Romance and breathtaking fantasy collide as cursed traveler Brock falls in love with imprisoned witch Celeste. She holds the key to his salvation — but it will come at a price….
Cursed – Book 1.5
Son of Dragons – Book 2
War of Darkness – Book 3
The Garnet Dagger Excerpt:
I’ve known death. For over half a millennium, I escorted many to death at the end of my sword. I will never forget the eyes of the dying as it shrouded them. Foolishly, thinking countless more eras would pass before death came for me. It came so swiftly that I could not run; I could not escape.
At a village, dressed in human clothes, I absorbed everything. Being Elvin, has its advantages linguistically as does sneaking out for centuries. Their hobbled homes burrowed into the ground. Rocks crunched on top one another with thatched roofs made from woven straw. I had never seen a home or inn that was higher than three levels, as if they were afraid of the sky.
Jugglers bounced torches and knives hypnotically delaying my return to my people. It was autumn equinox and the festivities would continue well into the night. Children laughed as they chased each other. A trail of leaves from their costumes twirled after them. It was dark when I reached the forest. Choosing a shorter hike up the hill rather than the long path back would make up for lost time. I didn’t need to alert the Elvin guards patrolling the barrier of my escapade. Liana would worry that I was late. Tomorrow night would be the two month anniversary of our hand twining ceremony. One more month as was customary, then we would wed.
A gasp rustled through the dry leaves. Nearby, the tree roots shot a warning to me. There was no time to change back into my Elvin garb. After I passed the border, which kept men from entering our land, I’d made a quick change back to my Elvin tunic I had hidden in my pack.
In the distance, a groan broke through the chirping crickets. Curiosity spun me around. The autumn breeze shifted through my worn human clothes, chilling me. Someone may need help and I dashed in the direction of the sounds.
Whomever had made the noise should be a few yards ahead. Slowing my gait, not to startle anyone around with my Elvin speed, my leather boots crunched upon dried, diseased leaves and bark. Horrified, I glanced up.
Branches twisted around, suffocating each other. Lifeless limbs cracked in the wind. The trees’ flesh sloughed off in layers, exposing its bones. Deep gashes hollowed out chunks of warmth. Fragments of leaves clung to fingertips, marking sepulchers of the dying trees.
Trees mourned with wails like splitting wood, and I brought my hands over my ears. I must flee before I became infected, they whispered.
Leave before the stain of this defilement creeps into you, they warned. Trees spoke to my people, they always had. Yet, these trees were in such agony of death that I could not breathe. My lungs folded in on themselves, like a moth unable to break loose from its cocoon.
There was nothing I could do for them, and if I lingered too long, whatever disease gnawed upon them would choke me too. Where could I go if I carried something so foul as to devour trees from the inside out? I’d never return to Tamlon if this infection took hold of me.
I drew away, but movement at the base of a decaying tree to my right stopped me. My night vision picked up the sight of a man. His sallow face seemed to glow in the moonlight. Poking out from rags lay his arms and legs, which resembled skin stretched over sticks.
So cadaverous was his face, I’d have thought him dead if he hadn’t moved.
When I rose, the two guards sidestepped away. Nay, they would not gamble their lives again by being within my reach.
Thankfully, since rescuing Celeste from the oak cave had taken all night, Shadowdancer was rested for the ride back to Tamlon.
With Celeste’s wounds slathered with yarroway and other healing plants, she mounted. Then Emillya climbed up behind her.
At least one Elvin besides me did not hate humans. If Emillya didn’t like humans, or Celeste for that matter, she wouldn’t speak to her much less ride on a horse with her. I ran alongside them while Celeste and Emillya talked. One guard raced on the opposite side of Shadowdancer, the other in front. And it appeared the horse gave the Elvin a race.
The Elvin were considerate enough to let Shadowdancer canter or walk whenever he tired. How they understood that running the horse too long too fast would be the end of him I do not know. There have never been horses in Elvin lands for as long as I can remember.
We all took turns getting Celeste to talk to us about her cave adventure; she must stay awake awhile longer, even though we could all see she fought to keep her eyes open.
“As soon as you’ve rested,” Emillya told her, glowering at my constant interruptions to translate, “you need to view the prophecies of the four. Nivel gave me instructions when he left with Brock. The library vaults await unchanged. He told me you’d come back after banishing the Warloc to the underworld.
“Hopefully, Brock hasn’t caused unrealized damage by the oak magic trapping you.”
I nearly stumbled at her words. How was I to know snares waited to spring upon humans in our land? Our kind was immune.
Just as I opened my mouth to voice my argument, Celeste smiled at me. Her grey eyes held a glimmer of her merriment, and my frown eased.
With a chuckle, I turned back to the path. Celeste was safe now. And that was all that mattered.
“We’ll make camp at dark.” Emillya patted Shadowdancer’s rump. “Should make Tamlon soon. It’s a fine horse—any other I fear would take us three or four nights to return.”
“That reminds me.” I said. “How did you get to the labyrinth so soon? The journey from Tamlon is longer than the time of Celeste’s entrapment.”
“We have a secret path Nivel created. It’s ancient magic and travels Elvin here within an hour.”
“Then let’s take this path back.” Celeste said.
“It’s only for Elvin. The magic would crush a human and perhaps even a horse.”
“Perhaps your magic needs to be altered now.” Celeste smiled.
“Indeed.” Emillya answered. “I’ll mention the request to the elders.”
When we arrived in Tamlon, I hoped to show Celeste the wonders of my land. And bask in the sun naked with her.
After the others slept, I laid down beside Celeste. She turned and snuggled her head under my chin. “Your language is so beautiful. Almost like music with its rhythms and melody.”
My hand traced circles up and down her back. “Emir voulan sptrea.”
“What does that mean?”
I eased her chin up and she looked into my eyes. “We are one heart.” I kissed her and relished in the sweetness of her mouth for we could do little else with company.
Son of Dragons Excerpt:
Clean from the bath, Landon let the air from the open window dry his hair. Dressed only in trousers, he leaned against the windowsill.
He thought he smelled the hint of roses and heat on the breeze. Movement from the street below caught his eye. He leaned out, squinting into the night.
Torches lined the cobbled street corners. A cloaked figure waited. Then the innkeeper rushed outside. His hands flew in gestures as the figure nodded.
Then he pointed to the window where Landon watched. At the same instant, the cloaked figure followed his finger’s path to Landon. Green eyes that seemed to glow met his.
Landon jumped up and cursed when his head hit the bottom of the window. When he looked back, both figures were gone.
Thinking the innkeeper would send guards, he waited with his sword in hand and his stare riveted on the door. No one came. He must be getting paranoid, thinking there was a ghost or enemy around every corner. His eyelids grew heavy as he waited for a fight that failed to materialize. Finally, he rolled his shoulders back to ease out the tension.
Still, he couldn’t stop thinking about those piercing emerald eyes. They’d belonged to a woman; he could tell. There was intelligence and cunning in them. Her stare felt as though she saw through the façade he often wore as prince and to please others, and into his kajh.
A woman who was not afraid, but used to being feared. It unnerved him, yet excited him. His pulse quickened and his loins tightened at the thought of those eyes filled with passion for him.
Better get some sleep before the night was gone. Tomorrow, he’d tell Gillespie about what he saw. He doubted he could explain those captivating green eyes that continued to haunt him even now.