Welcome To My Dreams

“The best illusion is the truth.”

~Laurel Lee~

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Review By Dee

In the Company of the Dead
Ciara Ballentine

Review by Dee Krull

This story has a little of everything; mystery, intrigue, forbidden love, valor, magic and action packed battles. The author has done her research and it is very well written. It makes you laugh, cry, and a few of the scenes were downright scary.
In times of dragons, Gods and Goddesses and dark magic you have to be on your guard and if you live in a castle where men and women alike, wielded swords to save life and limb, life is hard and often short.

Lyrm Aharris has been exiled to the remote corner of the king’s lands; son of a Duke, King’s Sword and chief military advisor to the King of Ahlleyn, he is now suspected of killing his wife Zaheva. She was the love of his life and as an exile he has succumbed to drinking his sorrows away; leaving, Everard, his trusted “aid to the camp,” to worry about his state of mind.

After twelve months of exile, because he insulted the prince of Ahlleyn, an army of mercenaries camp outside the old walls of the Caisteal Aingeal; also known as Castle of the Angel of Death, because of the Priestess’ of Ahura who live there. He is offered the lives of his men and the people who live inside the castle walls, but only if he goes willingly. The question is; to his death, imprisonment, or is there another reason behind this invasion? So the mystery begins and a battle ensues. How can a small regiment of men and farmers stand against an army of two thousand?

Before the attack Lyram makes a plan to give himself up even though his men would rather fight for him. Before the battle begins his plan is thwarted by the arrival of Ellaeva, Battle Priestess to Ahura “Goddess of Death, Truth, and Justice.” After she saves his life she tells him she has come to save him and the castle from this army in the name of the Goddess she serves; or has she?

They are attracted to each other; unknowing at first, but the writing is on the wall. She is forbidden love by her oath to Ahura and he is still in love with his dead wife; there is no hope for love between them. Ellaeva has information that there is a Rahmyrrim in their midst; a necromancer in service to Rahmyr, “The Goddess of Decay, Despair and Corruption.” As a Battle Priestess she has the power of Ahura’s magic to find and kill this dark and deadly scourge. Called “The Left Hand of Death,” Ellaeva has no friends; most are afraid of her, but Lyram treats her as he would any soldier in his service; as an equal. His friendship makes her question the life she has lived and what life means to her.

Battles begin and many die from battle, illness and dark magic and no one knows how they will stay alive to see another day as they fight for their lives against evil worse than any known to mankind.

I choose not to reveal the mystery and suspense of this story but I do have a downside as well. When I started reading I found there to be too much description of armor, battlements and old English names for many of the props in the story. I was board and wished I hadn’t agreed to review this book. However, the more I read the more believable I found the characters and the more I was drawn into their plight. I do recommend this book for those who like fantasy based on factual styled events. I have given this book four stars; only because of the overwriting and there were many mistakes throughout the second half of the book. It really needs to be re-edited as do many books out there; including those published by traditional publishers. This was a five star read if you enjoy this genera. I would recommend reading it.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Attack of the Warrior Queen

