Chapter 1 - Part 1 of Sword of a Saint by Katy Colby
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Sword of a Saint



Chapter 1 - Part 1



Tarleton, February 917

"See the pretty ivy, Micha?"

Michael Cameron bent over the pallet in the small tower room he shared with his sister. Her eyes were glazed, her skin translucent and stretched tight over the fine bones of her face. His heart twisted in his chest, for even at fourteen he knew the death angel hovered close.

He closed her fragile hand in both of his. "I see the ivy, Jhenna." He reached inside his threadbare tunic and pulled out the treasure he had concealed there half an hour earlier. "Look what I brought you. Apple tarts, Jhenna. Try and eat one."

Jhenna's pale lips twitched in what might have been a smile. "I'm not hungry, Micha. Can you get some ivy?" Her voice trailed off. When she spoke again it was as if she were moving far away. "Mama always had ivy at Michaelmas."

Michael shook his head. "I'll bring you some ivy if you want. But you have to eat something for me. How will you get well if you don't eat?"

"You must not steal from them, Micha. It's wrong. And you know you will get into trouble some day."

"They're too fat and lazy to catch me." Michael laid the tarts, still warm from the hearth, on Jhenna's chest. "Remember the goose I brought you? The sugared nuts from the market? This summer you'll be big enough to climb down the wall yourself. We will get out of here, Jhenna. I've got a plan."

His sister's eyes closed and her breathing eased. Michael blinked back tears. He could not cry. At fourteen he was too old for such things.

He continued talking as if saying the words would make them happen. "We'll have to travel at night, I know that. But Father has kin in Tolan. We can go there. Surely they will not turn us out. You'll finally have that pony, Jhenna. And all the pretty dresses you want. And I can become a knight, with none to tell me otherwise."

Jhenna sighed. "Micha, you know Papa does not want you fighting. Healers don't fight, and you're a healer."

"Father won't have anything to say about it once we're in Tolan." Michael brushed a few locks of lank hair off her forehead. The heat beneath her skin frightened him.

He should wash her hair again. There was enough soap left, hidden behind his pallet. He'd hesitated last night, because washing meant heating the bucket of water they were given to drink and the guards would not give them more. Water was far harder to carry up the wall than food.

Perhaps he would steal a bottle or two of good wine. Then they could drink that instead of water and he would wash Jhenna's hair for her.

He forced himself to smile as he stroked her hair. The fever that was stealing her life burned against his hand. "If I'm to be a Healer then you must listen to me, little sister. Go to sleep if you won't eat now. The tarts will wait and you need to rest."

Jhenna's pale lips lifted in a shadow of a smile. "I can't rest now, Micha. The man in the dark cloak says I have to go with him." She turned her head and looked toward the window. "He says you're coming too."

At the far end of the small chamber, near the narrow barred window, two tall men stood unseen. One, a thin, dark figure shrouded in a dark cloak, opened his arms to the small girl.

His companion caught his arm and shoved him back. "What do you think you do here, Uriel?"

The dark angel regarded his more powerful companion with a sad smile. "Trying to interfere are you, Michael? I have a duty, and well you know it. The children come to me this night. Their mother awaits them."

"The girl perhaps, the boy is mine." The Archangel Michael flexed his powerful shoulders, the leather gambeson he wore beneath shining chain mail stretching over the defined muscles of his chest and arms. "I have known that one from his mother's womb. I marked him for my own. He will survive."

"I am sorry, my friend, but he will not. He is too impetuous and that has cost him his fate." Uriel opened his arms as the small, shadowy spirit of Jhenna Cameron ran toward him with an energy her six year old legs had not known in the last months of life. He enfolded her in his dark cloak. "Another few minutes and we'll all go to your mother, child. You'll like that, won't you?"

As Jhenna nodded eagerly, Uriel pointed to the door. The unmistakable sound of a heavy wooden bar sliding back echoed loud in the still room. "His fate comes now."





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