The Rys Chronicles continue in the second book The Goddess Queen as Shan’s rebellion grows. Queen Onja sends her Kezanada agents to hunt Shan with enchanted weapons, and she also begins to teach another rys in the ways of battle magic to aid her in the coming war. Dreibrand Veta, now Shan’s general, works hard to prepare their armies for the invasion of the rys homeland. Miranda dedicates herself to Shan and his rebellion even when it means breaking the strict patriarchal traditions of the larger culture. Once the armies begin to march, everyone must endure the many horrors of war. Tempers fray and ambitions flare as the costs of attacking Onja mount.
Brave Luck Books
Brave Luck Books
Queen Onja has called for Shan’s head and her Kezanada agents stalk him with enchanted weapons. For Dreibrand Veta, his growing list of victories has increased his influence in circles of power, but his fame has not endeared him to everybody. The rebellion proceeds slowly for Miranda who cannot rescue her children until Shan defeats Onja. Shan has learned much since beginning the rebellion. His powers are growing. He has used his magic to kill, and, when the spring comes, his armies will fight the armies loyal to Onja. Despite Shan’s mounting confidence in his battle magic, Onja will tenaciously defend her throne, and Shan will discover that he does not know the powerful secrets of the Goddess Queen.
The Kezanada agents of Queen Onja stalk Shan with enchanted weapons. Dreibrand Veta's growing list of victories has increased his influence, but the rebellion proceeds slowly for Miranda whose children remain captive in Jingten. Shan's armies will soon confront Onja, but she will tenaciously defend her throne, and Shan will discover that he does not know the powerful secrets of the Goddess Queen.
Chapter 1 ~ Fierce Loss ~
Tytido looked up from his almost finished dinner and chuckled.
Dreibrand coughed a little then asked, “Why do you laugh?”
“Nothing, Sir,” Tytido replied.
“No, tell me,” Dreibrand insisted. “You looked at me and laughed.”
Tytido considered a moment, then decided it was safe and said truthfully, “You smoke funny.”
Dreibrand frowned and contemplated the pipe Tytido was sharing with him. The pleasantness of the smoke kept him from staying perturbed and he took another puff. Again Tytido smiled.
“What do I do wrong?” Dreibrand asked with exasperation, glancing around the tavern to see if anyone else was amused.
“I can’t explain, Sir,” Tytido said helplessly.
“See if I take you out to dinner again,” Dreibrand grumbled indignantly and returned the pipe to the Hirqua.
Tytido examined the half-charred contents of his pipe. “Forgive me, Sir. I don’t mean to be rude.”
Dreibrand gestured dismissively and relaxed back into his chair. He was not really upset. The food at the tavern had been excellent and he felt very warm, comfortable and happy. He had not had much of a chance to experience common Temu society and so far he enjoyed the atmosphere of Dengar Nor.
A good fire crackled in the great fireplace and Temu men sat around in small cliques drinking, smoking, eating, and playing games. One man tuned an instrument, preparing for the increased festivities of the later hours. On the wall by Dreibrand’s table hung the skin of a large speckled cat unlike any animal in the east, and he studied it with interest.
A pretty girl, probably the tavernkeeper’s daughter, came by with a pitcher of wine. Tytido had his cup refilled but Dreibrand required no more drink.
Once she moved on, Tytido inquired quietly, “Do you think the Sabuto will be that much trouble to us?”
Sighing, Dreibrand admitted, “Actually, I think they will. Although the Temu like to think they are cowards, I know they are not. The Sabuto have to see our rebellion against Jingten as their big chance to hurt the Temu. They will assemble as large a force as they can.”
Tytido said, “I have never fought with a Sabuto, but they do not have the reputation of the Hirqua and Shan will bring us victory.”
“Yes, he will,” Dreibrand agreed.
The door of the tavern banged open and the draft of wind made the lanterns flicker. Redan and Misho entered in obviously high spirits. Misho’s face was scarred and still swollen and his hand was still bandaged. The healers had feared that Misho’s hand would be permanently crippled, and half of his face remained slack. Despite these problems, the young warrior seemed to have regained his vigor and he had become a close friend to Redan.
