Fire and Ice (eBook)

$3.99
343 pages | eBook | 6x9"
Date of publication: 07/28/2017
  • ISBN: 978-1-946004-43-7
  • Model: 60836 words

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Heat Rating: 4 Flames

 

The Furian and Frial have maintained peace for millennia, though they are opposites. The Furian worship Magmon, god of fire and passion. Their lands stretch from the southern volcanic ring to the temperate north. They are ruled by a royal family. The Frial worship the goddess Frilan, a goddess of ice. Predictably, their lands stretch from the polar north to the temperate zone. They are ruled by a god vessel called the Ician. They are as different as can be.

Once every cen-centenial, the alliance is renegotiated and a celebration ensues. There's just one little thing that has to happen first. The Ician is reborn for her people every generation. The He-Atal, Magmon's god vessel, only appears for the cen-centenial. He is conceived at Magmon's celebration, born in the Dragon God's fire, consumed by His hunger, taken into the temple to be trained to survive the burn... And finally, he is presented to the Ician with one job and one job only: seduce a frigid woman.

Before Karliss Furia, Magmon's Vessel, was presented to his Ician, he had to be trained to seduce a skittish virgin.

Rostana Renald was gods-crafted for such pursuits. Rostana came to the temple in Magmalen, hoping to be trained by the priests in lovemaking, but when Zaden is less than pleased about her pursuits, she finds herself in the arms of Zaden's father, Councilor Gabel Tiben. He's a man nearly three times her age, but he's fire between the sheets.

While Rostana is sure society will prevent such a match, Gabel will not be denied. After knowing the touch of a god, Rostana responds to him. What more proof does anyone need that she is destined for him?

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

"Come quickly."

He turned to the young priest in surprise, noting Ronat's upset. Perhaps not. It appears to be excitement. "Yes, Ronat?"

"Selan Senior has sent for you, and she bids you come with all due haste."

Elb rose from the fireside, donning the cowled cloak he wore over his floor-length robes when he had to walk the wintery streets of Aidalyn, Furia's capitol city. He strode into the corridor, glancing to Ronat as the young priest joined him.

"Where are we going?" Elb asked.

"Selan Senior's coach waits. There is no time to prepare your own."

No time? That meant it was urgent. "What is the emergency? Tell me."

"Lord Jaygin's wife is laboring."

"Badly," he surmised. If it was going well, Selan would have no need of him. Elb winced at the idea of them losing a member of the royal family.

The glee in Ronat's voice was impossible to miss. "She fevers, Master."

Elb's heart stuttered at the possibility that the He-Atal was upon them. Every priest and priestess had been watching for the signs for nearly two years, but Elb had never dreamed he would be blessed with the find. "Are the signs right?"

"The fever came suddenly, as labor progressed." He paused for a moment. "It radiates out from the womb."

"Magmon lives," Elb breathed. Or so we hope.

The trip to the younger prince's home was a whirlwind, and Lord Jaygin himself met Elb at the door. The prince was tense and pale, and he weaved on his feet at the sight of Elb on his porch.

"Magmon sear it," he choked out. "Elia is dying. Or...my child is?" He looked to Elb for answers the cleric didn't have to give him.

Elb reached for him, guiding Lord Jaygin to a chair. The other man didn't fight him, probably steeling himself for shattering news.

"Perhaps not," Elb soothed the harried young prince.

"Women of a fever--"

"There is another possibility," Elb informed him.

Lord Jaygin looked up at him, a prayer in his eyes. "Tell me."

"There is a possibility...slim, I admit..."

"Master, tell me." His voice took on a cutting edge.

"If your child is touched by Magmon, they may both live and the fever pass with the child."

Lord Jaygin didn't respond to that, so Elb continued. "If he is marked by Magmon's hand, you must let him be trained. It is the will of the Fire God that he do so."

"Give up my son to the priests of Magmon? I would lose my heir to you?" He visibly fumed at the idea.

"Never. He would train in your home until the age of sixteen, then at the temple in Magmalen, but he would still be your son. There would be holidays, as if he attended preparation for the throne in Volcalen."

"He would be a priest, then?" the prince asked, seemingly hoping that would be the case.

"Not a priest." Elb hesitated. He would have to do this carefully. Even lowborn with no hope of better for their sons usually resisted the truth, when it was presented. A prince, facing the possible loss of his heir to Frilan, would balk at what the gods asked. "The cen-centenial approaches."

Lord Jaygin nodded. "In twenty-eight more--" His eyes went wide, and his color dipped to a sickly gray. "He-Atal? My son is to be the He-Atal?"

