We’ve finally made it to the final chapter of Domna, Part One: The Sun God’s Daughter!!!!
Even though we’ve reached The End, it’s really only the beginning for the rest of this intrigue-filled serialized novel as you’ll see right after I cover a couple business-y/promote-y tidbits.
First, if you missed the festivities last week, you can relive Domna‘s Launch Day here and I highly encourage you to check out how Finn McSpool and the other Beasties really got into the occasion at this post.
Secondly, my 99c Release Day Special is still going on. For those of you who’d prefer to read Domna, Part One on your e-reader instead of this blog, just click on the image below to discover all the places where you can pick up your bargain today!
Okay, enough of that blather. It’s time to kick back, put your feet up, and enjoy this final chapter. If you haven’t been reading along, all the links to the previous chapters are waiting for you at the bottom of this post.
Chapter 15 – Journey’s End
After only a few days on horseback, I was ready to ditch my mount and get back to life on board a ship; it may be monotonous, but at least a ship’s deck was a pain-free mode of travel. My new retinue – except Cassius and Macrinus who knew better than to ask – insisted I ride in a litter. When I pointed out how much extra time it would take and that my future husband was waiting, they smiled to themselves as if they understood my eagerness to be with Sirius. They told me I could ride as long as I switched to a litter before entering Vancuse City. I shrugged, but didn’t verbally agree to anything.
Northern Osteria, with its waterways and temperate forests, was vastly different from the dry landscape of Bendria. Where there wasn’t meadow or marsh, thick stands of conifers grew, their tips drooping as if bowing to us as we passed. Used to the reds and browns of Bendria, my eyes could barely absorb all the shades of green, and trying to take it all in distracted me from my aching back and legs.
The only complaint I had with this vibrant region was the perpetual damp. As the ninth month, the month of Demeter, slipped into the tenth, the month of Dionysus, we entered into fall. The days were still warm enough, but we had rain more often than not. Even when it wasn’t raining, unless it was fully sunny, a mist clung to the air. Macrinus despised the constant damp and was a poor companion because of it, so I spent much of my daytime hours with Cassius and Saltia who had enough time alone together in the evenings to not treat me like an intruder to their budding romance.
With every mile marker we passed on this journey northward, I both dreaded meeting Sirius and longed to settle down for more than one night. To think I had nearly traveled from one end of the realm to the other frightened me a little. I was so far from anything familiar. If I ever became separated from the group, how would I find my way back? Despite this worry, I gloated with a dose of pride at the knowledge I had traveled farther from Bendria than Bassio ever had or had ever dreamed of doing.
With the distraction of conversation and sights, I hadn’t given much thought to my father. I couldn’t quite hate him, there was too much familial loyalty within me to do so, but the line separating my loyalty from my hatred was thinner than a hair of my horse’s mane. I would never forgive him for his stubbornness, his betrayal, nor his loss of faith in me, and I doubted I would return to see him while he still lived. It was as if every hoof beat, every oar stroke, every gust of wind in the sails was wiping away the connection I had to my home bit by bit.
With Sirius I would have to find a new place in his world, to forge a new life, and – I was determined – to discover a new importance to replace the status Bassio had denied me. I told myself it would do no good to dwell on the past, on what and whom I had lost. Even Papinias was gone from me now.
My old life was vanishing, each mile was like a sunbeam hitting a painting day after day, imperceptibly fading the image with each passing hour. I had to forget the old image and look forward to, find happiness in a new one. Brave words, but they didn’t always ring true in my own mind.
From having studied the maps in the magistrate’s house and counting the mile markers posted along the Osteria Road, I knew we would soon be coming upon Surria, a decent-sized town just south of Vancuse. Although barely past midday, I insisted we stop for the night.
“But it’s only a couple hours’ ride,” Macrinus said. “I know you’re sore, but surely you can manage.” I scolded him with a glance. Of all people I would have thought he’d understand my wanting to delay my reunion with Sirius. But Macrinus was in a foul mood; the dripping canopy of trees had soaked him to the point he couldn’t get dry and this had left him irritable with everyone for the past couple days.
