Read The Elder Blood Chronicles Bk 1 In Shades of Grey Online

Authors: Melissa Myers

Tags: #romance, #fantasy, #magic, #dark fantasy, #epic fantasy, #socercer

The Elder Blood Chronicles Bk 1 In Shades of Grey (8 page)

BOOK: The Elder Blood Chronicles Bk 1 In Shades of Grey
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She smiled back at him and gave a mute
nod.

“Best get some breakfast for you then. I’ve
made tarts over there by the stove.” He motioned with a
flour-covered hand before returning to kneading the dough in front
of him.

She picked up a tart and smiled as the sweet
blackberry aroma greeted her. She took a small bite and wiped some
juice from her chin. They were still warm from the oven and
delicious. “Thank you,” she said with a smile. “I will miss how you
spoil me.” She had no doubts he had made the tarts special for
her.

“Aye, and I’ll miss having you to spoil. Not
a one of them brags on my cooking like you do,” he said with forced
cheer.

“Are Father Timmons and Father Breckard back
yet?” She asked between bites. He gave a slight shake of his head
in answer and she found herself unsurprised. The two younger
priests were rarely in attendance at the Temple. They traveled from
village to village throughout all of Greenwild and tended to just
winter in Bliss.

“I’ll tell them you said goodbye, though,”
the cook added, dusting his hands off on his apron. “You want some
milk with that?” He asked, already moving to pour her a glass
despite her lack of answer. She took the glass and a healthy
swallow, and then finished her tart. “I’ll pack you a couple of
those for the road. One will never keep you. I know how you love
your tarts.”

She smiled at him and gave him a hug before
he could busy himself again. She finished her milk and gave him
another quick hug as he handed her the bundled food and turned to
leave. “Goodbye, and thank you again.”

He gave her another faint smile and nodded.
“You’ll be back before we know it, Curly, and full of stories of
the big city.”

She made her way down the hall toward the
chapel room, brushing her hand lightly at the flour dusting her
dress. Father Belson was exactly where she had expected him to be,
kneeling before the altar deep in prayer. She stood back silent not
wanting to disturb him. She idly wondered if he was praying for her
and a safe journey.

She heard the sound of a throat clearing
behind her and started. She hadn’t noticed anyone else in the
chapel when she had entered. Her eyes landed on a young man a
little older than her. He sat in a slouch with his feet propped up
on the pew in front of him. He wore a dark suit that was well
tailored and fit him perfectly. His dark blond hair was trimmed
neatly, and he was the most handsome man she had seen since Victory
and Havoc had left her here. In short, he was definitely a
stranger. “Pardon, Sir, I hadn’t noticed you there. May I be of
assistance while good Father Belson is occupied?”

He seemed to ponder her words and shook his
head. “Nope, I’m here to see you, not him.” She raised an eyebrow
at the response, but he ignored her obvious look of question. “You
know in other cities, Temples to Fortune are more like fest halls
than actual Temples.” He fidgeted on the seat slightly, as if
seeking a more comfortable position. “They have padded chairs and
gaming tables and lively girls serving drinks while you play
cards.” He lit a cigarette and fidgeted again, ignoring her
disapproval at his smoking.

“That doesn’t sound much like a church,” she
muttered, unsure of this new topic, as she tried to think of a
polite way to get him to put out the cigarette without raising a
fuss.

“No, it isn’t really, and it’s a great
racket. With every roll of the dice or flick of a card, they pay me
homage without even realizing it. If they had to sit on benches
this hard, the only thing they would be praying for would be a new
god or a new ass.”

“Did you say pay homage to you?” She
emphasized the last word and watched him carefully trying to
determine if he was playing a joke or was simply mad.

“Mmm hmmm, I sure did. I’ve come to see you
off to the Academy and offer you words of advice and
encouragement.” He seemed unaware of her pending judgment on his
sanity and simply smiled at her. “Probably for the best that you
are going to the Academy, you would have made a lousy priest since
you can’t recognize your own god,” he added when she remained
silent.

“I’m not sure how I could recognize you as we
have never met before.” She glanced back over her shoulder as she
spoke, hoping Father Belson would have noticed the odd exchange by
now and be on his way to rescue her from the obvious madman.

“He can’t see or hear us,” the man said.

