Lored finally has enough evidence to clear the herb woman, but can his claims absolve Rue of the charges of murder?
"Although the focus changes between characters and places, it all flows well from one chapter to the next. The overall effect is very satisfying. I think this is the most accomplished instalment so far. Well-structured, great character- and world building. Can't wait for the next book!" W Thomas
When Lored discovers damning evidence against the Prince Consort himself, the trial for the herb woman’s life begins.
But Tari is beset by Stio, who thinks she is present on Kiros with dark, ulterior motives.
Meanwhile, Otta and Erl, waiting patiently for Lored and Tari to meet them at the crossroads, are hunted by Stio and his men on the borders of the Wild Wood.
Can Lored establish Rue’s innocence? Can Tari convince Stio that neither she nor the taku-kevir are a threat to the throne of Kiros? And can the twins continue to evade capture? Find out in Dead Man’s Witness!
If you enjoy novels set in other worlds such as Middle Earth and Osten Ard, you will love The Kaerling series!
The first sound Tari could remember hearing was water. The tip-tap of rain on the window panes in her family's large kitchen would draw her attention throughout the winter months. Later, when she could walk, her mother took her to the great river that curved through the hidden plateau. This waterway was vital for her family's survival, and, as she grew up, the liquid force that wound serpentine across the farmland fascinated her.
The river flowed differently in every season. In the spring months it would roar past, earth coloured with froth on top as the mountain snows melted. During the long summer season the water ran clear without hurrying. In autumn, the levels rose again and the river became purposeful, as if it had somewhere to go before the snows arrived. Winter was perhaps the most beautiful season when ice captured the currents and her mother would break the surface with an axe so they could draw out the chill liquid beneath.
Being assigned to the Shrine of Aqua was an answer to unspoken prayers in Tari’s fifth year at the Temple. The sacred grotto, moist and humid from the spring that welled up within the mountain, made her feel she was home. The quietness of the rock chambers carved out of the topmost peak, was a relief from the busy, politically motivated lower shrines.
Tari was aware she was dreaming and let the vivid remembrances wash over her, feeling safe and secure in the memories. She saw once again the square cut altar with loaves of bread and bottles of oil set upon the surface. One of the acolytes, Karu, stared at her from the silver-grey curtain that divided the altar room from the grotto where the statue of Aqua glistened with moisture.
A flicker of unease invaded her belly as she saw fear in Karu's eyes and the pallor of her dark skin. The acolyte wasn't looking at her but at someone standing beside her. Someone tall and lean, dressed in well-worn doeskin trousers and jerkin. It wasn't Undine.
Tari turned her head to see Erl beside her, his bright, warm blue eyes gazing at everything with interest. Still aware she was dreaming, she found herself in priestess Undine’s chamber, folding up clothes. Erl loomed in the doorway, the small, silver dagger in one hand, an enquiring look on his face. She knew she shouldn’t be telling the young man her secret, but Undine already knew about it. Erl didn’t appear angry that she’d just tried to kill his sister and there was something about him that made her want to trust him. She could hear Karu in the acolyte’s room gathering more clothes.
“It's a family heirloom,” she heard herself say, cheeks reddening. “My family were elf-friends in the past and the knife was lent to my ancestors by one of the elves before a great battle. It's been in my family ever since, looked after by the eldest daughter.”
“My lady? Priestess?”
Tari looked up, expecting to see Karu, but the dark-skinned girl was not there and she opened her eyes to a dim gloaming in the room assigned to her in the Cathair.
“Tari? Are you awake?” The same female voice spoke with a low, lilting accent...