Read Shield of Fire (A Bringer and the Bane Novel) Online

Authors: Boone Brux

Tags: #bane, #Fantasy, #fantasy romance, #demons, #Romance, #shield of fire, #Historical, #boone brux, #bringer

Shield of Fire (A Bringer and the Bane Novel)

shield of

FirE

a bringer and the bane novel

book one

BOONE BRUX

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by Boone Brux. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.

Entangled Publishing, LLC

2614 South Timberline Road

Suite 109

Fort Collins, CO 80525

Visit our website at
www.entangledpublishing.com
.

Entangled Publishing is a subsidiary of Savvy Media Services, LLC.

Edited by Libby Murphy and Kerry Vail

Cover design by Heather Howland

Print ISBN 978-1-937044-33-6

ePub ISBN 978-1-937044-17-6

Manufactured in the United States of America

To my husband and kids.

Thanks for all the breakfasts at my computer

and for not being afraid of the vacuum.

You guys are the best.

Chapter One

Menda Abbey, Itta Territory, Inness

One Thousand Years after the Bane War

The demon’s gaze narrowed. “Let me see her.”

Beautiful and horrifying, Icarus moved toward Brother Powell with frightening grace. Sinewy muscles rippled under taut, black skin as he prowled toward the crumbled wall of the abbey. His leathery wings scraped the tree branches overhead and waves of ebony hair, banded with rings of gold, cradled two spiraling horns that jutted upward.

Powell glanced away, refusing to gaze into the mesmerizing, reptilian eyes.

The demon’s deep purr poured over him. “What troubles you, Brother? Are you not happy to see me?”

The monk ignored the question and swiped the cold rain from his eyes. He held the hissing torch higher to reveal a young woman. She stood unnaturally still, compelled by the monk’s hypnosis—a spell taught to him by the demon. Her thin shift clung to her bony frame, and her dull eyes stared ahead. Angela had been lovely once, but like so many, she hadn’t been woman enough to withstand the honor of his attentions. They never were, always crying and pleading to be left alone. Lucky for them, the Demon Bane preferred their sacrifices pure.

“This is not what I asked for.” The deadly calm of Icarus’s voice belied the danger of his statement. “Where is the other woman—the gifted one?”

“In her cell. She doesn’t trust me.” Powell stroked Angela’s limp, blonde hair. “But she’ll not be able to resist the cries of her closest friend.”

“For your sake, monk, I hope you are right.” Icarus held out his hand. “Come to me.”

The compulsion whispered past Powell, sweeping across his skin with the promise of pleasure. He slipped his hand under his robe and adjusted his erection.

The demon’s call slithered toward Angela and wrapped around her like a sensual net. Before the force could ensnare him as well, Powell released his hold and backed away. She glided forward.

He watched, immobilized with morbid fascination. Her progress faltered when she reached the holy ground’s boundaries. He leaned toward Angela, willing her to cross the invisible barrier.

“Come to me,” Icarus repeated.

Weak of mind and body, she lumbered forward through the opening in the wall and away from the protection of the abbey’s sanctified ground.

The demon stood before her and grasped her frail arm. With the smooth curve of his talon, he caressed Angela’s cheek.

She didn’t move.

Powell cringed, excited and repulsed at the same time. He ached for a taste of the power Icarus would give him one day.

“So pure,” Icarus crooned. He trailed his talon down her neck. “So sweet.”

Powell squeezed his holy medallion, its ornate embellishments biting deep into his skin. The pain kept him present and protected against the call of the Bane, a call he wanted to answer. Riveted, he held the torch higher, trying to shed more light on the black demon.

Icarus slid his claw lower, coming to rest between Angela’s breasts. His energy pulsed and reached for its prey. The compulsion grazed Powell’s mind. The medallion slipped from his grasp, the chain catching on his fingers to hang loose. Forgotten.

“Awaken, little bird, and let me see your fear,” Icarus whispered.

Like a parting veil, Angela’s deadened expression cleared. She gasped, frozen by the sight of the towering demon before her. She twisted and fought for her freedom. Bare heels dug into the soggy earth, but the slick grass provided no traction. Icarus jerked her hard, his hold unbreakable.

“No!” Her scream shattered the silence of the night, its echoes hanging in the air like a heavy mist.

He pressed his fingers against her heart and pricked her delicate skin.

