The Sword

The Sword by Jean Johnson Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: The Sword by Jean Johnson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jean Johnson
our history for fun. So they harassed me, harassed my customers, ruined most of my business, and sent me anonymous hate letters.”
    The bitter tale spilled out of her as he listened. Even with his lingering irritability, he was still far more receptive to her than the local law enforcement had been, back home. Golden and Irritable was listening to her and even seemed troubled by what she was telling him.
    â€œThen they started sending even more threatening notes, about historical witchcraft trials, and how the guilty had been stoned, hung, or burned alive at the stake. And just last week, someone put up a hangman’s noose on my front porch,” she added, as his eyes narrowed at the gruesome punishment “witches” had received in her world’s past. “I found it when I went to open up my shop.
    â€œMaybe the masked man who attacked me last month was just a random mugging attempt and not a deliberate targeting of me, but seeing that made me angry,” Kelly said. “But I didn’t think they’d go so far as to actually burn down my house—not with me still in it!”
    Damn. The wobble in her voice and the tears were coming back. Tightening her jaw, she looked away and did her best to glare out one of the less-than-clean windows, although there wasn’t enough clarity to the glass to be able to see anything.
    He didn’t say anything, and she didn’t dare look at him, in case he returned to glaring at her. She’d had enough of hate being aimed her way with the idiotic folk of that one ignorant town. Kelly didn’t want to have to deal with any more, today. Not until the urge to cry had passed again.
    For his own part, Saber wanted to throttle her neighbors, even if they were in some other universe only Morganen knew how to find. It was the same kind of unreasoning fear that had forced the eight of them into exile, ordered off the ancestral Corvis land and onto Nightfall Island. Except—if he understood her correctly—magic didn’t exist in her home dimension, save in stories and superstitions. The fears of her neighbors were imaginary ones, and not the very real, prophecy-directed ones that haunted his own family. Making the reason for her troubles utterly senseless, and thus an even greater tragedy.
    Saber now felt like a brute for adding to her misery, listening to the serious troubles she had already gone through. Running a hand through his hair, he tried to think of something to say to change the subject. He found one as he eyed her profile, doing her stubborn best not to cry, though he could see the reddening of her eyes, the way they gleamed with moisture. When her jaw finally relaxed, he spoke.
    â€œWhat is your name?”
    â€œKelly. Kelly Doyle.” She did her best to clear her nose without a telltale sniff, but of course there was one. Doyles didn’t cry, though, not over little things like prejudice and attempted murder, and bullying strangers from other universes. In other universes. Composed as much as possible, given her bizarre situation, she finally looked at him. Trying to be polite despite her circumstances and immediate past with the man, she asked, “What’s yours?”
    â€œSaber. Of Nightfall.” He waited for recognition to dawn, but of course it didn’t. “My brothers and I were exiled to this island. Our neighbors were afraid of us, too.”
    That made her blink and narrow her eyes with a touch of wariness. “Why?”
    â€œWe fulfill the Curse of Eight Prophecy, that’s why. Eight sons, born in four sets of twins, all on the same day two years apart each time. Each one fitting in demeanor or gift the verses of the ‘Song of the Sons of Destiny.’”
    She pulled the covers a little closer, though they were meager protection. “What do you mean, ‘Curse’? Do you turn into werewolves, or drink other people’s blood, or spawn baby demons if someone gets you

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