An epic fantasy with romance, action and some very colorful characters! If you're a fan of tales of Dragons and elves, you are going to like this book! ~Dii
"There is an ancient prophecy," he said. "It speaks of the White Queen. She is said to have a bond with life and the lands that has not been yet seen. With this, she will end the war for the final time, and heal the lands forever. She will bring peace back to Terradin. Tied in with the prophecy of the White Queen and the great war . . . is the prophecy of the two men that she will love. She must choose one of them," he whispered. "If she chooses wrong, she will die. If she dies, all of Terradin dies with her."
Having barely escaped from the Plains of Fire with her life, Auri follows the pleas of her father and sets out for the safety and knowledge of the Dragon Masters. Once there, she hopes to immerse herself in their training and become the decisive edge that Terradin needs to stop Obsidian and his Rebels.
But before her journey has even truly begun, someone dear to her is ripped away from her. Reeling from the loss, and with Terradin growing ever darker around her, she is forced to make a terrible decision that will have lasting repercussions.
Does she cling to what once was? Or does she reforge herself anew like the fabled phoenix, and rise from the ashes to burn brighter than ever before.
Chapter Twelve Excerpt
That night he walked to her again. Following fire and light, she drew him closer. She lay still upon her bed, breathing deeply and dreaming. She was dressed in a loose, white tunic-shirt that fell to just above her knees. Her feet and legs were bare. Dark hair tumbled around her face and shoulders, and she had kicked the blankets away from her.
He felt around for the window seat and sunk down into it, unable to look away from her. He made no sound, was careful in every way, but she seemed to sense that he was near, and her eyes opened slowly. They were such a deep blue that they would look black to most others in the darkness, but not to him. He could see them clearly. How the iris grew large, how the prism-like blue contracted, and how they honed in instinctively upon his seat by the window.
“You came,” she said sleepily.
He couldn’t speak. His throat felt thick.
Her eyes grew thoughtful as she rose slowly and padded over to him on bare feet. “Are you alright?”
He wanted to, and tried to, sooth her spike of fear. He could feel it, but found that he still couldn’t articulate what it was that he was feeling enough to do anything about it. He shook his head.
No. Not all right.
She moved to the window seat with him and drew his head down upon her lap. His face was tilted upward, toward her. As he stared at her, he had the overwhelming desire to crawl into her soul—to burrow there forever. The light flashed behind his eyes; her brilliant light. It arced and sizzled as it touched him. He closed his eyes in surrender as she moved closer. She put her palm to his cheek and held it there for a long, drawn out breath. Her hands were warm. They felt good, so good, against his cheek. She moved her hand to his hair, running her fingers through it and soothing him as she would a small child, whispering words of peace and comfort to him.
She began rambling about her life: about Sweena and Valdys, about her years growing to maturity. She smiled as she remembered, although sadness was there as well. He watched her face as she spoke. Watched the shadows play upon her jaw and neck. Watched the way her eyes lit up at certain points in her monologue, and how a hollow, almost aching look would soon follow.
She was a girl really, this elf. Young by their standards and the standards of her dragon half. But—she was also old. It showed through in her eyes. Eyes that seemed as though they had lived centuries. Old, haunted eyes.
“You do not have to pretend for me,” he finally whispered. His voice, damaged many years ago, sounded unintentionally harsh. He couldn’t modulate it; his throat still felt too thick.
She leaned her head back against the window. Her hands stilled in his hair. “How are you here?” She touched his cheek. “How am I able to touch you?”
“The essence of who I am gets pulled towards you,” he whispered. “It is not like simply leaving skin and muscle behind. It is . . .”
“Much more painful,” she finished. He closed his eyes. Yes. It was always painful. He continued speaking with his eyes still closed.
“The result is that I am able to cross great distances with very little thought. Many—if they do believe in a soul—believe that it is like vapor, like smoke. But really, it's only a brighter, more light-filled form of our physical bodies. Separated, its capacity to feel is intensified.”
“So you feel more?” Her hand had stopped again.
“Yes,” he whispered, drowning.
“Should I stop?” she asked quietly.
He opened his eyes, and could do no more than stare at her mutely.
Her hand shook.
The night was quiet, still. The life-forces of the others around them faded to a dull whisper within his mind. He traced his fingers around to tangle in her hair, and brought her lips down to his own. He kissed her slowly at first, lingeringly, and then he opened his eyes and reached into her, pulling her tenderly within the vortex of his soul. She gasped and opened her eyes. They were stunned. “How?” she whispered.
“All that I have is yours,” he murmured huskily. “Everything.”
Light swirled around her, around them. She gasped again as he drew her further in. The edges of his soul blended with her skin, melding until they looked like they were part of the same whole.
He continued to drown.
Chapter Fourteen Excerpt
They were almost to The Dell―only hours away―when it happened. His vision blackened, making him completely blind. Alone in the dark of his mind, a surge of panic and emotion hit him so powerfully that he crashed to his knees in the dirt. He started breathing rapidly as agony shot through him.
He was kneeling in the dust with his eyes closed, panting hard, his eyes rolling in their sockets as his hands clutched at Wolf’s fur.