Chapter One

Below me the destruction the aliens were leaving behind stretched as far as the eyes could see. The forest around the beautiful valley was a sobering contrast to the black boneyard of trees and the once lush green grasses; now gone, revealing only charred black soil. Trees that now looked like twisted, deformed black hands jutting out of the ground; soot lifting into the air by an unrelenting breeze that swept through the valley. The acrid smell made my nostrils flair with the burning sensation it left behind. Nothing was spared the destructive force of the sand demons. I watched, my heart pounding in my chest, as they continued to lay waste to everything within their reach.
Banrion and I were concealed by the billowing white thunderheads that were threatening to unleash more rain. We were high enough above the ground to keep our presence hidden, but I felt better as we climbed higher into the clouds making it less easy to glance up and see us.
“Come on Banrion,” I murmured, “we need to get out of here before they see us.” Even though she was a pure white griffin her immense size might be enough to cause one alien to see a flash of movement; to raise the alarm. As if they heard me; a fireball shot past her wing, sparks fanning out behind it. “Shit! We need to get out of here before their aim improves.” An explosion of air passed over her enormous wings, giving her strength as we tore through the clouds and out of sight.
When my heart stopped trying to beat my chest to death, I took a deep breath before I bid, Banrion, to take us home; home being our new camp on the other side of the mountains. The sound of exploding fire bombs grew dimmer as we left their destruction behind us. A shadow passed below us, causing me to peruse the surrounding clouds for an intruder. It must have been my imagination, I thought. But I still looked around nervously as we headed back to camp.
If someone had told me several years ago that I would be astride the back of an enormous griffin, combating aliens on a parallel world one day, I would have laughed in their face and told them they were watching too much television. And if they had said, oh yeah you will be the queen of a world full of mythical creatures, I would have called the nearest rehab and checked them in to have their head examined. But here I am, the chosen queen of an entire planet the size of Jupiter, flying on the back of a giant, white griffin as I looked down at an alien race that were hell bent on enslaving and destroying our beautiful planet of Htrae.
My best friend, Raithe, and I used to kid about not belonging on Earth. Like everyone else on the planet, we watched TV shows like ‘Ancient Aliens’ and thought to ourselves; why not? Some scientists believe we were drawing on the memories of our ancestors as our technology becomes more sophisticated. Are the people of Earth advancing so rapidly because of alien interference? Or is it because some of us are actually from another solar system? Planted there to accomplish what? Raithe and I were both kidnapped and brought to Htrae by the same Vampire. She was a seed while I turned out to be part of a thousand year old prophesy and well; the rest is history.
I wondered how long it would be before everyone knew that Humans might have come from someplace beyond this space and time. And I wondered how many twins were still on Earth, waiting to wake up one morning to find they were on the planet that they had been dreaming about for most of their lives. That was thanks to King Kasan, who was no longer king, for separating twins at birth and depositing one of them on Earth, seeds, to eventually marry and have children on Earth; while the other one remained here to survive on a hostile planet; depending on their species. At the age of forty the seeds on Earth were compelled to get a tattoo of a galaxy on the right side of their neck. This allowed the retrievers to find them and bring them back. Since Raithe and I were best friends she convinced me to get one too; the only difference was I was fifty. Later I discovered that Mother was the reason I had not gotten mine ten years before. I made a mental note to talk to Naken about the seeds and whether someone was retrieving them anymore. Naken was the one who brought Raithe and I to Htrae.
We had all talked ad nauseam about King Kasan’s reasons behind this. Most thought it was to make Humans live longer, but to what end? So far I was not able to figure out why, and I had my doubts that I would. Those who knew were not talking about the why behind it and I had a feeling it was something the priests designed. They were aliens on this planet; aliens who were now trying to take over our world for our natural resources. That was the reason for this war; to eradicate them all together before they could turn all of us into slaves, and destroy our planet.
On top of everything else, Earth had no idea that an alien race was on the verge of destroying their world and that another world was trying to stop them. I embraced Htrae as my planet and home, but for some reason I still thought of Earth as my world. I had nothing to do with Earth’s part in the aliens desire to destroy it but I still felt responsible. I wondered what would happen if I contacted the world leaders of Earth; filling them in on what was happening. Would they believe me? My guess is that they know more than the populous of Earth does regarding life on other worlds; fearing the worst if they divulged the information they had.
I decided it was time to stop surmising and go home. I sent, Banrion, an image of us banking left. We were almost to the mountains when Learden’s thoughts pervaded my mind.
“Laurel, when are you coming back? The Commander is asking for you and the Elves are becoming concerned. They had no idea there would be so many of us. Are you alright?”
I smiled, “Yes, I am on my way back. I was perusing the damage the aliens have left behind. I was not able to locate Kronus. I am still not sure he is aiding the enemy. They have devastated the valley, Learden, and there are as many sand demons as there are aliens now. Even the tall ones are expanding in numbers, we need to look at the maps and decide which continent is the most viable for the aliens to survive on. Find out where all of the sand dunes are and how feasible they are to defend.”
“Alright, I am waiting for you, please get here sooner than later, I think there will be anarchy if you are delayed, and it is time to ‘not sleep’ again.” He sent.
My smile grew. Our ‘not sleeping’ was code for replenishing our energy; feeding while mating. It was coined by Naken after we replenished all through the night.  “Yes, I know, my love, my body is feeling the need as well. I am over the mountains now.” Just as we banked left I saw something out of the corner of my eye, but before I realized what it was, I heard a familiar sound . . . zing . . . zing . . . zing. I had heard that sound two times since my life on Htrae began, and each time was devastating; the first time was when Learden and I were caught by the King’s Guard and the second was when Kiina, Kianas’ sister, who was like a sister to me, was killed. My breath caught in my throat; my fear ratcheting up, when Banrion’s shrill screech sliced through the chill night air. My hands flew to my ears; my eyes shut tight in lieu of the pain in my head. When my eyes finally opened, my heart beat flew up my throat; there were two arrows sticking out of her right wing. The first one was lodged in the membrane on the lower part of her wing, but the other one had sliced almost completely through the meaty part of the upper wing; and it was bleeding profusely.
Banrion,” I yelled frantically. “Hold on, I will get you down!” I desperately sent her pictures as I perused the ground for an open field to set down in. As soon as I found it she practically fell out of the sky; gliding to keep from using the injured wing. I lay tense over her back, and whispered, “Show me the shooter! Instantly she sent me an image of Kronus.
I panicked, “Learden, Kronus just shot Banrion down; I have no idea where we are exactly, just that we are in a field somewhere in the center of the mountains.” I hit the ground running as soon as she landed to keep from being thrown when her wing dropped sideways. Her wing jerked into her body, followed by an earsplitting screech that shot pain through my head like a dagger.
Running to her, I reached for her neck and pulled her face down to mine, “Shhh . . . it will be okay,” I whispered. Trying and failing to calm my own nerves, I stroked her neck; our foreheads touching. She was breathing heavily, but she finally calmed as I managed to calm my own fluttering stomach; I knew her distress was more from fear than pain. Immediately I sent her images of the wounded wing open, and dropping to the ground. “I am going to break the arrows and pull them through, Banrion, then I will heal you; but you must be still until I am finished. Do you understand?”
She answered with the familiar trill that came with a vibration in her neck. When her breathing slowed, I moved slowly around to the injured wing as she watched me. I trusted Banrion with my life but an injured animal could be unpredictable. I perused the damage from the ground, which at first glance, did not look that bad, but it would take some doing on my part to get to it. Her size made it difficult to reach the part of her wing that sustained the worst damage and teleporting was out of the question. We were in a rocky area so it was easy to find something to stand on; I stacked the flat rocks high enough to reach the arrows. I quickly broke both arrows at vampire speed and pulled them through. The bleeding on the upper wing gushed faster than I would have liked but there was nothing I could do to prevent it.
I quickly put my hands over both wounds and imagined healing energy moving through me and into her through my right hand. At the same time I pulled her wound into my left hand, through my body, and allowed it to dissipate down my leg and foot into the ground.
She bucked under my hands, “Shhh . . . Banrion,” I whispered to calm her. The fountain of blood that poured out of the upper wound did not help, but I held on to her. Slowing my breathing I gathered the surrounding  energy; allowing it to flow through her injuries through me taking the negative energy and sending it back into the ground where it would be purified to be used again; I hoped she would realize that the fire that moved through her was just the healing process that she felt.
Before I was able to complete the healing within myself, I was yanked abruptly away from, Banrion, and hurled to the ground. I gasped and collapsed over my body as pain shot through my right shoulder; Banrion, screeched. When I looked at the damage I noticed it was healing but since the healing was not finished I was bleeding pretty badly from the wound I had taken from her. I am an empath and have the ability to draw a wound into my body and heal myself after. Considering my shoulder was a lot smaller than Banrion’s my injury was larger, and I had not healed myself yet. We both turned toward our attacker at the same time.
“What the hell?” I yelled. When I realized who had pulled me so abruptly away from healing Banrion, the flair of heat ignited in my face. My heartbeat was loud in my ears as anger filled my thoughts; I stared into the hostile face of a Vampire; Kronus.
 Ignoring me he crouched low as he watched the griffin ready to kill her if she attacked.
He was still the tall, muscular, dark Hybrid that I knew intimately, but at the same time; he was different. He wore the black uniform of the Hybrid. His face was drawn, his features sharper and his eyes were blue crystals. His fangs below his upper lip sent the message, I have the power, and I knew he would not heed anything I had to say. My gut told me that I had to get, Banrion, into the sky and away from him. “Learden, my love, I am sending Banrion to get you, but you must be careful. Kronus will kill her if he can and I am wounded from trying to heal her wing. He stopped me from completing the healing and he has a crossbow.” I sent quickly. Learden’s thoughts were quick to respond, “We are on our way, Laurel, I will watch for Banrion and guide her to us. Stay alive, I will find you. I will rip out his heart if he touches you. What does he want?”
“I do not know, he is still threatening to kill Banrion, but so far he has said nothing.” I could tell Learden was angry, I could almost hear the growl in his voice.
I trained hostile eyes on him as I communicated with Learden giving away nothing to Kronus, “I should have known the stories were true.” I growled with every word. “How could you turn against your own kind? What do you have to gain by this Kronus?” Pain, sharp and hot, shot through my shoulder as I moved toward him. I grabbed my arm, trying not to show the pain on my face. I was glad, at least, that Banrion was fully healed. “I saved your life Kronus, and this is how you recompense my kindness?”
One corner of his mouth turned up as he made a mocking bow to me, “it is good to see you as well my queen.” I eyed him warily as he walked slowly around me, one eye still on the griffin. He reached out to press his hand down hard over the wound in my shoulder forcing me to my knees. The bleeding had slowed, but started again, with his abuse. Still; I could feel it healing, one of the perks of being Hybrid Vampire. I could not, however, stifle a groan; which brought a smile to his lips.
Banrion lunged at Kronus, her powerful beak open and ready to bite him if he came too close. “If I were you, I would back away; she could kill you with one bite.” I said; a malevolent smile on my face.
His smile faded as he stumbled back a few steps; his eyes guarded when he looked up at her. He pulled the crossbow from behind his back, “I think not, my queen,” He growled with anger, “she would feel the bite of my arrows before she had a chance. I would suggest you make her stay back if you want her to live.” He finished with a menacing growl.
“What do you want Kronus? I have already told Learden that you brought us down. He is on his way to find me and when he does, you will die. Withdraw while you still can,” I hissed at him. Banrion moved closer behind me and Kronus stepped back again. Holding my arm close to my body I tried to stand up while pulling my knife from my boot; hiding it in my hand by turning the tip of the dagger up my arm.
Before I could stop him he raised his crossbow and fired at, Banrion, narrowly missing her when she raised her wings. “That was a warning,” he growled. “The next one will be between her eyes.” “No!” I yelled moving in front of her; I dropped the knife back into my boot, then I frantically sent her an image of what would happen if she interfered; sending another image of her flying away.  Holding my arms out in surrender, I begged him, “please do not harm her, she is only trying to protect me.” He just glared at me and kept his crossbow aimed at, Banrion’s head.
An image of Learden on her back flickered through my mind; I took a chance and turned my back on Kronus. Reaching up to stroke her neck, I returned her image and whispered, “Make it quick, he will try to shoot you down.”
When I turned back to Kronus, the crossbow was still aimed at her, but he could not watch us both. I lunged at him, knocking the bow out of his hands, making him lose his balance; then I heard the familiar sound of wings as, Banrion, took to the sky. When he realized she was gone he let out a low growl, “That was a mistake you will regret, Queen Laurel.” He grabbed my wounded shoulder and pushed me to the ground again. I fought back a whimper, trying to keep him from realizing the extent of my wounds but I could not keep him from seeing the tears in my eyes.
With the crossbow aimed at me, he leaned down and reached behind a rock; pulling a backpack out. “I guess we will have to do this the hard way,” he growled. He pulled out a brightly colored rope. “Turn around!” He said roughly.

