Dark Lord of Kismera (cont’d)

Kismera

Chapter Four

It had grown late enough in the day that torches had been lit along the walls in the great hall. Drace proceeded into the hall and saw that Vashti and Ka’Ril had already arrived and were taking seats on the raised platform. Seated two chairs down was a man who had to be related to the Lady Ki. He had the same blond hair, darker at the crown of his head, and long, just past his shoulder blades. He had one thin braid beside his face and the rest was unbound. His eyes were the same amber-gold, his face a masculine
version of hers. Again Drace had a mental image of a lion when he looked at the
young man.

Vashti motioned him to the table. “Please, sit next to me, my Lord Drace,” she said. “The meal will be served soon. I imagine you are hungry.”

He pulled out the offered chair and sat. “I’m starving! I’m kinda hoping for a huge steak.”

Vashti laughed. “My bread and cheese was not to your liking?”

Drace gave her a lopsided grin. “Oh it was some really great cheese, but I’m a meat kind of guy. Sorry.” Oh God, let there be a steak, a hamburger, a meatball, anything with protein, he begged silently.

A few other people began to enter the hall and were taking seats at the other tables. Heads turned as Ki entered the hall. Drace followed the example of the others and stood, nodding to her in respect, then returned to his seat.

Ki was dressed similarly to Drace except her tunic had long sleeves and was of a royal blue material. She walked easily through the hall, stopping to speak here and there as she came to the platform. She took a seat between Ka’Ril and the young blond man.

She leaned forward and looked at Drace. “Good evening, my Lord. You look much more presentable. I see Estelle used one of her potions on
your bruises.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He grunted when Vashti elbowed him in the side.

She whispered in his ear, “You should address her as ‘my Lady’ or ‘Lady Ki’ unless she informs you otherwise.”

“Oh, my bad,” he whispered in reply. To the Lady Ki he replied. “Yes, my Lady, I’m feeling much better, thank you.”

“I would like to see your horse in the morning. Cearan has gone on and on about him. Vashti says he even dances. Would you demonstrate this for us?”

“Yes, of course, my Lady, I would be honored,” Drace replied, politely.

“Very well then,” Ki said with a nod of her head. “What is his name?”

“His full name is long and hard to pronounce. It’s Dutch. I have always just called him Pride,” Drace said, trying to ignore the growling of his stomach as he spoke.

“What is Dutch?” Ki leaned on her elbow, giving him her full attention.

“The horse was imported from Holland. That is their language. They speak Dutch,” he informed, leaning in to meet her gaze.

“Ah, I see.” She turned slightly to the man at her side, who was shifting in his seat to better hear their conversation. “Please stop fidgeting, Cearan.” She turned her attention back to Drace and introduced the young man. “This is my brother, Cearan. He is the Head Horse Master here.”

Drace nodded in Cearan’s direction.

“Cearan is already talking of wanting to mate our mares with your stallion,”
Ki added, “Pride may be too tired to be ridden if you do not protect him.” She smiled at him then and that was when Drace noticed the pronounced canines, top and bottom. The feline look was complete. That threw him off for a second. What was up with the fangs?

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