PhyllisZimblerMiller would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

Road to Zanzica

By PhyllisZimblerMiller All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Fantasy

Prologue

The shout brought Leeze am Holden running from the homestead main building after grabbing her sword. The older of the two family helpers ran toward her, his right hand grasping the reins of her father’s horse.

“Where’s Father?” she screamed at the family helper, but he only shook his head, too winded to speak.

Leeze reached the horse and jerked the reins from the helper’s hands. “Quiet, Magnolia,” she whispered in the horse’s ear. “You are safe now.”

The horse trembled under her hands as she inspected its body. No obvious injuries. The saddle remained in place but no saddle bags.

She thrust the reins back into the helper’s hands. “See to Magnolia’s care but keep her saddled and saddle my horse. I will be leaving in one watch cycle with both horses.”

Leeze ran back into the main building and wrote an inscription for her mother, who had earlier ridden to a neighboring homestead. Then Leeze changed into male clothing, her father’s cut-down garments worn when practicing with her sword. At the age of 21 star cycles she knew to hide her gender if riding alone.

Shoving a waterskin into her own saddle bags, she considered her next actions. Her father had been due home this sun cycle from the capital city of Zanzica where he had journeyed to pay the annual tax allotment. Therefore he should not be that far from Holden.

Leeze recited the ancient Tartum prayer for travelers and swung up into the saddle on her own horse Fermesh. She took Magnolia’s lead from the helper and trotted toward the road leading to Zanzica.

***

The circling of vultures around a solitary tree at the side of the road alerted her before she reached the spot. Her fingers clenched on the reins of her horse. Did she really expect not to find this answer?

The moment the figure sprawled on the ground came into view Magnolia whimpered. Leeze slid off Fermesh and patted Magnolia’s head.

She walked toward the body lying face down, the body from whose clothes she recognized as her father. She knelt down and stared at the dried blood congealed around the stab wound in his back.

Standing, she recited the Tartum prayer for the dead.

Black fury descended into her mind. She clutched the sword she wore at her side and vowed she would find the perpetrators – she would strike them down as they had struck down her father!

And for what reason? Her father had no enemies, and surely the tax allotment had already been delivered. He would have had nothing of significant value with him. Yet, as she glanced around the ground for his saddle bags, she found no evidence of their existence.

The movement of the horses brought her back to herself. First she must needs report this murder to the closest magistrate. Then she must seek help to return her father’s body to Holden, where he would be buried with his ancestors.

She shook her head, realizing that she could not leave his body. She would wait by the road until another traveler passed.

Three watch cycles later Leeze spotted two men riding toward her, both wearing the colors of the royal courier service.

As they came closer she dropped into a curtsey, only realizing as she did so that she wore men’s clothing and should have bowed. Then, as her dark unbound hair fell forward into her face, she also realized she hadn’t plaited her hair into the male-favored single braid.

The men stopped and the younger one jumped off his horse, tossing the reins to his companion.

He looked into her face and said, “My lady, how can we help you? And why do you dress as a man?”

“I am Leeze am Holden and I have just found my father’s murdered body. I dressed this way to seek him after his horse returned without him.”

She caught her breath, determined not to cry now. “I need help to alert a magistrate and return my father’s body to Holden.”

The courier bowed. “I am Daglish and my companion is Xan. We are riding on official business to the magistrate of Healfix, which is only half a watch cycle from here. I will remain with you while Xan completes our assignment and asks the magistrate to return here.”

With a nod to Daglish, Xan took off.

“Are you far from Holden?” Daglish said.

“About two watch cycles.”

“Have you eaten today?”

When she shook her head, he reached into his saddle bags and brought out a round of cheese, from which he cut off two large slices.

“Have you said the Tartum prayer for the dead?” he asked.

When she nodded he said, “The magistrate will surely execute the law of responsibility. He will bring a map of this area and measure whose homestead is closest. That homestead must needs pay the blood guilt price.”

Leeze nodded. Paying the blood guilt price would satisfy preserving the sanctity of the land. Yet whoever paid that ceremonial price might not be the actual murderer. And only the death of the actual murderer would satisfy Leeze!

***

Three sun cycles later Leeze stood in court as the magistrate pronounced sentence on Tretain, Lord am Cranag. At the site of her father’s murder the magistrate had determined that Lord Tretain’s homestead land lay closest to the body of her father. The magistrate had then summoned Lord Tretain to the magistrate’s court in Healfix to answer to the law of responsibility.

The required appearance had been scheduled so that Leeze and her mother could first attend to the Tartum funeral rites after the magistrate’s people had conveyed her father’s body back to Holden. Leeze had gone through the ancient rituals consumed with the need for the blood guilt to be assuaged, and her mother could not bring herself to attend this court appearance.

The magistrate had questioned Lord Tretain as to whether he or his people had killed Leeze’s father. Lord Tretain had denied this on behalf of himself and his people nor did Lord Tretain know who might have been responsible.

The magistrate recited, “According to the law of responsibility, you must pay the sum of 5,000 coin to the family of Horram am Holden. I will expect court receipt of this coin five sun cycles from now, and we will then deliver the blood guilt price to the family.”