Wolf whined, and he felt the floodgates burst open in the animals mind. The instinct to fight whatever danger was present was hurriedly suppressed as Wolf suddenly understood that the danger was with Auri, and not with them. He drew his muzzle along Liran’s sightless eyes.
“I don’t know,” Liran rasped, in answer to the unspoken question. “Something’s wrong. She’s afraid, and in a lot of pain." His breathing sped up even more, sharp, staccato bursts of air, and for the first time in his life he was nearly laid flat with dizziness. He leaned into Wolf, absorbing his strength. “She is running.”
“No,” Liran panted. “It’s not that kind of running. Her life is not in danger. Not yet.”
He had no control over what he saw. It simply blotted out all of his other senses until all he could see was her. Much like the vision that he’d had with King Ladrahar. He groaned as Auri fell to the ground and started sobbing. Wolf licked the tears that he hadn’t even realized were dripping down his face.
“She’s crying,” he whispered, tortured. His fault. This was all his fault.
He took his hands from Wolf’s fur and dropped them to the dirt in front of him. Then he rolled onto his back and lay down on the hot sand. He couldn’t run, or walk. He could do nothing but see through her eyes. His connection with her, and her powerful surge of emotions, had made him effectively blind.
Wolf stood over him. He could feel the animal’s fur underneath his fingers as he waited for the storm to end. Tears continued to run down his face as Auri sobbed. Wolf finally sighed and stretched out next to him. He put his head on Liran’s stomach, and they waited.
Suddenly, Liran sat up with a jerk. Still blind, he swiped clumsily for Wolf who had jumped hastily out of the way. He felt it before Auri saw it—the divergence. Then he watched as the sky above her darkened, and as the light from the sun was completely shut out.
“Wolf,” he rasped. “She’s in trouble and I can’t run. I’m still blind.” Wolf hesitated. “RUN!” Liran bellowed. “Save her!”
The fur slid from between his fingers as Wolf bounded away, and he was left in the gathering darkness of his heart to watch as Auri ran toward The Dell and toward her doom.
“Auri,” he whispered. The sunlight above her became completely obliterated by dragon wings. It was as though night had come.
“Auri!” he screamed.
Chapter Twenty-Seven- Live
Chapter Twenty-Seven- Live
Stephen watched the king’s shallow breathing. He was sitting along the opposite wall. His hands were gripping his hair, the skin of his face, rubbing deeply into his eyes . . . anything to get the images gone from his mind. But they were persistent those images, like they had been burned into his brain. He was sure that they would never leave as long as he lived.
Which was probably not going to be very long.
The door of their cell opened, and Stephen shivered. The cell was freezing, but the being that walked in made the temperature in the room of a few moments ago feel almost balmy.
Obsidian terrified him. Mind numbing, tongue tangling, heart freezing, terror. He tried to be brave . . . for Cerralys. The king couldn’t take much more.
“Leave him a-a-alone,” he stammered. “Haven’t you done enough?”
Obsidian ignored him. Of course he ignored him; he was just a child. He was not powerful or strong. He was not important. So he was ignored . . . until they were ready to begin the torture again. He shuddered, then blinked in shock as the king’s eyes opened. He was awake!
The two of them stared at each other, Stephen and the king, and then Cerralys’s eyes shifted to the person crouched next to him.
Time seemed to crunch to a stand-still as brother looked at brother.
“Obsidian.” It was a long, drawn-out whisper of sound. Weak. Feeble. Heart-broken.
“You are pathetic," Obsidian seethed. "Where is the great strength of the legendary Cerralys now, brother? All I see before me is a broken down old man.” He hissed out the last word like it was something poisonous.
Cerralys nodded slowly. “Yes,” he said quietly. “I imagine that is very much what you would see.”
Obsidian back-handed him, and Cerralys’s head smashed into the wall. Stephen rose quickly, but the king turned and begged him with his eyes to stay away. To keep quiet. Blue blood ran down his face. Stephen had to look away from the pain in those eyes as he clenched his fists.
“Humans . . . are extraordinarily strong,” Cerralys whispered as his eyes found Obsidian’s again.
“They are weak,” Obsidian rasped. “They are all weak.”
The king shook his head. “You’re blindness will be your downfall, brother. When will you learn where true strength lies? Not with sword, or steel, or bow, or armies, but with heart.”
Obsidian laughed and the bitingly cold sound sent shivers racing up and down Stephen’s spine.
“Even here, on the brink of your own death, on the brink of the death of your girl child Aurelias, on the brink of the death of that homeless waif Nachal, on the brink of complete annihilation of all that you govern and protect, on the brink of all of this, and yet you still spout pathetic drivel.” He sneered. “You disgust me.”
Cerralys smiled as he leaned his head back against the stone and closed his eyes. “You have not found them yet,” he murmured. “They continue to elude you.” He grunted as his head was smashed a few inches into the thick, stone wall. The wall cracked from floor to ceiling from the impact. Stephen watched in terror. The king looked at him briefly and shook his head again, before he slumped forward. The chains rattled as they took the full brunt of the king’s weight.
