Authors: Elizabeth Rose
Copyright © 2013 by Elizabeth Rose Krejcik
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarities to actual organizations or persons living or deceased is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form whatsoever without the author’s written permission.
Cover by Elizabeth Rose Krejcik
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icated to Joan – my biggest fan.
Thanks for all your support through the years!
E-books by Elizabeth Rose
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Table of Contents
Nothing could repulse Brynn more than what she’d just done.
She pushed away from the filthy, disgusting man named Calais who’d just deflowered her and hurriedly pulled her clothes back into place.
“Get back over here,” he commanded, crawling across the sleeping pallet with lust in his eyes. “I’m not finished yet.”
She got to her feet quickly, her anger bringing forth her elemental power of fire, and sending the bedcovers up in flame. Calais screamed and leaned away from the fire.
“Calais, you repulsive cur. You are finished. And now that I’ve stooped so low, I can’t help but think getting sacrificed to the dragon would have been the better of the choices.”
With fear in his eyes, he pulled his breeches back into place and used a blanket to beat out the flames. “Witch,” he tormented her with an accusing finger to her face. “You are a witch, just like they all said.”
“I am no such thing.” The man’s insolence infuriated her. But having had a human for a father and a mother of the faerie realm, this categorized her as somewhere in between, and people feared her and called her ‘witch’ just as they’d done to her poor, departed mother.
She pulled tightly on each string to secure her bodice in place, feeling so dirty and no better than the castle whore. Her father’s castle was stormed a fortnight ago, and she’d fled to Lornoon for safety once she realized she had nowhere else to go. Once in Lornoon, she’d felt the need to help save the virgins from being sacrificed to Dracus, the infamous dragon. Her decision to lay with Calais was only to spare her own life. But now that she’d done the horrid deed, she’d wished she hadn’t.
“Calais, you must come with me to the Elders and tell them I am no longer a virgin.”
“I will not. You are a witch and you must die. So be it at the jaws of the powerful Dracus.”
“What? You cannot mean what you say. I let you deflower me to save my life.”
“You’ve done naught of the kind, Witch.”
Her anger once again brought forth flame, right at Calais’s feet. He jumped quickly out of the way of getting burned. This time he picked up a ewer of water and emptied it on the fire, his action causing some of the water to splash onto her.
“Nay!” She backed away, too distracted by the water on her skin to notice Calais had gone to the door of the hut and flagged down the Elders and two men of the village.
“She’s here!” he called. “Here is the witch. She is the last virgin left in the village. Use her to sate Dracus.”
“What are you saying?” She couldn’t believe the man’s audacity. “I’m no longer a virgin. I should be safe from the dragon. Speak the truth!”
The chief Elder, Hermod, looked at Calais in question. “Did you have her?”
“Nay,” he answered much too quickly.
If you did have her, it is the rule of Lornoon that you marry her. You are aware of the rules of the Elders, are you not?”
Astonished to hear this, Brynn gasped. If Calais had known this, he hadn’t told her. No one had. She hadn’t been in Lornoon long, but this is one rule she didn’t think would be kept a secret from outsiders.
“Everyone knows to lay with Brynn, the witch, would be a curse upon oneself,” answered Calais. “I did not have her, though she begged me to take her maidenhead and make her my bride.”
Too taken by surprise to speak, Brynn stood there with her mouth open. Hermod nodded his head and the two burly village men took her by the arms and led her up the cliff to the sacrificial post.
Darkness covered the land, and the smell of fear permeated the air. The angry sky churned above the little village of Lornoon. The sea pushed its punishing waves crashing up against the cliffs, and all knew the wrath of Dracus was at hand. Dracus, the powerful dragon stirred beneath the sea, and with it stirred the emotions of the frightened villagers. Any minute now, the beast would rear its head from the scolding sea to claim yet another virgin. But this time, ’twould be herself tied to the stake instead.
“Nay! Let me be. He speaks not the truth.”
The men didn’t listen. Instead, they tied first her arms above her head and then her feet to the bottom of the post high above the edge of the cliff.
Brynn closed her eyes and struggled in one last futile attempt against the ropes that bound her to the sacrificial post. Never had she dreamed she'd be the next victim to feed the hunger of the demon that rode the seas and haunted the hills of Lornoon. Things weren’t going at all as planned.
Lightning slashed across the sky and the thunder strengthened its ceremonial drumming. She knew the dragon was at this very moment churning up the ocean floor arising from its slumber after having devoured the last sacrificial virgin. As the waters below her swirled in blackened fury, so did the sky above her. Rain pelted against her face, stinging like an adder’s strike. A vicious wind came from over the sea, slapping her skin and tangling her long hair. A mist rose up to meet her, snaking around her in a toying manner, teasing like a cat playing with a mouse before it pounces.
None of this was right. She shouldn’t be up on the post any more than any of the women of Lornoon. She'd thought she'd seen to the measures of protecting the women of the village. After all, it had been her idea that the virgins, herself included, sleep with the men and deflower themselves. Though they may have lost their dignity and virtue, at least their lives were safe from the jaws of the fiery beast.
Or so she had thought.
She pulled viciously at the ropes, willing the knots to loosen and set her free.
"Release me!" The wind bit her flesh in a cold, angry sting. She yelled to be heard above the thunder and raging sea. Dracus was making his way to the surface.
The Elders and villagers disappeared, hiding among the cliffs, watching, waiting for the dragon. They were protected there. The dragon wouldn’t bother them - not when he had her.
"You cannot sacrifice me to Dracus. He will not want me, as I am not a virgin!"
At one time, she never would have considered the thought of shouting out loud that her maidenhead was gone. Now she no longer cared. She wanted all to know they'd made a mistake and she was proud to say she no longer had the requirements to be a sacrifice.
"'Tis too late. You are to be sacrificed,” answered Hermod from behind a rock. “We've no virgins other than you to suffice the hunger of the dragon. You were to blame for that, so it’s only right you give your life in their place."
She’d heard it said that over the past months that the dragon already consumed several virgins and yet it still returned. Sacrificing lives wasn’t what would stop it. If only they could see that. But unfortunately, Brynn didn’t know what it would take to rid the village of the beast.
A slight movement caught her eye as Hermod, Calais, and several of the Elders dared to step from their hiding place enough for her to see them. She looked down from the height of the cliff, the wind whipping her long tresses into her eyes. She cringed at the sting but knew it would be nothing compared to the sharp teeth that were about to rip at her flesh.
"Calais, tell them the truth,” she warned, but the man remained silent. As much as she hated the idea of having to marry the wretched man, she liked it more than the idea of dying. Once they set her free, she’d leave Lornoon and the disgusting man forever. She would not marry him, nor would she die by the jaws of the beast.
Calais was the most questionable man of the village. She knew the moment she'd set eyes on him that he wasn't to be trusted. His dark, beady stare shifted from her face to that of the Elders. He was a small man, not much bigger than herself. Homely. About five and twenty years of age. He was quick but not strong. Not at all a warrior.
Brynn moistened her lips and waited for him to speak. He lifted one hand, minus the two fingers that he'd lost after caught stealing goods from a merchant. He wasn't going to tell them. She knew it by the look in his eyes. He wasn't going to change his mind and prove her story true. He was going to let her die.
"Silence, Witch,” he shouted. “I have already spoken the truth."
Brynn felt despair. Any man there would have been a better partner than Calais. Still, she hadn’t had much choice. The men of the village feared her as a witch, when she was only a
Her ability to leave her body at will scared these people. They'd seen her etheric image walking the grounds while her body lay asleep, close - too close - to the fire.