by TS Clayton

Taken from book 1: The Heart of Lichien.


"Who are you?"  Kellen asked, needing to know as he followed Sasheer.  He no longer saw the snow around them, or felt the icy wind, now he was focused only on Sasheer.

Sasheer pursed his lips as if considering the request, before he turned and gave Kellen a disgruntled look.  "I have already told you."

"No."  Kellen shook his head.  He reached out and pulled the other man to a halt.  He had to know now, had to learn the truth before he lost the courage to ask.  "I want the truth.  I can sense your age, regardless of what your appearance says.  You are not what you appear.  So if I am to believe you, then you have to tell me the truth," he said.

"Truth?" Sasheer said, the wind snatching his words away.  He gave a twisted, cynical smile.  "What is truth except another excuse for weak men to clutch at?"

Kellen shook his head as Ryland walk past them.  The Haonian eyed them both in curiosity, not saying a word.  In the back of his mind, Kellen wondered what the others must be thinking, what they must be perceiving of this exchange.  "Who are you?" he repeated, pushing his senses out to see past the facade that Sasheer wore, to see past those barriers, and abruptly, he was deluged with a flood of images, each more intense than the last.  They stole his breath away.

Brilliant colors skipped over gray stone, leading him down into a passageway, past ferns and vines, into the gloom of an alcove.  There, in a corner, sat a young man, sobbing, seemingly oblivious to all around as a widening pool of blood stained the stone floor.  He was dressed in richly dyed silken robs with gold bands through his braided hair, as he sat,  rocking back and forward, holding a lax body in his arms.  Then slowly, ever so slowly he lifted a hand and a let a bloodied dagger fall . . .

Jolted back to the present, Kellen stepped away from Sasheer, shaken by what he had just witnessed.  He stared at Sasheer, locking gazes, noting how those defiant eyes were a vivid, shining blue.  Then a tear rolled down Sasheer's pale cheek as he wrenched his gaze away with a small cry of dismay.

Drawn, yet also repulsed, Kellen tentatively reached over and touched Sasheer's shoulder, not surprised when the other pulled away.  "Sasheer?"  He stepped closer.  "I am sorry—"

"Don't say it."  Sasheer cut him off.  "It is just a . . ." he hesitated, "a memory of long ago.  Best forgotten."

Kellen let him go, not knowing what to say.  He did not want to intrude, but neither did he want to forget what he had just been shown.

"You want to know if you can trust me," Sasheer turned, his voice raw.  "I can't give you the reassurances you ask for.  All I can tell you is that I am a friend to your family.  And yes, I knew your father, Hargon—and yes, I knew your brother, Wyran.  I was not there to help them when they needed me.  For that, I am sorry.  I hope you will allow me to help you."                                                                                                      ISBN :978-1-41346-299-9


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