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Fire Dance

Fire Dance

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Published by Nancy Zyongwe
Historical Romance
Historical Romance

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Published by: Nancy Zyongwe on Feb 16, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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04/11/2013

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FIRE DANCE
Delle JacobsPublished at Smashwords by Delle JacobsCopyright 2010 Delle JacobsDiscover other titles by Delle Jacobsathttp://smashwords.comandhttp://dellejacobs.comCover Art by Delle JacobsWylde Wynde Designshttp://wyldewynde.com
Smashwords Edition, License Notes:
This books is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebooks may not be re-sold orgiven away to other people. If you would like to share ths book with another person, pleasepurchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you're reading this book and didnot purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return toSmashwords.com and purchase your own copy.Thank you for respecting the hard work of thus author.1This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of theauthor's imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to persons living or dead or toevents or locales is entirely coincidental.All Rights Reserved.No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any number whatsoever without writtenpermission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.ISBN 978-1-61658-496-2
CHAPTER 1Cumbria, 1092 A.D.
 
The odor of death filled the chamber where Fyren lay, its fragrance like the sweetly rottensmell of carrion. Beads of sweat formed on his brow and in the crust of his unshaven beard. Hisbulky limbs convulsed as he fought to rise, then fell limp. Yet his eyes blazed with a fury somalevolent, Melisande thought she smelled Satan's brimstone.She stood alone in the chamber, for all his allies had fled. Her hands lapped loosely togetherand her face was as bland as she could make it. Even now, she dared not show her fear.Caught in the stiff April wind, the wooden shutter clattered open against the stone wall,startling Melisande from her concentration and whipping pale strands of her hair into her eyes.She crossed to the open window to study the clamor in the bailey below where her unarmedknights stoically awaited their uncertain fate.The Normans had reached the gate.She had not counted on them coming so soon. They were only moments from entering theupper bailey, and moments more from the hall. And still, Fyren lingered.Quashing her fear and setting her face once more to a mask of stone, Melisande returned tothe bedside."The Norman comes, girl?" The words hissed from Fyren's lips."Aye.""He will kill you."All her life he had feasted on her fear while she had fought to withhold it from him. She kepther face rigidly controlled. "Aye.""This is how you repay me. I gave you everything. Taught you things no one else knows."She said nothing, made no move."I am your father. I loved you. Have you no compassion?""Compassion? Nay.""You hate me so much, girl?" His words began to slur. His eyes, once as bright blue as herown, faded as she watched, yet his rage at her audacity had not dimmed."You should confess your sins," she replied."I do not fear God." Fyren fought to eke out the words. "You will not escape me, Melisande.""You are but a man, after all.""You think I die. But I will come for you. You cannot escape."Even now, he threatened her. Yet Fyren’s eyelids sagged and closed. Perhaps it would comenow.But what if he did not die? He was Satan's own, and God would not favor her. That she nowdispatched Fyren to Hell meant only that he would be there awaiting her own arrival. And all hersuffering in this life would be as nothing compared to what he would do to her then. Fear rose inher like gorge. She gulped it back down.A whispered voice came from the doorway. "Lady?"She knew without turning that it belonged to Thomas, by its tone of urgency as much as byits gentle timbre."I am here, Thomas.""Is he gone, then?""Soon.""You must hurry, lady," he said, rushing to the window to peer at the commotion below."The Normans are already within the gate.""Aye, Thomas. Soon." She bit her cheek to control her impatience, knowing his anxiety to beas intense as hers, but first she must see this finished. It was her doing. All of it.
 
Once again, Fyren’s fading blue eyes popped open. "A last thing, girl. The purple. As ashroud."Her lips drew bowstring-tight, like the foreboding that twanged within her. "Aye. 'Tisfitting."Melisande crossed the chamber to a small, heavily carved chest that had once been areliquary for the bones of some long-forgotten saint. Now it held only the purple cloak, asacrilege in itself. She lifted the cloak carefully, not wanting to touch the detested thing, andsmoothed it over Fyren's body. A shame, that such a beautiful garment could be such a maliciousweapon.Fyren's breath came in shallow pants. His body lay stiff and motionless. His eyes droopedclosed, then his breathing ceased. The stillness of death filled the chamber."Is he gone?" Thomas called impatiently. "The Normans approach the hall. You cannot delaylonger.""Come and see."Thomas approached the bed and lifted the limp wrist, testing the pulse. "Aye, he's gone.Come now, hurry."Dashing to the chamber door, he peered down at the hall. The clangs of metal and roughmale voices resonated against the stone walls."It is too late, lady. They are below. Perhaps they will not be so harsh. Who could blameyou--""The Normans could. For all their violence, they are pious men. Never fear, Thomas. Thereis another way out, if you will delay them a little. You will do as I ask?""Aye, lady. And I will see to the earl."Melisande turned toward the door, but then pivoted back to face Thomas. "Bury him deep,"she said.Thomas's pale grey eyes reflected his concern and gentle fondness of her. "As deeply asshovel can dig. God keep you safe, lady.""And you, Thomas. Keep our people safe."It was as much of a smile as Melisande ever made, that small quirking of her lips at theircorners, but she gave him the best she could manage. She had learned early in her life to stifle allsigns of emotion, so that she now knew no other way.Her light slippers padded against the wooden floor as she ran to the door between thechambers and into her own room.Rough shouts echoed in the bailey.The demons screamed at her.
 Flee! The Norman comes!
She set her jaw, refusing to let panic rule her.
You are evil! You are no better than Fyren!
Be still. I have no time for your mischief.
Witch!
I am no witch.But the Normans would believe it. When the Norman lord learned of the demons thattormented her, taunting her with her own fears, and of all the things she knew that she shouldnot, he would have her burned.Even before she crossed her chamber, she jerked her silk kirtle over her head. Snatching up asimpler garment of homespun earthen grey wool, she flinched at its scratchiness. But she dared

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