Chapter 1 - Part 3 of Sword of a Saint by Katy Colby
Webmistress's Drawing of a Sculpture.  Artist Unknown.
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Sword of a Saint



Chapter 1 - Part 3


Michael Cameron heard the bar slide back, but distantly. He knelt by his sister's cooling body and struggled to hold the tears at bay. He had tried to keep her alive. Done all he could. Before their mother died it had not been so bad. They had occasionally seen their father, a healer in service to the house of Sinclair.

His father would have known what to do for Jhenna. Surely his father could have Healed the fever that raged through her fragile body until she could not even eat the food Michael managed to steal from the kitchens. Their captors fed them too, of course, but the dry bread and thin soup they were brought twice each day was barely enough to dim the hunger pangs.

Michael cursed himself for his lack of skills. He had tried his own talents at Healing his sister, but to no avail. He had finished only his first year at Saint Torin's Schola before he'd been called home and locked away in this tower cell.

The door opened, hinges creaking in the cold. Michael looked up and then rose warily as their master entered.

Lord Hugh Sinclair, nephew of the Earl of Tarleton, lifted his thin nose and regarded Michael with an expression of pure disgust.

Michael glared back at the tall man. Hate boiled up within him like a living thing and threatened to burst forth. Briefly he considered blasting Lord Sinclair into infinity. He knew trained Deryni could turn their powers to violence, but he'd never been taught how to do it.

He slipped his hand through a tear in the seam of his tunic and felt the dagger he'd shoved into his belt. Now here was something he could understand, and something he knew how to use. Let Lord Sinclair come within reach this night.

"I am sorry, boy." Lord Sinclair flexed the long fingers of one hand in a manner that suggested he was not sorry at all. "Now that your sister is dead I cannot spare the men necessary to guard you. You have proven yourself troublesome to us."

Michael lifted his chin and threw back his shoulders. "You can't do anything to me. If you do you'll never hold back my father."

Lord Sinclair chuckled. "Boy, your dear father does not even know your mother is dead. He's fast losing his usefulness in any case. I thought we'd have one more game before I do what must be done. You'll enjoy that, won't you?"

Lord Sinclair held out one elegant hand. One of his men handed him a thin steel blade. Even had Michael not seen it he could sense the merasha on the knife tip. He'd been drugged with the horrible stuff too many times not to know what it looked like.

"You have been most gratifying, you know. That should please you." Lord Sinclair allowed the watery daylight coming through the window to trace the blade of the knife he held. "You have helped me prove the effectiveness of methods I use to question captives. It's good that you are so resistant to pain. I am reassured to know what works and what doesn't before anything more than entertainment value rests on the outcome."A breath of icy air brushed the back of Michael's neck. The window was but steps behind him. If he reached it, he might be able to escape. It would be a race, but at least it was a chance.

Now that it came to the moment, his courage failed him. He could kill Sinclair, but he knew he would surely die in the attempt. He did not want to die. Not when he knew escape was readily at hand.

Michael waited until Sinclair reached for his shoulder, then with a quickness he'd practiced in the dark hours of the night he drew the stolen dagger and lunged at his captor. The tip of his blade left a bloody trail across Lord Sinclair's right eye and down his cheek. Sinclair jumped back and clapped a hand over his eye. He howled as blood seeped between his fingers.

Michael leapt onto the window ledge. The window was barred, but he was skinny and wiry. It took a short second to squeeze between the bars.

Lord Sinclair lunged forward and managed to seize the hem of Michael's tunic. "Damned Devil-handed brat!"

Michael shoved himself backward. The thin fabric tore with a sound that seemed to echo in the still air. He fell, arms flailing, the stone courtyard rushing up to meet him. Then his hand caught a stout branch of ivy. With more strength than he believed he possessed, he swung himself against the wall, scrambled to a hollow he knew and pressed against the cold stone.

It was an old window, long bricked over. The ivy had covered it until there was just space for a slim boy to burrow beneath the thick green vines. He'd hidden there many times. Above him he heard his captors shouting, furious at his escape. They would search the courtyard, but they would not find him. The fools never thought to examine the walls. He knew he should be cold, but he was not. Not terribly, at least. No more uncomfortable than he had been in his cell. Michael could be very patient when he needed to. He waited for darkness.





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