I complied and he jerked my arms behind my back. “Ouch!” I complained. “You know you will never get away with this,” I said as I tried to pull away from him, “Learden will find me.” My first thought was how naive he was to expect ropes to hold me; he knew what I could do. But as soon as the rope touched the skin on my wrists I understood. They began to burn, as if he had set the rope on fire. I finally realized it was the rope the aliens use on the sand demons, to contain them, and I soon discovered I could not teleport out of them. When the ropes were secured he picked me up, throwing me over his shoulder. . . . . . . . . . .

Looking for the Maps? Scroll to the bottom and see where Laurel is.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Short Story by Dee Krull

The Contract

It was one of those warm summer mornings. A soft breeze flew through the trees; cooling the steaming summer sun. It wouldn't be long before I would search out the shade. The sound of cicadas humming in my ears, along with the tinkling sound of my mother washing the breakfast dishes were comforting sounds that always reminded me of lazy summer days when I was small. I could still smell the bacon and fresh baked biscuits as it wafted out of the back door; where I sat on the steps finishing my coffee.
“Sara Marie, you need to get down to the barn and feed the animals honey.”
“Okay mama, as soon as I finish my coffee.” I took another swallow as I stood up.

The animals consisted of two cows, one with a new calf; four pigs; eight cats, six of them kittens and ten hens with one mean sun of a bitch rooster. I would rather ride on the back of a wild boar with no shoes and my hands in the air than try to feed or move that bird into the main cage. Mama said he was devil spawn.

I heard the squeaking screen door open, “here honey, bring back some milk after you feed the cats their share.”
I reached up to take the milk bucket out of her hand when I noticed her open hand shielding her eyes from the bright sun. I followed her stare, “what's wrong mama?” Even though I was eighteen I still called her mama, unless I was mad at her, then I called her mother.

“What is that?” she asked softly.
We were both staring in the direction of the barn, “what mama? I don't see anything.”
“It looked like a person,” she didn't pull her eyes away until I spoke.
“Where? I still don't see anyone,” I was shielding my eyes with my hand, squinting to see better.
I felt her hand on my shoulder, “come in the house Sara.” She took my arm pulling me inside while she pushed the screen door out.
I stumbled backwards and caught myself when I felt the frig behind me, “what's wrong mama?” I said alarmed.
She pulled me the rest of the way inside, closing the screen door, locking it. “Quiet!”

I looked toward the barn again, “what the fuck?” I saw an image of what looked like a man but the air shimmered around him. “Who is that?” I turned back to her, waiting for an answer, surprised she didn't reprimand me about my language.
“Not who, what,” she said quietly.

I turned back to look at the barn. The air had turned cold around me, and 'it,' was standing on the porch. I moved backwards, pushing my mother behind me. It looked like a man but with some very striking differences. His hair was flat black and his eyes were so light that they looked like two crystals with a light blue pupil instead of black. “Mama, what is he?” I whispered with a quiver in my voice.

She walked in front of me, “He's a vampire honey.”
“A what?” I stared at her back as I moved deeper into the house. I started laughing nervously, “I thought I heard you say he was a vampire.” I didn't know if I should run out the front door or sit down.

She turned quickly to stare at me. The – what ever it was – didn't move, nor did it speak.
I started to shake, “Mama?” Tears were running down my cheeks, “I don't understand.”
“He's a vampire Sara,” her voice softened, and he's here to take you away.”
I just stood there, eyes wide “You have got to be Kidding!” I spat at her.