Elb sighed. "If the fever is Magmon's fire, he is. Only time will answer that question. I cannot, until the babe emerges into the world."

The prince squeezed his eyes shut. "I pray he is. I pray it, because it means he may survive this night."

"As do I," Elb assured him. After giving Lord Jaygin hope of it, it would be a disaster to lose either Lady Elia or the child she carried. "May I see them?"

The prince nodded wearily, pushing to his feet. "This way, Master Elb."

The princess was abed. Her thin bed dress was plastered to her sweat-coated skin, and she was crimson from head to foot. Servants rubbed her down with cloths, and the windows were thrown open to the winter air.

Elb sought out Selan's panicked face. "You let them do this?" he demanded. Was she mad? If the babe was the He-Atal, he would be consumed by Magmon's fire and in need of a warm welcome.

"I could not stop them," she protested.

He nodded, waving a servant away from Lady Elia's side. He motioned the girl toward the windows. "Dragon's fire, close them," he ordered.

The servant looked at Lord Jaygin, visibly torn between the orders of the clergy and those of her liege and his advisors in such matters.

"Close them," the prince rasped. "Do whatever Master Elb orders. Magmon sear my soul if I am wrong."

"And mine," Elb answered.

Lady Elia muttered words too low to hear. Elb sank to the mattress next to her, lowering his ear to within a hand's width of her mouth. He gasped in surprise at her recitation of the birth of Magmon in ancient Seh, the gods' language. No one but the priests and priestesses of Magmon and the priestesses of Frilan spoke Seh. No one else even had the opportunity to learn it, save the Ician and the He-Atal.

He laid a hand on her burning forehead, matching her cadence.

"Magmon's fire," Selan cursed. "Do not stop, Master Elb. The babe is coming fast."

Lady Elia's voice broke, coming in gasps and panted breaths, skipping phrases and matching Elb's recitation when she picked up again.

"What is she saying?" Lord Jaygin asked.

Selan answered, a sure sign that she recognized Elb couldn't risk interrupting the chant to do so. "It is the birth song of Magmon."

The chill of the room cut through Elb's concentration. Magmon sear it! The He-Atal couldn't be brought forth into this icy room.

He snapped the fingers of his free hand for attention. He pointed to the main hearth and motioned upward, not missing a beat in the recitation. He looped through smoothly and began the song again, his voice growing stronger.

"Bonfires," Selan barked. "Light them now. Use wax and oil to burn it hot and fast, and keep it fed."

"What?" Lord Jaygin shouted.

"The babe must be warm enough. The shock of this could kill him, after the furnace of the womb."

"Light them. Dragon's breath, light the fires!"

Servants scattered, and shouts and confusion followed. Elb ignored them, repeating the song over and over, his voice going hoarse.

The heat in the room rose to a scorching high. Elb dropped his cloak and drew open the fasteners on his robes. It was like the days he'd spent in Magmalen, and he wished he had a native wrap or a priest's trousers instead of his robes.

The princess launched up, crying out in pain, and Elb held her to his chest, shouting the song in a panic. By the Fire God, he prayed he'd done well in preparing the He-Atal's reception. The gods alone knew what would happen if he'd failed them.

"He's coming," Selan cried out. "A few moments more."

Those moments seemed endless. Selan screamed in pain, and Elb looked to her in surprise, faltering in the song and then matching Lady Elia again. The priestess wasted no time; she took a folded cloth from the pile and used it to grasp the babe's protruding shoulder. She rocked the babe, aiding him in his descent.

At last, the princess crumpled against him, her breathing easing, her skin cooling beneath his hands. Elb felt for her pulse, sighing in relief that it was strong and steady.

"Lord Jaygin," he called.

The prince appeared at his side. "Is she--"

Elb grasped his hand and pulled Lord Jaygin to the mattress behind his wife, guiding her into his arms. "Care for your wife, mi'lord. I must see to the child."

He slipped past the young royal couple, turning to Selan. His first look at the babe nearly stopped his heard. Wrapped in a nursery quilt and the room akin to an oven, he was still shivering, his lips blue. The young princeling cried weakly and without tears.

The priestess looked to Elb for help, tears rolling down her cheeks. No doubt, she blamed herself for the babe's condition.

"Screen the fireplace," he ordered, at a loss for a better idea. He'd never heard of a He-Atal thus afflicted. Perhaps it was the Aidalyn weather. Perhaps it was the cold during labor. Perhaps Magmon's fire burned hotter at the babe than it had his predecessors. There was no way to know.

That time, the servants didn't question him. The screen scraped against the hearth and thumped into place.

