Home > Valley of Silence (Circle Trilogy #3)(9)

Valley of Silence (Circle Trilogy #3)(9)
Author: Nora Roberts

The crowd cheered and called her name, with the cheers rising to a roar when she lifted the sword. It was also a deliberate gesture for her to pass that sword to Blair to hold for her while she spoke. The people should see that the woman Larkin was betrothed to was worthy to hold it.

“People of Geall!” She shouted it, but the cheering continued. It came in waves that didn’t ebb until she stepped closer to the stone rail and raised her hands.

“People of Geall, I come to you as queen, as citizen, as protector. I stand before you as did my mother, as did her sire, and as did all those back to the first days. And I stand as part of a circle chosen by the gods. Not just a circle of Geallian rulers, but a circle of warriors.”

Now she spread her arms to encompass the five who stood with her. “With these who stand with me, that circle is formed. These are my most trusted and beloved. As a citizen, I ask you give them your loyalty, your trust, your respect as you do me. As your queen, I command it.”

She had to pause every few moments until the shouts and cheers abated again. “Today, the sun shines on Geall. But it will not always be so. What is coming seeks the dark, and we will meet it. We will defeat it. Today, we celebrate, we feast, we give thanks. Come the morrow, we continue our preparations for war. Every Geallian who can bear arms will do so. And we will march to Ciunas. We will march to the Valley of Silence. We will flood that ground with our strength and our will, and we will drown those who would destroy us in the light.”

She held her hand out for the sword, then held it high again. “This sword will not, as it has since the first days, hang cool and quiet during my reign. It will flame and sing in my hand as I fight for you, for Geall, and for all humankind.”

The roars of approval rose like a torrent.

Then there were screams as an arrow streaked the air.

Before she could react, Cian shoved her down. Under the shouting and chaos, she heard his low, steady cursing. And felt his blood warm on her hand.

“Oh God, my God, you’re shot.”

“Missed the heart.” He spoke through gritted teeth. She saw the pain on his face as he pushed away from her to sit.

When he reached up to grip the arrow out of his side, Glenna dropped to a crouch, pushed his hand aside. “Let me see.”

“Missed the heart,” he repeated, and once again gripped the arrow. He yanked it out. “Bugger it. Bloody f**king hell.”

“Inside,” Glenna began briskly. “Get him inside.”

“Wait.” Though her hand trembled a little, Moira gripped Cian’s shoulder. “Can you stand?”

“Of course I can bloody stand. What do you take me for?”

“Please, let them see you.” Her free hand fluttered over his cheek for just an instant, like a brush of wings. “Let them see us. Please.”

When she linked her fingers with his she thought she saw something stir in his eyes, and felt its twin shift inside her heart.

Then it was gone, and his voice was rough with impatience. “Give me some damn room then.”

She got to her feet again. Below was chaos. The man she assumed was the assassin was being kicked and pummeled by every hand or foot that could reach him.

“Hold!” She shouted it with all her strength. “I command you, hold! Guards, bring that man to the great hall. People of Geall! You see that even on this day, even when the sun shines on us, this darkness seeks to destroy us. And it fails.” She gripped Cian’s hand, lifted it high with her own. “It fails because there are champions in this world who would risk their lives for another.”

She laid a hand on Cian’s side, felt his wince. Then held up her bloody hand. “He bleeds for us. And by this blood he shed for me, for all of you, I raise him to be Sir Cian, Lord of Oiche.”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” Cian muttered.

“Be quiet.” Moira said it softly, with steel, and her eyes on the crowd.

Chapter 3

“H alf-vamp,” Blair announced as she strode back into the parlor. “Multiple bite scars. Crowd did a number on him,” she added. “A regular human would be toast after the beating he took. And he’s not feeling so well himself.”

“He can be treated after I’ve spoken to him. Cian requires care first.”

Blair looked over Moira’s shoulder to where Glenna was bandaging Cian’s side. “How’s he doing?”

“He’s angry and uncooperative, so I would say he’s doing well enough.”

“We can all be grateful for his reflexes. You handled it,” Blair added, looking back at Moira. “Kept your cool, kept control. Tough first day on the job, nearly getting assassinated and all that, but you did good.”

“Not good enough to have anticipated a daylight attack. To remember that not all Lilith’s dogs require an invitation to come within these walls.” She thought of how Cian’s blood had run against her hand—warm and red. “I won’t make that mistake again.”

“None of us will. What we need is to get information out of this ass**le Lilith sent. But there’s a problem. He either can’t or won’t speak English. Or Gaelic.”

“He’s mute?”

“No, no. He talks, it’s just none of us can understand him. Sounds Eastern European. Maybe Czech.”

“I see.” Moira glanced back at Cian. He was stripped to the waist, with only the bandage against his skin. Annoyance more than pain darkened his face as he sipped from a goblet she assumed held blood. Though he didn’t look to be in the best of moods, she knew she was about to ask another favor.

“Give me a moment,” she murmured to Blair. She approached Cian, ordering herself not to shrink under his hot blue stare. “Is there something more that can be done for you, to make you more comfortable?”

“Peace, quiet, privacy.”

Though each of his words had the lash of a whip, she kept her own calm and pleasant. “I’m sorry, but those items are in short supply right at the moment. I’ll order them up for you as soon as I can.”

“Smart-ass,” he mumbled.

“Indeed. The man whose arrow you intercepted speaks in a foreign tongue. Your brother told me once that you knew many languages.”

He took a long, deep drink, with his eyes deliberately on hers. “It’s not enough that I intercepted the arrow? Now you want me to interrogate your assassin?”

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