She started walking toward me, “I'm sorry honey, I thought we had more time. I wanted to prepare you but it happened so fast.” Tears were streaming down her cheeks now.

I backed into a chair causing me to sit down abruptly. At the same time the man suddenly appeared in front of me. I screamed, pushing myself farther back into the chair.
His stare softened, “I will not hurt you Sara.”

I looked at my mother, who was standing behind him now, “he knows my name?” I pulled my feet up into the chair and wrapped my arms around my legs still waiting for an answer from her.

She stepped to the side, kneeling down beside me. When she touched my arm, I flinched away from her, my attitude accusing, as I stared at her. “You belong with him honey. I'm sorry I didn't tell you but there is nothing I can do about it now. You have to go with him.”

“No!” I screamed at her. “Why? I don't understand!” When I stood up in the chair I suddenly found myself across the room. I looked around nervously. I didn't know how I got there. “No!” I huffed, “it can't be.”

“Yes, it can.” I was staring into an alien face. “You are like me Sara.” His voice was soft, controlled.
“What? No! Mama, what is all of this about!” I demanded.
“Honey this is not how I wanted this to go but you failed to tell me.” She was walking toward me and the 'it.' I couldn't bring myself to call it a vampire.

“Tell you what?” I yelled. I was slowly sliding my body along the wall to the door and escape.
“I saw the blood honey.” she shook her head, “you should have told me.”
I looked from her to him, “I . . . couldn't tell you.” Tears erupted once again, “I was . . . ashamed.” I ran to my mother and buried my face in her shoulder.

Her arms closed around me slowly, “I'm not ashamed of you honey, it's a natural part of growing up.” She started to pull away but I wouldn't let her. I couldn't help myself as I felt my canines elongate, I sunk my teeth into her neck and drank deeply. I had wanted to do that all morning but I saw Pug, my dog, first. He didn't taste as good as mama though.

When I felt strong hands pulling me away I released her. “Come Sara you don't want to kill your mother. She is needed to take care of your sister.”
My hand went to my mouth, coming away bloody, “oh my God, Mama I'm so sorry.” I looked up into a smiling face. “I have a sister?”

“Not yet, but you will.” He guided me to the door gently then turned toward my mother who was still standing where I had left her, her hand on her neck. “I will return soon Beth.”
She nodded, a slight look of fear on her face – then resignation, “I'll be here.”

I reached out to her, tears flowing freely down my face, “mama please, I don't want to go.”

 She smiled at the two of us then looked at me, “you must go with him, Sara, he is Sernon, your father.”
He was still for a moment as his eyes seemed to communicate with my mother. I didn't see him open the door but before it registered I was someplace else.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Gabriel's Daughter by Janet Jensen

Book Review by Dee Krull

     I loved this book so much that I read it in three days. It is about the life of a young girl that could be anyone in today's world; but it happened to a young innocent girl who was brought up in a polygamist family. She is a normal, inquisitive sixteen year old who likes to draw and daydream about the perfect life, but her life is not perfect.

     Her name is Zina and at sixteen, she is still in school which is unusual in Gabriel's Landing, most girls her age are already married, pregnant or have a child; but her father saw something special in Zina and wanted her to have a good education. Even though a husband, a man who is twice her age, has been chosen for her; he is reluctant to tell her. Zina lives in Gabriel's Landing, a polygamist community, with her Father, Mother, two sister wives or aunts as the children call them and sixteen siblings.

     Zina's life changes drastically when she is befriended by a teacher in the Gentile school she was attending. She falls in love and believes she has met the man of her dreams; but his motives are not honorable and when she realizes she is pregnant with his child she is filled with hope of a future with him. Before she can surprise him with her news he tells her he is moving to take a position at another school and leaving her behind.

     Thinking life is over for her in Gabriel's Landing, Zina does the only thing she believes she can, even though it means the loss of her family and the only life she has known since birth. She embarks on a journey that brings with it sorrow, pain, love and acceptance; a journey that will eventually take her full circle to her past and a future that she thought impossible.

     I believe this book has earned five stars. The characters are believable and touch your heart in ways that will make you rethink what you thought you knew about polygamists and Mormons. It is easy to judge beliefs that are different from your own, but we tend to forget about the people themselves. Who they are and how they contribute to the community around them. Through Zina's eyes you will see the truth of unconditional love, no matter the race, creed or religion; and through all of the people she encountered there was a lesson that shaped the person she will become.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

"Rise of the Hybrids"

