Slave. Swordwielder. Spy. Some girls have all the luck.When Rialla was young, slave traders from Darran ambushed her clan, killing all the men and enslaving the women and children. For years, Rialla lived in bondage, serving her master while waiting for a chance to escape. When that chance came, she made the best of it--and fled to the mercenary nation of Sianim . . .
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1 . Very good read
Posted December 05, 2010 by Tami M. , MIssouriPatricia Briggs does it again!
August 10, 2003
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Excerpt from Steal the Dragon by Patricia Briggs
She stretched her arms wide, hands open, holding the pose for an instant before bursting into furious motion. Each placement of foot and angle of wrist was choreographed, thoughtless, perfect. Her body flowed from one movement to the next, graceful, seductive, submissive in turn.
The beat of the drum was a familiar companion: its rhythm consumed her. Her heart kept time with the deep bass tones; the lighter beats of the small instruments were the quick movements of her hands and feet. The dance slowed, and her movements became languid, erotic.
She reveled in the euphoria that accompanied her dance, the pain of straining her muscles for the perfection of her art only adding to the exhilaration. Sweat blinded her, but she didn't need her eyes to see -- the floor was sanded and flat and she knew where the music would take her.
The beating drum accelerated again, built to a crescendo, then abruptly it ended. The brief silence pounded at her ears as she collapsed facedown on the floor, fighting for breath. The clapping of a single pair of hands replaced the fading memory of the drumbeat.
"Very nice, Little One," said the Master's hated voice.
RIALLA SAT BOLT upright in her bed. Her bedclothes were saturated with the sweat of a dance long past. Automatically her hands went to her neck, but the slave collar had been gone for a long time, and the scar on her face still replaced the hated tattoo.
Trembling, she bowed her head and ran her hands through her hair. She threw the covers back and got out of bed, though the dawn was hours away.
IN THE MAZE that was the oldest building in Sianim, Ren, better known as the Spymaster of Sianim, settled himself in his chair and looked out the open window at nothing in particular.
The chair had been made for his predecessor, who had been a much larger man. Ren's slight, balding and graying person looked a little absurd sitting in it, like a child playing at grown-up, but no one in the mercenary city-state of Sianim would have called the Spymaster absurd: he held more power in his hands than many kings.
Turning his chair away from the window, he propped his feet on top of his crowded desk, ignoring the resultant thump as a pile of papers fell to the floor. He rested his chin on his hands and waited patiently for the arrival of one he had summoned.
At last there was a soft tap on the door.
"Who " he barked.
"Rialla of the horses, as ordered, sir." The voice that answered him was soft and shy. Ren's mouth tightened in annoyance. If she was as meek as she sounded, he might as well send her back home.
Ah, well -- it wasn't the woman's fault that his informant had misled him. Even if she wouldn't serve his purpose, he could use whatever information she could provide.
Schooling his voice into a more welcoming tone, Ren called out, "Come in, Rialla of the horses. I've been expecting you."
The door opened with a sigh and squeaked a protest when the horse trainer shut it behind her. She was taller than he was, but so slender that she appeared fragile. Her red hair was pulled tightly back in a short braid that barely reached her shoulders. He got a quick glimpse of emerald-green eyes before she dropped her gaze to the floor.