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The Rising (The Rising #4)
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Once upon a time, in a parallel universe, there existed the continent of Triton. The land was filled with beauty, but it was also splintered by war. Out of the chaos grew a conspiracy to reawaken the Beast, a fearsome creature who wrought only tragedy and devastation. The only way to stop him was to fulfill an ancient prophecy: Triton’s four strongest warriors must wed its four most powerful witches, binding all nations together and finally bringing peace to the land.
This is the story of their unions: the quiet maiden Silence and the savage king Mars. The cold warrior Cassius and the fiery witch Elena. The steadfast soldier True and the banished beauty Farah. And the pirate king Aramus and the mysterious queen Ha-Lah. Their unions will not be easy, but each couple must succeed, for the fate of their world is at stake.
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Farm Six Miles West of the Ancient Ritual Ground
She was beginning to feel the pain in her back becoming an ache in her entire body, which was good.
Everything else was bad.
She lay on her side on the floor in the farmstead, peering into the lifeless eyes of the dead child not five feet from her as she heard the screams of the mother coming from the other room.
The father had already been consumed.
The screams stopped but worse started as she heard the noises of sobs and pleas.
And then noises of something else.
What have I done? she thought.
After some time, she heard the familiar sound of the Beast’s release and the crying and moaning of the woman abruptly halted.
Marian tried to move her legs, and they moved, but it made the pain in her back excruciating, thus she was forced to stop.
She needed a draught for the pain.
She needed to rest.
She’d have neither.
Where is that bloody priest? she thought.
“We must be away, Daemon,” Jellan stated in a voice of genuine obsequiousness, false calm, but still managing to convey not a small amount of urgency.
“Fetch me some of the man’s clothes,” the Beast ordered.
“Of course,” Jellan murmured.
“You don some too,” the Beast went on.
“As you wish.”
“Pack more, and I want my female bathed. She is dirty. I do not like her dirty. Bathe her and dress her in the woman’s clothes,” the Beast finished.
“It will be done,” Jellan, the arsehole, the fool, the duplicitous sycophantic cretin assured.
She heard steps ascending stairs as she heard others approaching her.
She also heard the rain coming down in sheets and sheets.
She saw his feet, filthy with mud and grass, before he crouched and she saw his member hanging between his thighs, large even flaccid, and now tainted with blood.
Marian’s mouth filled with bile.
She then felt his gentle touch as her hair was pulled away from her face.
“Do not be angry at me, my witch,” he clucked.
Don’t be angry?
Her mind reeled for ways to play this.
Jellan could shove his nose right up the creature’s arse.
She would be who she was.
“You might have broken my back,” she snapped.
“You could have a broken back, but you would still have your magic.”
She lifted her eyes to his and saw what she did not see all these months she had been with him.
He was still beautiful.
In this form.
But he was not innocent and docile and misunderstood. He was not simple and easily led.
He was devious and crafty.
She had been played.
By her Beast and Jellan.
“You connived with him against me,” she accused.
She turned her eyes away.
“I needed you both,” he shared. “I could not ascend without your power, and his. But when I ascended, I needed a meal. And such it was.”
“Will you do me like you did that woman in the kitchens?” she demanded.
“I like you willing. You have much exuberance.”
Her gaze shot to his handsome visage again.
The new definition of twofaced.
“I can hardly be of service to you in that manner if my spine is snapped,” she spat.
He fell to his arse, and Marian gritted her teeth against the moan welling up her throat wrought by the pain in her body as he pulled her into his lap.
He then smoothed her hair again before he chucked her under the chin.
“I will not hurt you if you do not earn it. You are too important to me,” he told her.
“Important how?” she asked.
“There is more work to be done, important work, and I need you and our friend to do it.”
Marian was not feeling joyous about this news.
“What work is to be done?” she inquired.
“I fear it would be foolhardy to tell you of this at this juncture,” he shared.
She opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted when Jellan appeared at their sides, stating, “I have your clothing, Daemon.”
Marian glared up at the fallen priest.
He was dressed in the dead Dellish farmer’s clothing.
It was too big on him.
However, as fate would have it, it would fit Daemon perfectly.
“Heat water for Marian’s bath,” Daemon commanded. “We must soothe her aches. And see if this dwelling has medicine. She is in pain.”
Jellan’s eyes flashed his displeasure at his service, but he said nothing against it, nodded, set the clothing on the floor beside Daemon and moved away.
“And get these bodies out of here,” Daemon added.
“I am but one man, Daemon,” Jellan reminded him.
Daemon twisted his head to look at the priest. “Then we shall have to find you some assistance. But for now, it’s just you, and your standing there, glaring at me is not seeing to the things I’ve asked you to see to.”
No, this Beast was not simple, docile, innocent and easily led.
Jellan bowed his head and scurried off.
Marian would have smirked, but such was the direness of the situation, she could not even take enjoyment in Jellan’s subjugation.