Nora Roberts' Circle Trilogy: Dance of the Gods, Chapter 1
Chapter 1, Part 1, Page 1
The first day of September
Through the house, still as a grave, Larkin limped.
The air was sweet, fragrant with the flowers gathered lavishly for the handfasting rite of the night before. The blood had been mopped up; the weapons cleaned.
They'd toasted Hoyt and Glenna with the frothy wine, had eaten cake. But behind the smiles, the horror of the night's battle lurked. A poor guest.
Today, he supposed, was for rest and more preparation. It was a struggle for him not to be impatient with the training, with the planning. At least last night they'd fought, he thought as he pressed a hand to his thigh that ached from an arrow strike. A score of demons had fallen, and there was glory in that.
In the kitchen, he opened the refrigerator and took out a bottle of Coke. He'd developed a taste for it, and had come to prefer it over his morning tea.
He turned the bottle in his hand, marveling at the cleverness of the vessel -- so smooth, so clear and hard. But what was inside it -- this was something he'd miss when they returned to Geall.
He could admit he hadn't believed his cousin, Moira, when she'd spoken of gods and demons, of a war for worlds. He'd only gone with her that day, that sad day of her mother's burial, to look after her. She wasn't only blood, but friend, and would be queen of Geall.
But every word she'd spoken to him, only steps away from her mother's grave, had been pure truth. They'd gone to the Dance, they'd stood in the heart of that circle. And everything had changed.
Not just the where and when they were, he mused as he opened the bottle and took that first bracing sip. But everything. One moment, they'd stood under the afternoon sun in Geall, then there'd been light and wind, and a roar of sound. Then it had been night, and it had been Ireland -- a place Larkin had always believed a fairy tale.
He hadn't believed in fairy tales, or monsters, and despite his own gift had looked askance at magic.
But magic there was, he admitted now. Just as there was an Ireland, and there were monsters. Those demons had attacked them -- springing out of the dark of the woods, their eyes red, their fangs sharp. The form of a man, he thought, but not a man.
They existed to feed off man. And now they banded together under their queen to destroy all.
He was here to stop them, at all and any costs. He was here at the charge of the gods to save the worlds of man. He scratched idly at his healing thigh and decided he could hardly be expected to save mankind on an empty stomach.
He cut a slab of cake to go with his morning Coke and licked icing from his finger. So far, through wile and guile he'd avoided Glenna's cooking lessons. He liked to eat, that was true enough, but the actual making of food was a different matter.