 Chapter One

The forest was quiet tonight; unusually quiet. I stood on an outcropping of rocks, overlooking the camp. It was one of my favorite places to think and call out to my bond mate, Learden. Our camp was between the two rivers above Wolf Lake, where it was heavily forested, with plenty of fresh water and game to sustain the army. And since it was surrounded by rivers, lakes and the ocean, it offered protection from the sand demons. It wasn’t impossible, but it was very difficult for Kasan’s army to get them past the water; giving us time to break camp once we spotted them. The scene before me was an impossibly huge army; many of whom sat before campfires, watching the embers as they rose in the air like fireflies searching for the light. I could only guess but I could imagine them talking about their families or the inevitable war between us and the king; while others prepared for daylight and our next move. And I was the supreme leader to all of them. We were fighting the king, his vampire army, his priests and their pets the sand demons.
I was exhausted; I couldn’t remember the last time I slept. Even though I really didn’t need to sleep these days, it didn’t seem natural. It was probably because I had been living on lowesha blood. I had refused to feed from those who offered and, Learden had been missing for two weeks. We had heard that the humans from the cave settlement had gone missing, and that there were hybrids trying to find us, but we moved every three or four days to make sure the king could not find our camp. Learden took my son, Peter and four of our better trained hybrids to look for them. I wanted to go, but Learden and Kianas put up such a defense against it that I had to relent.
A familiar arm wrapped protectively around my shoulders; I leaned into him, allowing myself to give in to my need for comfort. “The moons are beautiful tonight,” I whispered. Kianas had been there for me even though I pushed him away. I still had trouble trusting Kianas, after all the fighting between him and Learden and his betrayal when he and his family tried to turn me against my will. I felt the tears flow silently, “I feel like part of me is missing Kianas. Like there is a hole in my chest and it just keeps getting bigger.”
“Laurel, we will find him. Commander Kolis and I are putting a unit together. We leave at first light,” he said softly.
 “Kianas, I know what you are going to say, but I am going with you.” I said with determination.
“Laurel, you must stay here, it is dangerous and the army needs you.” Kianas said softly. Turning me to face him, he pulled my chin up, to his eyes. “You are too important; we cannot risk your capture by the King’s Guard,” he pleaded.
My resolve was set in granite. Even as tears fell silently from my eyes they met his, “I am going, and you will not talk me out of it.” I pulled away from him, “where are you meeting?”
He sighed, “We will come to your tent at first light.”
“I'll be ready, and I would like Karie to go with us; if it is alright with you.” My eyes searched his.
One eyebrow rose, “you are the supreme commander, Laurel. Whatever you wish is my command.”
I sighed, “Right, I’m having a hard time getting used to that. Make sure the unit is comprised of the best trained hybrids as well.” I said thoughtfully.
Kianas nodded, and I turned to go to my tent. Before I went far, I felt his hand on my arm.
“Laurel, you are tired, you need to feed.”
“I know, I will go to the nourishment tent before I go to mine.” I responded.
“No, Laurel, you need to feed from Hybrid or Vampire.” His eyes caught mine. “It has been two weeks since you lay with Learden. You do understand the importance of your bond with Learden and the strength it gives you when you mate, do you not?”
My eyes went to my hands, “I . . . didn’t, but I suspected when we turned the girls.” I said softly.
“Laurel the act of feeding while mating, is where we get our strength as Vampire. You are a hybrid vampire. You are tired because Learden is gone and you have not mated. You must feed before you go on this mission to find Learden.”
I sighed, “I’m not sure I can, Kianas, feeding from a living being is against everything I believe in.” I was becoming uncomfortable.
He looked away from me. “You can take your strength from me Laurel.” He said it so softly that I almost didn’t hear him.
This time it was my eyebrow that rose, “I can’t feed from you Kianas; you need to be strong as well.” I reasoned.
He still didn’t look at me. “We would both be strong if you mate with me.”
I was shocked. “How can you suggest that? I am bonded with Learden; I can’t break that bond, Kianas.
Finally his eyes met mine, “the bond cannot be broken, Laurel, our mating would only make us strong and nothing more.”
I still couldn’t believe he was suggesting such a thing. Was this a part of this worlds customs? Something told me there was more to this. It felt wrong on some level. “Isn’t bonding the same as marriage on Earth?” I asked astonished.
I saw pain on his face for the briefest moment. “It is not quite the same. Bonding on Htrae is a physical bond that can only be broken by the death of one mate. It is acceptable to mate with someone other than your bond mate when you are apart, and when you need strength.” The pain left his face as he spoke, leaving only the smile I knew so well; I relaxed.
“I remember, you told me that, now that I was bonded to Learden, you wouldn’t be able to compel me.” I waited for his answer.
After a long pause, he nodded, “that is right, it must be your decision and it will not change your bond with Learden.” I heard sadness in his voice.
“What will it do to you Kianas?” I asked in a whisper; afraid to hear the answer.
I saw the pain again as it briefly touched his face. “It will make me stronger than feeding from another vampire.” Again the smile created a mask, hiding something else.
“What aren’t you telling me?” I felt a mild tingling sensation as I remembered the feelings I once had for him; before Learden.
His eyes left mine, “I am telling you what is necessary. You must feed, one way or another; before you go on this mission, but it must be vampire or hybrid blood. It is your choice.”
I reached up putting both of my hands on either side of his face, forcing him to meet my eyes, “can I trust you Kianas?” Without warning, I felt that old electricity between us, forcing its way into my body. It was like an electric spark on a dry, windy day; but there was no wind, and there was a mist in the air.
He reached for me, placing a tender kiss on my lips, leaving me with a need I had not felt since Learden had left me in his charge. “I will always love you Laurel; that love and the fact that we have mated will make us both strong, and I will never deceive you again. I have sworn to protect you with my life; I made an oath to Learden, and a vampire’s oath is sacred.”
I let my hands drop, I had to admit I was drained of power; he was right, I needed to feed or I would be a danger to myself and everyone on the mission. “Alright, I will mate with you, but I don’t want anyone to know. If Learden finds out he might try to kill you again, and I don’t think I could handle that.” When He didn’t answer, I raised my eyes to his expectantly.
He stood there studying me; then he sighed, “Everyone will know, Laurel, you are a hybrid and part of a wolf pack. There are no secrets and no one will judge you for it. You are making yourself strong so you can bring your bond mate back to you, not to mention your son.
I wasn’t sure what to say to that, I knew he was right. “So, what do you suggest; my tent or yours?”
He laughed, “Come I have an idea that I think you will like. It is a bit of a hike, but there is a hot springs in the mountains behind our camp. Would you like to get a change of clothes from your tent?”
I melted giving in to the spark that I knew would make me strong-“that sounds wonderful, but I am not sure I will be able to stay awake after soaking in the hot springs, let alone running to get there. And these clothes are fine” - I said as I looked down at myself. I was wearing my uniform; black pants, jacket, the white, long sleeved shirt and my knee high boots with a cuff at the top. I never knew when I would be fighting and I felt more comfortable in pants.
Without warning, his arm swept under my legs, as he picked me up and ran at preternatural speed into the mountains. “You can sleep on the way,” he laughed.
