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Prince of Dreams Nancy McKenzie

Prince of Dreams

Nancy McKenzie

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1BORN BETWEEN THE STARSRain fell in sheets. The swollen river tore through its narrow valley, bearing sodden bodies like old logs, dashing them against rocks, spinning them heavily in swirling cataracts, heaving them up along the drowned shore,More1BORN BETWEEN THE STARSRain fell in sheets. The swollen river tore through its narrow valley, bearing sodden bodies like old logs, dashing them against rocks, spinning them heavily in swirling cataracts, heaving them up along the drowned shore, pale and bloated, a midnight feast for eager kites. Upstream where the forest thinned under the cliff face, a lone company of soldiers slogged wearily through the mud, heads down, shoulders hunched against the heavens fury. Their captain sat on his horse, his face raised to the sky. He stretched out his arms as if to embrace the storm, the black night, the soaking wet, and gather them to himself. Through the din of the downpour they heard his cry.Gods of the high hills, gods of the moving deep, gods of the living forest, the birthless sky and the deathless night, accept our thanks! Praise be to Lord Mithra, the Bull-Slayer, the Light who conquers darkness! We honor your name. Great Goddess of Nemet, arbiter of fate, stay your bright sword and smile on us! We bend our knee to Yahweh, Lawgiver, whose vengeful eye can turn a man to stone! Hear our plea, sweet Jesu Christ, who died for all our sins--grant us the grace to forgive our enemies. Ai-ya! We have beaten back the Saxons and exult in victory!The captain turned in his saddle and grinned at his men. His face, under the dark mop of streaming hair, was the beardless face of a boy. Hows that, Bryn? Conwyl? Haeric? Did I leave anyone out?The soldiers laughed with affection, called him a Druids spawn, and named forty gods he had forgotten. One man, a veteran, turned to his younger companion.Never saw a lad delight so in bad weather. Cant bear to be indoors when theres a storm outside. Begotten of the sea witch, he must have been.Aye, growled his companion, wiping blood from a cut in his cheek. Sings like an angel and wields a sword like the very devil. Born between the stars, as we say in Lyonesse.Born under the Twins, you told me, Kerro, born too late. Dont they say in Lyonesse his fates unlucky?Kerro squirmed. His mother the queen died at his birthing, but that doesnt always bring bad luck.The veteran hawked, turned his head and spat. Ill tell you whats bad luck. His fathers dying before the lad reached manhood. Ill-fated prince! Old enough to see his future just beyond his grasp. Thatll bring black shadows down around anyones ears.Black shadows, indeed! You and your superstitions. I dont think our prince is unlucky. Hes a likely youth, strong and well favored, an excellent swordsman, a sensible fighter, a good head on his shoulders. Youll see, Haeric, someday hell make us a fine king.The veteran laughed, water streaming from his beard. If he ever gets the chance.What do you mean?His father Meliodas was King of Lyonesse and King of Cornwall, too, being firstborn of the High King Constantine. Young Tristans sixteen and, as you say, a sensible fighter. Hes the heir. Yet whats he king of?Oh, come, Haeric, thats an old story. He was twelve when Meliodas died, too yo