Forever The World of Nightwalkers - By Jacquelyn Frank

PROLOGUE

Agincourt, Friday, 25 October 1415

“Here is war at its most profound,” Menes mused as he leaned forward from his seat high on horseback and peered down at the vast field below. “An army of so few making bold against an army of so many.”

“Methinks you are seeing parallels, my friend.”

Menes turned to look at Ramses, who was a befreckled, redheaded adolescent boy. More of a young man, in truth, but he had yet to fully grow into his body and his looks. Although, with one of the greatest pharaohs of all spetuisayharing possession of that gangly frame, it lent an air of surety and power that had no doubt been lacking before. An air that forced others to obey his commands, even if they weren’t always sure why they felt compelled to do so. The fact that he was ever at Menes’s right hand made it very clear to other Bodywalkers exactly who he was and exactly why he should be obeyed at all times. And in the event of utter stupidity, Ram had his ways of making himself very, very clear on a matter. Ramses may have conceded the throne of the Bodywalkers to Menes, long ago acknowledging him to be the better ruler of the Nightwalker breed, but Menes did not count himself above Ramses in any way other than by Bodywalker law. They were as equals. They had always been so. Always would be so.

“You only say that because the Politic is outnumbered by the Templars four to one at the moment.” Wry amusement touched his lips. Their war, the civil war between the Templars and the Politic, would never end, it seemed. Century after century, death after death, it always turned the same, grinding like millstones. But for the first time the Politic was in danger of losing everything. If that happened the Bodywalkers would fall under the feverish rule of Odjit and her followers, who would rule the Bodywalkers with a zealous fist.

“You know their prophecy as well as I do. The day the Templars wrest power from us, Amun will rise to champion the underdog Templars, gifting them with power and rule for their devoted service to the gods.”

Ram snorted derisively. “That’s the prophecy as told by their oracles … not by any oracle we have ever known. If it held any truth, Cleo or one of our other powerful oracles would have concurred.”

Menes nodded. He knew that as well as Ram did. However, part of what made him a good pharaoh was that he never dismissed anything out of hand. Over his many lifetimes, while sharing bodies with a great variety of hosts, he had learned that there were rarely any absolutes in the world. Even death was not an absolute. Not to their kind anyway. It was to humans. Which proved another point. One man’s absolute was another man’s maybe. To the Templars, Amun’s prophecy was an absolute. To them, it was a big maybe. Or in Ram’s assessment, a huge “not bloody likely.”

“The longbow,” he said, shifting attention back to the war between the French and the English. The English king, Henry, was proving to be a master tactician. Or perhaps just a dogged one. Menes could not decide. But watching the English decimate the French from a distance with the impressive use of the longbow in spite of having an undermanned army riddled with dysentery and other illnesses, he thought it was perhaps a healthy dose of both. “I once thought it an awkward instrument. But I see in proper hands there is much to be said for it.”

“You could say the same about Bodywalker rule,” Ram teased him.

Menes reached out to cuff him but froze mid-action. He took in a sharp breath, drawing Ram’s quick attention.

“She’s here,” he said on a rushing exhalation. There was no need for him to explain. Ram knew whom he meant just as assuredly as Menes’s quickening heart and soul did. Menes had waited so patiently these past few months, his life feeling void and half present even as he spent the time Blending with his new host and familiarizing himself with the state of Bodywalker affairs after a century of his absence …

He had always known her. Lifetime after lifetime they found each other,">Then he swept up her mouth with his, holding her so tightly to himself with the wrapping strength of his arms, his hands running fiercely hot across her back.

He could feel her now, her presence like sunshine burning through full armor,

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