She convulsed, her strangled cry dying in her throat. With whispers as soft as the lightest breeze, the silvery essence of her soul sighed and bled from her body. Gossamer threads slithered around Icarus’s hand like small, white snakes, encircling his arm and swirling along the planes of his rounded biceps in an achingly slow, erotically sublime dance. The demon tilted his head and closed his eyes. Angela’s shimmering purity crept up his neck and hovered at his lips. He inhaled and drew her in, stiffening as if in the throes of passion, absorbing every delicate wisp.

The intimate union between predator and prey mesmerized Powell. He crept forward, forgetting the danger. The seductive and deadly act held a perverse beauty. Powell stroked himself, dragging the rough material of his robe over his erection, losing himself in
The Taking
. Time had no place; the
tap
,
tap
of rain on the leaves the only disruption brave enough to break through the reticence of the night.

When the sparkling vapor faded around her heart, Icarus retracted his talons and released his hold. Angela’s body slumped to the ground, dead. He stretched and smiled, his fangs glimmering in the torchlight. “That’s better.”

Powell’s heavy breathing punctuated the quiet. His body quivered from the demon’s feral presence. As the pleasurable effect began to fade, he opened his senses and scrambled to ingest the lingering scraps of Bane essence. Its pure power raced through his body and filled his veins with an intoxicating fire.

Icarus bent and scooped up Angela’s body. Four powerful strides brought him to the abbey’s border. He heaved his burden at Powell. The monk shrieked and jumped back, his euphoric haze evaporating. Bones snapped as the body landed in a crumpled heap at his feet. Bile rose in his throat. For a fraction of a second, remorse pawed at him, but, just as quickly, the sentiment disappeared.

“Bring me the other—now.” Icarus’s wings unfurled and stretched behind him. “Do not fail me, monk.” He crouched and pinned Powell with a yellow stare. “Or I won’t be as kind to you as I was to the girl.”

Powell glanced at the broken body at his feet and swallowed hard. Meeting the demon’s stare, he nodded.

With a powerful leap, Icarus launched into the sky and was instantly swallowed by the darkness.


 

Ravyn jolted upright in bed. She pushed her mass of black curls out of her face and looked around. Had somebody screamed, or was it only her nightmares?

Darkness blanketed her cell, and rain pounded a steady beat against the ledge of her narrow window. Shivers crawled down her spine like a dozen tiny spiders. The abbey, the wind, and the rain had a natural rhythm she had come to know. Like an off-key note, she heard the wrongness of the night’s cadence.

She closed her eyes and released her awareness. It flowed down the dark corridors of the ancient abbey, seeping into the corners and rooms, making its way toward the chapel. Malevolence strummed along the mental threads of Ravyn’s consciousness as it ghosted across the chapel door. Heat skittered along her arms, awakening the protective fire within her. She flexed her fingers and relaxed into the sensation. Always the awareness was bittersweet. The same power that made her an outcast with the Sisters now rallied to protect her from the evil housed inside the supposed holy space.

She yanked her senses back and pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes, trying to steady herself against the draining presence. Only one evil dwelled within the abbey: Brother Powell.

Ravyn threw off the worn blanket and crammed her feet into the only pair of slippers she owned. She stood and tiptoed across her room. The cell’s heavy oak door loomed before her. Pulling on the iron handle, she prayed the hinges remained quiet for once. A soft squeak of protest pierced the silence and she flinched. Hopefully, the other girls were sound asleep. She poked her head into the corridor. Empty. Good. Their safety was one less problem to worry about.

Two sparsely placed torches threw small circles of light around themselves but did little to illuminate the passage. Ravyn darted from her room and blended with the shadows. To most, the dark passages appeared empty, but for her, people and memories of the past whispered around her, longing to tell their tales. Despite the Sisters’ efforts to beat this evilness out of her, knowing and listening had always felt right.

The spirit of a young woman materialized in front of her. Dressed in The Order’s habit, she was immediately recognizable to Ravyn as Sister Amalee. She smiled, but the ghost did not smile back. Instead, Amalee stood close, wringing her hands and shaking her head. Ravyn stepped around the spirit, not wanting to experience the staggering punch of emotion she felt when passing through the dead.

Blackness pulsated around the edges of the chapel door as Ravyn approached. The sensation of a thousand biting needles abraded her skin. She rubbed her arms, trying to scrub away the sting. The assault was all too familiar.

