Thursday, June 20, 2013
Thursday's Opening Scene from Affinities - Havens by Janet Lane Walters
Alizand prowled about his bed chamber. He paused beside the window and pushed the heavy draperies aside. Another day of confinement. Since the day his step-brothers had invaded the suite, forcing Alizand to reveal his affinity for Fire, he’d been a prisoner.
At least the guards at the door believed he couldn’t leave. They didn’t know about the hidden sections and the secret rooms and passages to be found beyond the walls. Though Alizand could slip away, he should wait until night lest his room be checked. Dom Senet often made random visits during the day. Only when Alizand’s personal guard appeared could he escape these chambers. The corridors and places he could go had to be kept secret.
He was bored. He even missed the tedious lessons he’d been given by the clan elders during the short time he’d been acknowledged as his father’s heir. Having his affinity exposed had ended the dream of being deemed fit to become a prince. No one who could use one or all of the elements could rule the princedom of Wesren.
He stared at the tray on the table. A maidservant had delivered the food a short time before. Though he had eaten nothing since yesterday’s midday meal, he had no desire to break his fast.
The back of Alizand’s neck prickled. Trouble approached. Which of the many enemies he’d collected in his fourteen years of life came to upset his day?
The door opened. Before the guard could announce the visitor, a tall man entered. His ash blond hair hung in a single braid. Black leather riding clothes gleamed in the light from candles set in glass-shielded sconces on the wall. His dark green eyes sought and held Alizand’s gaze.
A smile appeared on Dom Senet’s face. Alizand felt like a tabby surrounded by a pack of ratis. He forced himself to breathe. How could one man raise such a high degree of terror? Though Alizand’s legs felt unsteady, he forced himself to remain on his feet.
“Dom Senet.” A sense of pride filled Alizand’s thoughts. His voice hadn’t cracked or risen to a high pitch to reveal his inner quaking.
The dom stroked the multi-colored gem he wore about his neck. The gold chain glinted. “I have questions for you to answer.”
Questions, Alizand thought. What kind of trick was this? He couldn’t relax his barriers or forget his suspicions of the dom. Was this a new way to fool him into becoming the dom’s puppet? Alizand needed to respond. To remain silent would expose his fear. “What do you want to know?”
“About your kin, the children of your father’s step-brother. I have a great need to find them. Poor lost children who need a home and a guardian.”
Alizand’s hands clenched. His friends had saved his life when he’d been injured in the aftermath of the destruction of the henge. With them, he’d been Zand, a person and not a creature to be used. “I don’t know where they are. I told my father I didn’t and I say the same to you.”
“I think otherwise.” The dom moved closer.
Alizand clung to his determination to resist. He felt icy touches trying to push beneath his surface thoughts and invade his memories. He pressed his hand against the gem beneath his tunic and strained to hold firm against Dom Senet’s invasion. “How could I know where they’ve been or where they’re going? I’ve been a prisoner here for weeks.”
Dom Senet ran a finger along Alizand’s cheek. “And I imagine you have no idea how the child escaped the circle room.”
“What child?” Though he had released Ky, he didn’t consider her a child. The pressure in his head built until his vision and balance wavered. “Is there a circular room in your suite?” The pressure vanished so suddenly Alizand’s knees folded and he fell into the chair.
Dom Senet frowned. “Perhaps someone else is to blame.”
Alizand looked up. “Who?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll learn. As for you, your barriers are stronger than they were the last time we met. I haven’t time to break then now, but be assured when I return, you will answer to me.”
“Even if I don’t know the answers you want?” To Alizand’s surprise, though inside he battled hysteria, his voice remained calm.
“This much I can tell you. Your friends have left the city and foolishly chose to challenge me. They gave themselves away. Though they’ve escaped, they have nowhere to go. I’m leading a patrol of guards eager to receive the reward your father has offered for the return of his step-brother’s children. We will bring them back.”
His laughter sent prickles along Alizand’s skin. “Will you betray my father by taking charge of them?”
“Betray him? How? Your father is mine to move as I will. Once he sees these children have affinities, he’ll gladly name me as their guardian.” The dom leaned closer. “When I return with them you will come to me. Don’t think to flee. Remember, I touched your gem. No matter where you go, I can find you, unless you remove the crystal and suffer the seizures of destruction.” He strode to the door.
The door snapped shut. Alizand slid to the floor, grasped his knees and rocked. Why hadn’t he been told to hide the gem he’d received on his fourteenth birthing day? He’d worn the red gem proudly. Dom Senet had touched the stone and had made some kind of connection to Alizand.
What could he do? Where was Dragen? He needed his kinsman and protector. He had to let Dragen know about Dom Senet’s latest attempt. Alizand swallowed. He was more than frightened. Terror swept through him, causing his body to shake like the leaves of a tree during a windstorm.