Ashes of Dearen: Book 1
A red-eyed assassin, an unready princess, a sadistic politician, and an adulterous queen all desire the secret behind a magical dust known as safra. Safra is said to bring happiness, but these characters’ desperate attempts to obtain it will cost them all dearly. Their salacious and violent deeds bring three great nations to the brink of warfare. And little do they know, their scrambling efforts are being carefully watched by a much greater power: the gods behind the beguiling drug that ensnares them all.
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Why I wrote "Ashes of Dearen" and
what it means to me now
Read the Sequel:
Ashes of Dearen: Book 2
The thrusting of her legs took her from the Fountain Foyer and into the Garden of Delights. Here vines and flowers cascaded down a stone staircase into a jungle of blossoms and foliage. It was a maze in its own right, and most people were happy to get lost in it. Deep in the Garden of Delights, one could feast on the fruits of its trees and bushes, drink from its glittering fountains, and never come out for days. A thick canopy of branches and vines made one easily lose track of where he entered or where he might exit.
Except that Fayr knew the maze by heart.
When she had run far enough into it, she pretended to trip.
She chose the spot carefully. Here, the pebbled walkway was softened by velvety red soil. The fall was painful, but not too much so. As she sprawled into the dirt, she threw the baselard under a bush of Sweet-Sickle flowers. This, too, she chose on purpose. The bush’s seeds, buried within its blossoms, shone with a soft green light, casting a mossy glow wherever they grew. The aroma of Sweet-Sickle flowers was rumored to awaken the senses and stir one’s desire.
Belatedly, she realized this would not matter if her attacker still wore his accursed kerchief.
She did not know what else to do. Her bare legs felt like jelly from the hips down. She had run as far as she could bear to run. Not only because she was exhausted and in shock, but also because it did not seem right to keep running from the still-bleeding bodies of her mother and father. What else could she do now but turn and face her attacker?
His footsteps padded closer. She could hear his breath, coarse and heavy. She remembered suddenly how her father had injured him with a knife to the shoulder. Surely he had lost a lot of blood, and the pain of his wound must be draining him.
“It won’t hurt so much if you breathe in some safra,” she said, rolling onto her back to face him.
Her voice felt like someone else’s as it rang from her throat. She wasn’t sure where her own confidence came from. She only knew that she had no other ideas besides this one, so she might as well try it.
His shape cut a jagged silhouette against the dim Haze. He took another step forward, bathing himself in the soft aquamarine glow of the Sweet-Sickle bushes.
As she stared up at him, Fayr felt her body tingle all over. Her fingers played with the flimsy folds of her night-gown as she pulled it up her thighs. Perhaps she was simply getting caught up in her own act. Or perhaps, unlike the safra, the Sweet-Sickle bush held at least a little sway over her senses. Whatever the case, her skin came alive with sensation, and her heart pounded with excitement. She felt the tickle of her hair against her shoulders. She felt the cool night air brush the tender skin of her chest. Her nipples tightened and became super-sensitive against the soft caress of her gown. She hoped the Wolven noticed this, too.
His eyes became very wide, so that a clear ring of white shone round the red irises. The metal weapon in his hand jerked, then fell into the soil.
“Please,” she whispered. “Don’t kill me. I’ll do anything. Anything you want.”