Authors: Michelle Howard
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Two Hours or More (65-100 Pages)
The Overlord’s Heir
By Michelle Howard
Published by Michelle
Copyright © 2014 by
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Thank you for
respecting the author's hard work.
This is a work of
fiction and is not a reflection or representation of any person living or dead.
Any similarity is of pure coincidence.
This is for my husband who manned the fort while I locked
myself away many nights to write in silence. Thanks for making sure the kids
always had food.
Mikayla tugged at the two Warlords grasping her above the elbows as she
struggled down the stone steps. The noise in the great hall quieted when the
Balal and Kavan
continued to assist the Raasa female, fearful her ungainly weight would cause
her to fall. When the group reached the bottom, those in the dining room as a
whole breathed a collective sigh of relief. Mikayla snatched her arm from one
then the other, her feet making short work of the distance between her and
Vaan. Both men grimaced behind her back and took their seats at the large
wooden dining table beside their fellow Warlords.
himself to remain seated as her rounded belly led the way. Servants scurried
out of her way and his Warlords all lowered their heads to their plates. She
approached in a side to side motion that spoke to her burgeoning figure.
The dark blue
tunic and leggings Mikayla wore strained at the seams, a grave matter of apparent
concern for his mate. Often, she protested a lack of clothing to fit her
increased size. Vaan had no answers to her constant questions regarding her
changed appearance. She carried his young and it was an honor all warriors
Today, she wore
her dark hair up to relieve the unending heat. Black tendrils already escaped
to curve around her cheekbones. Moisture dotted her pale features adding a
sheen to her otherwise beautiful face. Slanted green eyes glared at everyone as
she made her way further down to the far end where he sat. Since the Raasa
clime was hotter than that of his home of Kaban, Vaan sympathized.
reached his side, she huffed out a breath and eased onto the bench seat beside
him. Deciding to start on a good note, Vaan leaned over and placed a dry kiss
on her forehead. She liked kisses and he admitted to enjoying the results. Mikayla
hissed and rolled her eyes toward the vaulted ceiling.
Since he hadn’t
asked and didn’t plan to, Vaan merely nodded. During the last few weeks of her
pregnancy, his mate had undergone a complete personality change. Everything had
progressed nicely until this last month when she’d fallen from the hapfe she
insisted on riding.
caused bleeding and Vaan forbid her from riding or leaving the gates of the
compound. He’d wanted to insist she take to her bed like a Kabanian woman but
Raasa female were different, he’d come to learn. Mikayla had cried, begged and argued
until eventually gaining his agreement on that one concession.
males allowed their females to stay active until they gave birth to the
youngling. Vaan controlled his grimace. The males let the women lead them by
their toqa, unlike Kabanian warriors.
Assa, one of
Mikayla’s friends and a house servant, placed a bowl of fruit on the table
which his mate immediately shoved to the side. “I’m not hungry.”
stiffened. She’d refused the evening meal the night before as well. “Mikayla,
you must eat to keep the youngling strong.”
shaped pupils contracted and glared green fire at him. “I’ll eat if I’m hungry.”
Vaan bit off
his curse. He still learned the ways of the Raasa and while his instinct
commanded he force the food on her, his experience warned him against such
actions. Strong willed didn’t come close to describing his mate when she wanted
something. But he gave in for another reason. With this pregnancy, he
determined Mikayla knew best. So many things about how Raasa acted during this
time differed from what he knew.
A Kabanian woman
went a full nine cycles before delivering and often took to her bed after the
fifth cycle to rest and nourish the little one. A Raasa carried for six and a
half cycles and didn’t believe in rest at all. Or perhaps it was only his mate who
did not believe in resting.
Vaan eyed her
while he finished his morning meal and drank his cider. Her size gave him concern.
Mikayla’s natural frame mirrored the slim, graceful lines of her people. Even
in her current condition, her size appeared the same with the exception of her
distended belly and full breasts.
A belly which
looked uncommonly large to him. On more than one occasion Vaan caught the women
of the household watching her with fear and worry. Their reactions led him to
believe he was right for his growing concern.
Assa came over
to remove his plate. Vaan waited for her to head into the kitchen before speaking
to his mate. “Are you sure the Ba’asi makes no mistake? You will deliver the
youngling in two weeks time?” Could she handle two more weeks?
adjusted in her seat to face him. Fatigued darkened her green eyes and leached
the color from her once golden skin. Noticing the drastic change in her
appearance, his pulse jumped but Vaan resisted the urge to pull her into his
arms. Worry gnawed at his gut.
has attended many births. He’s never wrong.”
did nothing to reassure him. Vaan cupped her delicate jaw. “My warrior son
weighs heavy on you. I do not like this.”
quirked in a half-smile. A smile he adored. “Our youngling is well. You’re
acting like a Noan with your worry.”
her nose in retaliation for comparing him to a male childcare giver. “I must
speak with Argan. Later, I would have you join me in my study.”
between her eyes puckered and her lips turned down at the corners. “About?”
repeated, rising to his feet. He kissed her temple to keep her from stretching
to accommodate his height and left the hall. Vaan passed Mikayla’s old Noan,
Eran, entering the hall. He caught the elder Raasa’s gaze. “You will see to it
that Mikayla finds rest.”
