Answering anger tensed his left arm as his fingers curled into a fist. I lifted my chin and awaited the blow that would reveal his true nature. Instead, he pulled his helmet from his head. Dark, sweat-matted hair plastered his head and dirt streaked down his hollowed cheeks from dark circles around his eyes. He dropped his helm to the ground at my knees. It rolled to rest against my thigh. He stepped forward and leaned down so close I smelled his sweat. I noted the lack of sour wine on his breath.
“Look in my face, Lady Solarius, and see the truth. I take no joy from this task. But I am a loyal soldier. I do as my master bids.”
His dark, haunted eyes bore into mine. Something deep inside my chest stirred. However, anger still possessed my tongue.
“I see only a monster intent on unleashing his pleasure-seeking men on a village of unarmed women and children.”
He flinched, a barely perceptible movement in his features.
“Enough.” Rising to his feet with more grace than I expected, he strode away. “Antano!” A burly man, helmetless and carrying more visible weapons than the other men in the group, answered the call.
“See that she observes the operation, but doesn’t interfere. Then escort her to my quarters by nightfall.”
- Duty: a novel of Rhynan by Rachel Rossano
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