A reluctant prince determined to be a better man than his father, the king, has ever been, Jeodyn spent his last year alone in the wild studying the banned art of manipulating the Myst, an act of rebellion but more in remembrance of the old ways. Now, everything he learned and everything he’s ever known about himself will be tested, when he’s called to do what his father should but never will: defend their family.
Noirlok, Lord of the ShadowLands and Father of the Night’s rebellion, knows no man will stand between him and his revenge. He'll either have the love he defeated the heavens and waited an age of the world to reclaim, or he'll destroy the House responsible. Since overcoming a mortal death and taking charge of the dark legion known as Shadorym, he has vowed to see the Blood of Vallyn pay for taking that love, and his life, from him.
When Jeodyn's sister, Jynn, disappears, the fight to defend what they all have at stake begins.
“We’ve seen him my Lord… the eldest son, outside of Dresdin to the north. He was alone, and…”
“And why have you not brought his head to show the job done?” A last stone corner hid Jynn from the conversation, as she ducked behind the wall and listened. The voice of the one they called “ShadowLord” did little to mask its irritation. She knew that voice unmistakably now; it was Lu’s voice, and his Shadorym sounded of absolute fear, for having failed their master.
“He fled from us, my Lord.” Jynn peeked around the corner to see the dark figures cowering on the ground. They didn’t lift their heads to speak. “He spied us before we saw him and was gone before we could act. We saw only a man running at first, and didn’t find the scent of him until he’d escaped into the city. But what we saw, my Lord, wasn’t the brave stalwart this man has been built up to be; he ran like a coward and hid from us. We searched the inns and taverns, but saw nothing of him.”
“So a mortal’s eyes saw you, a shadow in the dark, before you could even know you were being watched? Fools!” Jynn’s was still shocked to hear him, her lover, her LuMaeryn, speak that way. In such contrast to how he sounded with her, he seemed a completely different person.
She’d seen and heard glimpses before, and every passing day made her wonder if she’d been wrong about him altogether. But Jynn couldn’t deny the man he was when they were alone. She loved that man and would do what he asked of her. She’d learn to accept the darker side of his business and might even come to do it without any questions. For now, she just watched and she listened.
“Yes, my Lord.” The Shadorym buried their faces into the stone floor.
Jynn didn’t see the sword, as it was brandished, and the dark blade made no sound, until the ShadowLord thrust it into the ground, piercing one of the three Shadorym at his feet. The lone shadow died in screaming agony. After a long, terrible moment of echoing death, the cavern fell silent again, but only for a moment. “I will not be failed again” said the ShadowLord. “…will I?” Jynn watched, horrified.
“No, my Lord,” spoke the next in command. “We’ll not fail you again. More have been sent to watch all roads from the north, and others have gone into the cities to search for him.”
“Good,” LuMaeryn said. “It is well to know that he is alone, but do not underestimate the boy’s foolish bravery, or his western blood; he will come, and there will be a fight when he does.” Jynn could no longer deny her suspicions about who they spoke of; it had to be Jeodyn. “He’ll bring a war upon us, if we allow it. Double your watch,” Lu said to them. “Send more into the north. Watch the road, day and night. Find him. Do you understand me? Find him, and kill him… and any who ride at his side.”
Jynn could listen no more. Her every apprehension died in fiery anger, and she rounded the corner in a rage. “Really? So that’s your plan, huh?” Her voice resounded sharply in the dark silence. Its echo sounded more wounded than angry, and her heart stung with betrayal. But she turned the hurt into heat and let it flow from her.
“I left my entire world to come here and be with you. Left all that I know… abandoned my family, just so I could love you freely, and this is how you repay my sacrifice? ...by taking the one part left of me in this world that’s still good, my family? Why? Why would you do that?” Her eyes burned with tears, but Jynn proved herself the stronger and she didn’t cry.
“Jynn, my love…” LuMaeryn’s soft tone didn’t sway her. His dark figure moved nearer to where she stood and reached to take her hand.
“No!” Jynn recoiled with a hiss. “I don’t believe you!” She sneered at him in the dark. “I’ve broken the hearts of people I love with what I’ve done… betrayed even my own to be here, and now you’d compound that hurt by killing my brother, if he came here to find me?” She shook her head almost involuntarily. “How can you say you love me and then speak something so terrible? How?”
