Daughters of the Dagger 03 - Amber

BOOK: Daughters of the Dagger 03 - Amber
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Amber

Book 3

Daughters of the Dagger
Series

 

Elizabeth Rose

 

Copyright © 2013 by Elizabeth Rose Krejcik

 

This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarities to actual organizations or persons living or deceased is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form whatsoever without the author’s written permission.

 

Cover by Elizabeth Rose Krejcik

Cover images provided by Shutterstock

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Chapter 1

Bowerwood Abbey, England
, 1357

 

Vespers had just finished, and Amber de Burgh of Blackpool, novice of the Sisters of St. Ermengild, blessed herself as the doors to the church slammed open, and in entered the devil himself.

All heads of the congregation of praying nuns
and monks turned toward the door, and Father Armand who was conducting the service looked up sharply in surprise.

“Lucifer!” he cried out, startling everyone inside the church.
“Bid the devil.”

Commotion broke out
and the occupants of the church parted like the Red Sea. The nuns huddled together in a hurry, quickly blessing themselves and praying aloud in the process. The monks gathered together at the other side of the church in hushed whispers.

Amber raised her chin
, looking over the heads of the nuns, surprised to see a man standing in the doorway instead of the horned and hoofed demon she expected to find. A bedraggled man with a chain around his neck and chains on his wrists stood in the entranceway. His legs were spread, and his hands raised to stop the doors of the church as they hit the wall and swung back toward him. Lightning illuminated him from behind, and thunder boomed from outside as rain pelted down like a barrage of arrows from the sky, crashing against the stone steps of the church directly behind him.

“Father,” the man said in a low voice
through clenched teeth, and Amber knew he was speaking to Father Armand. “I will see you in Hell before I do your bidding again, you bloody bastard!”

Cries of shock
went up from the group of nuns around Amber and one of them swooned, ending up prone on the floor in a tangle of her black robes and long veil. Several of the sisters rushed over to assist her. The monks at the other end of the church conversed in hushed whispers behind their hands. Amber curiously made her way from the wooden bench at the front of the church closer to the door to gaze upon this spawn of the devil.


You are naught but the devil,” shouted the priest. “Lord Jesus Christ, we beg your forgiveness for this possessed man who has entered into your house of worship.” The priest made his way down the steps of the dais, raising his book of prayer to the sky as he walked a straight line toward the angry man.

“God’s ey
es, look what you’ve done to me,” spat the devil man in the doorway. That’s when Amber noticed the gashing wound in his side and the trail of blood behind him as he took a step forward.

“You will not use blasphemy in th
e house of the Lord,” reprimanded Father Armand. “And you will remove yourself from these premises immediately.”

“I
will not!” shouted the man the priest had called Lucifer, stumbling forward and catching himself on the edge of a bench, bent over. “I seek refuse and ministrations and dammit to hell I will get what I came for and not be sent away again.” His words were filled with anger and venom, and Amber felt the fear in the room as the nuns cowered together watching with wide eyes and the monks huddled together in the shadows. The priest grabbed hold of a tall free-standing iron candleholder, slowly making his way toward the wounded man.

Lucifer
had shoulder-length dark blond hair that was soaked from the rain. The water ran in rivulets down his dirtied face and neck, and she could see his coarse, brown tunic ripped down the front and exposing his naked broad chest that was scratched and scarred. His face was covered with a mustache and full beard that made him seem as though he’d been on the road for quite some time. He had a traveler’s bag made of canvas with a long strap slung across his chest that hung down across one side of him. And on his waist he donned a sword and also a dagger. He was bent over now, his hand holding his side, and slowly he stood up, holding up his palm outward for all to see it covered with blood.

Shrieks went up
from the nuns. Sister Dulcina, the abbess, gathered the women closer.

“Get away from him quickly,” she instructed
, moving her large frame in front of them in a protective manner with her arms outstretched as she herded the women together at the front of the church.

Amber had been a novice
of the Sisters of St. Ermengild at Bowerwood Abbey and Monastery in Kent for three months now. Her petition to become a nun and live by the ways of God had been granted easily. She supposed ’twas because of the sizeable wealthy dowry that had accompanied her and was eagerly accepted by Father Armand who oversaw the double monastery that housed both nuns and monks. Still, it didn’t matter to her. She’d made her decision to atone for the sins of her family, and she would do whatever it took to ensure an easy path to Heaven for those she loved.

She’d passed her trial month of being a postula
nt and was now in training that would last a full year before she took her final vows. She had only nine months left until she would become a full-fledged nun.

She’d come from a
noble and wealthy family, being one of the four daughters of the earl of Blackpool. And while her older two sisters, Ruby and Sapphire were married, her twin sister, Amethyst still resided with her father at home in the castle.

But Amber had decided she w
ould never be married to anyone but God. She would pay for the greed and deceit of her deceased mother who had tried to steal, and also the sins of killing a man and adultery committed by her older sisters. She would devote her life to prayer and helping the less fortunate. She hoped to bring about the grace and forgiveness for her family that was required in order to assure a successful place in God’s domain once they passed on.

“He’s hurt,” said Amber, hurrying across the room towards the man, her instinctive nature to help and serve
, winning over her fear. But she never made it to the man. Father Armand’s arm reached out to block her, his prayer book dropping to the ground in the process at her feet.

“He’s dangerous. Stay away from him,” the priest warned.

“Sister Amber, come join us quickly,” called out the abbess from the other side of the church.

“But ’tis our duty
to help the sick and wounded. And to take in travelers on their journey as they pass through.” She bent down to pick up the priest’s prayer book, and from her position she could see the stranger’s face clearly.