Elb stripped his robes off and dropped them over the foot of the bed, so he stood only in his male covering. He took the babe from Selan's hands and settled before the screen, cradling the babe on his crossed knees. The heat seared Elb, reddening his bare skin, but the babe reached out toward it, sighing. His hand mere finger-widths from the screen, he settled to sleep, his color evening out to a healthy hue.

Lord Jaygin knelt to his side, peeling back the quilt to stare at the mark of Magmon's hand on his son's shoulder. For a moment, he was silent and still.

"Is Lady Elia well?" Elb asked, hoping for a positive response.

"Very well," he breathed. "It is true." The prince dragged his gaze to the roaring fire. "But...must it always be like this?"

Lying to him was impossible. If Lord Jaygin set his mind to it, he could search out records of what comforts the former He-Atal had been afforded by the Furian government. Soldiers and financial comforts were all that had been requested of them, in the past. Large amounts of heating fuel and the men to tend it would have been noted.

"I do not know," he admitted. "I imagine not, but I have never heard of a He-Atal so far afflicted of Magmon's fire at birth. Aidalyn may be too cold for his blood."

"What does he require? My son will have whatever it is," Lord Jaygin vowed.

"Magmalen, until he can cool himself. Then...a temperate border town would be best. Temperara or Frilan's Notch," he suggested.

"The family has an estate in Frilan's Notch. But how do we get him there?"

Elb considered that. "A medical coach. They already have stoves installed. With half the cots removed, replaced with a bed, we could transport you all in comfort."

His mind spun in plans. The king would have to be contacted immediately. They would need a company of soldiers to guard them, as they moved. A royal chef and kitchen coach would have to accompany them. Not to mention, they would need several lories of wood, to be replenished at forts on the way.

Lord Jaygin sighed in seeming relief, his shoulders slumping in the release of tension. "Thank Magmon," he whispered.

Elb stared at him, his mind working at the prince's logic slowly. "The He-Atal needs his family, mi'lord. It is the way of things." Even when the birth family rejected the idea of raising the God Vessel, the priests arranged for an adoptive family to train the He-Atal in a loving home.

Lord Jaygin removed his tunic, revealing a chest glistening in sweat. "May I hold my son?"

"Of course." The bonding of family was something no priest of Magmon worth his name would stand in the way of.

The prince reached for the sleeping infant.

"Do not touch Magmon's hand," Selan instructed.

Elb noted the hand she held in a pan of water and the pain on her face. "You were burned at the birth?"

She nodded, closing her eyes. "A brand of Magmon's hand. I will have need of the Frial ice lotion for quite some time."

He managed a weak smile. "I will send Ronat for it. You are blessed, Selan Senior. In your concern for the He-Atal, you felt his fire as few will. Wear it with pride, my sister."

"When the pain recedes," she joked. "I will be most happy to recount the tale of our glorious Lord's birth, then."

Lord Jaygin lifted his son from Elb's lap gently, offering the babe the heat of the fire to soothe him as nothing else would.

"What is your son's name, mi'lord?" Elb asked.

"Karliss. Elia and I spoke at length about it. His name is Karliss."

Authors:

Brenna Lyons
About Brenna Lyons:
Fireborn Publishing Main Page

Brenna Lyons wears many hats, sometimes all on the same day: former president of EPIC, author of more than 100 published works, owner of Fireborn Publishing, columnist, special needs teacher, wife, mother...and member in good standing of more than 60 writing advocacy groups.

In her first ten years published in novel-length, she's won 3 EPIC e-Book Awards (out of 15 finalists) and finaled for 3 PEARLS (including one Honorable Mention, second to NY Times Bestseller Angela Knight), 2 CAPAS, and a Dream Realm Award. She's also taken Spinetingler's Book of the Year for 2007.

Brenna writes in 26 established worlds plus stand-alones, poetry, articles and essays. She's a bestseller in indie/e fantasy and horror, straight genre and cross-genres thereof. Brenna has been termed "one of the most deviant erotic minds in the publishing world… not for the weak." (Rachelle for Fallen Angels Reviews) Milieu-heavy dark work is practically Brenna's calling card, with or without the erotic content. She teaches classes in everything from POV studies to advanced editing, networking to marketing. Brenna enjoys hearing from people who read her work and can be reached by e-mail.

Website: http://www.brennalyons.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/brenna.lyons

Email: brennalyons4168@live.com

For more information, please visit the author's webpage.

Other books by Brenna Lyons, Brenna Lyons- COVER ARTIST and Kathryn Lively- EDITOR:

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