Home > Valley of Silence (Circle Trilogy #3)(14)

Valley of Silence (Circle Trilogy #3)(14)
Author: Nora Roberts

She would have bartered two days’ food, or two nights’ sleep, for a single hour alone with her books. Selfish, she told herself as she hurried away from the noise, the people, the questions. Selfish to wish for her own comfort when so much was at stake.

But while she wouldn’t indulge herself with books in some sunny corner, she would take the time to make this visit.

On this day she was made queen, she wanted, and she needed, her mother. So hiking up her skirts, she went as fast as she was able down the hill, then through the little gap in the stone wall that bordered the graveyard.

Almost instantly she felt quieter of heart.

She went first to the stone she’d ordered carved and set when she’d returned to Geall. She’d set one herself for King in Ireland, in the graveyard of Cian and Hoyt’s ancestors. But she’d vowed to have one done here, in honor of a friend.

After laying a handful of flowers on the ground, she stood and read the words she’d ordered carved in the polished stone.

King

This brave warrior lies not here

but in a faraway land.

He gave his life for Geall,

and all humankind.

“I hope you would like it, the stone and the words. It seems so long ago since I saw you. It all seems so long, and still hardly more than a hand clap. I’m sorry to tell you Cian was hurt today, for my sake. But he’s doing well enough. Last night we spoke almost as friends, Cian and I. And today, well, not altogether friendly. It’s hard to know.”

She laid a hand on the stone. “I’m queen now. That’s hard to know as well. I hope you don’t mind I put this monument here, where my family lies. For to me, that’s what you were for the short time we had. You were family. I hope you’re resting now.”

She stepped away, then hurriedly back again. “Oh, I meant to say, I’m keeping my left up, as you taught me.” By his grave she lifted her arms in a boxing stance. “So, for all the times I don’t get a fist in my face, thank you.”

With the rest of the flowers in the crook of her arm, she picked her way through the long grass, the stones, to the graves of her parents.

She laid flowers at the base of her father’s stone. “Sir. I hardly remember you, and I think the memories—most of them—that I have are ones mother passed to me. She loved you so, and would speak of you often. I know you were a good man, for she wouldn’t have loved you otherwise. And all who speak of you say you were strong and kind, and quick to laugh. I wish I could remember the sound of that, of your laugh.”

She looked over the stones now, to the hills, the distant mountains. “I’ve learned you didn’t die as we always thought, but were murdered. You and your young brother. Murdered by the demons who are even now in Geall, preparing for war. I’m all that’s left of you, and I hope it’s enough.”

She knelt now, between the graves, to lay the rest of the flowers over her mother. “I miss you, every day. I had to go far away, as you know, to come back stronger. Mathair.”

She closed her eyes on the word, and on the image it brought to her, clear as life.

“I didn’t stop what was done to you, and still I see that night as if behind a mist. Those that killed you have been punished, one by my own hand. It was all I could do for you. All I can do is fight, and lead my people to fight. Some of them to their death. I wear the sword and the crown of Geall. I will not diminish it.”

She sat awhile, with just the sound of the breeze through the tall grass and the shifting lights of the sun.

When she rose, turned toward the castle, she saw the goddess Morrigan standing at the stone wall.

The god wore blue today, soft and pale and trimmed in deeper tones. The fire of her hair was unbound to lay flaming over her shoulders.

Her hands empty of flowers, her heart heavy, Moira walked through the grass to meet her.

“My lady.”

“Majesty.”

Puzzled by Morrigan’s bow, Moira clasped her hands together to keep them still. “Do gods acknowledge queens?”

“Of course. We made this place and deemed those of your blood would rule and serve it. We’re pleased with you. Daughter.” Laying her hands lightly on Moira’s shoulders, she kissed both her cheeks. “Our blessings on you.”

“I would rather you bless my people, and keep them safe.”

“That is for you. The sword is out of its scabbard. Even when it was forged, it was known that one day it would sing in battle. That, too, is for you.”

“She’s already spilled Geallian blood.”

Morrigan’s eyes were as deep and calm as a lake. “My child, the blood Lilith has spilled would make an ocean.”

“And my parents are only drops in that sea?”

“Every drop is precious, and every drop serves a purpose. Do you lift the sword only for your own blood?”

“No.” Shifting, Moira gestured. “There’s another stone here, standing for a friend. I lift the sword for him and his world, and for all the worlds. We’re all a part of each other.”

“Knowing this is important. Knowledge is a great gift, and the thirst to seek it even greater. Use what you know, and she will never defeat you. Head and heart, Moira. You are not made to give greater weight to one than the other. Your sword will flame, I promise you, and your crown will shine. But what you hold inside your head and your heart is the true power.”

“It seems they’re full of fear.”

“There’s no courage without fear. Trust and know. And keep your sword at your side. It’s your death she wants most.”

“Mine? Why?”

“She doesn’t know. Knowledge is your power.”

“My lady,” Moira began, but the god was gone.

T he feast required yet another gown and another hour of being fussed over. With so much on her hands, she’d left the matter of wardrobe to her aunt, and was pleased to find the gown beautiful and the watery blue color flattering. She enjoyed pretty gowns and taking a bit of time to look her best.

But it seemed she was being laced into a new one every time she turned around, and subjected to the chirping and buzzing of her women half the day.

She could admit she missed the freedom of the jeans and roomy shirts she’d worn in Ireland. Beginning the next day, however it shocked the women, she would dress as best suited a warrior preparing for battle.

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