Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Enlightenment excerpt 3

Enlightenment continued from March 17th:

After what seemed an eternity, one of the soldiers re-emerged, shoving a black-robed man with his wrists strapped together before him. 
Lilly barely restrained a groan. Several more seemed to materialize from nothing, the last of four stumbling after a shove from the butt of a Peacekeeper weapon. Her heart sank to see one of the men she considered a friend among them, and it sank deeper when she saw the rest of the Peacekeepers emerge with seven more Velokians, some of them in their ordinary clothes. 
I'm sorry. I did this. If I hadn't feared for Mychel…  
She twisted around to see the taut lips of restrained anger on his pale face. He was Pallora Fen, the enlightened celemae preparing for Ascension. Luriel, the enemy of the daemons. Velokians served the daemons.
"Don't you even," she snarled.
Hard eyes flashed on her with accusation. 
"These are good men," she argued. 
Cheek muscles bulged with the tightening of Mychel's jaw. He didn't have to say a word--she saw it all on his face.
"That remains to be determined," Commandant Renvil said with a hint of conceit in his voice. "Sergeant." 
The smart clap of boots came from behind. 
"Take these two to a holding cell." 
At a motion of the commandant's chin, steely fingers on her shoulders dragged her towards the door. Mychel followed, hobbling on a leg brace with the help of a cane. 
At the door, they met another Peacekeeper who led them through the narrow, utilitarian corridors of the carrier. Fresh air wafted through the corridors with the faint tinge of chemicals that maintained the various parts of the airship. 
Through several tight corridors and past Peacekeepers in the wider spaces, they attracted few eyes. The men and women in their military uniforms were too busy with their duties and were too well disciplined to let themselves be distracted by prisoners; but Lilly didn't doubt they were not oblivious, especially when a young officer gave her a sly side look as she passed. 
Anger sparked a desire to wipe that look off his face but died after passing, to be replaced by guilt and regrets of having led the Peacekeepers to the castle. 
Before the Awakening of the luriel piece within her, she had often cheered their swift tamping down of civil disobedience demonstrations. Thrissen might be a free republic, but it had rules and she had gladly lived by them, would still if not for the chaos that had interrupted her orderly life. 
If only she could go back. 
But now, everything was different. 
Would the daemons come for her? Did they fear her? Would they continue what Darrac had started? What would happen in Velok without Darrac's leadership? 
A pang of grief plucked at her heart and emerged as a welling of moisture in her eyes. She swiped it away a moment before the lead guard keyed a cell door to open in the brig. 
When the woman stepped aside, Lilly was nudged into a square barely big enough for a man to fully stretch across either way, if one ignored the fold-down cots. 
When Mychel followed, she dropped onto one of those cots with her head turned away to avoid the scolding in his eyes. The faint click of the door and the tap from the cane told her all she needed—she was stuck once more in a tiny cell with him. 
The sound of fabric rustling accompanied a groan. After a heavy sigh, he fell silent. 
Several minutes passed in which Lilly started to think he might leave her alone. She dared to peer aside only to see him glaring in judgment. Those blue eyes were ice in their fix on her. 
"Those men came from the same place you did—you and Darrac. They served him, didn't they?" 
He didn't deserve an answer. 
"Tell me, Lilly. Are they revived Velokians?" 
"They're good men." 
"Are they Velokians?" 
She refused to give him the satisfaction. He didn't know them, but she knew him; he would make assumptions for the worst. 
"By your silence, I assume I'm correct." 
"You don't know them, Mychel." 
"They serve the daemons. That's all I need to know." 
She jumped to her feet before him, trembling in fury. "How dare you judge!" 
Mychel stared up at her, a curious blend of emotions on his face, but she wouldn't back down. She was done cowing to him and his Pallora Fen.
(c) 2018 Melanie Nilles and may not be reproduced without permission.

Watch for the full novel in late May-early June 2018!

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