“I don’t need to find them,” Obsidian said coldly. “They’ll find me.” He got up from his crouch, and stared down at the king with a sneer on his lips. Then he drew back his leg, and brought it forward to smash his foot into the king’s face―but a hand flashed forward and blocked it. A foot shot out to unbalance Obsidian, and as he fell forward, into Cerralys, the king’s other hand flashed forward and caught the front of Obsidian's shirt. He drew him forward until the two brothers were mere inches apart. Obsidian was breathing harshly, but the king was completely calm. Raw power filled the room. His eyes lit with a terrible majesty.
“You,” he said with powerful dignity, “will not prevail.” His eyes burned brighter. Stephen had to put his hands over his eyes to block the burn from the light. “And in your last moments, when the breath-of-death stares you in the face, you will realize that you die, completely alone.” The light drained from his eyes, from his whole being.
“Isn’t that what you fear, brother?” he asked, his voice soft once again. He released Obsidian from his powerful grip, and Obsidian caught his fall with a move so fast that Stephen blinked and missed it. He clenched his hands and leaned away from Cerralys. His blue eyes—the same blue eyes as the king—were cold and filled with loathing. “I remember the nightmares you used to have as a child,” Cerralys continued. “You saw the future through them. You saw the path that you would take, the lives that you would destroy, the world that would fall to ruin because of you, and this all pleased you. It made you hunger for it—hunger for the absolute power of it.” His eyes closed, and he leaned back against the rough stone.
“It also terrified you. I think somewhere in all of those dreams, you saw that you would lose. You saw your own end.
“You fight with fury. The fury of the damned. The desperation of one who knows that there is nothing left for him, in this or any other world. You fight against the emptiness that gnaws at your soul, and the certainty, that that’s all that there will ever be. Emptiness.” He opened his eyes again, and gazed at his brother who was by now trembling uncontrollably with fury. “You have destroyed your soul, and that black chasm of emptiness will haunt you throughout eternity. You will always, be, alone.”
His strength left him and he sagged against the chains again. This time Obsidian’s foot found nothing to stop it, and it smashed into the king’s chest. The momentum crashed him back against the stone wall, and into it. His body was held aloft for a moment by the indentation that it made in the thick walls of their prison, and then the weight of his body against gravity was too much. It fell forward again, and snapped against the chains.
Stephen ran forward to hold him up so that the chains weren’t holding the entire weight of the king's body. He feared his arms would be wrenched out of their sockets. He trembled with his back to Obsidian, but he refused to look at him. If Obsidian was going to kill him, so be it. He was powerless to stop him.
The door of the cell slammed shut behind him, and he nearly went limp with relief.
“Cerralys,” he cried. “Cerralys, wake up!” His arms started to shake. His whole body started to shake. He tried to keep his teeth from chattering together, but couldn’t.
It was a plaintive cry from the depths of his soul.
Several hours passed, he didn’t know how many. The little amount of light that had streamed into their cell during the daylight hours, was now long gone. He sat next to Cerralys, shivering from cold and fear. He thought the king was alive. At least, he hoped that he was alive. Every now and then he rose, just to make sure that he was still breathing. He got up now to do that again. It made him feel useful, with some kind of purpose other than sitting in mind-numbing terror, hour after hour in the dark.
He rose stiffly, trying to make his wobbly legs straighten and hold his weight. He had no chains binding him to the wall, so he moved quietly. He put his ear to the king’s chest to listen, and then sighed in relief. Cerralys lived still.
He tried to see the king’s face, but couldn’t make anything out. He couldn’t even make out his own hands or legs as he sat back down again to wait.
A few minutes later, the king stirred, then spoke. “Stephen,” he rasped.
Stephen jolted up, and then stumbled toward the sound of Cerralys’s voice. He stopped short when a hand came up to steady him. “Easy,” the king said. “Are you alright?”
He was freezing, terrified, and starving, but he said none of these things. How could he? He could be strong too. “I’m fine, sir,” he mumbled, trying to make the lie sound like truth.
The king sighed. “You lie poorly.”
Stephen shrugged. Then he realized that the king could probably see him perfectly. “Can you see in this dark, sire?”
“That’s amazing!” he said, his voice filled with awe. Cerralys chuckled.
“Oh, the easy charms of youth.” Then his voice turned sober. “I would trade my eyesight in an instant if I could know how my daughter is.”
“Wouldn’t we know if she’d been captured, sire?”
A deep sigh. “Yes. Unfortunately, in order to give my daughter more time, I also gave my brother the perfect bait. But there was no other way,” he said hoarsely. “No other way.”
“So now . . . we sit and wait.”
“And live, Stephen. You sit, wait, and live.” His voice was hard. Like an order from his king, rather than a suggestion from the friend that he had become.
“Yes sir. Sit, wait, live. I can do that.”
“See that you do.”
“And you, sir?”
It was quiet for a long time. Stephen was just about to ask the question again, when the answer came as soft as a whisper. “I must live as well, Stephen. I must live as well . . .”