TITLE: Traitor's Plight
On the run from assassins, Lydia seeks uncertain asylum in war-torn Mudamora. But her magic is a foil to the life-draining powers of the kingdom’s enemies – a valuable commodity, which, if discovered, will jeopardize both her freedom and her life.
Lydia’s heels clicked on the tiles as she descended through the spiralling hallway leading to the bathing caverns. Only a few candles lit the corridor. As the sulphurous air thickened, she took advantage of the rare moment of privacy and allowed her shoulders to slump, the false smile to slip from her face.
She had little enough to smile about; what pleasures and freedoms allowed to her would soon be at an end. Her father’s misguided attempts to secure her future had made that certain. Not that she had any right to begrudge Senator Vinia his decision; all her life she’d wanted for nothing though she was no blood of his, not patrician blood at all.
The air grew warmer. Reaching the bottom, she pushed open doors emblazoned with the golden dragon of Celendor, and a wave of steam rushed over her. Torches ensconced throughout the chamber crackled in the moist air, and shadows danced up the walls before disappearing into the darkness of the cavernous ceiling. She was alone, the baths devoid of both patrons and slaves until the formal opening two days hence. Reaching down, Lydia fumbled with the buckle of her shoe.
The doors slammed behind her. Whirling around, she stifled a gasp as her eyes came to rest on her future husband. Lucius stood between her and the entrance, flanked by two of his men. His blue eyes regarded her with amusement and an inexplicable dread seeped into her veins.