THE RUBY HOUSE

THE RUBY HOUSE

The Ruby House is the beginning of The Circle of Souls.

The story creates a rich mythology, interweaving an epic tale of a fantasy world seen through the eyes of ten year-old Maia, while she grows up within a world of scheming royal courts and the looming threat of civil war.

Lady Maia Swanne of House Emerald is happy to have returned from the dusty Provinces with her Father, Duke Ferdinand, but not everything is as it seems with the Kingdom of Heldrassë. Soon, she will be thrown into a world of magic and corruption, where the Great Houses plot and vie for power, and where a Book of Souls suggests that Maia will be at the heart of events that will change the course of history.

Chapter One

HOMECOMING

After an eternity of waiting, the distant lighthouse came into view. Maia had been standing at the prow of the ship since first light, but now the towers and roofs of the busy seaport were finally approaching. Her dark hair streamed out behind her as she turned, calling for her father to come and see the land. The Duke came laughing to his daughter and lifted her lightly up so that she would have a better view over the gunwale. Cool sea-spray dashed her face as the ship cut through the waves, and she squealed with joy in the morning sun.
Maia was so excited to be returning to Amrosia, the capital city of the kingdom of Heldrassë. Although she was too young to remember when she had been there last, she had always felt a mysterious attraction. Besides, it was little fun being a Duke’s daughter in the Provinces. And though she had many friends amongst the servants’ children, her father was always chastising her for sneaking off to the farmsteads to play.
She would miss her friends, surely, but all the stories her father had recounted of the great walls of the capital, and the tall towers up on the high hill kindled Maia’s imagination. She longed to walk the winding cobbled streets, and see the magnificent White Palace, and she
urged the ship onwards, faster towards the port.
“Will we leave straight for the capital father?” begged Maia, looking on in wonder as the ship glided beneath the slender archway that spanned the two piers of Port Asheerë.
“Patience my little lady, I have business here in port, and the capital is still three days’ journey,” laughed the Duke.
“But we must be there for my birthday, we must!” pleaded Maia; in one week she would turn ten years old, and the excitement was already too much to bear.
“Well, it depends on how long my business takes here my darling, perhaps we may make it, perhaps not,” teased her father.
“But you promised!” burst out Maia, her face falling.
“Fear not, I jest little one,” he laughed. “I am glad you are eager to reach the city. But don’t you miss the Provinces?”
“A little. I miss my friends, but I know my new friends await me in the city; I shall meet them at my birthday party.”
“Yes,” laughed her father. “There will be many other children in the city.”
“And one to be my best friend—he is waiting,” said Maia with a smile, gazing intently into the distance, as if she might spy the tall towers of the city.
The Duke looked down upon his daughter, puzzled for a second, and then laughed.
“Sometimes Maia my sweet, I think you have walked this world before.”
And then, sweeping her up into his arms, he carried her laughing back to their cabin, where they prepared to disembark.