BOUND BY DRAGONSFYRE
The truth burns
No one is safe when the dragon glides low over the Eighth Dominion. Not the high born who plot and spill blood. Not the low born who serve with one eye to the sky and the other glancing back.
Young Scorpius is fetched from the estate nursery, once raised to live among the nobility – claimed finally not by his family, but by a falconer to serve as his apprentice.
Scorpius soon learns that a noble hides his monstrous appetites beneath velvet and jewels, while the leathery-winged dragon is honest about his own. His master does his best to shield Scorpius from the world outside their cottage, but the falconer is merely a servant who must obey his own masters.
An attempt on the life of a young lord while on a hunt sends the falconer’s apprentice on an abruptly different path, bringing Scorpius into the service of the House of Pruzhnino. Court intrigue sinks its talons into everyone, even Scorpius–especially a former falconer’s apprentice once raised to be a lord in his own right.
Read an excerpt:
“Are you troubled, my lord?”
The young noble glanced quickly at Scorpius, fixing him with an appraising stare . After a long moment, Lord Thibault chuckled. “I dare say I have a dominion’s worth of trouble.”
“We’re pleased to offer this small consolation, then.”
“You know, ever since our last conversation, well…frankly, I’ve been dreaming about what it would have been like to have never been collected up from the nursery, as you were not.”
Scorpius looked at Lord Thibault, trying to gauge the young man’s mood before looking away in time to avoid eye contact. The noble gazed out over the woods, lost in troubled thought.
“Surely not, my lord,” Scorpius said finally.
“Do you even know what’s brewing?” Lord Thibault asked. He turned and looked at Scorpius as though the lighthearted noble who had arrived earlier had been merely a front for the sake of his companions.
Wishing he could dart a glance at his master for any kind of sign or direction, Scorpius took a breath, gathered himself and made his choice. “Can’t say that I do, my lord.”
Nodding his head toward Richolf, the noble said, “Wonder if he knows, and he just hasn’t told you.”
It was Scorpius’ turn to chuckle. “That would be just like him, my lord.”
“Really. Perhaps our masters aren’t very different after all.”
Hearing this noble try to bridge the gap between them made Scorpius’ heart ache with such unexpected force that he took a step back.
“Well, I shall tell you a little something, then. Something your master should know, if he doesn’t already.”
“My lord.” Scorpius looked into Lord Thibault’s eyes, surprised to see the depth of weariness suddenly exposed.
“The Troubles have begun.” Lord Thibault’s voice caught as he said it. He blinked rapidly and looked away.
It all made sense now.
His master had not glared at him when Lord Thibault swept Scorpius to the hunt, leaving the rest of his retinue behind. That look had been a warning, the only kind permitted between a falconer and his apprentice.
Suddenly Scorpius’ hands shook. His master seemed so very far away across the field, rather than not far enough.
Lord Thibault swiped a hand across his face, turning to gaze at Scorpius. It no longer seemed possible that they were close in age, not with the weight that seemed to bear down upon the noble.
Memories tumbled forward, stopping Scorpius’ breath.
They jumbled through his mind–a noble’s rod slicing the back of Scorpius’ head, the lords fighting on the doorstep, the sword plunging into the royal brother. They were all part of The Troubles, weren’t they?
Across the field, Richolf appeared to be calmly collecting the braces of game, but he was staring over at Scorpius. Was he trying to tell him something, give him some further warning?
His master still carried the wounds from those days and nights of torture. He’d been put to the question because the royal brothers had decided the falconer’s cottage was tucked away enough to settle their score out here. Nothing to do with the falconer, and yet his body held the torment even now.
Of course, not even that could compare to the Hunt of Screams.
Scorpius met Lord Thibault’s gaze, suddenly angered by the noble’s tears. “The Troubles, my lord?” he said, his voice tight as he fought to control himself. “Yes they’ve made their presence known, even to those who try to live apart from them.”
Once again, instead of taking offense to such a tone from a falconer’s boy, Lord Thibault dropped his reserve even lower. “Am I in danger here?” he asked plainly, staring deeply into Scorpius’ eyes.
Glancing over at his master, he saw his attempts to gather the courtiers and head from the field. Yet there were two laggards.
Scorpius busied himself with his own braces of game. “My master warns of it, my lord.”
Lord Thibault started to turn, to look toward the others.
“Don’t!” Scorpius hissed.
The noble froze.
“Carry on as you would, my lord,” Scorpius ordered, not caring that he did so. He risked another glance as he crouched to tie the games hens together. Those two courtiers bent their heads together. More to the point, one glanced in Lord Thibault’s direction.
“We must run for it.” Scorpius stopped his work but remained in position. “Will you do it?”
He wished he could look at Lord Thibault, but doing so now would plunge the knife in.
“Where do we go?” the noble said, his voice calmer now that it had come to this.