Lucifer’s chin
was raised slightly, though his body was still bent over and his hand pushed upon his wound to try to stop the flow of blood. His eyes were angry yet captivating at the same time, as they were birdlike, and the lightest blue she’d ever seen. And also the most dangerous. His face held the look of a man gone mad, and his gaze was locked directly on her. She was too frightened to move, and in the same moment, too intrigued to look away. She was staring into the eyes of the devil and she oddly found herself mesmerized by this man though she didn’t understand why.

He tried to stand
upright, and when he did, Father Armand swung the iron post with the lit candle upon it, right toward him.


Nay!” Amber shouted, gaining the stranger’s attention just in time for him to raise his hand and clamp it around the iron rod, keeping it from hitting him. The hot wax from the candle splattered on his chest making him flinch as the stub of the candle fell to the floor and extinguished itself. His face came closer to the face of the priest as he leaned toward him, both of them still holding on to the rod. And though the man spoke in a low voice, and she was sure the nuns and also the monks at the opposite sides of the church could not hear him with the raging storm, she could still make out every word he said.

“Drop it,
Father,” Lucifer warned the priest.

“Leave here now, I warn you
or I’ll be forced to take action.”

“Haven’t you already taken en
ough action?” She saw him swallow deeply, and his nostrils flared as he inhaled sharply and she realized he was wincing from pain.

“You were
sent on a pilgrimage to atone for your sins.”

The man moved hi
s hand away from his wound, the chains rattling as he did so. That’s when Amber saw the lead badges from each shrine he’d visited upon his pilgrimage attached to his torn tunic. There were many and she wondered how far he’d traveled or how long he’d been on the road.

“I believe you sent me to atone for
your
sins, you lying bastard. You will rot in Hell for what you’ve done.”

Amber got to her feet, shocked by the foul words spewing from the man’s mouth in such a holy place.
And he was speaking of Hell, so perhaps he was the devil after all. She hurriedly made the sign of the cross, hoping to ward away any evilness he could possibly bring forth.

“I am a man of the cloth and live by the rules of the church and the word of God. I have no sins.”
The priest smiled sardonically when he spoke, and Amber thought it an odd action for such a pious man.

“Well, now, I believe I’m living proof that you are lying
once again. The guise is up,” Lucifer snarled. “Your secret is no longer safe, and I refuse to do your dirty work any longer of -”

The priest took his ha
nd and punched it into the man’s wounded side.

Lucifer let out a gasp and
wailed a loud moan of pain, releasing his hand from the iron rod as he used two hands now to cover the bleeding of his side. His wail echoed through the church, reverberating off the stone walls. Thunder boomed again outside the open door and a gust of wind blew in, extinguishing all the candles and leaving the church in the dark.

She heard several of the nuns whimpering in the background and Sister Dulcina trying to be brave and comfort
ing them, though Amber could hear the tremor in her voice.

Then a flash of lightning lit up the inside of the church and in that instant she saw Lucifer reach out his hand towar
d her, and she heard him call to her.

“Help me,” he said in a whisper and Amber
felt startled, not sure what to do. He was looking right at her, reaching for her, and then it was dark once again. She could not see him, but his image was burned into her mind. She felt a shiver wrack her body and she bit her lower lip, but did not move.

“You fool
,” said the priest in a low voice, malice dripping from his words. Then, as lightning lit up the room again, she gasped as she saw Father Armand raise the iron rod and in a split second bring it down right on the head of the wounded man.

The room was dark again, but she heard the crack of the iron rod against the man’s skull and the rattle of the chains around him and then a thud as he fell to the ground.

One more rumble of thunder followed by another flash of lightning, and when she looked back to where the man had stood – he was gone.

A scraping sound was heard and then the flicker of fire
was seen as the priest lit a candle and replaced it in the iron rod holder as if nothing had happened. Amber’s eyes dropped to the wounded man on the ground, lying in a puddle of blood. “He doesn’t deserve to die,” she found herself saying aloud. Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open and she just shook her head. And when she looked up to the priest, his eyes were boring into her making her feel more frightened than she’d been of Lucifer - the man that the priest had referred to as the devil.

“What is the matter, Lady Amber?
” asked the priest. “Or perhaps I should say Sister Amber, as you will soon be one of the Order.”

“Is he … is he dead?” she asked meekly, her eyes traveling back to the man on the floor.

“He fell and hit his head on the bench,” said the priest nonchalantly.

“Nay,” she objected. “I saw you –”

“You saw me what?” asked the priest calmly, calculated, as if he’d not just been in the middle of this harrowing incident.

“You … you had the candle holder in your hand and … ”

“I was protecting you from the devil, my dear. Just as God would want me to do.”

“But you killed him.”

“Nay, I never touched him. He just fell and hit his head.”

“But I saw …”

“Whatever you thought you saw, you are mistaken.”

“Nay, I’m not. You hit him! I saw you do it.”

“What has happened?” asked Sister Dulcina, hurrying over to Amber’s side.

“This novice has lied and accused a man of the cloth of purposely trying to hurt or even kill another,” said the priest. “She will need to be reprimanded for this
, as well as to come to me for confession. I will have to assign her the penance I feel appropriate for such an action.”

“Of cour
se, Father Armand,” said the abbess, taking Amber by the arm to lead her away.

Amber was
confused. She knew what she had seen, yet the priest denied it. And the man named Lucifer reaching out to her and asking for her help was embedded in her brain. She looked at him lying on the floor in a puddle of blood face down and not moving. She was sure he was dead and that the priest had killed him.

“What about him
?” asked Sister Dulcina, nodding her heard toward Lucifer. “Shall we take him to the infirmary and tend to his wounds or is he dead?”

BOOK: Daughters of the Dagger 03 - Amber
11.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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