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When the Vlaad began killing Tree Women, Adazzra knew she had to stop them. With the help of Moonrazer, Exalted Warrior of the Sarl, she would.
Then an injured Vlaad entered her life and began the mystical life bonding ritual. All her faith and strength would be tested. Could the Holy One really want this for her?
She didnâ€™t even know what she would pray for. The obvious thing would be that he would recover, but she was afraid that if he did, heâ€™d try to kill her, then go out to kill her sisters. Moonrazer had been right; she didnâ€™t know exactly what she was dealing with.
These thoughts whirled in her head as she went to the kitchen to prepare a tray of food for him. He hadnâ€™t eaten since she found him, but today, she thought she would try to get some broth into him. She wasnâ€™t sure how she would accomplish this, but she hoped something would come to mind when the time came.
In the bedroom, she set the tray on a small table near his head. She looked at him while biting her lip and lacing and unlacing her fingers. He needed a circulation poultice.
Part of a healerâ€™s method of treating a patient was to place a circulation poultice on the patientâ€™s chest to insure that his or her blood did not slow or settle while the patient remained in bed. Adazzra had put off doing this, but she knew she couldnâ€™t do that any longer.
Squaring her shoulders and tossing her hair back, Adazzra took a deep breath. Primarily, she was a healer and part of a healerâ€™s job was to make sure nothing interfered with the healing process.
The broth and the struggle sheâ€™d have getting some down his throat were forgotten as she went outside to get a pail of water. His chest would need to be cleaned before the poultice was applied.
She came back and set the pail down alongside the cloths she would use to wash him. She sighed. She had stalled long enough. She had to remove his shirt.
She had to cut his shirt off with a knife because she didnâ€™t want to untie him. When she saw the markings on his chest, she gasped and dropped the knife.
All fear of him disappeared as she looked at what appeared to be scars crisscrossing his chest. Some of them appeared to be very old, while others were red and probably new. Many of the older scars had been painted with some sort of permanent coloring. They lined his chest with streaks of green, yellow and deep scarlet.
Both horrified and fascinated, Adazzra reached out and cautiously touched one of the scars. As her fingertips brushed his skin, he stirred and moaned in his sleep.
Adazzra pulled her hand away, but when he settled back down, she reached out again.
This time when she touched him, he remained still, allowing her attention to focus on the feel of his skin. From everything sheâ€™d heard about Vlaad, she expected his skin to be cold and clammy, but instead she found it warm and soft, with the firmness of muscles underneath.
The blue coloring beneath the scars and paint was darker than that on his face and her fascination grew. In her travels with Moonrazer, Adazzra had had many chances to see men from all over the Known Worlds, but no man who had been her patient had ever, even unconscious, exuded such a sense of power and strength, despite his small body.
Adazzra found herself studying his upper body as she removed his shirt. When she got to his wings, she left the clothing lying beneath him. She wasnâ€™t ready to deal with his wings. They reminded her of who and what he was.
The rest of him, from the waist up, except for the coloring, looked the same as any other man, but as Adazzra carefully ran the wet cloths over his skin, she felt herself wondering more and more about him as a person.
Who was he? What kind of family did he, or any other Vlaad, have? Did he smile, and if so, what made him smile?
Honor Cummings lives in a Philadelphia suburb where she crafts her stories of other worlds and other times to escape a teenage cheerleading daughter with a telephone and MTV obsession and a toddler son who doesn't know the meaning of the word fear, but does believe that diving head first off the back of the sofa will be a new Olympic sport, so he'd better be ready.
Book Publisher: Wings e press
No. of Pages: 332
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