The Temu patrons quickly recognized the long loose hair of the Zenglawa and frowned. The hushed rustle of disapproving gossip circled the room like dry leaves.
Redan ignored them and proceeded straight to the bar. He slung his bow comfortably on his shoulder and produced a small pouch of coins. After he and Misho obtained drinks, they turned to find a table. The Temu had strategically spread out, making no seats appear available.
Redan spotted his general and Tytido at a table and brightened. Part of Misho’s face also showed relief to see his commanders because he knew he did not keep popular company.
“May we join you, Sir?” Redan asked.
Dreibrand nodded and they settled in happily.
“I see you have some money, Redan?” Dreibrand commented suspiciously.
Redan and Misho shared a conspiratorial look. Patting his new bow, Redan whispered, “It is not hard to get a Temu to bet against a Zenglawa these days.”
Dreibrand wanted to show strong disapproval but only managed a paternal shake of his head. He had a sneaking suspicion that Redan had a pretty good hustle, and Dreibrand could not resist respecting that.
Dreibrand simply advised, “Do not win too much money from our Temu hosts.”
Gulping down some wine, Redan nodded. He knew too well the wisdom of his general’s advice, but he had had a very gratifying day and wanted to celebrate his success.
“We’ll all be hustling in the streets if we don’t get paid something,” Tytido mentioned.
“Yeah, I am working on that, Lieutenant,” Dreibrand responded, trying to hide his discomfort. “I think Shan has most of his finances worked out with the King. But for now the Yentay have shelter and food and you should not complain. And I am going to try and get everybody as much new gear as I can.”
“Sir, I know you will get us as much as you can, but Lord Shan offered pay after we volunteered,” Tytido pressed.
“We will all be wealthy when Jingten is taken,” Dreibrand reminded.
“Truly, but I wouldn’t mind something to spend now in case I get killed, Sir,” Tytido said.
Dreibrand laughed because there was no arguing with that point. “I will remind Lord Shan as soon as I can. He appreciates us and I am sure he will be generous. I could use some pay myself. I have the woman with a child on the way.”
The Yentay chuckled at his impending financial burden and Tytido congratulated his general again. Dreibrand had just enough wine left to share a toast with them.
Pushing back his chair, he announced his intention of returning to the castle.
“Please stay, Sir. We should drink a couple more toasts to your good fortune,” Tytido invited.
“No, not tonight, but thank you, Lieutenant. I should not get drunk and ask Shan for your pay,” Dreibrand joked.
Tytido agreed with a grin and the three Yentay stood respectfully as their general left the table.
“Do stay out of trouble,” Dreibrand ordered, giving Redan his particular attention.
On his way out, Dreibrand looked back at his men. Redan had called for more wine and held his cup close while the girl filled it. He admired her with less then proper Temu manners and it did not look to Dreibrand like Redan had any plans of staying out of trouble that night. With a shrug, Dreibrand stepped out into the street. He knew no one deserved their fun like soldiers. Thinking warmly of Miranda, he anticipated his own pleasures.
The evening was young when he returned to the Taischek’s stronghold, and he went directly to his apartment. He decided he would talk to Shan in the morning about pay for the Yentay.
Now that Dreibrand had digested the reports from his Nuram spies, he did not feel as troubled. He had anticipated such difficulties from the Sabuto, and he knew he could beat the Sabuto. Their tribal domain was large but no larger than some kingdoms the Atrophane had conquered, and all he really needed to do was crush their ability to invade the Temu instead of complete conquest.
As Dreibrand entered the wing to his apartment, a woman rushed down the hall and interrupted his thoughts. He did not recognize her, but by her dress, he could tell that she was one of Queen Vua’s ladies in waiting. At first he assumed the woman had been visiting Miranda, but she blocked his path, which said her purpose was with him.
His good mood dissolved as he sensed that something was wrong.