Read Cobweb Empire Online

Authors: Vera Nazarian

Tags: #romance, #love, #death, #history, #fantasy, #magic, #historical, #epic, #renaissance, #dead, #bride, #undead, #historical 1700s, #starcrossed lovers, #starcrossed love, #cobweb bride, #death takes a holiday, #cobweb empire, #renaissance warfare

Cobweb Empire

BOOK: Cobweb Empire
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“... Nazarian writes clean and true prose
...”


Publishers Weekly

 

 

COBWEB EMPIRE

(Cobweb Bride Trilogy: Book Two)

 

Vera Nazarian

 

Published by Norilana Books at Smashwords

 

Copyright © 2013 by Vera Nazarian

 

Cover Art Details:

“Mysteriarch” by Sir George Frampton, 1892;
“Corinthe, a Seated Female Nude” by Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904);
“Palazzo Labia Venice” by Antonietta Brandeis (1949-); “Main Street
in Samarkand from the Top of the Citadel, Early Morning” by Vasily
Vereshchagin, 1869-70; “Swinton Park Tree by Night” by Andy
Beecroft (geograph.org.uk), January 14, 2007; “Tree silhouetted in
radiation fog” by Andy Waddington (geograph.org.uk), November 22,
2005; “Star-Forming Region LH 95 in the Large Magellanic Cloud,”
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team
(STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, Acknowledgment: D.
Gouliermis (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg).

 

Interior Illustration:

“Map of the Realm and the Domain,” Copyright
© 2013 by Vera Nazarian.

 

Cover Design Copyright © 2013 by Vera
Nazarian

 

Ebook Edition

 

September 25, 2013

 

Discover other titles by Vera Nazarian at

http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Norilana

 

Epub Format ISBN:

 

ISBN-13: 978-1-60762-124-9

ISBN-10: 1-60762-124-X

 

This book is a work of fiction. All
characters, names, locations, and events portrayed in this book are
fictional or used in an imaginary manner to entertain, and any
resemblance to any real people, situations, or incidents is purely
coincidental.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this
publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a
retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means
(electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise)
without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

 

Smashwords Edition License Notes

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this book with another
person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you
share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it,
or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to
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the hard work of this author.

 

 

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Table of Contents

 

Map of the Realm and the Domain

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Author’s Note: Imaginary History, Geography,
Weather, and Warfare

List of Characters

Other Books by Vera Nazarian

About the Author

Acknowledgements

 

Map of the Realm and the
Domain

 

 

Dedication

 

For all those who have gone
before . . .

 

Drink once, and forget everything you
know,

Drink twice, remember everything you
knew,

Drink for the third time and you die.

 

 

COBWEB EMPIRE

 

Cobweb Bride Trilogy
Book Two

 

Vera Nazarian

 

 

Chapter
1

 

B
efore the night
was over, everyone in the village of Oarclaven knew that Percy
Ayren had killed her grandmother.

It was more than just the sin of murder that
had them in an uproar. Rather, in a world suspended—a world where
death had stopped and no one could die—it was a terrible
miracle
.

First, in the early evening twilight, the
neighbors heard the sound of many horses approaching, the crunching
snow, and the dull ringing of plate armor and chain mail. Metal
parts scraped and clanged as a knight and his men-at-arms, followed
by a freight cart, came to a halt before the decrepit Ayren house,
of all places. Someone went up their porch—a poor excuse for one,
just a few snow-dusted wooden planks raised up to create a step
barrier and keep the weather out. The door opened and closed a few
times. Next came a lengthy pause of about a quarter of an hour,
while the nearest neighbors continued to stare through slits in
shutters, overwhelmed with curiosity at such an unheard-of
sight.

And then there was a sudden anguished female
cry—no doubt Niobea, the Ayren wife was wailing—followed by more
shouts and commotion. The men-at-arms waiting outside stirred, but
no one made any move to enter. Not even the great knight himself—he
who was clad in black armor and seated atop the largest soot-black
warhorse the villagers had ever seen. He merely observed, his
helmed head barely turned in the direction of the house with the
poorly thatched roof.

At last the door flew open and out came
Percy—yes, the neighbors were certain it was she, the middle
daughter of the house, as the hearth-light from within revealed her
face and stocky figure. Percy came tearing down the porch, followed
by her mother, Niobea, clutching a woolen shawl and screaming after
her. In their wake came Alann, her father, and the other two
daughters, everyone speaking all at once, and the two girls
starting to bawl outright.

