Bride of the Condor [Bride of the Condor Series Book 3]
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by Terry White
Category: Science Fiction
Description: Join the last priestess, Qwana, on her journey as she leads a group of refugees away from the bloody city of sun worshippers to a place of safety high in the Andes. Will she escape the high priest's wrath and be accepted in a place where she can live out her days in peace?
eBook Publisher: ebooksonthe.net/ebooksonthe.net, 2008 ebook
eBookwise Release Date: May 2008
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [187 KB]
Reading time: 122-171 min.
Qwana, the last priestess to the Moon Goddess, has fled her home city of Loa with her sister priestesses after a bloody battle between the warrior priests of her world and a group of travelers from another world who arrived in a space ship on the Nazca Plain. In addition to her elder sisters, she brings with her the temple courtesan Lalan and a small child she rescued from certain death in the wilderness some time before.
Qwana's home city of Loa lay on the Nasca Plain, where mysterious signals were inscribed on the plain to offer direction to the gods who lived high above the Earth. Shortly after her induction as the last priestess of the Goddess, a falling star crashed into the plain.
Qwana's enemy, the High Priest Xil'pu, ordered the young priestess to go out onto the desert to see if she could learn the cause of the disturbance. Historically, fallen stars were accompanied by poisonous gasses that killed the priests sent to examine them. The High Priest also ordered the other two remaining priestesses named A'ruz and Mix'la to go with the young woman, hoping they all would perish or become lost in the frigid night. Perhaps, if he was lucky, a marauding jaguar might take their lives. Possibilities abounded and it gave the old priest much pleasure to dream the details of the young woman's death.
Xil'pu hoped that the women of the temple of the Goddess would not survive a night on the plain, and he plotted the victory they would celebrate when they failed to return.
The plain was cold and dark, and instead of subjecting her older sisters to a hard march, Qwana went on alone to explore the glowing object that lit up the night for miles around. After a long journey through the darkened plain, she crept up to the place where the star had fallen, and instead of a super-heated rock, she found a ship from another world. Just as she was about to return to the two older women and the city, she was discovered by the creatures that had fallen to and taken inside the starship.
Rowlland of Deesa had heard of Earth from his father, who had visited the beautiful world a thousand Earth years before. One look at Qwana told him that he had found his true mate.
After a night spent in a great struggle to communicate with the beautiful young woman, Rowlland insisted on escorting the young priestess back to the city--even though Qwana made it clear that she could not have anything to do with the handsome commander of the ship from another world. She was a priestess to The Goddess and could have nothing to do with a man--even if he did come from another world.
Once the party reached Loa, Rowlland had time to explore the place as Qwana reported her findings to the High Priest. Xil'pu offered a scant welcome to the star travelers and held a celebration complete with human sacrifice to honor their visit. The High Priest, however, was not happy with Qwana, nor his army of men she brought back to the city.
Xil'pu had hoped Qwana would die on the plain, a meal for the vicious cats of the desert, but he did not know Qwana was protected by the jaguar, one of her power animals that kept her safe and guided her power in her journey through life. No cat would touch a person protected by a jaguar spirit.
Qwana and Rowlland spent much time together that night, learning about one another and their worlds. Eventually Rowlland understood that his father had not only visited Earth, but had seen how badly Earth's children had behaved and attempted to change the shocking customs that embraced unnatural sexuality and human sacrifice.
Rowlland's father had given the children of Earth new rules to live by and had installed his woman, the beautiful Crst'al as the arbitrator of his laws. Crst'al became the living embodiment of the Goddess and a temple was created in her honor--the same temple Qwana served hundreds of years later. The secret name of The Goddess was Crst'al. No one had spoken the name for centuries.
Star travel, however took hundreds of Earth years to accomplish and many generations had lived and died on Earth before Rowlland returned to the world his father had loved. He took in the harsh religion of the Sun worshippers and tried to soothe Qwana's misgivings that the Goddess would fail and that the gentle moon would no longer rule The People.
As his father's son Rowlland believed in a gentle spirit that existed to oversee the lives of men. He could not understand a world where blood sacrifice was considered no more important than breaking an egg for a morning meal.
Rowlland watched, disgusted and revolted, the High Priest's bloody rituals saw virgin girls ravished and young men led to their death upon the altar of the Sun. Rowlland saw the hearts of the High Priest's victims fed to the populace as a vile and ungodly sacrament. Angry beyond words, Rowlland used weapons unknown on Earth to take the members of priesthood of the Sun and imprison them in their own dungeon.
Unknown to Rowlland, who spent as much time as he could with Qwana, to the amusement and concern of the older priestesses, the High Priest Xil'pu sent to a city far across the plain for an army of warrior priests to come to his aid. The High Priest Xepsse of Ica led army of warrior priests from his city to aid Xil'pu. Encouraged by the defeat of the High Priest Xil'pu, the people of Loa returned to the temple of the Moon to worship the gentle Goddess once more.
The High Priest lost no time in bewailing his imprisonment, but used his evil magic even from his dungeon cell in the temple of the sun, and rejoiced as the city water supply slowly dried up, leaving the city in a state of siege. Soon the people of Loa discovered the cistern was no longer filled from the underground system that fed the city's water supply. Panicked, they came to the temple of the moon to petition the Goddess to come to their aid and return the water they needed for their day-to-day survival.
Rowlland ordered all but a few of his men to come to his aid in the city and Qwana gathered her friend Lalan and a small child she had found in the forest close to her in the temple of the Goddess and secreted them in the temple kitchen. Terrified at the thought of war, Qwana feared she and her loved ones would perish if she did not do everything she could to protect them from the unrest in the city and the High Priest's revenge.
A'ruz, the eldest of the priestesses, went into a trance and saw a strange thing, rain falling on the city of Loa, where no rain was known to fall. No one quite believed the old woman, but Rowlland had already taken matters into his own hand. Contacting his ship, he commanded his men to salt passing clouds with chemicals to cause rain to fall. Only rainfall would save the city, and he did this to help the woman he adored.
Qwana, fearing for their lives, told the others to prepare for a journey, and when it became clear the visitors from the stars would be taken prisoner, A'ruz told them of a passage built by the Ancients that went all the way to the foothills of the Andes.
Rowlland, occupied with the battle, urged Qwana and the others to escape while they could. Forcing her to leave, despite her protests, Rowlland told Qwana of his love, forbidden though it was, and promised he would meet her after battle's end.