Fire Priestess [Bainevah Series Book 2]
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by Michelle Levigne
Description: Prophecy said a daughter of the Holy Line would restore the true worship in Bainevah. Naya, daughter of High Priest Chizhedek, was the first daughter born in generations, and her father saw her as fulfillment of prophecy. He sent her to the Sanctum, to serve in the Sacred Marriage and win the heart of King Nebazz. Nothing would stand in the way of Naya becoming First Concubine, then Queen Mother, then the first High Priestess of Matrika in centuries. Nothing but the King's Seer, Shazzur, and a love strong enough to withstand the High Priest's curse, the hatred and magic of Dreva, and even death...
eBook Publisher: Amber Quill Press, 2005
eBookwise Release Date: August 2005
22 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [361 KB]
Reading time: 245-343 min.
Reign of King Doni'Jazzan'Nebazz'
Third Ascent Moon
Naya sat for a long moment, eyes closed against an overwhelming weary dizziness. Where had that come from?
She took deep, slow breaths, and sent her healing sense through her body to check for some sudden illness. Taking ill shouldn't have been a surprise. Her entire way of life had changed in the last three moon quarters, moving from an active life of service in Matrika's temple and the Healers Temple to this sedentary, utterly frivolous life of a Sanctum Bride. With so much change and upheaval, her body had likely rebelled, all its inner balances undone. She only needed a bit of fresh air and sunshine, a chance to walk somewhere besides the Sanctum gardens.
Thank the Mother, the Chief Warder had more common sense than all the Brides put together. He encouraged her to keep her mind and body active, instead of pampering herself and preening all day–and preen for whom? Only eunuchs and other girls would see her for the next two years. She needed something to do with herself while she waited for Matrika to use her.
Something to do. She had found something to do.
Naya stiffened, and moaned as her sore muscles complained. Her fingers felt scorched, as if she had spent an entire day weaving, moving the threads with reckless speed.
Slowly, she opened her eyes.
She knelt in front of her wall loom, which her eunuch warder, Danzak, had assembled for her just last night. Her fingers were red and rough, her palms scraped by the passage of large quantities of threads. Naya tipped back her head and caught her breath.
Her mind said she had only begun to weave. It had taken her half the morning to set up the warp threads and tie all the weights. It was a long, narrow piece, intended as a decorative scarf for Anyiel, who was homesick and refused to ask to be released because it would shame her family.
Naya had prepared soft blue, green, and yellow, but those threads lay unused, tossed into the corner of her room. Scarlet, gold, black, and deep brown filled the weaving. Naya didn't even have that particular shade of brown in her thread basket.
Her eyes felt sticky, itchy dry, as if she had gone for hours without blinking. She rubbed them and struggled to her feet, moving backwards until she almost tripped over her bed.
From this distance, she could see the entire picture.
How had she woven so much? The angle of the light through her small, high window showed it was late afternoon. Yet she had woven a length taller than herself. A task she had anticipated taking at least four afternoons to complete.
"Blessed Three," she whispered. Had Weaver Girl inhabited her body? Had Thread Woman made the threads dance their way into her weaving?
Daughter of the High Priest that she was, Naya knew such things were not impossible. She had entered the Sanctum in answer to dreams and portents that other priests had witnessed. If the Mother and her servants touched her mind, why not her body, as well? How else could she have woven so much, and such an image, without even knowing she did it?
The weaving showed the North Gate of Bainevah. Naya knew that gate well because she had stopped there so many times in the moons since Shazzur left on a mission for the king. North, in the direction her dear friend and teacher had gone. North, facing Bainevah's cruelest enemy, Dreva. Flames flowed from Bainevah's North Gate, doing battle with a wave of darkness that rose up in a solid wall, trying to drown the flame.
Naya shivered, feeling as if the darkness had tried to engulf her, drown her, rather than Bainevah.
How had this happened?
A shimmering chime filtered through the Sanctum, warning that the dinner hour approached. Naya leaped forward and picked up the small, sharp knife to cut her weaving free of the loom. No one must see this weaving. Not yet. Not even Danzak.
Something momentous had come through her. She had been chosen for some purpose. As the daughter of the High Priest, she knew caution was the first order of business. Hadn't she heard her father and Shazzur discuss the histories of others who had been chosen for special service by Mother Matrika? Unwise haste and trusting in the wrong people had sometimes almost doomed the chosen ones before they began their journey.
Naya worked to cut her weaving free, and wished she could find Shazzur to ask his advice. His spying and diplomatic mission for young King Nebazz could take more than a year. Could she wait that long to spill her thoughts and dreams into his waiting ears? And when he returned, she would have to resort to letters, until she was free of the Sanctum.
She laughed in frustration with herself, mocking her own cleverness, and shook her head. Two years of isolation in the Sanctum hadn't seemed that long when she walked through the doors. Shazzur's absence from Bainevah had seemed far longer.
"Mother Matrika, have you sent me here to protect me while I learn to use this gift you have given me?" she whispered.
"Naya?" Her closest friend, Mayar, knocked on the door. "Are you coming to dinner?"
Copyright © 2005 by Michelle L. Levigne