She frowned and stared after Father Belson
who didn’t seem to be showing any reaction to the conversation
behind him. “Why can’t he?” She asked, with concern for the old man
in her voice. He didn’t seem to be hurt, but perhaps the man had
drugged him.

“Because I stopped time. You overslept and we
needed time to talk, so I stopped time to make time.” He smiled
happily at his own wordplay and motioned toward Father Belson. “Go
ahead poke him, he won’t move or even notice.”

She watched Father Belson for another minute
and turned back to look at the madman. “OK, I’ll play along for
now. You are Fortune, the God of Luck, and you have come to give me
advice.”

The young man frowned at her. “That is
actually more of statement of fact, than playing,” he said
dryly.

She nodded, still skeptical and motioned for
him to speak. “So what advice would you offer?” she asked when he
remained silent.

He took a long drag from his cigarette and
blew the smoke out slowly. “Not very reverent, are you?” He waved
his hand as if in dismissal and continued on without waiting for a
reply. “Not entirely advice, as I said. I bring encouragement too.”
He reached into his jacket and produced a heavy satin pouch and
tossed it to her. It clinked of coins when she caught it, and he
smiled at her disbelief. “Encouragement in the form of coins; which
is always more useful than encouragement in the form of words.”

“But I have coins,” she objected, unsure as
to why a stranger would appear, proclaiming himself to be a god and
give her money. This encounter was getting too strange for her
comfort.

“Not enough and the wrong type. You have a
few silver, and that is a lot of gold,” he replied simply. Her eyes
widened she had never even seen a gold coin before and this pouch
was quite full. “You aren’t really going dressed like that, are
you?” Fortune asked while she was still staring dumbly at the
pouch.

“I have other clothes in my trunks,” she
replied absently as she slowly returned her attention to focus on
him. “And Father Belson said the school would provide uniforms if I
needed more clothes,” she added.

“Uniforms?” He sounded offended at the word.
“Uniforms are for the children too poor to provide their own
clothes. You will not be wearing uniforms.”

She bit back her reply before she could state
the obvious that she was, in fact, a child too poor to provide her
own clothes. “I’m sure they aren’t that bad.”

He made a sputtering sound and shook his
head. “I’m sure they aren’t that good either. I can see now it was
necessary that I show up, you obviously don’t know what you are
getting into.”

She frowned at him in indignation. “I’m going
to the school to learn. I fail to see how it will matter what I
wear, as long as I’m learning,” she replied, her tone perhaps a bit
too tart.

He nodded sagely and gave her a sad smile.
“You are going to learn far more than the school has to teach,
Jala.” He took another drag from the cigarette, and she noted with
shock that it hadn’t diminished at all since he had lit it. Part of
it should have gone to ash by now, but it hadn’t. He noticed her
eyes locked on the cigarette and sighed dramatically. “I stop
bloody time and you ignore it. My cigarette doesn’t ash, and you
are amazed. I will never understand mortal logic.” He waved the
cigarette before her lazily. “Wooooo… behold my godly power. Can
you return your attention back to me now, please, this is
important?” She fought back her irritation again and nodded curtly.
She wasn’t sure how much longer her patience would hold with the
man. This joke was getting old fast,
she thought.

“It’s not a joke, Jala.” His tone was
serious, and his smile was gone. She stared at him. She hadn’t
spoken, and her expression hadn’t changed. He was replying to her
thoughts. “That’s right, I can hear you thinking, and it’s very
loud and rather offensive. I might be eccentric, but I’m certainly
not mad.”

She felt the color draining from her face, as
she considered the possibility this might actually be Fortune
sitting before her. He nodded his approval. “There we go. You are
starting to think clearly.”

She felt her legs giving way, and sat down
heavily on a pew across from him. She simply stared at him,
wondering,
Why would a god bother to come and speak with me
directly? I am a Temple orphan. I am no one important, no one to
merit this sort of attention, to be sure.

