branded

This week’s excerpt is from Of Fire and Steel, book one of The Forging Legends.
Water woke me, not the feeling of drowning this time, but the way my back screamed as rivulets trickled over it. That scream moved to my mouth, ripping raggedly from a throat swollen and raw.
“Look, look, Ancarlia. You see, yes?” Shenab’s smiling face bobbed before me again.
I didn’t answer but he watched the focus of my one good eye with his, and seemed satisfied I was looking. He held something up to me.
“We call our criminals vishori.” He forced his mouth around the unfamiliar sounds of Esponian. “We mark them with a V so we all will know. I have this for you, do you see? It is a D, a D for doiya.”
He held up a D-shaped piece of metal—a brand. The word fought its way through the haze of my mind.
Shenab walked away from me then, a small smile playing with his full mouth. My back screamed again, told me it could not bare this pain, told me it was too much. My healing surged again, only to be pushed back. The room spun and faded before me, twinkled senselessly, and I closed my eye against it. My ribs throbbed and my shoulders ached. The darkness tugged at me again, but that back part of my mind was insistent, almost frenzied, that I needed to focus, to pay attention.
Other parts of my mind flicked to alertness, fought back the dizziness and pain. Fear became a cold tickle down the inside of my spine that spread out, up, through every part of me until I became wide awake and choking with it. Tears pricked at my eyes and rolled over bitten, bloody lips that began working out silent prayers becoming pleas. Pleas for Seven and Song, for my mother and father, supplications to be saved from this, from more than I could possibly bear.

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