The story of how it all began…
Dorric Themear has experienced the giddy flutterings of new love before. But not like this. Behind the sapphire eyes of Lady Emelyee Amastacia lies a long-awaited destiny that neither of them can sense or stop.
However, forces darker than Emelyee’s husband are prepared to stand in their way.
Ridel, one of Lucien’s most trusted servants, is less than enthused about her assignment to watch the lovers. If only her master had been visionary enough to see that a child cannot result if the parents are dead. She’ll do her best to comply with his orders to watch and to wait—at least for now.
High in the Frostmaw Mountains, Yvayne has seen the signs of a turning of the age before. Perhaps this time, with the proper intervention, she and the druids can make a play for Azuria after all.
Praise for Aurora
This was a delightful start to this wonderful series! I haven’t been able to put the books down since reading the first one.”Amazon reviewer
“It began at a dance,” Dorric would recount for years afterward, “as these stories often do.” He and the other elven diplomats had gathered in the hallway beside the gardens to make their grand entrance. Flowers exhaled their sun-warmed pollens, tempting traveling elves and bees with their heady aromas. Coming from Thyles Thamor, a city embedded in the forest, the mingling of sharp and subtle florals on the sea air brought back moments of childhood laughter, of reading by the docks of Invae Alinor, Dorric’s home as a young elf, and staring out at the sea. Six weeks had passed on the Infinite Ocean, sailing vast expanses of practically uncharted waters toward the sunny shores of Caldara, but they had arrived at last. And now, feasts, revelry, and new acquaintances awaited.
Linolynn was a small kingdom, and quite young, only a century or so older than his own grandparents, but its soon-to-be king had great plans for his city-state’s future and aimed to make it a presence felt on the world stage.
The white stone and glass exterior of the estate had winked brightly at Dorric, beckoning him landward. Their captain docked the fine elven craft in the estate’s natural harbor, and Prince Arontis himself greeted them on the dock and ushered them inside. The sun tiptoed toward the horizon as they refreshed themselves, and then the celebration commenced.
The ballroom swirled with color, gemstones flashing as men and women paraded across the dance floor in fine evening dress. A twirl of sapphire and gold swept past Dorric, and a fragrance he couldn’t place. Gardenia. The human woman’s long, loose curls performed a waltz of their own as she spun across the floor, each tendril of golden hair bounding in time to the enchanting symphony.
Her partner, an elderly gentleman, was far from her equal as a dancer, yet the two looked happy together. The adagio crescendoed, and the couple drew closer, then apart, bowing with the final chords. Gloved hands patted together, muted applause for the court’s musicians. The two parted, and the older man walked away.
“Dorric Themear, at your service, sir.” Dorric bowed low with a flourish.
The man’s bushy eyebrows muted any surprise he might otherwise have expressed at such a blunt introduction, but what were grand balls for if not to meet and be met? “Master Ketch,”—he smiled and bowed his head—“though you may of course call me Laurence if you like. No one else does.” His eerily pale blue eyes twinkled.
Dorric laughed. “Perhaps Master Ketch would be best then, for the time being.”
“Quite so, quite so.” Laurence grinned again and gallantly offered Dorric his elbow to show him over to the drinks table. Crystal goblets held sparkling beverages of pale gold, and shades of orange glinted off the glass faces with the deepening light outdoors. “May I ask how you find Linolynn thus far, master elf?”
“Very engaging, sir. In other circumstances, I might add that first impressions of a place can be deceiving, but I have an unshakeable feeling that Linolynn is just as captivating as it has thus far appeared to be.”
The noblewoman’s laughter bounced toward him from across the elegantly appointed hall. The marble flooring was inlaid with deep blue stones, and the ceiling palest sky blue and gold. The curving white walls and mirrored doors shimmered, and wide terraces opened onto another branch of the estate’s gardens, allowing the sea air to drift in and among the guests.
“Pardon me.” Dorric shook his head. “It’s just that the appointment of this room . . . I have traveled through many human settlements, some as old as Thyles Thamor, if not older, others barely settled. It is not often that I have encountered such, hmm, is modest elegance the word?”
Laurence nodded, gazing around the room, forehead wrinkled to raise his brows above his drooping lids.
“To speak more directly, sir, I’ve never been any further north on this side of the world than Cyrinia, which isn’t really north at all. I find it absolutely enchanting.” Dorric sighed, turning to take in the movement of the room alongside his new acquaintance.
“Her name is Emelyee. Lady Emelyee Amastacia. Soon to be a duchess.”
Ridel took a step back from the orb. The warped reflection of her eyes showed her blinking back at herself. Was that all? Had she missed a crucial event of some sort? After years of service, she had been entrusted with supervising an elven ambassador flirting with a human noblewoman? Surely Lucien had something else in mind for her mission.
She shook her head and strode away from the orb, circling its central placement in the round room. She ran her hand down her smooth lilac arm, tugging at the black off-shoulder strap on the opposite side. Why hadn’t Lucien simply agreed to her first solution? He was blind to the reality of what stood before them and was overcomplicating his plight unnecessarily.
How could a child result if its parents were dead? Lucien had been convinced that interfering at this stage would be tantamount to a breach in the Concordance and expose their great mistress. Once the child was born, they could take action. She ran her hands back through her dark, evergreen hair.
He should have reached out to her by now. Why keep her waiting?
Trumpets sounded outside, signaling a grand procession through the main thoroughfares of Cyrinia. Ridel threw her head back and stomped out of the inner chamber. She slung the curtains that faced the street closed to strengthen the illusion of being separated from the dissonance of the old city while she worked. The rooms would be stuffier throughout the afternoon, but anyone passing by would assume the third floor of the residence was empty. She smoothed the sides of her garment’s corset and held her shoulder back as she reentered the seeing room.
The noise passed, and the well-wishers who had halted their lives to share in the festivities returned to a quieter state, a dull murmuring as the crowd mingled in the shaded streets below.
Black smoke began to churn inside the orb. Finally. She ran over to await Lucien’s appearance.
As usual, his yellowed eyes swam forward from the back of his head to fixate on her. “All proceeds according to our predictions?”
Ridel scowled. “You led me to believe I had been stationed here so I would be near enough to intervene if there were a resurgence on their part. You said nothing of observing matchmaking among members of a human court.”
“I thought you would be honored by such a task, Ridel.” One of the teeth visible through his partially decayed lip disappeared and reemerged as Lucien smiled. “A long-awaited enemy, arrived at last.”
She ran her tongue over her doubled canines, disguising her irritation as a moment of reflection instead. “It’s a baby. Why must we be so close by? Where could it go that would be beyond our grasp?”
Lucien’s eyes flashed. “It is what the baby represents, both to our mistress and to those she seeks to subdue. Should I appoint someone else to the task? Nadya, perhaps?”
“No,” Ridel growled. He suggested another negata deliberately, trying to aggravate her. “I am here, my lord, and honored to do your bidding. We have need of no one else.”
Her master bowed his head, a smirk tugging at the corner of his upper lip like it had been hooked in a snare.
The smoke swirled once more, consuming the picture inside the sphere and dispersing it to the edges, returning the crystal to a pale gray glow.
Ridel resumed her pacing. Surely, at some point, the situation would move apace. Alessandra couldn’t possibly be interested in the domestic happenings at this estate. She would look in on the scowling nobleman and see if his activity offered any greater promise. Lucien believed that the one they called Calderon held potential as a future ally in their endeavors, wittingly or not. She wasn’t yet convinced, but time would tell.