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.”
“And she lives?”
Falco nodded, feeling the drain of her weakening body and spirit upon his own life force. “It is my soul that keeps her alive now.”
“Then go, Lord Captain, and uphold Daimónio Refstófae honor and duty,” the king ordered. “You may take three warriors of your choosing with you.”
Falco bowed with genuine gratitude. “Thank you, your majesty.”
“Don’t thank me just yet, Lord Captain. When you return, you’ll complete the mating with this witchbreed. Don’t expect her to thank you when she might have preferred the mercy of death.”
“No, your majesty.”
Falco bowed and departed. Filled with a sense of increasing urgency and valiantly resisting the pull of xanani sleep, he marched to the garrison where the Daimónio Refstófaes’ elite warriors lived.
“Captain!” came the surprised acknowledgement as his warriors leaped to their feet and stood at attention. “We did not know you had returned.”
“At ease,” he commanded. “I returned only moments ago. And I will leave only moments hence. I need three volunteers to accompany me.”
“It if please you, Captain, we would appreciate more information,” his lieutenant said, speaking for them all.
“I was taken prisoner by the humans. They were aided by djinni,” he reported in clipped syllables. “They held a fae-blooded female there. I used her blood to break the iron with which they shackled me and now I must retrieve her.”
Falco’s ears pinned flat against his head as he growled a promise, “There will be blood.”
“I … I am Calista,” came the hesitant, wary reply. “Who are you? Are you in the cell next to mine?”
“Calista,” he repeated, savoring the name on his tongue. It was sweet, and it had been too long since he’d tasted anything so sweet. “I’m Falco. I assume I’m in the cell next to you. I saw no other doors.”
“Look for the rat,” came the female voice.
Falco opened his mouth to object, but then thought better of it. He watched the base of the block wall intently, eyes searching out a small hole through which a rat could travel. His vigilance was rewarded with the twitching whiskers and pointed nose of a lean brown rat.
“Do you see him?” came the female’s voice.
“Don’t hurt him,” she begged. “If you see him, then you are my neighbor.”
“Why would I not kill a rat?”
“Because he’s my only friend here.” She made a clucking sound and the rat scurried back through the short tunnel connecting the cells. He heard her coo at the little beast, “That’s my good boy.”
Falco’s heart sank. How long had the woman been in this place that she’d made a pet of a rat? “How long have you been in here?” he asked.
Disembodied screams woke him. Before he hardly recognized what he was doing, he found himself in the doorway of his sister’s bedroom.
“Hush!” Tabetha hissed at him as she wrapped her arms around her friend who whimpered like a kicked puppy. Zoe’s eyes were wide open, but unfocused.
“What’s wrong?” he asked hoarsely, the young woman’s distress making his heart pound inside his chest. He practically vibrated with the need to hold her, to gather her close to his body and shield her from whatever terrorized her dreams. And then he’d give her greater pleasure than she’d ever known.
“She has nightmares,” Tabetha answered and rocked Zoe back and forth, murmuring childish nonsense to her in a soft, sing-song voice.
“She won’t talk about it. They’ve have been less frequent these past several months, but I suppose recent stress stirred up whatever lurks in her memories.” She sighed. “Sometimes she cries out his name, but I’m never sure if he’s her tormentor or rescuer.”
“What can I do?” Lars asked, wondering who “he” was.
“Go back to bed, Lars. She’ll be fine for the rest of the night.”
“I’ll sit here for a while longer.”
Tabetha shook her head and said wearily, “She’s not yours, Lars.”
“She will be.”
“Oh, God, not you, too,” she groaned.
“Please tell me you don’t believe Dad’s ‘pow’ theory of love at first sight.”
“I didn’t until today,” Lars admitted sheepishly. He reached over and ruffled his sister’s hair. “You’ll find your true love.”
“I’m not looking for him, that’s for sure. I have things I want to do with my life before settling down with a husband and popping out babies.” She looked at her friend, now sleeping peacefully. “I think she has plans, too, that don’t involve marriage and children.”
“Plans can be changed.”
“Oh, you’re such an obstinate man,” she grumbled and threw a decorative pillow at him. He caught it.
“Go back to your room and go to sleep. And keep your hands and dick to yourself.”
Lars tossed the pillow back and reluctantly rose from the trundle bed. He cast one last concerned glance at his sister’s roommate and returned to his own room, making a mental note to investigate her background. If she wouldn’t tell him, then he’d find out what haunted her through other channels.
Daughter of the Deepwood
Book 2 in the Twin Moons Saga
Lifetime imprisonment for an immortal doesn’t bear consideration. As cold iron burns his skin and dampens his magic, fae captain Falco wrenches power and freedom from the broken body of another prisoner—a witchbreed female—tossed into his cell to make room for a new harvest of criminals. Honor and obligation mandate that he not abandon her.
Unable to heal her extensive injuries, he takes the dying witchbreed to the heart of the Great Forest where the most ancient magic lives. His plea granted, the woman is remade of a blend of his blood, her flesh, and deep magic. Bound by his debt, Falco takes Calista as his mate when he returns home to Froúrio Daimónafae, a sentient fortress-city carved from a mountain. Although he regrets his intended fae mate’s anger, his increasing affection and desire for his witchbreed mate surprise him.
Lost in a foreign culture, spurned by the fae, her body unfamiliar to her, and unable to believe in Falco’s professed affections, Calista makes her own destiny and realizes the fate of an unfriendly nation rests upon her shoulders.
“I am beyond healing,” she said. “Let me die.”
“No,” he growled and the power in his soul flared brightly. “You can be healed, and I will not let you die.”
“I cannot remove the manacles.”
“You won’t have to,” he whispered and dreaded what he must do. “Are you still bleeding?”
She twitched. “Yes, but—”
“Where?” he demanded.
Terror wiped all expression from her dirty face. She closed her eyes and sank into whatever dark place she went when the horror and disappointment of her circumstances grew too much to bear.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
Looking for a place to swap blogs? Holly Bargo at Hen House Publishing is wanting to Blog Swaps in 2018. For more information: