Death Plague — COMING AUGUST!
(This unedited sample may not be featured in the the final book.)
70 years prior to the Death Plague.
By candlelight, deep underneath Lightend Sanctuary, Healer Quxa unrolled sacred parchment revealing the story of Meldrassa: the first of the healers and the only recorded healer to have born a child. Tomorrow–the first day of November –marked the Feast of Meldrassa, where healers across the lands of Senya would close their temples and travel to Lightend Sanctuary, the home of light and the highest priestess.
On this one day, the sanctuary opened its gates to the common folk, and Quxa would be able to mingle with the strapping boys form nearby villages. An idea that thrilled her to no end.
Quxa breathed deeply, composing herself. She carefully placed heavy stones on the four corners of the ancient, stained scroll. She’d stolen the document from her mentor, Superior Cilan, after noting it held details of Meldrassa’s story not commonly known. She began to read.
Meldrassa and Efloog, a humble couple not one year married, were due to to greet their first child in exactly one month. Unfortunately, Efloog fell gravely ill after slicing his arm on a rusty edge of steel. Unable to afford the special herbs for Efloog’s healing, the couple attempted to embrace his inevitable death.
After her husband’s first dip into madness brought on by a fever, Meldrassa ran into a wide field on the first day of November in spring and begged the sun and skies for help. The sun god struck her down, turning her eyes golden. Meldrassa became a healer. She awoke filled with lust, and returned home to make love to her husband for the last time.
Efloog was healed.
Though Efloog survived, their poverty deepened, unable to pay their taxes and a week until their child’s birthing day, they feared losing everything.
Efloog spoke to Meldrassa, convincing her that healing other men would make them rich. Reluctantly, Meldrassa agreed to one healing for five gold coins, enough to pay their taxes until the birth of her child. News spread quickly, and after one old man’s healing from near death, men from across Senya flocked to their marital home.
Meldrassa healed hundreds of men out of fear they’d kill her. Even Efloog couldn’t stop them, though they always paid their coin. They tied her to the bed and ravaged her body.
She healed quickly, but her mind withered. The child in her womb grew stronger and was soon born. A daughter whom she name Curatia.
Meldrassa tried to kill herself, but failed to bleed, or choke. Her bodies exceptional healings kept her alive through her misery. She sought out a mercenary, paying him fifty gold to sever her head. Before her death, Meldrassa gave her close friend, Wenda, a letter to pass onto Curatia on her eighteenth birthday.
Quxa turned her head as the tears dripped down her cheeks. Meldrassa’s story saddened her, as if she was a part of her somehow. Even worse, Curatia had never known her mother’s sacrifice. It angered Quxa that healers couldn’t have children. Meldrassa was the first and last healer to succeed. That’s why Quxa was obsessed with the story. She desired a child herself. It meant more to her than life.
Quxa read on.
The night of Meldrassa’s death, Efloog hung himself, leaving Wenda to raise Curatia. After ten years passed, the story of Meldrassa became a legend told on winter’s nights around blazing hearths. Wenda and Efloog kept Curatia’s mother’s identity from her, since the story of healings was one of shame and immorality.
Meldrassa’s sacrifices left Efloog a rich man. He bought a large estate and hired workers and tenants to work the lands. Curatia, his daughter, lived a happy life, attended school, and often visited Wenda who ran the local dye mill.
On Curatia’s wedding day, which came near the end of her seventeenth year, Wenda gave Meldrassa’s daughter the letter she’d intended for her eighteenth birthday. Curatia never imagined that Meldrassa, the fabled healer woman, had been a real let person let alone her mother. She wept for the truth of her death and hated her father.
Curatia quickly married a rich man and moved to the opposite side of the country, unable to forgive her father for letting Meldrassa suffer and die.
In honour of Meldrassa’s memory, Curatia bore as many children as her womb could manage. Eight children, all girls, became Curati’s descendants. Half were healers, half were ordinary. News about the healer girls spread through the land. The sick flocked to their door and Curatia’s husband hired thugs to protect his daughters.
The king soon intervened. He ordained the healer girls a gift from the sun god and built temples in their honour. The healer girls wrote books inspired by the divine as a guide to healer ritual and worship.
The king’s eldest son chose one of Curatia’s ordinary daughters to become his wife. Together they had a healer child of their own. The reverence for healers became a religion, and the lands rejoiced in their prosperity and health.
A thousand years of peace followed.
Quxa read the story three more times before placing the stones aside and carefully rolling the paper into a cylinder. After sliding into bed, she lay wide awake, staring at the ceiling. Every year, ordinary folks stared at the sun, blinding themselves forever in the hope of becoming a healer.
Fools, she thought.
Quxa rubbed her stomach, wishing she could marry, wishing she could have children of her own. She wanted a small cottage, somewhere on the western ocean cliffs just south of the Sanctuary. Her husband would be a hunter, or carpenter, they’d make love a hundred times a day. He’d protect her, hold her close and warm.
Quxa blew out the candle on her bedside tabled, rolled onto her side, and smiled sweetly.
I’ll be a mother one day, she thought. If Meldrassa found a way to save her husband’s life, then I can find a way to have children.
By K. J. Colt
(USA Today Bestselling Author)
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