Tretain, Lord am Cranag glared at the magistrate, although Leeze knew that Lord Tretain had to comply or risk forfeiting his own holdings.

He touched his closed fist to his heart signifying acceptance of the sentencing, inclined his head to the magistrate, and strode from the court.

Leeze stood, swishing her long dress into place so that she would not trip over the hem. She had been able to dress in her own clothes as a family helper had accompanied her to the magistrate’s court.

But next star cycle it must needs be she who would journey to Zanzica to pay the Holden homestead’s tax allotment. She could not take a helper with her for such a lengthy journey as her mother would need both helpers at the homestead. For safety on the road Leeze would dress in male clothing with her hair plaited in a single braid. And she would always remember to bow.

She followed Lord am Cranag out of the court, standing on the road to watch him and his men mount their horses.

As he turned his horse to depart, he glanced back at her. “The coin will be paid, but that will not be the end of our association,” he said.

Leeze did not reply, her eyes fastened on the saddle bags attached to his saddle – the ones with the pattern she had carved into her father’s bags.

Tretain, Lord am Cranag had her father’s saddle bags!

Had he or his men murdered her father? If so, some day she would have her revenge – regardless of the payment of the blood guilt price.

Continue Reading Next Chapter
Chapters
1. Prologue
Further Recommendations

Stephen Warner: To start off, I am thoroughly impressed. The writing style is somewhat unique, and the plot seemed to move at a nice and steady pace. However, I was not expecting this to be a vampire book! I am usually not one for novels about vampires, but I was pleasantly surprised! You wrote with such grace a...

Atractivo Sumit: The story is an amazing blend of what we call natural, plain romance along with subtle emotions and interesting twists. The plot is so beautifully interwoven.

izzymerchant: This book is truly special. The plot, the characters and the way the story flows is so engrossing and magical that I found it virtually impossible to put down. The character relationships were particularly fascinating and Melenthia's character was fascinating. Cannot wait to see what happens next!

Alkira Joan: Great story, I found it hard to read especially the dialogue. You just need to fix up some spelling errors and the gramma .I enjoyed this book. was a little hard to get though.,.,..,.,.,,..,.,.,, , , , ,.,, , , , , , , ,., ,,.,,,,,

Dessie Williams: loved the book. the plot the characters all just great.I think it's a must read. once you start this book it's hard to put down. hope it gets published....I think this book is a must read.great job!!!!

Shreya Biswas: Finally god...... I was tired of Charissa doubting Frederick's love... yes.. All's well that ends well.... i was getting really downright agitated at the author because the suspense was held really well on how things will work out in the epilogue and i just wanted them to have a happy ending.. An...

zoheusher20: What more can I say? The writing style and little details drew me into the book and for the entirety of the story I was Juliet. I felt her turmoil and emotions and every trouble or triumph as they arrived. This story was very different and had quite a few little but unexpected twists that made it...

Alex Rushmer: Chapter One: Not much is happening in this chapter, but I was absolutely fascinated by the depth of your character development. I love how you just sat there with the reader and explored Eddward. Usually, that sort of thing gets boring very fast, but this was actually really cool! He's so unique ...

Alani Foreigner: I absolutely loved how you created this story. It isn't like the other cliché stories I've ever read. I had just started reading it yesterday and just had to finish it. The main characters are grotesquely awesome and I fell in love with them. If you're into fantasy and stuff I can guarantee that ...

More Recommendations

ynez2005: I LOVE THIS BOOK SOOOOO MUCH!!!!Though you really need to make another book,more Princesses!!! Whoooo!!!Girl Power!!!Mabey it could even be Devona's BFF???That would make it even better!!!Plus can you pleeease make Akki come back,together with Thea and Authur amd the whole family is back!Other th...

SandraHan1: This story is very descriptive, with vivid scenes from the very beginning, which made for a good scene setting. I love the symbolism in names, such as “Naysayers”, “Hadd”, etc . The story itself is revolutionary, intriguing, emotional and exciting. I was very pleased to see that there is a happy ...

Marimar Amieva: I just can't believe the story! I absolutely loved it, all of it. The characters and their chemistry between them, and the fact that they are relatable. The story also has some sick plot twists, which I never saw coming. I loved the fact that it is an adorable love story but has its mystery touc...

Sabrina Ettey: The story plot is great. I loved it. Just the grammar punctuation and writing style was kind of distracting. But with the smooth polishing, it may shine like a pearl. :)

makaylakay: I love love this story! It's written incredibly and well thought-out plot! I love how it's a different twist in fantasy fiction, other then the usual vampire or werewolves. Love the romantics and drawn to the two characters so much already! This book will draw you in within the first chapter and ...

OpheliaJones: This story took a different kind of spin on the "normal girl lives with definitely not normal guy" plot. The plot points of Frey's father, Liam's family, and Frey's view of Liam's world were good to read. She did not fall in love with him in the first couple weeks. Their lives were not smooth in ...

{{ contest.story_page_sticky_bar_text }} Be the first to recommend this story.

About Us:

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.