by Denysé Bridger
Available from Solstice Publishing:
On the fantasy world of Foress, the daughter of the world’s last remaining god is challenged to locate one of the ancient swords that were forged as the Triad of Power among the once-powerful gods. Sherindal is a skilled warrior, but a woman with many conflicts in her heart. She has spent her life in the service of her father, the god M’Har, yet it is not she who will wield the most powerful of the swords. Diviner is to be her brother’s destiny, even though she is certain the legacy should be hers. Sherindal carries another of the three ancient weapons, Huntor. The final part of the triad is to be held by the hands of men, and her lover, the Prince of Ember City, is the guardian of Predator.
“You are behaving foolishly, Sherindal, daughter of M’Har.”
“I don’t recall asking for company,” she spat, more furious at herself than at her unexpected visitor.
“Conil is not what he appears to be.”
Sherindal leaned back and looked closer at her new companion. Standing he would be as tall as Rienn, but fairer. Short, cropped hair was the color of sand, and the stranger’s eyes were vivid blue. He was not handsome, but attractive nonetheless. His mouth, curved into a mocking smile just now, was wide and full. His long-fingered hands were scarred and their strength apparent in the fine muscles that fleshed out their broad palms. She had never seen him before, yet her heart responded to him as to Rienn, something else that unnerved her deeply.
“Leave,” she asked softly.
He shook his head.
“I am Danelin,” he told her. “Your father is known to me. We once fought together.”
“You are not old enough to have fought in his wars.”
“Not all his wars are ancient, little one,” Danelin replied, his deep voice resonant and gentle. “I thought you had learned that with Argon’s passing.”
She shuddered, sensed great pain, and greater loss.
“Please leave?” she asked again, and again he denied her isolation.
“You have attracted too much attention tonight, Lady,” Gerith’s voice pulled her eyes from the mesmeric stare of Danelin. “The locals are not happy that you receive strangers at your table but you drive them away.”
Sherindal was about to toss him an appropriately scathing evaluation of that observance when Danelin’s fingers clamped on her wrist and jarred her with the depth of pain she experienced.
“Have you lost your mind?” she hissed at him.
Danelin nodded toward the restless crowd that was inching toward them, and she groaned softly.
“Shall we leave?” she suggested, and rose. In the same motion she drew Huntor, and held it in both hands as she faced the men of Loremor.
“There is no need to die,” she told them, her smile as lethal as her tone was sweet.
“You don’t belong here,” one of the drunker fools decreed. “Consorting with wizards and demons.”
Conil was the wizard; Sherindal assumed that made Danelin the demon. She shook her head, tossed long blonde locks away from her face so she would not be distracted by the flowing mane. She should have tied it back.
The man who had spoken lunged, not at Sherindal, or Danelin, but at the unfortunate Gerith. Sherindal heard the grunt of shocked pain and surprise when the young man was flung back against the stone wall, and nearly suffocated beneath his attacker’s weight.
She glared at Danelin, silently blamed the entire mess on him, then launched at the men who were now openly confronting them. She used the hilt of the sword to strike, never once turning the blade upon the men. She did not want blood spilled; she simply wanted to escape the house. Danelin, like her, struck out, but did not inflict fatal injury. Gerith had recovered and she was pleased to see that he was fighting admirably. Bloodied noses might be the worst injury incurred by the men.
They had very nearly gained the door when a burst of piercing noise shattered the relative calm that had returned to the alehouse. She staggered, felt Danelin’s arms catch her, and Huntor fell from her grasp. She groaned in rejection as the sizzle of magic seared the air, and shrieks of horror and agony grew louder with each passing heartbeat. She clung to Danelin.