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In the aftermath of a deadly invasion, Samaran is a land in turmoil.
Bandits prey on cities and farmsteads, corsairs prowl the high seas.
Ariel has earned her place with the elite Mage-warriors of the Eldrin, sworn to protect King and country––but power comes with a cost. The Elementals who can bestow dragonfire and ice-skills are wild and unpredictable, focused on their own long-term goals.
But now the sinister power behind the war is taking shape and form. The strength and skill of the Eldrin will be needed to lead the resistance.
For Ariel, life has become complicated. Visions of the distant threat haunt her dreams, her sister treads a precarious path as royal concubine and bodyguard, her Elemental ally seems to have gone rogue––and the love of her life has ended their relationship.
If only she can control the wild power inside her to defeat the raiders…
Then maybe she can protect her sister from the schemes of influential conspirators––and maybe even persuade Marin they can be reunited when the fighting is over…
Elf, dragon, wolf, and a mysterious Mage-warrior weave a dangerous path in this fantasy adventure-romance epic from Jay Aspen.
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Original fantasy series
complex plots and dynamic action
interesting characters and action.
A compelling read
“Deris! I thought you were still at sea? Where is Marin? What happened?”
Green Elf-eyes crinkle a little. “I see you’re still as impatient as ever. First, we must get Marin inside. I have been keeping him alive all through this last day’s journey but my power is almost gone. Come.” He turns back to his horse and helps Marin dismount, but not before I notice the lines of exhaustion on his aquiline features and the way his long dark hair is plastered to his forehead with sweat and grime. Even so, he is still able to carry the full weight of his half-conscious captain into the infirmary while I hurry behind him.
As soon as Marin is laid out on the nearest bed I start to peel off his mail and clothing, searching for the wounds through the mass of blood on his face and neck.
“Deris, save me some time. You must know––”
“Here.” He guides my hands to the deep stab through chainmail and surcoat on the left side of Marin’s chest, almost invisible beneath the coating of half-dried blood. I lay my palms over the jagged opening and close my eyes, focused on letting powerful life force pour into the torn flesh and punctured lung. The sudden intrusion of it jolts Marin back to consciousness and my hands twitch in response to the pain and shock he feels.
He grabs my wrist, his grip still powerful in spite of his wounds.
“Ariel, no! Stop. There are others who need you more than I do.”
Deris leans forward to intervene, determinedly peeling Marin’s fingers off me.
“No, they don’t! If you hadn’t been half-conscious you would know just how close you were to…”
He breaks off, an edge of anxiety and impatience in his manner I have not seen in him before. The Fae are usually more controlled, more enigmatic than humankind and Deris is no exception. Confirmation if I needed any that Marin would indeed have died on the journey here if our loyal Elf-friend had not been there to save him.
But why has Deris returned from his sea-patrol so early?
A low wolf-growl of impatience.
I massage the soft fur behind her ears, knowing that she can’t usually resist the pleasure of it.
“Lupine! You’re usually more stoical than this. As soon as you’re mended you can go out on the next patrol––”
The growl takes on a sharp edge and her ears prick up, instantly alert. Wolf-sense can detect anyone approaching even before the lookouts sound the alarm. I’m on my feet in an instant, drawing the two crysteel blades from the harness at my back and running to the door even as the warning drumbeat booms from the lookout post.
I reach the square just as three horn blasts give the signal for friends approaching. I can feel the relief drifting in the air as the other defenders slow their pace and sheath their weapons. The hiss of crysteel nesting once more at my back whispers a small reassurance that we may have a few more hours of peace.
If luck is with us this day…
But when the first wagon of the caravan rumbles across the cobbled paving to halt right in front of me, it brings bad news as well as good. The heavy cart is flanked by our militia outriders, bloody swords gripped in their hands, exhaustion etched on their faces.
I look up. There are bodies laid out on the flat leather covering that protects the top of the load. Bodies in bloodstained militia livery and chainmail. The sides of the wagon are blotched with patches of dark red, glistening against the seasoned wood.
Anxiety grips my heart even as I glance back over my shoulder and call to Sasha.
“Quick! Get everyone except Garth out of the clinic. It looks like we have more serious casualties coming in and we have to give them priority.”
She disappears at a run. I know I can rely on her to have enough space ready by the time we bring in the wounded.
The next phalanx of riders arrives in a clatter of hooves and as they rein in I can see how many of them are supporting a wounded comrade. I run forward to grab the nearest casualty as he half-falls from the saddle, holding him upright until his friend can dismount and carry him inside.
A familiar lilting voice comes from behind me.
“Ariel. I need your help with Marin.”
I turn abruptly to come face to face with the powerful Fae warrior I had not expected to encounter for many weeks yet.