Authors: Kerri Hawkins
HEIR TO THE THRONE
Published by Red Raptor Productions, Inc.
BLOOD LEGACY: HEIR TO THE THRONE Vol 1, 2009. FIRST PRINTING.
Office of Publication: Long Beach, California
BLOOD LEGACY it’s logo, all related characters and their likenesses are ™ and © 2009 Kerri Hawkins and Red Raptor Productions, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. The entire contents of this book are © 2009 Red Raptor Productions, Inc. Any similarities to persons living or dead are purely coincidental. With the exception of artwork used for review purposes, none of the contents of this book may be reprinted in any form without the express written consent of Kerri Hawkins or Red Raptor Productions, Inc.
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BLOOD LEGACY: HEIR TO THE THRONE
RED RAPTOR PRODUCTIONS, INC.
Also available from Kerri Hawkins
BLOOD LEGACY: THE STORY OF RYAN (ISBN: 1-58240-248-5)
BLOOD LEGACY: THE HOUSE OF ALEXANDER (ISBN: 0-9766231-0-2)
THE DARKNESS: VOLUME I (ISBN: 978-1-58240-797-5)
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THE BOY RAN SWIFTLY ACROSS THE TERRACED STEPS, his sandaled feet barely touching the smooth stone. The hem of his robe was embroidered in gold and stained with blood. The smell of smoke was acrid in his nose and his lungs burned all the more in his exertion and terror. The screams of the dying echoed throughout the city.
He saw soldiers ahead of him and felt a flicker of hope. But before he could start toward them, the soldiers were ambushed by barbarians. The marauders were huge, their size magnified by the pelts of animal skin draped over their shoulders, the filthy hair that ran down their backs and the wicked axes and clubs they wielded. The guards, armed only with pikes, offered little resistance and were beaten to the ground. One was impaled, the other beheaded.
The boy shrank back into the shadows. He knew the barbarians would not spare him. He had already seen them slaughter women and children; they were sparing no one. The fortunate died instantly before they could be tortured or raped. The cries of the less fortunate told him which fate he would prefer.
As the boy hid in the shadows, it did not occur to him to include himself in the category of “children” although he was but 12 seasons. He had been schooled for great responsibility since his birth and acted accordingly.
This thought gave the boy pause. He steeled himself, willing the trembling of his body to stop. He peered around the corner through the smoke and haze. The barbarians had moved on.
He darted from the shadows and sprinted down the corridor. He leaped the dead guards, skidding as he landed in a pool of their slippery blood. He regained his balance on the run and darted for the back stairway, one that was concealed to casual observation.
He took the stairs two at a time and was quickly at the parapet. He stood on the great wall and started across the walkway that led to his household. He glanced down into the city and stopped, stunned.
The city was on fire, the great statues toppled, the beautiful buildings defaced. The temple was defiled and the bodies of priests and guards were strewn about the steps.
The boy shook himself free from his horror. He had to get home. He hurried across the walkway, cautious lest anyone should see him. When he reached the other side, he pushed through the heavy wooden door.
A beautiful woman turned at the sound of his entrance, fear on her refined features. The fear was replaced with relief as she rushed toward him, pulling him to her breast.
“Ambrosius, I thought for certain you were dead.”
The boy held his mother tightly, unable to speak of the horrors he had seen. When his mother finally loosened her embrace and leaned back to look at his face, he knew she was aware of the terror in the streets below.
The woman gazed down at her son, running her fingers through his silky black hair. People said he favored her, but she felt he possessed the beauty of Apollo himself. Her expression darkened. A beauty that could only hurt him in the present situation.
They both started as the door downstairs was smashed inward. They could hear the shouts of the barbarians as they began ransacking the house. It would be a matter of minutes before they found the stairway leading to the upper passageway, then their room. She withdrew a knife from her robes.
The boy took a step backward, gazing with resignation at the blade. He would accept his fate with bravery and honor. He was surprised, however, when his mother turned the blade in her hand and handed it to him hilt-first. She knelt down, holding him by the shoulders.
“There is a door at the base of the stairway. It leads to a hidden passageway that will take you away from the city. You must wait for me to distract these men, and then you must flee.”
The boy shook his head. “Come with me. I cannot leave you behind.”
The woman’s expression was sad. They might have made it earlier, but now it was too late. Neither of them would make it without a diversion. She held the boy tightly.
“Listen to me. You must live, and you must grow to become the man I know you will be.”
The boy felt tears begin to form and he fought them back. “I will stay here and protect you.”
The beautiful woman shook her head. “No,” she said, her jaw clenched, “You will leave here now.” She felt her own tears threaten to flow. “And one day you will avenge me. Promise me that.”
