Prologue

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Prologue

Three years before...

Sylara rode hard towards the Miiradonian capital of Radoran. She'd been gone a few weeks on her mission for King Dhovar and could not wait to get back to her apartments in the palace. She intended to go straight there upon her arrival and report to the king the following morning. She needed a long, hot soak and a good night's rest. And that's exactly what she intended to do once she rode under the portcullis into the courtyard.

The greying stone of the palace welcomed her home, the only home she had. This had been her home for too many years to count. She'd began training here in her youth with one goal in mind. Being the king's champion was the highest honor she could obtain, therefore that was her goal from the day she walked under the stone awning into this very courtyard at the age of twenty. It was hard to believe one hundred and ten years had passed since that day. For the last forty years she'd served her king faithfully as his champion. She'd been happy here, that is until the past few weeks.

Shaking her errant thoughts, she strode through the large doors after tossing the reins of her horse to a stable hand. She turned towards the stairs intending to take two at a time until she reached her chambers. Shuffling feet behind her, caused her to pause just a few steps into her flight up the stairs.

"Milady! The king wishes your presence in his chambers immediately upon your arrival," the messenger called out from the bottom of the stairs where he stood. How had Dhovar already heard of her arrival? She wasn't sure how he did it, but it was the same each time.

"Please inform His Majesty I will be there shortly," Sylara replied, her words sharp as she turned away from the messenger who was trying to object to her leaving. She ignored the man's protests and continued her trek up the stairs. King Dhovar could wait for her this time. Unlike all the times in the past he'd summoned her, she had no intentions of going to see the king before she'd at least had the bath she longed for. It was highly unheard of and she knew he'd be upset at her disobedience. But even that fact did not change her mind.

Shoving through the doors to her apartments, she noticed her maids were already in the process of filling the tub, knowing she'd be in within a few minutes. She was thankful for their foresight today, where usually her bath was tepid at best by the time Dhovar finished interrogating her. Half an hour later found her easing into the steaming water. Every joint and muscle seemed to relax the moment the heat from the water hit them.

Laying her head against the back of the copper tub, she watched the steam float through her bathing chamber. A fire supplied the small room with additional warmth doubling as the only light filling the small space. Her thoughts drifted to the king she had just left waiting. Dhovar was fairly young as kings go, his father having been killed by an assassin when the young elf was only in his forties. He was now three hundred twenty-four years old, younger than any elven king in the history of Miiradon.

Having practically grown up on the throne, Dhovar was known for his wisdom as well as his haughtiness and impetuosity. How those three went together she had yet figured out but he made it work with ease. The kingdom had prospered under his reign, so his arrogance was overlooked by most of those closest to him. Her thoughts faded away from her sovereign as the warmth of the water and fire relaxed her. Sylara's eyes grew heavier, blinking several times until she couldn't hold them open. This was pure bliss, she thought as she drifted in and out of light sleep.

"Just what did you mean by not coming when I summoned you?"

"Dhovar!" Sylara shrieked as she sunk lower in the tub, grabbing a large drying cloth which lay beside the tub. Throwing it over the herself, she felt better, even though she knew the king at the door hadn't been able to see anything from where he stood. "You cannot just come in whilst I am bathing, Your Majesty. It isn't proper."

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