by R.J. Larson
Fantasy Meets the Old Testament in a Novel That Will Reach Readers of All Ages.
Against his wishes and desires, Akabe of Siphra has been chosen by his people to be King. But what does a warrior know of ruling during peacetime? Guided by the Infinite, Akabe seeks to rebuild the Temple in the city of Munra to give the sacred books of Parne a home. But dangerous factions are forming in the background. To gain the land he needs, Akabe must forsake the yearnings of his heart and instead align himself through marriage to the Thaenfall family. Meanwhile, Kien Lantec and Ela Roeh are drawn still closer together...while becoming pawns in a quest to gain power over the region. As questions of love and faith become tangled with lies and murderous plots, each must seek the Infinite to guide them through an ever more tangled web of intrigue and danger.
1. [Akabe, Siphra's king, meets Ela of Parne.]
Her prophet’s staff in one hand, Ela stood with her two formidable chaperones just beyond the fringe of her makeshift canopied study area. Akabe eyed the prophet’s staff. The branch, Ela called it. An ordinary-seeming piece of vinewood. But he’d seen that branch glow like fiery-white metal, illuminating Ela’s dark hair and eyes with the Infinite’s power.
Healing her of fatal wounds.
Now the image of a model Siphran, Ela bowed. When she looked up at Akabe, her big brown eyes shone, serene. She appeared, for all of Munra, to be nothing more—or less—than a lovely young lady in a flowing tunic and embroidered mantle. Yet Akabe knew better than to be lulled by her delicate appearance. Strengthened by the Infinite’s Spirit, this girl felled kingdoms.
Never, for as long as he lived, did he wish to become a target of this prophet’s warnings.
2. [Akabe, Siphra's king, meets Ela of Parne.]
Aware of his watching courtiers, Akabe acknowledged Ela with a nod and a polite smile. “Prophet. I have a new student for you.” Master Croleut nudged little Barth of Siymont forward. Scuffing his boots over the pavings, the boy halted before Akabe with an unenthusiastic sigh.
Akabe struggled to sound serious. “Barth, remember what I said.”
“Yes, Majesty.” Barth looked up at Ela. His eyes widened and, ever Siymont’s courtly son, he fluttered his lashes. “I have a loose tooth!”
“Do you?” Ela seemed thrilled. “Well, if it falls out during lessons, we must be careful to save it. Now, Barth, these are my chaperones, Tamri Het and Matron Prill. And they’re very strict with me, so I must behave. You’ll help me, won’t you? Do you have a writing tablet? No? You may borrow mine….”
Watching her, Akabe wished he could join the class.
3. [Prophet, Ela of Parne, at a feast with Akabe, Siphra's king.]
A hired servant brought cups, then filled them with juice from a metal pitcher beaded with moisture. They all waited until the king lifted his cup. Following his lead, they drank.
Ela couldn't help draining her juice, despite its tartness. Let Tamri and Prill frown at her appalling manners—she was thirsty. Finished, she looked for the servant, but he’d vanished.
Beside her, little Barth grumbled, “Mine tastes sour.”
Akabe grimaced at the pitcher left in their midst. “True. The aftertaste is bitter.”
Aware of an unpleasant icy burning around her lips and down her throat, Ela flung aside her cup. “Majesty…!”
She wrenched Barth’s half-empty cup from his small hands. He already looked sick.
Matron Prill threw down her own cup and said the word Ela feared to voice.
4. [Akabe speaking to his Royal Council.]
“I’m well aware of that fact, my lord. My knife-wound from last year and this morning’s blisters have made the dangers of kingship abundantly clear. What are you failing to say?”
Faine hesitated, his delicacy at odds with his blunt face. “You need an heir. We’ve agreed you must marry.”
“But have I agreed?” Akabe studied his council members' faces. To a man, they nodded, death-serious.
“Yes, sir, you must.” Faine harrumphed, adding with an awkward cough, “Duty.”
“Ah.” Duty. Perfect reason to marry. Nothing could be less inspiring to a prospective wife, Akabe was sure. “Do you believe there’s a young lady somewhere in Siphra who is brave enough to live in this marble inconvenience of a palace—with a man who is clearly marked for assassination?” While they blinked at his acidity, Akabe continued, “Should we also warn her that she’d be sentenced to a life of cold food, perpetual gossip, and endless ceremonies? Surrounded—forgive me, my lords—by packs of staring royal courtiers who’d follow her to the privy to discuss business?”
His council members shifted guilty glances here and there. Faine attempted a joke. “Majesty, you make life in the royal court sound so uncomfortable.”
5 [Ela, Prophet of Parne, talking with her father, Dan Roeh.]
Dan Roeh glanced at Ela’s basket and the branch, then sighed. “It’s been a long day. We didn’t need the king’s men here questioning us half the afternoon—they set us behind schedule. But, at least you didn’t cause another revolution.”
“I didn’t cause Siphra’s revolution!” Well, not entirely. She gave Father a fierce look.
He grinned. “If you say so, Prophet.” As they descended the steps, Dan asked, “Have you reconsidered? About marriage?”
“No.” Marriage. Again! Ela kept her tone mild, despite her growing frustration. “Father, why does everyone insist I must marry? It would be disastrous!”
“I’m not convinced it would be disastrous,” Dan countered. “But your husband needs enough strength and status of his own to endure everything you’ll bring to the marriage.”
Ela’s stomach clenched. “You talk as if you’re considering marrying me off! Father…!”
“I could,” Dan said, unnervingly quiet. “And I believe I should.
Author R. J. Larson
R. J. Larson is the author of numerous devotionals featured in publications such as Women's Devotional Bible and Seasons of a Woman's Heart. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband and their two sons. Prophet marks her debut in the fantasy genre.
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