The boy angrily brushed the single tear that slipped out. His own jaw clenched and he nodded his head mutely, unable to speak. A loud noise in the hallway startled them both.
“Hide over there,” the woman commanded, “and as soon as you are able, run.”
The boy barely had time to duck behind the curtain when the door smashed inward and two burly, filthy men filled the doorway. The first came through the door bearing a bloody battle axe. The second was close behind.
The woman gazed at them fearfully, but with a proud tilt to her chin. She would not give these men the satisfaction of knowing her terror.
It did not matter to them The first glanced at the woman, noting her exquisite beauty. His gaze settled lewdly on her cleavage visible beneath her robes. He noted the purple color of her garments, and grinned broadly. He set his axe aside and reached for his belt, loosening his pants.
The boy tried to drown out the sounds, tried to block out the grunts of the man and the cries of his mother. His tears burned through his eyelids, and his breath came in ragged gasps as the air seared his throat. He clenched the dagger, wanting to rush from his place of hiding and impale it in the grunting man’s back.
But he would not. He stood upright, his bitterness again nearly overwhelming his resolve. But he had promised his mother. He forced himself, just once, to look into the room, memorizing every detail of the horrific scene. And then he fled, his tears blinding him as he sought the hidden door.
He found it exactly where his mother had said it was and pushed it inward, smelling the welcome smell of fecund earth. He pulled the heavy door closed behind him, and although the passage was completely black, he began staggering forward in the darkness.
Ryan sat up in bed. The dreams were so frequent now, and so strange.
She stood upright, a lithe figure unfolding to six feet, if not more. She was a striking young woman, moving with preternatural grace as she pulled on a plain white shirt and a pair of simple cotton slacks. It was a testament to her extraordinary beauty that the outfit on her was stunning.
She brushed blonde hair from her eyes and did not bother to glance at the mirror as she left her room.
Ryan stepped down the elaborate staircase, absently running her hand along the smooth mahogany railing. She was somewhat surprised it was dark outside. It seemed as if it had just been morning.
She moved into the den, pleased to see the fire burning in the fireplace that took up the entire west wall. She settled into the chair before the flames, reaching for the glass of wine that was placed at her elbow.
“Thank you, Edward.”
Edward bowed low. He had served his master for centuries now and although she needed little, he could anticipate most of what she might want. It was that familiarity which communicated to him her current mood, a certain preoccupation that although not unusual, was generally significant.
Edward cleared his throat. “Is there something troubling you, my lord?”
Although the masculine title should have seemed anomalous, somehow it did not. Although most of their Kind possessed a degree of androgyny, Ryan was the epitome of it. When Edward first met Ryan centuries before, she had been traveling as a handsome young boy, a deception she perpetuated without effort.
Ryan was thoughtful. “I am having odd dreams.”
Edward nodded, settling into the chair across from her. Some might have been shocked at the casual way in which the manservant interacted with his liege, but he did so only because Ryan demanded it. And he engaged in such informalities only when they were alone.
Ryan turned to Edward, and to the casual observer it would appear a youngster seeking the advice of an older mentor. But a glance into Ryan’s eyes told a different story, that of someone far older than Edward, one of immense power, one who in all likelihood needed little advice.
What Ryan did require, however, was a confidante, a role Edward had ably performed for centuries.
“I am dreaming through someone else’s eyes.”
Edward nodded again. It was not unusual for their Kind to see through the eyes of those they had Shared with, and no one possessed the gift as Ryan did. When two were locked in the act of transferring blood, it was possible for one to see through the mind of the other, not merely experiencing what the other had seen, but experiencing it as if it were firsthand.
Ryan continued slowly. “The eyes of someone I have never Shared with.”
This gave Edward pause. It was possible for someone who was extremely gifted to see the Memories of the one engaged in the act, and also the Memories that person had obtained through Sharing. In other words, someone like Ryan could see not only with the mind of those she Shared with, but with the mind of everyone that person had Shared with as well.
However, Edward had a sense that Ryan was speaking of something beyond that, and he had misgivings over what she would say next.
“The eyes of someone no one from our Kind has ever Shared with.”
She said it matter-of-factly, belying the extreme import of the comment.
“Are you sure?” Edward asked, uncertainty in his voice. He was not one to doubt his master, but no one had ever described this type of event. “Perhaps they are just dreams?”
Ryan shook her head. “No, they are definitely Memories. Thoughts, emotions, events, just like the kind seen when Sharing. But they are of a time and place that I have never seen, a time that pre-dates even my father. And I do not know to whom they belong.”
“Can you place the time period?” Edward asked.
“Not exactly,” Ryan replied, “I see clothing that makes me think of the Roman Empire, but having no direct experience of that time, I cannot confirm it.”