“Now stop that. You are important or I
wouldn’t be here,” he chided gently. “You have a lot to learn,
Jala, and your lessons start here. The Academy is not going to be
at all like what you are expecting.” He paused to make sure he had
her attention. “And bear in mind I know exactly what you are
expecting since I can see right into your thoughts.” She nodded
dumbly, and he continued. “Everything you do there will be watched.
What you wear, what you eat, who you talk to. It will all be
watched, and you will be judged accordingly. You must be careful
about how you act and what you do.” Her confusion grew further, and
she opened her mouth to object, but he motioned her back to
silence. “You will be among the High Lords’ children there, and
they will not make your life easy. Most of them are rude, and
almost all of them will be snobs, but you must try to be on good
terms with them. It’s important. Trust me on this. I’m your god,
and I do know things better than you do. They will not make it
easy, but it would be best if you try to befriend them.”

She snorted in disbelief and shook her head.
How was she supposed to befriend them, she doubted they would
even notice her.

“They will notice you, have no doubt of
that,” Fortune replied, and once again she was unnerved by his
response to her thoughts. “Easier, this way saves time,” he said
with a smile. “Not that we are lacking for that, however, so if you
would like to speak, feel free to, but chances are I will know it
before you say it.” He gave her another smile and winked.

She wondered idly if he realized how
irritating it was, having someone answer your thoughts before you
chose to speak them
. His smile dwindled. “Fine, you want mental
privacy it’s yours. Now, whatever you are going to say will be a
mystery to both of us.” He snapped in a mildly-annoyed tone.

Wonderful,
she mused
I’ve angered
the God of Luck. That’s surely going to end well for me
. “I’m
sorry, I’m just unused to people being in my mind,” she tried
lamely.

He gave a slight grunt and rolled his eyes at
her. “Obviously, as loudly as you think.”

She wasn’t really sure how to respond to
that, so she ignored it. “Was that the only advice you had to give,
Sir, to watch everything I do and try to befriend the mean
kids?”

“Now you Sir. Pfffftttt.” The noise was
completely undignified and not at all what one would expect from a
god and she repressed a chuckle. “You’ve got me all off track.
Let’s see. Manners, money, and clothes.” He ticked the points off
on his fingers as he spoke. “I’ve taken the liberty of updating
your wardrobe; all of the clothing has been altered to something
more suitable. But now that I think on it, it’s been done with
magic so be wary of dispelling magics.” He frowned and tapped his
chin. “I sincerely doubt anyone there has stronger magic than me,
but in the off chance that they do, run away if they start to
dispel, or you will find yourself quite naked.”

“Naked!” She gasped, eyeing him alarmingly,
hoping there would be some indication he was joking. Her mind
whirled with the endless possibilities that this would have a
horrible outcome for her
. What if she was in the market and
someone dispelled nearby her. What if it happened in the Academy in
a crowd?
She cringed inwardly at every imagined horror.

He simply nodded and repeated, “Naked,” with
a smile as if it was no particular problem.

“Can’t you just change it back and give me
back my old clothes that aren’t made of magic?” She pleaded.

“Nope, and even if I could, I wouldn’t. You
needed new ones.”

“Those were new ones,” she protested her tone
somewhat desperate.

He nodded. “But not good ones. They were
very…” he paused as if searching for the word and then continued
his tone delicate. “Rustic. There that’s a good choice I think.
They were very rustic. Somewhat like the dress you currently wear.
Your clothes proclaimed to the world, ‘I am a peasant.’ We don’t
want that.”

“But I am a peasant,” she continued, her
frustration fueling her words.

He shook his head. “No you aren’t.”

She waited for him to elaborate and growled
her frustration at his silence. “Saying something doesn’t change
what it is. You can say I’m not a peasant all you like, but it
won’t change the fact that I am.”

He shook his head at her again and gave her
another irritating smile. “You can say a thing is not a thing, and
only the ignorant will believe you. I can say you are whatever I
like and everyone will believe me, because they are, in fact,
ignorant as to what you really are. Almost as ignorant, in fact, as
you yourself are.”

She narrowed her eyes and stared at him
trying to decipher his words. She wasn’t sure if she had been
insulted or not but she strongly suspected she had. She closed her
eyes and willed herself back to calmness. Her outlooks for school
were not getting any brighter, and more than ever she wanted to go
crawl back into bed. “Will there be anyone I know there? Victory or
Havoc maybe?” She asked hopefully. When Father Belson had first
announced she would be going to Sanctuary it had been her first
thought. The city was supposed to be the center of everything, and
they traveled often.

BOOK: The Elder Blood Chronicles Bk 1 In Shades of Grey
2.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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