My arms automatically wrapped around his neck, so I lay my head in the hollow of his shoulder and closed my eyes. I focused on the gentle movement of his body, allowing myself to relax completely. His words of commitment gave me hope that I could, once again, trust Kianas; but there was something else in the back of my mind still, that told me I should not do this. I pushed it aside, knowing he was right. I needed to be as strong as possible if I wanted to find, and bring Learden and Peter back to me.
It wasn’t long before the scent of sulfur hung in the air and the sound of boiling water reached my ears. Other sounds opened my awareness; voices, murmurs and laughter, softly at first, then as we came closer I realized we were not alone. “You can put me down Kianas; I would rather walk into the hot springs.”
“As you wish,” he said as he allowed my feet to touch the ground. The hot-springs were inside a small cave, with a very high ceiling that caused an echo, allowing us to follow the sound of voices. It didn’t take us long to reach the group, and as soon as they saw me their surprise echoed around the small cave.
Ceannaire Beag,” was echoed, as each one said my nick-name, given to me by one of the hybrid servants in the governing building; after we took the city. It meant ‘little warrior,’ and I was getting used to it, I guess. At least I was trying to get over being uncomfortable when it was used.
There were only five; three hybrids, a vampire, and a young witch. They all knew Kianas was my bodyguard, and constant companion, but I saw surprise on their faces when he entered the cave behind me. They all immediately vacated the hot bubbling water and started dressing.
“Please,” I said. “There is no need for you to leave.” Even as I spoke; they were all gone with the exception of the young witch.
“It is alright, Ceannaire Beag, we have been here for a while and you need your solitude. We are all praying to the Goddess for Learden and Peter’s safe return,” she said softly. Then she was gone.
I looked to Kianas, who was already undressing, “I didn’t mean for them to leave.” I said a little dejected.
Kianas came to my side, “They understand the anguish you are going through; especially those who have mates of their own.” I raised my eyes to his; questioning. “It is no secret that we were mates before you and Learden were bonded, Laurel, and the anguish and fatigue on your face shows your need to gather strength from me.” He smiled, “now come, you need to undress and allow the hot water to sooth you.”
I started undressing, still feeling a little uncomfortable, but as soon as the hot water engulfed me I relaxed and allowed the bubbles to lull me into a state of euphoria. I closed my eyes and lay my head against the side of the pool. I felt Kianas as he moved beside me but he recognized my need for solitude, and left me alone. I reached out with my mind to Learden as I had so many times over the past week, “Learden, my love, where are you? Please hear me; my body knows you are not dead, because I can feel you in my heart.” Once again, there was no answer. I felt the warm tears as they flowed silently down my face, dripping into the bubbling water.
Kianas, moved quickly, pulling me into his arms, holding me against him. “We will find them Laurel,” he said; a tightness in his throat.
“I worry that he does not hear me when I call out to him, Kianas, either he is deep within the caves or the priests are holding his mind hostage.” My silent tears turned to sobs as Kianas held me. When he pulled my chin up, bringing me to his lips, I kissed him back. My arms wrapped around his neck, my fingers entangled through his hair. It didn’t take long for the passion to rise, along with the power that had left me because of my grief. When my body began to tingle, my breath caught in my throat, all I could feel was his hands as they explored my body, and it responded. I knew shouldn’t feel this way with Kianas anymore, but I did and I did not care. As soon as he entered me my body exploded with sensations of the monster inside me. I allowed it to take over as I felt my eye teeth elongate; I sunk them into Kianas’s neck and fed, taking his life substance into my body, drinking deeply. When his teeth sunk into my flesh the power shot through me as I arched my back, pulling him closer, needing him more than I should have. When we both climaxed I was unable to pull myself away, I bit into the soft flesh over his jugular greedily taking his life force into my body; wanting more, bringing us to climax over and over again, blinding me with the power of it as I tried to catch my breath. When the magick of the moment dissipated, he continued to hold me until my body went limp.
When I felt Kianas move away from me I went to the middle of the pool, dipping my head back into the hot water, as my fangs retracted. It had been awhile since I had been in a hot-springs pool with Learden, but we would need to move soon or run the risk of discovery by the King’s Guard. We had been here the better part of a week, longer than we should have. We were running out of places to hide, but the army was almost ready to do battle with, King Kasan, and his army of Vampire. Even though we outnumbered him two to one, there was a rumor that he was turning humans to increase his numbers, and we still hadn’t been able to make contact with the South Continent.
I had been training the hybrids daily; another reason I was drained of power, but I still hadn’t trained enough. I had the lieutenants searching for the hybrids who were the closest to my lineage but it was taking far too long, I needed to train more. I had decided I needed to talk to the, hybrids I had already trained myself, so I could teach them to take over some of my duties and training sessions.
Engrossed in thought, I didn’t feel, Kianas, as he came up behind me; until his hands circled my waist. He held me tightly as his teeth sunk into my neck; my breath caught in my throat, and I felt the power rising, my heart beating so hard that it drowned out the sound of the bubbles and the steam as it rose around me. Before I could react he spun me around to face him, his mouth found mine, the taste of my own blood still on his lips. His kiss was urgent and forceful, causing the power to rise, instilling fear; not arousal. I tried to push him away, but he was strong with desire and I panicked.  “What are you doing Kianas?”
When our eyes met, I suddenly understood my reluctance to mate with him. He had triggered his need for me; I could see it in his eyes. “Kianas, what have you done?”
He groaned, “I need you Laurel, you are my strength, I cannot let you go.” The anguish on his face reminded me of the look he had when he tried to kill Learden in the field, after our escape from the King’s Guard encampment. It was the encampment where the griffin was killed. I knew I needed to get away from him, before he made it worse. I was hurting him once again, and I should have known better. Once I untangled myself from his arms, I jumped out of the water and was dressed in a matter of seconds; a second after that, I was gone.
I knew I had to find Kianas’ sister, Kiina, to let her know what had happened and find out how to stop him from causing himself, more pain. “What is the matter with me?” I yelled at myself. “I should have known better!” I was in tears now, desperately trying to find Kiina.
I found Karie, also one of my bodyguards, first, “Karie! Do you know where I can find Kiina?”
Her eyes were wide when she saw me, “yes, she is in the nutrition tent. What is wrong, are you alright?”
“I am fine, but I need to find Kiina,” I said quickly, and then I was gone.
When I got to the tent I found Kiina talking to Dena, my friend and part of the pack Learden and I belonged to. I really didn’t want to involve Dena in this but I had to get to Kiina before Kianas did. They both saw me at the same time; I ran to them. “I need the two of you to come outside with me.” I said quickly.
“What is wrong Laurel?” asked Kiina.
“Laurel you look frightened, did something happen?” asked Dena.
I grabbed both of their hands and pulled them out of the tent. We had already alerted a few of the commanders standing nearby, but I had no time to talk to them. When I finally stopped, we were inside my tent. My hands went to my head; that was when I realized my hair was still wet. I started to pull the water out of it; hoping the distraction would calm me down.
Kiina took my hands, “Laurel, what is going on?”
