Read Books 1 and 2 of The Twin Moons Saga by Holly Bargo
Daughter of the Deepwood Excerpt
“I’ve heard of the Deepwood, for this is where we must be if you spoke truly of the unicorns. But, that is too far to expect you to carry me. I shall simply have to summon the strength to walk myself.”
“Do you forget already? I am a dragon.” She slanted a critical glance at him. “Nonsense. You are a man.”
Calista’s lack of acceptance—or maybe knowledge—appalled him. Falco sought to correct her, understanding somehow that this would be the first of many such instructional moments. “I am Daimónio Refstófae.”
“You said before you were fae. Did you lie?”
“No, my dear. I am Daimónio Refstófae, a species of fae, if you will. My kind live north of the Great Forest.”
“The human territories stretch north of the Great Forest.” “Aye. And the Daimónagi where I live stretches further still.”
“What is this Daimóniogi? What is this Daimónio Refstófae? What distinguishes you from the Seelie and Unseelie Courts?”
Those were fair questions, he conceded. “We are … fluid.” He gestured at his own body. “We default to bipedal shape, a shape the humans say is based on theirs. Humanoid. They claim that our default form substantiates their divinity and superiority over other races.” His mouth twisted in a sour expression. “We can reform to the shape of other living creatures. The higher castes enjoy greater fluidity than the lower.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Our king and other royals can transform into myriad shapes. I myself possess an impressive range. The lower the caste, the fewer alter egos that accept our possession.” She shook her head. “That’s impossible.”
“You have never witnessed this?”
“I have some small magicks,” she said with a shrug that drew his attention to her ruby-tipped breasts. “Or I had. I don’t know whether I still have them. But I have lived all my life serving human masters and they disavowed such heretical abilities, called any who possessed them demons and witches and bound them in iron. One such demon was burned to death in the town square.”
“You lived all your life in service to humans?” She shrugged.
“My parents died when I was but a babe. I was lucky that my masters took pity upon me and gave me a home, rather than drown me as a mongrel.”
Falco’s eyes narrowed. He rather suspected that her masters had hoped to harness the magic of the fae for their own power and profit … and, when she’d not displayed such talents as were useful to them, kept her for her long years of labor. They did her no favor, he thought. Then he realized he’d done the same to her.
He sighed. “My men are waiting for us.” Her expression turned distrustful.
“Your men?” He bowed, feeling a bit silly, and formally introduced himself to his mate: “I am Falco nie Aschanezzi mel Endorellan, captain of the Daimónio Refstófae High Guard.”
She blinked at the establishment of lineage and position and replied, “I am Calista.”
He cocked his head to the side and asked, “Have you no family name?”
“My mistress and her family forbade me take their family name and none knew my parents’ family. The village priest called me Calista Cirrus, because my family’s name was lost to the sky and wind.”
Although her voice remained calm and unemotional, Falco’s heart broke even more at the thorough rejection of her heritage. Had her so-called people been honorable, they would have returned her to that island.
“So, your mistress found you?”
“No,” she replied with a shrug and averted her eyes as though to hide her shame. “A peasant found me in the back of a wagon. I was told that everyone, every beast, in the group of travelers had been murdered by a raiding party. Somehow, the raiders missed me. The peasant handed me over to the village priest, who named me and sold me to my first mistress.”
“Did no one attempt to return you to your ancestral home?”
Calista shrugged again. “Why should they? Why would anyone have undertaken the expense and time to return a babe of unknown parentage to a distant land?”
Falco reached out and took her hands in his. His eyes burned as he vowed, “You will never again be without family, Calista. You will never again be unwanted.”
She met his gaze, then looked away and supposed that his vow was sufficient trade for her captivity.
“What do I call you?” she finally asked, realizing that now they were no longer equals, no longer prisoners trapped by stone and iron and brutality.
Falco raised her hands and pressed light kisses to the back of her knuckles. The feathery touch sent shivers over her skin which sparkled softly like newly fallen snow beneath moonlight. “Falco. You call me Falco.”