“I want to rest. I want to look refreshed for my husband,” I said loud enough for those around us to hear.
From under the drooping hood of his sodden cloak, Macrinus grinned slyly at me.
“For your husband,” he said with a skeptical arch of an eyebrow. “Of course, Domna. But we’re not stopping at some shabby tavern. I want a very hot bath and piles of dry towels. Any argument with that?”
Before I could reply, he trotted ahead to let the others know we’d be spending the night in Surria.
Surria couldn’t have been a better place to rest and I wished we could have stayed longer. This was where Cassius’s family had moved to from Entioc when he was a little boy and he knew just the place Macrinus needed. He led us to a small villa that looked over a meadow framed by green hills. Owned by a cousin of his, the tranquil villa certainly beat the noise and smell of a tavern’s rooms, although I had gotten rather used to their boisterous charms during my journey.
To ease my saddle sores and enjoy some solitude, I left my traveling party to their whims. Macrinus had already made a beeline for the baths, and an excited Saltia had gone to meet Cassius’s family who lived nearby. The sun had finally burst from the clouds and I enjoyed its warmth as I strolled through the meadow admiring the plant life.
As we had traveled Macrinus told me the names of a few plants, but he was no botanist. So, in this meadow I could name yarrow, goldenrod, and aster, but many of the plants were simply leafy tree, spiny shrub, Mile Ten flower, stinky bloom, and other such made-up names he’d used to hide his ignorance. I longed for more time here to draw the plants and send questions about and samples of them to Alerio, but an afternoon wasn’t long enough to record so much variety.
Once she returned from visiting with Cassius’s family, Saltia was eager to tell me every word they had said, every warm gesture they had made toward her, and how much she adored Cassius. As she babbled, she helped me bathe. Although I hated myself for the selfish thought, I was glad I hadn’t manumitted Saltia yet because after so long of only brief washes in basins of tepid water, it was a luxury to relax under her work with oils to cleanse my skin, stirgils to scrape away the layers of dirt, and stiff brushes to remove the filth from under my nails.
As she scrubbed away each layer of grime, I felt I was sloughing off my old self. After the first soak in the warm bath, I was no longer my father’s child or apprentice. With the following dip into the scalding hot bath, I was no longer Papinias’s lover.
I thanked Apollo that I could at least still be Macrinus’s jesting mate, but when I stepped out of the final pool, the cold bath that was meant to renew the skin, I bit back bitter tears, knowing that I was now stepping into my new role as the wife of Sirius Verus.
Thanks to all of you who have been reading along, and if you enjoyed the book, I’d be super grateful if you could leave a review on the websites of your favorite book retailers, Goodreads, or BookBub. Or all of the above, if you’re really ambitious :))
I’ll be back next Wednesday with some of the tantalizing history that inspired Domna. See you then!!
Ready for more?
The rest of Domna will be coming out soon and if you pre-order now, you can grab them for only 99c each. The titles below provide the links you need. Click or tap on them to pick up your next part of this serialized historical fantasy tale.
When your destiny has been stolen, it’s up to you to make a new one. But first you have to survive the marriage you’ve been forced into.
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In a world mired in chaos one wrong word could mean death, but one promise could mean greatness.
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A fight for power. A battle for loyalty. A plot that will cause it all to crumble.
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When the Solon ignores an imminent threat to his rule and his life, one woman will go to any extreme to save him, protect her son, and ensure the stability of her realm.
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A life of love or a life of power. A promise to the gods or following your heart’s desire. The choice must be made.
Note: If you’re interested in paperback versions, simply follow the above links, then click/tap on the icon for Kindle (Amazon) where you’ll find both the ebook and paperback on the same page.
Note II: Parts 5 & 6 aren’t currently available for pre-order but will be very soon!!!
Did You Miss a Chapter?
If you need to catch up with Sofia’s journey, here’s the link to all the previous chapters…