Powell waited inside.

She shook her arms. Tonight, his presence felt more caustic than usual. He was a venomous snake coiled within the delicate flowers of a garden.

Amalee slid forward and blocked Ravyn’s path.

“Move,” Ravyn whispered.

The ghost shook her head and held her hands out in a silent plea.

“I have to go in.”

Amalee threw her slightly transparent arms across the opening.

“You can’t stop me.” The spirit’s attempt to protect her was touching, but she needed to get inside the chapel. “Please move.”

Amalee bowed her head and folded her hands in front of her chest. Her mouth moved with a silent tirade of prayers. Without looking up, she floated forward and passed through Ravyn.

Waves of distress flowed from the center of Ravyn’s body and out toward her limbs, unbalancing her. She bit her lower lip and silently cursed, trying to calm the spirit’s tumultuous essence. After a few seconds, she shook her head and opened her eyes. She was alone.

Blackness bled around the edges of the door, reaching for her.

The Sisters sealed the chapel after evening prayers and, not surprisingly, as she shoved against it, the door yielded to her push. She’d learned long ago evil had a way of unlocking what should be locked, and unbinding what should be bound.

The groan of the old hinges announced her entry and echoed through the chapel. She grimaced, knowing now she was exposed to whoever waited. The prickling sensation on her arms increased.

Torches burned in their sconces. She swallowed hard and stepped inside. This hallowed chamber had never felt welcoming. She glanced up at the altar. The carved and still faces of The Sainted Ones scowled down at her.

“Good evening, gentlemen.”

Their sightless eyes seemed to judge her, finding her unworthy to enter such a holy place. Their condemnatory glares followed her, but like always, she ignored them and drifted deeper into the chapel.

She scanned the shadows. Madness and the taint of evil seethed at the edges of the light. Her search tracked along the darkness, coming to rest on a crumpled body between the benches.

She gasped. “Angela.”

Sweet, naïve, and ready to believe in the good of others—that was Angela. Ravyn caught up her skirt and ran, the need to protect her friend blotting out the danger.

“Angela.” She dropped to her hands and knees and gathered her friend’s soiled and drenched body in her arms. “Angela!”

At first touch, a crushing blackness crashed into Ravyn. Unable to hold on, she released the body. Her stomach twisted in tight coils of pain. She clutched her throat, trying to tear through the feeling of drowning. The blackness choked and smothered her. She clawed at the stones of the floor.

Air. She needed air.

Heat spread through her body, her defensive fire once again flaring to life. It pushed against the dense darkness fighting to consume her. The evil’s grip loosened. A brutal hand seized her hair and yanked. She tipped backward, sharp knees driving deep into her spine. Wetness spattered her face.
Please don’t let that be blood.
Her hands pawed her cheeks and frantically brushed the droplets from her face.

Brother Powell towered above her, hair dripping with rain and lips twisted in a contemptuous smile. Before she could scream, he jerked her head at a painful angle and wrapped his hand around her throat.

“Well, well, well. Look who’s come to save the day. I’m afraid you’re too late. And just to let you know,” he whispered in her ear, “Angela died an incredibly painful death.”

Shadows darkened the edges of Ravyn’s vision. The foul stench of his breath assaulted her. He shouldn’t be this close. He should
never
be this close.

She struck out with her elbow and landed a blow to his stomach. A grunt huffed behind her and the pressure on her head eased. She scrambled across the stone floor, trying to regain her footing, but the dense blackness sucked at her strength.

Curses and footsteps echoed from behind. Her desperate grab hooked the back of a pew, but weakness caused her fingertips to slip from the wood and she collapsed to the floor. Her lungs ached. Darkness crept through her body. She shoved against it, fighting to keep its invasion at bay, refusing to give in so easily.

Powell’s boot pressed into her behind, and with a hard thrust, he sent her sprawling across the aisle. Bent on deflecting his attack, she rolled to her back and kicked at him. His hand wrapped around her ankle. With a yank, she tried to break his hold, the feel of his fingers against her flesh making her skin crawl. His mouth stretched into a wicked grin as he dropped her foot and straddled her. He fisted two handfuls of hair and jerked her to her feet. She slapped at him, hoping for a solid hit, but her hands sliced through empty air.

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