowed,awaiting Drystonâ€™s reply.
Dryston held his tongue. He had to find a way to stay alive
and give Torin and his men time to assemble.
The kingâ€™s attention was diverted when a new woman entered
the room. Perhaps she was no more than a figment of his
sleep deprived mind, this angel, dressed in a golden gown,
her head covered with a sheer scarf that veiled her
features. She looked out of place among the ruins. Without
hesitation, she walked straight up to the smitten Saxon
king and knelt before him.
Aeglech stepped forward and took the angelâ€™s hand, bidding
her to rise. She handed him a golden goblet, a cup clearly
once belonging to Roman royalty. â€śMilord, you summoned me?â€ť
He blinked as if she had pulled him from his thoughts. On
this, he and Aeglech had common ground, for Dryston found
her mesmerizing. Who was she? What purpose did she have
with the Saxon king? Was she his mistress?
â€śAh, yes, of course. You know that the prisoner has
arrived. Come, stand here at my side.â€ť Aeglech regarded
Dryston with a narrow gaze. â€śI will give you the
opportunity to tell me what you know about the rebellion
being gathered against me.â€ť
â€śI know nothing about a rebellion,â€ť Dryston lied. One of
Aeglechâ€™s guards rushed forward and rammed his ax handle
into Drystonâ€™s gut. He lurched forward, choking for air.
Determined he would not let the king break him, Dryston
straightened, grinding his teeth against the pain. His eyes
were drawn back to the mysterious woman who eyed him
The Saxon lord took another sip of his drink, leaping from
his seat as he hurled the cup across the room. The goblet
smacked against the stone and clattered to the f loor. â€śWho
is your king? Where is his kingdom?â€ť he bellowed, the sound
of his voice reverberating through the cavernous room.
â€śI call no man my king. I am free,â€ť Dryston responded.
Aeglech started down the steps toward him, and Dryston
thought he had drawn his last breath.
â€śMilord?â€ť the veiled woman spoke.
The Saxon king whirled toward the woman.
â€śPerhaps I might be able to help?â€ť
Aeglech turned his gaze back to Dryston. A slow curve of
his mouth gave way to a satisf ied grin.
â€śA fine idea, wealh. Come forward and tell me what you see.â€ť
Wealh.The name given to those of native-Briton descent, a
degrading term that meant slave. So she was his slave.
She showed no fear as she walked past Aeglech. With a
glance over her shoulder, she received his nod and faced
Dryston, lifting the veil from her face. A guard pressed
down on his shoulder, bringing him to his knees. She
removed the covering from her head. With careful purpose,
she used the veil to wipe off the blood from his face.
Her touch was as gentle as a motherâ€™s, powerful as a
seductressâ€™s. Drystonâ€™s gaze was riveted to her face, but
she seemed to look right through him.
â€śDo you have a name?â€ť he whispered, leaning close as she
wiped the blood from above his lip. â€śAre you a witch?â€ť
â€śSilence,â€ť the king commanded
â€śWhat if I refuse your powers?â€ť he asked. Her skin was
pale, her hair shorter than most womenâ€™s, but on her, it
seemed to fit. Her cap of soft brown waves barely fell
below her ears. She was not beautiful in the way of a
noblewoman, but she had a magic about her he could not
deny. The dress, clearly not tailored to her body, offered
him a glimpse of her breasts as she leaned forward to place
her hands on his head.
A shiver rolled across Drystonâ€™s shoulders. He knew of the
ancient Druid teachings. He knew there were some who
possessed the ability to see the past or look into the
future, but he had never met one before now. The gentle
caress of the womanâ€™s hands on his scalp caused his body,
weary and sore from his journey, to react in ways he did
not expect. As her dark eyes held his, the memory of his
night with Cendra appeared in his brain.
â€śWhat is it? What do you see?â€ť the king asked impatiently,
coming down to kneel at her side.
â€śThere is much passion,â€ť she whispered. â€śThere is a woman
and a man. They areâ€¦â€ť Her voice trailed off as she glanced
nervously at him.
â€śThe rebel camp, what of the rebel camp?â€ť the king urged.
Aeglechâ€™s fierce gaze met Drystonâ€™s as if to intimidate
him. Silently defying him, he gave over his mind to that
night heâ€™d spent with Cendra, all the pleasure heâ€™d given
The woman splayed her fingers wide over his scalp, and her
soft breath caught.
â€śCan you see the camp?â€ť the frustrated king prodded.
Dryston conjured delightfully lusty images of Cendra in
their last moments together. So vivid were they that he
began to grow hard. The witchâ€™s eyes flew open and she
stared at him. He could not help but smile as she took a
step back, studying his face.
â€śI cannot read this man,â€ť she declared quietly.
â€śWhat do you mean you cannot read him? You are a seer. This
is your gift,â€ť the warlord exploded. â€śWhat good are you to
me if you cannot use your gift when I need it?â€ť
A flash of concern passed through her beautiful, brown
eyes. â€śHis will is strong. It is difficult to read through
such a thick head.â€ť
Dryston waited for Lord Aeglech to order that he be hanged
from the gallows or worse, tossed into the moat.
The womanâ€™s dark eyes turned to him. â€śMaster Balrogan will
enjoy the chance to break this one.â€ť
It was apparent that he had misjudged her.
Aeglech appeared to debate her suggestion, but nodded. He
was spared, at least, for now. â€śVery well, take him to the
dungeon and let Balrogan deal with him.â€ť
Dryston had a feeling that things had just gone from bad to