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A Blade’s Beginning / Ishtar’s Legacy Book 1.5

A Blade’s Beginning / Ishtar’s Legacy Book 1.5

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After being freed from her prison cell by the King of the Gryphons, Enkara will endure the dangers of court intrigues and assassins to be united with the gryphon cub who kept her sane during the many years she spent in a dark dungeon.

But if she doesn’t reach him in time, an assassin in the service of the Queen of the Underworld will steal away her only chance to save him.

 

Synopsis

Author’s Note:

A Blade’s Beginning is a short story that is part of the Ishtar’s Legacy universe. It ties together events from Ishtar’s Blade and Blade’s Honor. I’ve decided to publish it separately from book 2 in the series because of the sixteen-year span of time between books.

First Chapter

An assassination attempt was a dangerous undertaking for both the target and the person planning it, Enheduana mused as she made her way down a set of ancient stone stairs. Time and dampness had pitted and discolored them, but they were still serviceable for her needs.

She descended the last stair and continued into a series of now-familiar corridors until, at last, she came to the remains of a temple deep beneath the Royal Palace. The temple was still protected from interlopers by its ancient magic.

Like her mother before her, Enheduana made the long trek twice per moon cycle to perform the rituals that kept the temple’s magic alive. If she thought she could make the trip more often and remain unnoticed, she would, but some needs superseded others. Her carefully cultivated Councilor persona took a great deal of her time. But it wasn’t what she was.

She had a higher purpose.

Enheduana swept into the temple and continued toward the altar at the back of the room. A swiftly drawn knife, a chanted prayer, and a quick cut on her arm temporarily fulfilled the temple’s need for blood and worship.

When she raised her gaze from the altar to the tall statue of the Queen of the Underworld, she smeared a dab of blood against the statue’s cold lips.

“Great Ereshkigal, may your blessing be ever generous.”
After uttering the simple prayer, she turned and addressed the dark alcove that once housed a statue of Nergal, King of the Underworld. “Good, you are here.”

At her words, a cloaked figure stepped out of the shadows.

Enheduana nodded her head in acknowledgment. “The Anunnaki brought the items from the underworld you will need.”

She shivered at the memory of the towering spirit guardian with a man’s body and the head and wings of an eagle. Yet she’d survived the summoning and a deal had been reached, so at least for now, her dealings with one of his kind was over.

She picked up the medallion and two daggers still in their sheaths from where they rested on the altar and handed them to the female assassin. “You know what to do with the medallion?”

“Yes. I remember,” the assassin said in her soft voice.

“Good. Is everything else in place?”

The cloaked figure nodded. “All is ready.”

“If you get the chance, kill the king. But Queen Iltani is the primary target. Her powers as Ishtar’s Blade make it too risky to continue with the next phase of the plan. As long as Iltani lives, we risk exposure. I will not be the priestess who failed her goddess.”

“I shall honor great Ereshkigal with a death this day, either Queen Iltani’s or my own.” The assassin bowed to the altar.

Enheduana just hoped it was Iltani’s soul that made the journey to the underworld and not the assassin’s.

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