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In a Wolf's Eyes (The Saga of the Black Wolf, #1)

Author(s): A. Katie Rose

Raine is a slave, a gladiator. Known as the Bloody Wolf, he is the champion of all champions in the Empire of Khalid. Ly’Tana is a warrior princess of Kel’Halla and is set to wed the heir to Khalid’s throne, Crown Prince Broughton. When Raine and his new wizard pal, Rygel, accidentally murder the High King, they set in motion events which rapidly spiral out of control. Ly’Tana discovers the true, and violent, nature of her betrothed, a man nicknamed Prince Brutal for his vicious nature, and escapes her marriage.
 
Brutal will stop at nothing to have her for his wife. To entice his runaway bride into a trap, he brings down and captures her griffin bodyguard, Bar. Ly’Tana vows to have Bar back or die trying, and seeks the help of Raine and Rygel, to free Bar from Brutal’s clutches. In doing so, Raine and Ly’Tana are forced to flee for their lives, hunted by Brutal’s secretive assassins.
 
Can they escape the hunters and their silent, evil hounds? Can Ly’Tana evade Brutal’s hungry need to marry her and seize her beloved country? Can Raine keep Ly’Tana alive and still save himself from capture and torture? Can they stop themselves from falling in love?
 
Thus begins the first novel of The Saga of the Black Wolf series.

Excerpt


 I stood vigil over my friend.
 
We had arrived at the abandoned and empty Monastery of Jefe early in the evening after riding hell-bent for leather through the city streets. On through the palace gates, the gate guards far too busy controlling the riots in the streets to shut them before we galloped past. We joined the multitudes fleeing the fighting, the riots, the fires, leaving the choked Federal road to travel fast across the rural countryside.
 
I doubted Brutal could organize a chase so quickly, given his injuries, his father’s death and his brothers’ rebellion. While we needed to ride, hard and fast, for the border, I felt we also must honor the fallen. We must send Sele on her journey to Nephrotiti in proper fashion. I ordered a night’s rest at the monastery, then we would ride for the border immediately after Sele’s funeral. 
 
Witraz set Sele down gently, almost tenderly, on a pallet hastily put down next to the hearth in the central hall. I washed and dressed her, combing her long dark hair and arranging it about her slender shoulders, making her as fair in death as she was in life. I paid no heed to the subdued activities around the hall, scarcely noticed when someone built a fire next to her. Tears streamed in a steady flow down my face.
 
My task completed, I took my sword and set it before me, bared, and watched over her through the night. I did not command anyone to watch with me, but Witraz took his unsheathed sword and stood next to me, silent. Alun took his place near her head, his blade also in his hands, his dark face and jade eyes as unmoving as though chiseled from granite. Kel’Ratan took a stance near her feet, his head unbowed, his blue eyes as fierce as ever. If I occasionally caught from the tail of my eye his thick mustache quivering, what was I to say?
 
I doubt anyone slept that night. I let my eyes wander over her pretty, well-loved face lit by the hearth fire while my mind wandered back over the years. Sele and I grew up together, under the watchful eyes of Kel’Ratan and my father, King Gareth. Witraz, too, a few years older, along with Alun and Kael, joined us in our quest for trouble and adulthood. Regarding them as the siblings I never had, we rode, fished, fought, trained, hunted and learned as under one mind, one spirit. All five of us, young hotheads, as spirited as our horses and yet naught but giggling apprentices to the Kel’Hallan warrior society. We earned our swords together, shed blood for each other, cried, laughed, danced, quarreled and exulted in the hot fires of youth. 
 
Sele at age eight, ever the romantic, set her sights on marrying Alun one day. As the object of her hunt for a husband, Alun found the prospect horrifying as a young adolescent. As a teenager, he concluded that girls were rather interesting creatures. I caught them kissing behind my father’s stable one autumn afternoon. Alun was sixteen, Sele fourteen. I never confessed to having witnessed this, and watched their love grow over the years. I suspected they waited for me to marry before asking my father for his blessing on their union.
 
Throughout the ride to the monastery, Alun rode silent, never speaking, his expression a mask of stern neutrality. Several warriors, including Witraz, Rannon, Kel’Ratan and I, tried to speak to him. He neither looked up, nor spoke. My heart worried over him at the same time it grieved for Sele. I loved her as the sister I never had, but Alun would have married her, fathered her children. Now she was gone and we both remained behind to mourn her loss. Lady’s blood, of all the things to happen, this was the very worst.
 
Damn you, Sele! I wanted to scream. You knew better! You knew better! How could you leave me like this? Damn you! More tears flowed free down my cheeks, unchecked.
 
I not only grieved for my sister, my friend, but also mourned the loss of the happy future Sele and Alun might have had. I mourned their unborn children, the children I would have sponsored.
 
It was the longest night of my life.
 
Come dawn, I walked slowly out of the hall’s doors, leading the somber procession. I held my sword erect in front of my face, my steps measured and slow. Alun, Witraz, Kel’Ratan, Rannon, Left and Right carried her bier. The rest of the warriors followed behind, their bared swords also in their hands and carried before their solemn faces. 
 
Well away from the monastery, in the high grass of the mountain meadow, her funeral pyre stood waiting. As her pallbearers lifted her onto it, the warriors gathered in a tight circle around her.
 
Her weapons would go to a new warrior apprentice, a youngster who would recite her legacy in the Great Hall before my father’s throne. He, or she, would swear an oath to fulfill our code of honor, Kel’Atanya’WA, the code of the Horse People. The code Sele lived and died by. The codes we all lived by, Kel’Atanya’WA, the Way of the Warrior. 
 
I, the heir to the throne of Kel’Halla and leader of my small band, intoned prayers to the Lady, the sacred warrior goddess of our land, Nephrotiti.
 
“Holy Mother,” I prayed aloud, “receive our prayers.”
 
“Holy Mother, receive our prayers,” the group intoned.
 
“Sacred Lady, hear us.”
 
“Sacred Lady, hear us.”
 
Kel’Ratan, in the position of Second, lit the fires of Sele’s funeral bier. I chanted, raising my hands to the sky.
 
“Our sister has left us, Most Holy Lady of the Stars.”
 
“Sacred Lady, hear us.”
 
“A warrior true, she died with her sword in hand.”
 
“Sacred Lady, hear us.”
 
“She died with honor. She died with loyalty in her heart.”
 
“Sacred Lady, hear us.”
 
“Our warrior sister, Sele of Brava, lived and died under Kel’Atanya’WA. Our code of the warrior. Your code of the warrior.”
 
“Sacred Lady, hear us.”
 
The conflagration grew, the heat searing. Under the holy fires, Sele’s body crisped, blackened and began to burn. I stood fast, tears from both the heat and grief stung my eyes. I smelled her, the thick oily scent of burning meat.

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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 9781611873177
Genre: Fantasy
Date Published: 04/26/2012
Publisher: Untreed Reads

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