“They are in my forest, my lord. I know these trees, I know the hills, and they do not. Just follow me.”
Scorpius rose, leaving the brace of game and catching Lord Thibault’s eye. At his nod, they bolted toward the treeline.
Do you want another life?
An elite brotherhood stands between humans and vampires, preventing one side from annihilating the other. Who are called to this service? Only those warriors who curse God with their dying breath.
Welsh warrior Peredur falls to a spear before he can claim Tanwen for his bride. Raging on the battlefield, Peredur utters the curse that seals his fate and leads him to another life. Using the power of a saint whose bone makes up an amulet, Peredur takes on the trials to become a true member of the brethren. Yet his need for the chieftain’s daughter Tanwen still burns.
Tanwen resists her father’s command to take a husband. The only one who understands her sorrow is Cavan, the wise woman’s son. When he promises that he can reunite her with her beloved, she agrees to his terms. But does Tanwen truly understand the depth of the price that must be paid?
Read an excerpt:
Peredur hung forward, his arms stretched awkwardly behind him, bound behind a large tree. Now fully awake, he tried to stand upright and surge forward, but the bonds held.
His brethren gathered all around the tree. Melnak who stood farthest away in the shadows, pulled his amulet from where it hid in his robes then lifted it over his head. As he approached, Melnak said, “God our Father, our brother now descends into the trial you have given him.”
The brethren intoned, “Our Father, hear us,” just as Peredur’s body began to jerk away from the amulet as though compelled to do so. Melnak brought the shining polished bone to rest against the bottom rib of Peredur’s left side.
For a moment Peredur couldn’t see. All before him was blinding white light.
When he came to, Peredur sensed he was somewhere else entirely, no longer bound to the tree.
In the distance, a figure waited for him, a miserable bent man barely clothed in rags. Peredur tried to join him, but at the hint of motion his legs shot through with fiery tendrils. The figure turned his face to see who approached.
Such a man. His face held the expression of one who had endured a torturous vigil, rather like the one from which Peredur could not free himself. But the face also held a beauty that hurt to see. Peredur wanted to turn his face away, but the gaze of those tormented eyes held him and despite the pain, he forced a step or two forward.
I’m coming, Peredur tried to tell him, but the bent figure lowered his head as if overcome by agony after all. Peredur grit his teeth and pushed forward with all his might.
His feet finally moved, but suddenly it seemed the saint was miles from where Peredur could reach him. Peredur’s heart sank.
He remembered in his boyhood, how heavy the sword had been at first, when the sword master made him swing it again and again. His legs just now were the same. They rebelled against his commands.
Move! he shouted at them. Move!
Anger at the injustice of it coursed through him. As the anger rose, the binding stiffness released his legs and his steps grew easier.
Peredur wanted to race to the saint’s side, but what use would there be in that? Now that he could move, he walked with dread toward the fallen bundle of rags and limbs. Kneeling there, he took the saint in his arms and brushed the matted hair from the bruised face.
Saint Cittinus’ eyes fluttered open.
Peredur looked down at the youthful saint in his arms, made old before his time by the captivity and mistreatment he’d endured. As if for the first time, Peredur saw the clear white line of a scar across the saint’s neck, as if a rope had choked him there.
Saint Cittinus looked into Peredur’s eyes. Those cracked lips moved. Instead of ‘I thirst,’ the saint spoke clearly, if softly. “We have no one else to fear,” he said, “but our Lord God. Who is in Heaven.”
Peredur nodded. He stayed as he was and watched the saint expire before his eyes. All the while his angel never took his hand from Peredur’s shoulder.
Saint Cittinus faded from Peredur’s grip, though he still felt the weight of him in his arms. No sooner than he’d seen it, but Peredur came to.
He found himself still straining in his bonds against the tree. With breathtaking intensity, the pain in his rib returned. Melnak held the amulet to him still, with unyielding grimness.
He thought of the scar upon the saint’s neck. Instead of struggling and cursing as Peredur had done on the battlefield against the spear, Cittinus had accepted the wound that had given him the scar.
It was time to stop fighting.
~~~ Other Books I’m Working On ~~~
The gardener for an English country house, Robbie has his life planned out just like the seasons. Plans for becoming a landscape architect don’t include a poor laundry maid who won’t listen to warnings about the lecherous son of their employer. Helen’s obstinacy gets them both transported to Van Diemen’s Land after a violent assault. Arriving in a hot house world of exotic tropicals, Robbie finds his dashed plans back on track, working as the convict gardener for his menacing employer. Helen’s arrival on the island threatens to unravel his carefully-contrived persona, but Robbie can no longer resist the feelings he’s denied since the moment he first saw her through the conservatory window.
Also in progress: Book 2 of both the Dark Ages vampire trilogy and the Dragonsfyre trilogy