Posted by: reneewildes1 | June 1, 2020

HAPPY RELEASE DAY TO ME!

NOW AVAILABLE FROM YOUR FAVORITE EBOOK VENDOR!

http://champagnebooks.com/store/coming-soon/814-a-guardian-redeemed-9781771552950.html

FINAL A Guardian Redeemed

He was bred for war. Her magic is only for peace. Together they must fight for love.

Weapons stolen, comrades dead, ship burned and sunk, Valkyn is rotting in Lord Zurvan’s grim dungeon, wondering if he will ever again see his sons. Rescue comes from an unexpected source—the human witch Zurvan sent to patch him up between beatings.

Mari can’t bring herself to let Valkyn die, never mind that the fearsome northern riever is the scourge of her homeland. Yet in him she finds an ally who could help restore the rightful boy king to the throne. And a man who reminds her body there’s life after widowhood.

Their first kiss unleashes pent-up passion she thought was long buried, clouding all the reasons they shouldn’t get involved. But the blood on Valkyn’s hands is anathema to Mari’s magic. If she dares open herself to him fully, he could destroy her.

Valkyn knows his heart has already surrendered to hers. When this quest is over, the real quest will be convincing her that polar opposites not only attract, they belong together— forever.

Warning:
Contains a witch who abhors violence teaming up with a war-hardened riever who has never known peace. Complicated by a savage warlord, a boy king in hiding, an embittered selkie prince who’s lost his skin, and hot love scenes that show a lot of it.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

ValkynValkyn dragged his bruised and naked body off the hot courtyard ground where they’d flung him and swayed to his feet. Scurvy pirate scum. Powdery red dust swirled, clung to his braided beard and smeared across his sunburnt skin. With his hands bound behind his back, he couldn’t wipe the sweat or wind-blown dust from his eyes. Blood and rage pounded in his temples. He clenched his aching jaw and seethed as he stared at the stone walls and marble columns of some high lord’s manor. Captured, bound, and hobbled…

Halzyaq willing, I’ll follow the Vala to Heroes’ Hall on my feet. By the god of war, he’d take these miserable bastards to the Beyond with him. I’ll toast Uncle Vygnal with their skulls and drink their blood in my wine. Even a leashed dog has teeth.

An overfed citizen approached in fluttering layers of crimson and purple silk. The long, curled ebony hair and beard blowing in the breeze sparkled with gold dust and stank of patchouli oil. Even the man’s glittering sandals blinded with reflective gold as they slapped the ground with every stomping stride. He drew up before Valkyn, all pretentious self-importance.

“Where am I?” Valkyn glared down at the shorter man.

“Eastern port city of Saboutar, capital of Theressa. Far from home, riever.”

Was he the leader of this corsair rabble? This gaudy lord had no idea. These dry, sun-scorched plains of southern-dwelling Theressa stood half a map-world away from the rugged, icy grandeur of northern Isadorikja. Valkyn gauged the distance between him and this man with his still-working right eye—his left had swollen shut. His fingers itched for his stolen battle-axes and star-shaped throwing cheqs, but his bound hands grew numb. His ankles ached, chafed raw from the bindings. Hadn’t these cowards learned their lesson back on the doomed Seeker as it burned about them? Even unarmed and bound, a warrior was still dangerous so long as he kept his wits.

Why was I alone spared and brought here? What do the gods intend?

Surely not the desecration of Creataq’s Blood, the most fearsome weapons ever forged by man. Made from the nigh indestructible ore of Creataq, god of the forge, found only within Widowmaker Mountain of Isadorikja. Stolen, hanging on some undeserving pirate lord’s wall as mere trophies…

Sacrilege.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

MariA salty tear trickled down Mari’s sunburnt cheek as she collapsed, exhausted, on the hard-baked ground some distance from the others. She reached up to erase her show of weakness before one of her amoral captors noticed. Her fingers came away streaked with gritty mud. She frowned at her broken nails.

Powdery red dust clung to all, staining her tattered blue gown like dried blood. Mari wrinkled her nose in self-disgust at the combined stench of old sweat and old fear.
Oh, for a bath. She smelled worse than those foul-tempered camels.

How had it come to this—bands of men ordered to capture innocent, free women for sport? For sale? And the one who did the ordering—the shadowy head demon who’d taken control of this land, Emandu—had sent Kotar, the rightful boy-king, fleeing for his young life.

She fingered the cool stones and crystals encircling the copper band about her right wrist. Her captors had not yet taken it from her. The minor unseeing ward still held, made others dismiss it as inconsequential. The heavy cuff bound, stored, and focused whatever elemental energy she drew in until she required its magic and called it forth. A square green peridot set in iron for earth, a jagged quartz set in gold for fire, a round aquamarine set in a point-down triangle of silver for water, and an arrowhead of mica set in tin for air.

But the need here far surpassed her earth-healing powers.

Fear wore on her, the sharpness dulled over the course of three days under the burning sun to a constant bone-deep ache. Nightmares of bloodshed and atrocities haunted her slumber. She licked her chapped lips. The brutes rationed their drinking water, but tears and sweat gave hope she wasn’t yet dehydrated.

The unceasing scream of the red earth had drawn her south, across the border from Rhattany. Despite rumors of civil unrest—that people disappeared from the borderlands and bands of brigands roamed free. She’d come, unable to resist the call, only to discover rumor was fact—and she was now one of the missing headed with the others to some unknown slave market, never to breathe the free air again.

The land of Theressa still moaned about her, tainted by blood and wrongful violence, an assault on her psyche. As an earth healer, ’twas her duty to set things right, but how to determine how it had all gone so very wrong? She’d not rest ’til the Mother revealed Her purpose in bringing her here, so far from home.

Thank You, Mother.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

FIRST MEETING:
Mari stepped over to the rawboned giant of a man on her left. Once, his matted hair might’ve been golden. The braids in his ragged beard suggested a northern riever. Scourge of her homeland. Not so fearsome now. Just a man, for all he’d tower over her.

He opened bloodshot, over-bright eyes and shied away from the light. “Vala?”

Who?

“You…were in my dreams…”

“Shh, ’tis all right,” she soothed. “Don’t be afraid. I’ve come to help you.”

He glared with the fierce clarity of a wolf, battered but unbroken. “He sends a beautiful wench to do his evil work for him now? What new torment is this? Begone.”

Beautiful? Mari shivered at the strength of will behind those brilliant ice-blue eyes, a frost of loathing so cold it burned. She swallowed hard at the menace in his rough whiskey voice and motioned the guards to place the torches in wall holders. “Leave their ankles bound if you must, but for pity’s sake, lower their arms.”

The men collapsed at her feet, rubbed their shoulders, arms, and rust-stained wrists, shook their hands, and flexed their fingers. A line of slaves arrived with shovels, brooms, mops, pails of fresh water, and an assortment of clean rags.

“This chamber must be cleaned,” Mari ordered her fellow slaves. Immediately, she rejected that notion. Nay, she had never been a slave and a paltry metal collar didn’t make her one now. “Save me a bucket and rag for each man. They’re getting baths so I can see their injuries.” She claimed one of the buckets. Snatching a cup, she plunged it into the bucket and carried it over to the blond riever. “Here.”

He shook his head as he tottered, flinching, to his feet. “Him first, woman.” He indicated his fellow prisoner. “He’s been here longer and has endured far more than I.”

Moved by his unexpected compassion, Mari cradled her palm against his too-warm bearded cheek. His swollen jaw tightened under her touch. “I’ll be right back.”


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