My emotions took over as I collapsed on my bed, “oh Kiina, I just keep hurting him but now I have done something that I cannot reverse.” The tears flowed unchecked down my face.
“Laurel, calm down and tell us what has happened. Who are you talking about?” asked Dena softly as she sat next to me.
I looked up at Kiina, she knew, I could see it on her face. “No! He did not.” She knelt down in front of me, “please tell me he did not mate with you?”
All I could do was nod my head, as I made eye contact with her. “He said it would make us both strong, he said it would be alright, that it wouldn’t do anything to mine and Learden’s bond. He didn’t tell me how it would affect him.”
I heard Kiina growl, “he deserves what he has brought down on himself, Laurel, do not blame yourself. He is right that it would make you both strong, but what he did not share; was that because of your connection after we turned you, he would reignite the fire between you.” She sighed, “I will take care of him, but in order for you to stay strong you must feed from a vampire.”
“It is also my fault, Kiina; I insisted that I go with the unit that he and commander Kolis were putting together; to find Learden and Peter. He told me I had to feed to be strong but I didn’t want to feed from a vampire. That is why he suggested I should mate with him, to feed and make myself strong.” I was sobbing now, “I am so sorry Kiina. My instincts were telling me it was wrong.”
I felt Kiina’s arms surround me, “It was not wrong Laurel, it was just not good for Kianas and he knew it.”
She stood up, “stay here, I will find him and then I will come back to check on you. Can you stay with her Dena?” Kiina asked.
“Yes, of course.” Dena stood, walking out with Kiina. I heard quiet voices, then Dena came back to sit next me.
“Oh my god, Dena, I can’t do anything right when it concerns Kianas. I thought I could trust him finally.” I put my head in my hands.
“Here, drink this,” she shoved a goblet of wine in my hand.
I took it drinking it down and held it out for her to refill. “Thank you Dena.”
“Laurel, why do you keep blaming yourself for the things Kianas does? When it comes to his love for you, he has proven himself untrustworthy; many times.”
“My head agrees with you Dena, but my heart tells me I should have known better. I shouldn’t have allowed him to talk me into it.” I took another drink of wine.
Suddenly, we heard an explosion outside. Before I could stand up I had five vampires in my tent, including Kianas and Kiina. “Come, Laurel, we need to get you out of here,” Kianas growled. “The King’s Guard has found us and they have a sand demon with them.”
He offered his hand but Kiina intervened, “I will take her to the air craft.” She growled at him. He stood aside, allowing us to walk by. Karie and Naken followed us out and commander Kolis was there to meet me. “The craft is ready, we must hurry; there are two sand demons across the river and at least five hundred of the King’s Guard.”
Before I headed for the aircraft, I looked around me taking one last look at the camp we had called our home for just under a week. There was pandemonium everywhere, several of the tents on this side of the camp were on fire and there was shouting coming from all sides. Everyone was running, trying to pack up what they could, as they darted here and there, trying to stay away from the steady stream of fire balls that were coming into the camp.
“Thank you commander, did you give the order to break camp?” I asked.
“Yes, Laurel, and as you commanded, I told them to leave before the creatures reach the camp, even if they need to leave things behind. The humans are all on the air crafts, leaving the hybrids to break camp.”
“We should have left two days ago; I will not let our camp stay in one place this long again. They must have Learden deep in the caves, or the priests have taken his mind.” I said angrily as I ran toward the craft. “I have tried to communicate with him to no avail.”
“He could be safe in hiding as well, Ceannaire Beag; the priests could be catching your thoughts if they are this close.”
I stared at him in horror, “oh, my god, commander, I may have led them right to us. I was reaching out to him today in the hot pools. Do you really think they caught my thoughts?”
“It is possible but it would have to be the priest who has read you. Do you know the name of the priest who read you at the governing building?” the commander asked me.
“There were four of them but Deeais was the one who captured my mind,” I answered.
He was about to say something when we heard another explosion behind us, “come, we will think this out later. Your safety must come first.”
I let him lead me away, just as another explosion erupted behind us, we sped up; Commander Kolis was almost as fast as I was. When I turned to look at the fire storm, I gasped, another ball of fire landed in the middle of the camp. As soon as we were all on the air craft we took off, but not before another fire ball flew over us to land on the outside edge of the camp.
I jumped up and went into the cockpit, “captain, send a message for everyone to get out. Tell them to leave the camp and save themselves. We will communicate with them as soon as we find a new place.”
“Yes, Ceannaire Beag, it will be done.
I walked to the room in the back of the craft, watching the scene below us. The camp was in flames and I could see the monsters that could spew fire balls from their mouths, better known as sand demons. They reminded me of a giant sloth, with long white fur, and a head somewhat like a praying mantis except their mouths were round with rows of sharp teeth. There were three of them being controlled by at least six priests. It looked like they were tethered by a long fire covered rope that went around their necks. The hybrids were on the move, going to our safe haven; the mountains to the south of the Werewolf lands. We went north to lead the vampire army in the opposite direction.
I heard and felt someone come in behind me. “Laurel?” it was Kiina.
When I turned, I saw Kianas standing in the doorway behind Kiina; I froze.
“It is alright,” Kiina whispered. “He wants to apologize for losing control,” she growled when her eyes found his.
He glanced down before his eyes found mine, “I am sorry Laurel; I thought I could control it.” He paused, “I let the power get away from me, and it has been a long time since I have felt it with you. I had forgotten how powerful it is. I am in control now; I will not let it happen again.” His voice was resigned, defeated.
I turned away from him, back to the window. My emotions were mixed; angry at him for suggesting it and disappointed that I hadn’t listened to my intuition. “Neither will I,” I whispered.
I heard him leave; then Kiina put her arm around my shoulders, “are you feeling calmer my little sister?”
I smiled; Kiina would always consider me her little sister. After all I was a part of her family when I first came to Htrae. I leaned into her, “yes, but I am worried about the hybrids who stayed behind. We need to shorten our time in one place or find a place the King cannot follow.”
“The only places he cannot follow are where the Witch Clans live.”
“Where is that?” I asked without emotion.
“The islands; the sand demons cannot cross water and the witches can place spells around them to prevent the priests from hearing our thoughts.” Kiina said softly.
I pulled away from her, “why wasn’t I told this before? Queen Alela said she would help us anyway we needed. How big is this island?”
“Not big enough to hold the entire army.” Kiina answered.
“Is it big enough to use as a base of operations?”
“More than that, I think.”
“Kiina, call everyone in here, we need to have a meeting right now!”
“Yes, Laurel.”
When Kiina left; I looked for the medallion to turn on the lights. A warm glow lit up the ceiling and the far wall. The walls were a pale tan, with, what looked like, a glossy black marble table. The chairs were plush, with U shaped backs and a deep red velvet covering. When everyone walked in I was already sitting at the center of the table. I watched as each one found a seat; which besides me were eight, my five body guards, Commander Kolis and his two lieutenants. Once seated, they all looked at me expectantly.
