This excerpt from Savage Storm: Rys Rising Book I lets you see into the character of Demeda. Born a princess of the Sabar'Uto Tribe, she goes onto betray her people. She does it for the love of two things: Amar the Overlord of the Kez and the power he can give her. She consents to anything he asks because she must remain important to him. Her power arises from being part of his entourage.
Her choices take her far. She will become the Handmaiden of the Goddess and travel to the other side of her world in the holy war that is to come.
In this excerpt from the novel, the rys Onja has used her magic power to conquer the Sabar'Uto capital. Her faithful warriors have taken control in the name of spreading the worship of her. They intend now to celebrate their success.
Amar leads Demeda into the newly seized palace of her family...
Upon entering the middle ring of the palace, Demeda quickly noted the disorder of recent sacking. Tapestries were torn or missing, shelves that had displayed art were empty, and the occasional gouge or scrape of a weapon was apparent on woodwork or a chipped fresco. Most of the damage was superficial and it was still the same beautiful palace built by master craftsmen, but Demeda had never been able to travel through the men’s circle so openly before. She had either been rushed through with her face covered or she had been sneaking about. But now her face was uncovered, her black hair flowing free, and she felt for the first time that the place actually belonged to her. She had just looked into the eyes of Onja’s supreme power, and Demeda gushed with confidence. She strutted boldly next to Amar and reveled in her sense of possession. She was royal born and this was her house, and for the first time, she could walk its halls freely.
Never had she mounted the steps of the grand lobby outside the throne room. As she walked, she looked up and often turned in circles as she admired the high windows full of light and the painted ceilings.
Amar took her into a banquet hall where no female of her family had ever eaten. She noticed that the crowd behind Amar had thinned to his closest warriors. Worried about Luci, Demeda asked Amar if he would assign lodging to her companions, and he dispatched a man to see to it.
In the banquet hall, a broad table draped with yellow cloths was surrounded by ornately carved chairs gleaming with gold leaf. This room was used for morning meals of State and was situated so that morning sun streamed through the glass windows near the high ceiling. Three fireplaces blazed and sculptures lined the walls. Demeda recognized a bust of her father that was knocked over in a corner.
Amar hopped onto the table and strode its length. He laughed and asked his warriors if they were hungry for breakfast. They cheered and piled into the chairs and shouted for the servants.
As Amar approached the head of the table he beckoned Demeda. When she came to the edge of the table he grabbed her and pulled her up. She laughed a little deliriously as he spun her around to show her off to his men. She recognized them all. Kym, Vame, Cybar, and all the warriors who served the lieutenants closely along with Urlen, who always looked out of place.
“Dance for us, Demeda,” Amar said.
Demeda stopped laughing. She glanced down the table and the Kezanada men looked back at her with lascivious twinkles in their eyes. She blushed with fear.
Amar removed her cloak and lifted her shoulder bag away. He tossed them onto a chair and gestured for her to perform. The other men shouted encouragement, but she cringed with uncertainty. It was ingrained in her that such a display would be degrading, yet the new experience tempted her outlaw heart. And she guessed that it would please Amar to see the daughter of the vanquished Sabar’Uto King perform. Demeda even conceived of it as a mighty revenge upon her father, but she was not just any female plaything.
Looking Amar in the eyes, she said, “There’s no music.”
Very slowly Amar smiled, in admiration of her little defiance. “A dancer does need music,” he granted and then jumped off the table. He scooped Demeda down into his arms and slouched into a chair at the head of the table with her on his lap. Servants were coming in with pitchers of water and wine and trays of sweet breads, cheese, and dried fruit. Amar hollered for them to fetch musicians and dancers and pulled Demeda close. He liked her small frame, perky breasts, and delicate natural scent free of Loxane’s enticing potions. He touched her face and ran a hand through her long hair, but he did not kiss her. He moved her into her own chair and poured himself a cup of water.
Warmed by his teasing embrace, Demeda looked down the table at the rough crew of Kezanada tearing into the food and drink. She knew that she should feel outraged about the plundering of her family’s wealth, but none of it had been her birthright and she honestly was amused. This unthinkable transformation was the work of Onja, and Demeda smirked as she beheld the crazy work of her Goddess. Demeda poured herself a goblet of wine to brace herself for the licentious abandon that she felt coming on.
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