Jynn put her head in her hands. For a moment, she thought she might finally give in to the tears still stinging her eyes. She scrubbed a hand through the darkening shadow of her hair then found LuMaeryn again. “Was everything you said to me a lie?” He gave no immediate answer. “Was it all a lie!” The heat of her question echoed throughout the cavern, as Jynn waited for a response.
LuMaeryn said nothing right away. He looked to be choosing his words with care. “It was not a lie,” he said, after a moment. He moved closer again to where she stood. Jynn started her rant again, before he could say anything more.
“If not a lie then... what would you call it?” Contempt and sarcasm burned her words, matching the fire scorching her heart. “You profess to love me… then you order the death of my family… the people I love? How?” Jynn shook her head again. “I just don’t know how you could…”
“I’m sorry, my love.” LuMaeryn spoke softly, no doubt hoping the voice of honest innocence would cool her anger and turn her heart; Jynn knew the trick and hated it. “I did not know you cared so deeply for him. I thought your brother the terrible person you made him out to be… that his death would be a burden lifted from you, as you had said before. I thought it a price easily paid to see us together.” His words were gentle, but Jynn didn’t let them affect her. She answered him quickly, her voice still burning and sharp.
“Then you don’t know me at all,” she shouted. “I’ve never said any such thing to you, and you’d be a liar or a dullwit to hear those words from my lips. Now which is it, Lu? Are you a liar or a fool?”
“I am neither,” he said, after a long moment of silence. “And you would…”
“You’re a liar!” Jynn was much nearer to tears now, but she found the resolve to compose herself again and continue one last time. “I’d never want my brother dead, and you know that. You could never have heard such a dark desire in anything I’ve ever said to you. ” All composure failed her then, and she looked away.
When Jynn turned back, she knew the anger had faded from her face. Tears streamed down her cheeks. “I never wanted him dead,” she said with a great effort. “…only sorry for not loving me more, when I was around. I wanted his heart to hurt for missing me... that’s all.” Then Jynn’s emotions defeated her completely. She cried openly in the dark and didn’t pull away when LuMaeryn put his arms around her.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “The order is rescinded. Don’t worry at all, my love. Your brother will not be harmed… I will see to it.” LuMaeryn stroked the darkness of Jynn’s hair away from her face. He spoke softly and tempered his words. “Now, I must send out patrols to watch for others who may be coming besides him, but no harm will come to your brother, I promise.” He held her close.
“You… and you,” Lu called to the two Shadorym still kneeling on the ground. “You have heard my order, now go and see that it is done. Make sure he is found and watched only. If he finds his way here, see that he is turned away… but he is not to be hurt.”
Jynn’s tears subsided. She remembered their promise, that all they needed to realize their every happiness was each other; she could even remember believing it. “You have my order,” Lu said again, and though Jynn couldn’t say which order he meant for them to follow, his arm around her now gave comfort and with it the want to trust him. She believed him, because she had to. “...see that it is done.” Lu said again, and the Shadorym left to fulfill their charge, bowing as they went.
After a moment, Jynn stopped crying altogether, and taking her head from LuMaery’s chest, she found his eyes in the dark. “I don’t trust you,” she said. “I know you’d betray me, if given the chance… you would to get what you want. I know it, but you wouldn’t betray your own heart so easily. You’d never make yourself the reason I left, the reason you couldn’t be with me anymore.” Jynn wiped away her tears and ran a hand again over her hair, slowly accepting the place she’d chosen in this new world, again. With a steady voice, she spoke her resignation to it. “I’ll stay with you,” she said. “That’s a promise I’ve already made… it’s one I’ll stand by. Besides, there’s no home for me there anymore… even if I did want to go back.”
Jynn’s last words stirred that deep sadness again, but her current anger easily kept it at bay. She stepped back from Lu and took his arms from around her. “But mark my words,” she said, finding his eyes again. “If anything ill should come of my brother, I’ll know it was you who ordered him to it, and I’ll hold you solely responsible.” She ran a hand over the sleek, black muscle of his chest. Her eyes held his still and the seriousness of what she said smoldered in every word. “And it’ll be you who I punish. I’ve told you before: have me as I say, or don’t have me at all.”
