The Seventh Gate (The Seven Citadels )

The Seventh Gate (The Seven Citadels ) by Geraldine Harris Read Free Book Online

Book: The Seventh Gate (The Seven Citadels ) by Geraldine Harris Read Free Book Online
Authors: Geraldine Harris
a bitter
thought. The only one who would be anxious to save him was Queen Kelinda, and
she was his brother's wife, not even blood kin.
    `No,' thought Kerish wearily, `the Godborn
are no longer worthy to rule. If there was justice in Zindar, Zeldin would
reject his children: but the people . . .'
    He remembered with agony the gentle
resignation of Valorkis. Would the Galkians still trust the Godborn as the Men
of Fangmere dragged them to Idaala's altar? Kerish pictured ruin and murder in
the nine cities and could almost smell the blood. The jangling of the keys at
his waist seemed to mock at him and his head ached.
    Kerish strode up and down to clear it, but
the stench of blood had seeped from his thoughts into the air. Perhaps a
sacrifice was taking place in a nearby chamber. Kerish touched each of the
keys; the cold jewels chilling his fingertips. What could be more useless than
a key without a lock? “Hope without fulfillment is more cruel than despair” - the first words of The Book of Warnings . Was that a warning against
the beauty and splendor that shone through the pages of The Book of the
Emperors , or against despair itself? Kerish knew that he had inherited
despair, but however painful, he must choose hope.
    In the darkness something rustled and the
hairs crawled on Kerish's neck. He had paced to the furthest end of the chamber
and stood in front of the crack, facing the door. The torch flared brighter in
defiance of the shadows stumbling through the room. This time Kerish shuddered
at the velvet touch of darkness and the rustling sounded closer.
    “It's nothing,” said Kerish aloud. “And
Zeldin guard me from all empty fears.”
    The torch spluttered and the darkness
sprang. It wrapped itself around Kerish and for a moment he thought he would
suffocate and tried to tear it away. His fingers met nothing and he found he
could breathe again, but the air seemed richer and heavier.
    “Do not utter His name here; it has no
power. “ The soft voice spoke close behind him. “Who are you?”
    “My name is Kerish-lo-Taan and I was once a
Prince of Galkis.”
    “I saw your face in a dream and it was His
face. Look at me, you are mine now.”
    “Lady, to me His name has power in all
places. I greet you humbly but I am not yours.”
    “But you are the offering they bring me.”
It was the sweetest voice Kerish had ever heard. “The others died so quickly:
but you will live and we will love again as we did in the morning of the world.
Look at me!”
    “Lady, it is dark, I couldn't see you.”
    “No! This is not darkness. You are as
mistaken as the rest of them. This is true light. It shines from me but men
cannot bear its radiance so they call it darkness. Look and you will
understand.”
    A slender hand reached through the crevice
and touched his hair.
    “Lady, I must not.”
    “The priests dare not look at me. They
crawl blindly and I despise them. You are not like them. Who told you that you
must not look? No one may command you, but the Queen of Love asks you to look
at her.”
    The exploring fingers stroked his cheeks. A
sweet perfume enfolded him and his mind filled with crimson flowers.
    “Lady, men say that you are too beautiful
for any man to look at you and live.”
    “You alone could endure my beauty; others
would die, desiring what is yours.”
    The fingers delved through his hair.
Bloodflowers . . . it was the scent of Bloodflowers.            Kerish would
have stumbled away but the sweetness made him giddy.
    “Ah, you are faint, turn and rest in my
arms.”
    Kerish leaned back against the rock and two
hands moved over his face, tracing the line of his lips, caressing his brow.
    “Open your eyes. It will only hurt for a
moment.”
    “I can't; I mustn't!”
    He was no longer sure why. The fingers slid
down to his throat.
    “You shall!” Sharp nails dug into his flesh
and darkness surged around him. “No man may refuse Idaala. Look at my beauty
before I tear out your eyes. You shall

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