“Get out!
Get out!
Begone from this
house, you who are of the devil, and no daughter of mine!” Niobea
screamed, between bouts of weeping, like a madwoman.

“Wait!” Alann interjected, his own face
stricken. “Stop this instant, silence, goddamit, woman! Persephone,
come back! You listen here—”


Murderer!”
ranted Niobea.

In that moment Percy stopped a few steps
from the porch, breathing hard, and turned around to look at her
mother. The girl was bareheaded in the cold, her poor coat unlaced,
her feet hastily shod in the wraparound woolen shoes that had not
even had a chance to dry off. And the gawking neighbors realized
that she had just returned home from having gone to be a Cobweb
Bride together with half the young women of the Kingdom and the
Realm.

She had returned, but obviously, something
terrible had happened.

“Daughter, wait!” Alann spoke, looking at
her. “You don’t have to go, not if I say so.”

“I am sorry, father—mother,” Percy said
loudly, and none of her family or the neighbors had ever heard her
speak this way. Her voice was strong and resonant and cold like the
evening air, and it seemed to cut like a knife . . .
until it broke momentarily as Percy choked on a sob. “I am so
sorry. But it had to be done. Gran was suffering. I could not have
her suffer any more. Not like that. . . . And
neither could you—you
know
it is so!”

“Is that why you came back?” Patty, her
youngest sister sniffled and wiped her nose and cheeks with the
back of her hand. “To help Gran move on? How—how did you do
it?”

At that point most of the neighbors started
to come out of their houses, no longer concerned with the soldiers
in the street, only with the possibility of a
miracle. . . .

And the black knight, who had been watching
silently up to that point, spoke in a soft but powerful baritone.
“What has happened, girl? Has anyone harmed you in there?”

“Harmed her?” Niobea shrilled, holding on to
the doorway and barely standing upright. She was a tall woman,
ordinarily rather stiff and proud, and it was strange for anyone
who knew her to see her thus, broken and shuddering, overwhelmed by
a complex mixture of terror and grief. It had to be this onslaught
of emotion that somehow made her forget herself and carry on like a
shameless madwoman before a knight of the Realm. “She came back and
brought
death
with her! She did—whatever ungodly witchcraft
she did, to her poor ill grandmother—and it has
killed
her!”

“What?” the knight said, while a multitude
of troubled voices swelled all around, in flutters of fear and
breath curling with vapor on the icy wind. “How is that possible?
Or do you mean to say she has dealt this grandmother of hers a
mortal blow?”

“I will not ask who you are, My Lord, or
what is happening that you come to be here,” spoke up Alann
Ayren—somewhat more in control of himself than Niobea, and thus
cautious—and fully aware of the strange honor paid to his
impoverished family and hovel by the presence and company of the
grand knight. “But my mother lies
dead
in my house, right
now. Not dying, not in that terrible halfway place between mortal
illness and actual death, but
gone
entirely. Bethesia Ayren
is dead and gone in the old way, the way it used to be before death
stopped.”

Waves of voices fluttered around them,
growing louder, moving from house to house. Across the street Uncle
Roald, their neighbor, thunderously cleared his throat and milled
on his own porch, while his wife whispered and looked over his
shoulder from their opened door.

“Percy?” said the knight. “Is this
true?”

There were many stares then, as Alann,
Niobea, the two other Ayren girls, and indeed the entire
neighborhood, took in the unbelievable notion that the lofty knight
not only
knew
of the existence of Percy Ayren, but he called
her by her given name.

“Yes.” Percy replied quietly in a steady
voice, not looking at him, but continuing to stare at the doorway
where her parents stood.

“But how? What happened?”

“I—don’t know. I touched her and then—”

“And then you killed her!” Niobea cried.

“Enough, woman!” Alann exclaimed. “If you do
not shut your mouth now, I will—”

“You will do what, husband? Your daughter
has brought evil to this house! Your mother is
dead!

“Yes, and
blessed be!
” Alann looked
at his wife. And his eyes—oh, his eyes were terrible and resigned
and triumphant.

Niobea saw his expression, and her legs
nearly buckled underneath her. She now held on to the doorway with
both trembling hands, dropping the shawl from the crook of her arm
to the flimsy old wooden planks that constituted their porch,
covered with a fine layer of fresh snow. “What? You mean that you
approve of this deviltry underneath your own roof, Alann
Ayren?”

Alann took a deep breath of ice air. “Call
it what you will,” he said. “But my mother is at peace now, and
suffers no longer. If that is deviltry, then so be it.”

BOOK: Cobweb Empire
6.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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