LuMaeryn looked ready to question her declaration, but Jynn didn’t give him the chance, as she pulled him down to her into a deep and deliberate kiss. Her tongue toyed with his for a long moment before she pulled away. “If he dies, my lover,” she paused and kissed him again. “…then so do I. My heart’s bound to his, in more ways than either he or I would ever admit, but you’re the one now who should know it better than any. What I say is true… if you kill my brother, you kill me with him.” And with a last soft kiss to his dark lips, Jynn turned away. She left by the same passage that brought her, knowing he’d watch her go.
“A promise made is a promise kept,” he said.
Jynn didn’t respond.
Right now, all she wanted was to be as far away from him as she could be. She passed quickly through the halls of her dark palace and couldn’t run fast enough. Finally, Jynn reached her private rooms, and she threw herself into the deep shadow surrounding her bed.
Her eyes were seeing the darkness better and better, as he’d said they would. Now though, she could see nothing through her tears but gloom and sadness. She could only wonder if he was watching. He always seemed to be there, hiding some place she couldn’t see. When Jynn first arrived, it had been a good thing; him watching made her feel safe and wanted. Now she wanted only to be alone, but could sense him nearby. Not caring whether he was or not, Jynn let her emotions go, and she burst into tears.
Unable to trust Lu to keep his word and with no way to ever know whether he had or not, Jynn struggled to keep her desperation at bay. This was what she wanted. She loved him, and she’d forsaken her family to be here with him. But now she had more to fear than just her own hurt. When manufacturing her anger to render the road from home less painful, it had been easy to hate Jeodyn, even easy to think of life without him. But now, knowing that he’d come to find her, it broke Jynn’s heart to think of any hurt coming to him, especially a hurt she’d had a hand in causing.
Jeodyn had come for her, when even their father wouldn’t. This was a joy and a pain to realize. But Jynn knew she couldn’t blame Thayne or her mother, or anyone; the fault was hers alone, but Jeodyn had come. That fact cast doubt on every ill feeling she would’ve sworn he harbored against her. She hid the shadow of her face and cried harder into her dark hands. All she could feel was sadness and pain, doubt and worry; an odd price to pay to be happy. She cried harder still to think it.
After a long and desperate time, Jynn’s tears found their end, and the soft sounds of her weeping subsided. Her trembling shadow grew still, and hoping to distance herself from the current sadness, she focused on the happiness she’d come here to find. The gentle flutter in her stomach helped, and the commitment made there rededicated Jynn to the road she’d chosen to take.
She had to believe him. Lu gave her his word, and she’d have to accept it, until she saw the vow broken. Anything less than her full faith in his promise would make her crazy worrying over it, and more would suffer for that now than just her. Jynn couldn’t allow that. Determination found her again. It was Lu’s turn now to do his part in making all this worth the sacrifice.
Her lover, the Lord of these endless shadows, would keep his promise, or Jynn would surrender to the release of keeping her own, no matter the cost. She’d wanted this dark fantasy; now she had to live it.
He truly loved her, and he’d come for her in an instant when she called on him. That was the quickest path Jynn could find to a smile and she conceded now to taking it. Composing the shadowy countenance of her face, she called out to the darkness. “Lu?” she whispered into the gloom, knowing he’d hear. And when the soft shadow of a hand touched her face, she leaned into it with a kiss. “Tell me you love me,” she said. “Just tell me you love me.”
“I have loved you longer than you have had a heart to know it,” LuMaeryn said. “You are my life, and I will love you long after we have both been stricken from this world.” He held her close, like she wanted, and the two shadows fell together in their dark embrace. Jynn lost herself in his shadowy kisses.
Now on to the giveaway! There will be one winner and one runner-up. The winner will receive a PDF copy of this book and the runner-up will get the digital character art. Sound good right? Now to give you a taster of the character art, here is the promo picture!
Anyway... Terms & Conditions! This giveaway is international, ends August 16th 2012 6pm GMT and you're only allowed one entry (any additional entries will be deleted). And I think that's about it. Good luck! :D