UNEDITED (Coming July 11, 2017!) 

Shades of Dark

Rhona sat at the edge of the water, staring west and wondering if they could ever truly be prepared to set foot on an island rumored to be covered in remnant and ghosts.

It was bad enough that she’d be leaving Donnon and Kia behind, given that the remnant were starting to cause trouble even here. Then there was the invading force Master Irdin had told them about: a dark, secret society that meant to conquer these lands, as best they could figure. Oh, and they were powerful sorcerers, too.

At least the land would be in good hands, since Donnon and his daughter had the ability to control fire.

None of that would matter, though, if she and her brother could retrieve the Sword of Light from Sair Talam and return to unite the lands. For too long they had been at war, the paladins and the clans. For too long the King of Gulanri had left them to their own devices.

Now all of that would come to an end, if only they could achieve their goal quickly.

“So eager to be gone?” Donnon asked, stepping up behind her.

She imagined him wrapping his arms around her, holding her and staring out at the setting sun with his lips gently pressed against her neck. The look in his eyes told her he had a similar idea, but they had agreed not to tempt themselves; not when she had to leave and he had to stay to unite the clans in the land’s defense.

Neither wanted to be so emotionally attached that they would put their missions at risk, so she simply nodded with a forced smile while he licked his lips nervously.

“When we return, everything will be different,” she finally said.

“Aye, of course.” He nodded to the city walls. “Kia has fed the horses, and there is food in your packs.”

“Thank you.” She got lost in his eyes for a moment, then turned, blushing. “If the sorcerers return while we’re gone—”

“We’ll hold them off. I’ve sent riders to the nearest clans with messages for them and to pass on to the outlying clans. If nothing else, they’ll be ready. Best case scenario, we’ll hold our own with the paladins and stand united, even if we’re in hiding when the sorcerers arrive.”

“Those damned paladins,” Rhona replied, shaking her head in frustration. “If they’d just listen to reason…”

“A sentiment we’ve expressed for many years.”

“Well…” Rhona sighed at the thought of the warrior order her brother had once belonged to; that she too, in some ways, had once belonged to. Taland and his wicked tongue—and she meant that in more ways than one—had spread his poison widely within the Order of Rodrick. As far as she was concerned, they were as much an enemy as the remnant at this point.

“Leila was asking about that brother of yours. He seems to have run off.”

Rhona chuckled. “Alastar is like a child who has never been to a bakery before. Suddenly he has access to cakes and tarts whenever he wants them, and can’t get enough.”

“I’d say Estair is definitely more tart than cake, but yeah, I get your meaning.” Donnon flushed, and his eyes darted across her body before he looked away. (more…)



Shades of LightAlastar had just finished wiping a smudge of dirt from his gold-rimmed, pure white armor when his sister, Rhona, entered. She gave him that look he always hated—a raised eyebrow, a gaze that dared him to look away from her green eyes, and a hint of a smile at her lips. It was the look she gave him whenever she was about to knock him back down to size and remind him of their humble beginnings.

“Let me stop you right there,” he said, fastening his gold cloak over his shoulders and turning to the mirror. Damn, he looked good. Not in a conceited, sexy sort of way, but as a strong paladin who deserved every bit of honor the High Paladin, Sir Gildon, was about to bestow on him.

Making eye contact with Rhona, he attempted to match her confidence as he said, “I earned this.”

“Oh, and I had nothing to do with it?”

“You were there when I needed you, aye. But I was the one who caught the warlock. I am the paladin here, don’t forget.”

“How could I ever?” Her brow furrowed into a glare that lasted only a moment. “I’m simply looking out for you.” She stepped up beside him and reached a hand over to smooth out his cloak. “It’s just… there’ve been too many times we thought he was preparing to send you on the holy quest.”

“I have proven myself.” Alastar turned, voice rising in his excitement. “Why shouldn’t Sir Gildon send me on the next expedition?”

She shrugged. “He should, there’s no doubt. But that doesn’t mean he will. You don’t notice the way he eyes me.” (more…)