A wrinkled smile
creased Eran’s golden face. “Of course, Overlord.” Eran made his way to
Mikayla’s side. Her smile of welcome eased Vaan’s fear. With slower movements
than usual, Mikayla’s Noan sat beside her and pushed the untouched plate in
front of her. Vaan relaxed. She’d eat if only to soothe Eran’s worry.
blinked against the bright morning sun. Sweat instantly dampened his bare chest
beneath the heat of Raasa. The clime here was his only dislike of the land. He found
Warlord Tolan speaking intensely with his best friend and right hand, Warlord Argan.
Tolan’s hands gestured in the air to emphasize some point. Argan stood with his
hands clasped behind his back, head tilted to the side not looking the least
concerned by an agitated Tolan.
Due to the heat
both men wore their hair up in a warrior’s knot. Tolan’s face held a flush in
his cheeks while Argan remained stoic in the face of adversity. Such calm was
one of the reasons Vaan chose the Warlord so long ago to stand by his side.
Tolan paused when Vaan reached them but Argan merely arched an inquisitive brow.
Overlord.” Tolan argued, pointing at Argan. “In the final battle at Hokom when
we were surrounded, did I not slay four at one time?”
curled at the boast. Argan rolled his eyes, a sneer adding to the look of
superiority he aimed at their fellow Warlord.
“He killed but two.
The other two suffered wounds and Carog’s blade ended them.” Argan gave his
answer in a quiet tone completely opposite of Tolan’s excited speech.
conversation among warriors. Still, Vaan felt the need to add, “I remember
naught of others but if you want a true accounting, Carog would be the one to
ask.” Carog took pleasure in knowing everyone’s kill tally. Then because he
couldn’t resist, “I, however, took down nine if memory serves me correct.”
At that, Argan’s
smile flashed fully. “In this you speak truth.”
Relaxing at Vaan’s
rare show of bragging, Tolan laughed and nodded. “I will return to the wall but
later Carog shall tell of the battle in further detail. He will agree that four
fell to my sword.”
respectfully toward Argan as he turned to walk away.
With humor still
glinting in his dark eyes, Argan asked, “Have you spoken with her?”
Vaan shook his
head. “Now is not the time. We will talk this evening.”
Argan grunted. “You
do yourself no favors. She will not be pleased and your delay in telling leaves
little time for her to adjust.”
Vaan wanted to give Mikayla little time to argue his trip in the morning.
Otherwise, his mate would seek his weak spots and try to change his mind. Since
Mikayla announced she carried their youngling, Vaan gave in far too frequently
to her wishes but the journey could be put off no longer. Kaban wanted to see
their revived Overlord in the flesh. On this one matter, he knew there was no
“I shall warn
the others to hide tonight,” Argan joked. All tried to avoid Mikayla in an
emotional state. Not because she was harsh. His mate could never be cold but
her sad face moved even the most hardened warrior.
and clapped him on the back. “They will appreciate this.”
“Who do you
take with you?”
and Ramar. I leave the others with you to guard the holding.” Vaan named three
of his fifteen Warlords as he surveyed the compound that had become home to all
of them. Surrounded by the huge stone wall his mate’s father had built around
the compound, they were in a safe, tucked away haven. One that grew on him
daily. The Raasa lived a peaceful life contrary to the war-like ways of Kabanian
warriors. While he and his men bemoaned the Raasa lack of defense and fighting
skills, they grew to appreciate the quiet and the feelings of safety their
considered the coming journey to his home compound in Kaban. His brother, Warlord
Saran, regained the compound under Vaan’s name several months ago. Saran’s
warriors had fought those who resisted and in turn offered sanctuary to those
who once again accepted Vaan as the rightful Overlord.
sent repeated letters by messenger for Vaan to come make his presence known. Each
letter more urgent than the last. Initially, Vaan had been too concerned with
protecting Mikayla and unwilling to leave her alone after the threat and
attacks from the now dead Warlord Thenl. Once she became pregnant he hesitated
further wishing to take pleasure in watching her grow round with their
youngling. Now he could no longer refuse. Warriors were becoming discontent and
some expressed disbelief that the Overlord had returned. Saran’s plan entailed
a visit from Vaan to prove he still lived and to settle any issues left from Warlord
Thenl Asgup and his betrayal three-and-a-half years ago.
It should be a
simple four day trip to Kaban and back but Vaan knew nothing was simple about
this trip. A strong warrior kept his mind open to possibilities and free of
guarantees. Anything could go wrong. Thinking this, Vaan turned to Argan. “Mikayla
means everything to me.”
He paused to
gather his thoughts. Any words he spoke would come nowhere close to describing
all Vaan felt for the woman he’d taken as his own. Her love made him a stronger
warrior and he’d not lose the gift. “She is my heart. I trust you will…care for
her in my absence.”
his sword from the cross harness sheath on his back. He held the hilt in one
hand and the edge of the blade in the other. “I vow that I will allow no harm
to come to your family while you are away, Overlord.”
knot formed in Vaan’s throat. He did not need the vow. Argan had stood by his
side through many battles. No one would ever fight as hard on Vaan’s behalf. But
he appreciated his friend’s verbal commitment. Vaan’s firm nod assured Argan
that he trusted him with Mikayla’s life and that of their unborn youngling.