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In this scene from Bringer of Chaos, Pietas completes a personal and powerful ritual with his sister, Dessy.
Little remained of his heart
Dessy twirled the dagger. “You should let our people know you still do this ceremony, Pietas. They’d be impressed by your devotion.”
“I don’t do it to impress anyone. I do it to ready myself for– Stop!” She had been sliding one fingertip along the edge of the dagger. He removed it from her grasp, and examined the blade.
“Honestly, Pietas! I was just testing the sharpness.”
“I didn’t want you to cut yourself.”
“I’m as adept with blades as you. More so, if you ask me.”
“Not the point, Dessy. If you’d cut yourself, I’d have to consecrate it again. It can only have my blood or my enemy’s.”
“You think I’m witless? As if I haven’t performed this ceremony with you a hundred times. And here I thought you were concerned for my well-being.”
“Stop playing. I told you, I’m busy.”
She let out a harsh sigh. “Fine. Let’s complete the ritual.”
Dagger in hand, Pietas unfastened the clip in his hair, and let it fall. The wet tail slapped the middle of his back. He tossed the clip aside, placed the dagger on his palms, and offered it.
She poised her hand above it. “Who offers this weapon?”
“First Conqueror, War Leader of the Ultras.”
She took it from him. “For whom are you willing to suffer?”
“I suffer for my people.” Pietas turned his cheek.
Dessy slid the knife tip along his face, from cheekbone to chin, drawing a thin trail of blood. “For whom do you bleed?”
“I bleed for my people.” By the time the first drop of blood had risen, the cut had healed, leaving no scar.
“What sacrifice do you offer as proof of devotion?”
He went to his knees, and lowered his head. Here was the true reason he no longer performed this ritual before his people. Pietas abased himself before no one.
Except the one woman who held the tattered remnants of his trust, and what little remained of his heart.
“I surrender my pride.”
His sister went behind him, and gathered his hair in her fist. Using the razor-sharp blade, she sawed through the wet tail. She crossed to the table, and moved the hide back in place.
Pietas picked up the pants as he stood, and slipped them on. He ruffled his fingers through his hair. It hung around his jaw line.
Dessy brushed it back from his face, and thumbed away a smear of blood.
He clasped her wrist. “Take it out of your pocket.”
“Whatever it is you took.”
He tightened his grip, and she grimaced. “Take it out of your pocket.”
“Let me go.” She glared in defiance, the ice in her emotions fierce as a blizzard.
He released her, and the room warmed. He held out his hand.
Dessy reached into a pocket and withdrew his tail of hair. “I’m not giving it back.”
“It’s mine. I intend to burn it.”
“I know. That’s why I took it.”
He tried to snatch it from her.
She slipped out of reach. “It’s mine now, and I want it.”
He regarded her a long moment. “I see. You want my DNA because you think I’ll be defeated.”
“Can you imagine Father’s face if told him I wanted to recreate you? He’d sooner burn his lab to the ground.”
Those words bit his pride, but the truth of her emotions, her love for him, assuaged it. He motioned for her to give it to him. “Now, Dess.”
She stuffed it back in her pocket. “I have nothing of yours, and I’ve always loved your hair. Let me keep it.” She added, “Please.”
The last time she’d said that word to him, they were sixteen. His decision to comply had cost him his relationship with his father, and ruined what he’d had with her. She had never said please again. Not to him. That ought to be warning enough. But back then, he’d still had a heart that could break.
It wasn’t breakable any more.
“It’s hair. Not important.” He set a fist over his heart, and bowed.
Smiling, she pressed her palms together and put her hands before her mouth. “Thank you. Now, are you ready for the peace talks?”
“No.” He squared his shoulders. “I’m ready for war.”
Bringer of Chaos: Origin of Pietas by Kayelle Allen
Exiled to a barren world, the immortal king Pietas must learn to humble himself and ask for help–politely. Without assistance, he might spend an eternity alone, never finding the people he has already died over a thousand times to save.
The problem is, the only source of aid is a human, the very one who caused his exile in the first place.
Immortal. Warrior. Outcast. Traitors took everything. Except his honor.
Free on KindleUnlimited https://books2read.com/u/4DovO7
Kayelle Allen writes Sci Fi with misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, role playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She’s a US Navy veteran and has been married so long she’s tenured.