“It has come to my attention that we have access to the Witch Clan Island. If we can take our base of operations there it would save us from moving so many, so often. Kiina told me the sand demons cannot cross water and since the witches have the ability to use spells, to keep the priests from hearing our thoughts; it would make us safer for a longer period of time. Do we have a map of North Continent here?”
Kianas was the first to speak, “yes, it is in the cockpit with the pilot.” He rose.
“Wait, Kianas, before you come back with the map, I need you to contact Queen Alela and Aleeld. Tell them we need sanctuary on the island, and ask them if they could meet with us there, at first light.” I said hurriedly.
Kianas turned to leave, “yes Laurel. Who should I tell them will be coming?”
“As many as they can handle, and Kianas, have the captain contact the other air craft, and tell them to stay in the air until we hear from the Witch Clan; and don’t forget the map.”
Kianas smiled and left the room.
“Now, tell me where this island is; and are there any mountains on the mainland that are close to the island?” I was excited, with purpose and believed I had found a safe haven to shield us from the king’s army. When I glanced out the window as the craft banked right, another explosion filled the air with fire and debris.
It didn't take Kianas long to pass on the information, so he was back before I had time to formulate my thoughts. When he was seated I looked to him for confirmation.
“The captain will let me know when he has contacted the Witch Queen and given her response.” He said quietly.
“Thank you Kianas,” I paused, collecting my thoughts. “If the queen answers our plea for sanctuary, I would like to set up our base of operations on the island. Did you bring the map Kianas?”
“Yes, Laurel,” he lay the map of North Continent on the table in front of me, “Here is Witch Island, off the south east coast, across from the Werewolf Lands.” His finger went from one place to the other. “To the south of the Werewolf Lands are the Crystal Mountains; which in the past, have been heavily mined for its crystal, but haven’t been for the past ten years. The mountains are filled with caverns, some the size of the islands themselves.”
“Does the King’s Guard patrol these mountains?” I asked.
“No, but we should still be on the alert if the king loses us he will look to those mountains as well as the Mysterious Mountains. I am sure the Witch Clans can help us with that.” Kianas answered.
“Are you thinking of hiding the army there?” asked Commander Kolis.
“Some of it, but I think we need a safe place to hide the humans, so the King cannot turn them. I also think we need to send out a call to all of the humans on North Continent, so we can secure their safety.” I looked at Kianas, “have you been able to connect with South Continent yet?”
“Unfortunately, no, but I know someone who can help us from the Witch Clan.” he answered gravely. “I think I know where this is going, would you like me to send out the call to all of the continents to get the humans to safety, and out of the hands of the King’s Guard?”
“Yes, that is exactly what I want. If the king continues to turn humans to increase the Guard we will be killing innocent Vampire who are just trying to stay alive, not to mention they will be very angry, new vampires.”
“There is another possibility for the humans, Laurel,” Kianas spoke up. He referred to the map again, “across from The Narrows is another island that is considered witch lands but very few live there. It is more of a retreat but there are buildings there that were built to house the witches who use it. That would be something else to talk to the Queen about.”
Kianas’s wrist started beeping, he stood up, “excuse me, Laurel, the captain is calling.”
I nodded, and he left the room. “When we find out if Queen Alela is willing to let us use the islands, I would like you, Commander Kolis, to give this information to the other commanders, and your lieutenants can inform the other lieutenants. Also, I am concerned with the time it is taking to train the hybrids. I simply cannot personally train them all, even though my son, Peter, is helping, it is not enough. Instead I would like you to talk to the lieutenants about finding the best trained hybrids, to date. I will teach them how to train the remaining hybrids. With their help they will all be trained faster.” I looked around the table, “do you all agree that this would be a better way to get this army trained quickly?”
There were affirmatives all around the table, including from Kianas, who had returned and was standing in the door, listening to me. “Thank you; I believe in the army and their ability to help with the training.”
Kianas sat back down, “I would like to get some input from everyone here about something else, if I may.”
“Of course, what is it Kianas?” I responded.
“I would like everyone to agree that it is imperative that you feed from a vampire or hybrid to keep your power strong . .          I started to object, “I don’t think . . .
Kianas raised his hand, “And as soon as we land on Witch Island, I will put a unit together with Commander Kolis, to find Learden and Peter.”
Everyone agreed as they looked directly at me. “I agree with the unit, but I want to go with you to find them. Learden and I have the strongest connection; which will help us find him faster. But I cannot feed from another, I just can’t.” I argued.
Kiina stood, walking to where I was seated; she took my hands in hers. “Laurel, you have fed from me, Naken, and Kianas. As your body guards we will assign a different one of us to give you nutrition each day. You will not feed from someone you do not know, but you must agree to this until Learden is found.”
My eyes were filling with tears, “Alright Kiina, I understand why it is necessary, but I still want to go with the unit.”
Kiina sighed and looked at Kianas; he nodded, “Alright but your body guards will go with you as well.”
I hugged her, “thank you Kiina, I knew you would understand.” Suddenly, I remembered something that Kianas had said, “did you say as soon as we land on Witch Island?”
Kianas smiled, “Yes, and Queen Alela and Aleeld will be there to greet us. I have already sent out the message to the other craft to make way for the Island. It will take some time, since we need to stay over water to keep the sand demons from hitting us with their fire balls.”
I sighed, “thank you Kianas.” To the others I said, “Thank you all for your help with the plans, you should all try to get some rest before we reach the island.” They all went back to their seats.
“Kianas,” I said softly, “would you stay for a moment please?”
Kiina still stood beside me; she gave me a look of caution.
“It’s alright Kiina, I’ll be fine.” I pulled her face down to mine and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
She was the last to leave and Kianas was still standing beside the door. I heard a soft growl of warning from Kiina, as she passed him. He raised an eyebrow in response.
I got up and sat on the couch under the window, and then I gestured for Kianas to come and sit next to me. When he hesitated; “It will be alright Kianas, I promise I won’t tear your throat out.” A smile touched my lips, “close the door please.”
He did as I asked and walked slowly to the couch, sitting a ways from me. “I am sorry for what I did, Laurel, I really thought I could control the power.”
I moved closer to him and lay my hands on either side of his face, “if you are to help nourish me, you must be able to be close to me and control the power,” I said with a smile; I pulled his face down to mine and kissed him.
His arms enfolded me as he kissed me back, but he was careful to let me go when I pulled away. A smile touched his lips, “thank you Laurel, I do not deserve to be forgiven, but I am grateful for it.”
“I need to close my eyes for a while and rest; would you stay with me, as my body guard?” I asked softly.
He smiled, “your wish is my command, Ceannaire Beag.”
I was finally accepting my new nick name, but I rolled my eyes at him, as I lay down; my head in his lap. Soon after I heard the door open and felt a subtle movement from Kianas, knowing it was Kiina, checking on us. When I heard the door close I knew she was satisfied that I was safe with him.

I drifted in and out of sleep, unable to make my mind be quiet. There was so much to do and not enough of me to do it all. Even though I knew it was inevitable, I still did not want to go to war. Too many would die and I could not find a way to stop it. Eventually my exhausted mind finally gave in and I allowed sleep to take me down.