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Mistress of the Empire

Mistress of the Empire

Description : Mistress of the Empire

The morning sun shone.

Dew bejeweled the lakeshore grasses, and the calls of nesting shatra birds carried sweetly on the breeze. Lady Mara of the a savoured the air, soon to give way to the day's heat. Seated in her litter, her husband at her side and her two-year-old son, Justin, napping in her lap, she closed her eyes and breathed a deep sigh of contentment.

She slipped her fingers into her husband's hand. Hokanu smiled. He was undeniably handsome, and a proven warrior; and the easy times had not softened his athletic appearance. His grip closed possessively over hers, his strength masked by gentleness.

The past three years had been good ones. For the first time since childhood, she felt safe, secure from the deadly, unending political intrigues of the Game of the Council.

The enemy who had killed her father and brother could no longer threaten her. He was now dust and memories, his family fallen with him; his ancestral lands and magnificently appointed estate house had been deeded to Mara by the Emperor.

Superstition held that ill luck tainted a fallen family's land; on a wonderful morning such as this, misfortune seemed nowhere in evidence. As the litter moved slowly along the shore, the couple shared the peace of the moment while they regarded the home that they had created between them.

Nestled between steep, stone-crested hills, the valley that had first belonged to the Minwanabi Lords was not only naturally defensible, but so beautiful it was as if touched by the gods. The lake reflected a placid sky, the waters rippled by the fast oars of a messenger...

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