Drast, cunning but reckless, is on the hunt for admiration. Tyran, calculating but tactless, is in search of affection. Bound by a friendship thicker than blood, the two brothers have been hardened by their father’s ambitions. Drast and Tyran are forced to set aside their own hopes and dreams during their struggle to fulfill their father’s desire for immortality. The two will face skin-switchers and dragons, ultimately leading to a final clash with Wolos, God of the Dead.
Erzebeth convulsed. Her fur and skin shedding away while she wheeled about on the ground in agony. The bones readjusted and organs reset from beast to human. Where a beast had stood was now the naked figure of Erzebeth. Cuts and scratches patterned her body, but none were fatal.
Tyran had no place for modesty. The Vucari woman, within the privacy of the ice dome, struggled to her feet. Again, her dark eyes met his own, filled with compassion.
“You need to be put down, young Red.” Her voice was calm as her feet crossed in front of one another, closing the distance between them. “Your power is greater than any I have seen before, even from the Anshedar.”
“What?” Tyran said, forehead wrinkled with confusion. He had never heard of the race before, whether beast or otherwise.
“You are like a rabid dog, young Red. You are the perfect companion, loyal, and possibly even loving somewhere deep inside,” Erzebeth bit her lip. Her breasts, barely covered by her dark hair, touched the front of his chest. She halted her feet. “But, you are tainted by a disease that is stronger than the goodness in you. You cannot be left to live in this world, or you will corrupt every living thing around you.”
Tyran tilted his chin, lips parting. His free hand touched her pale skin, as whitish as the ice fortress that veiled this moment.
“You would taint me, young Red.” She stepped up on her tiptoes. “As with the rabid dog, you need to be put down.”
He grabbed her by the back of the neck, and pulled her to him. He kissed her with more force than he had ever kissed any woman.
This woman was not Isolde. This woman was battle hardened, and a warrior. She was not plain.
She grabbed his shoulders and returned the embrace, her tongue touching his lips. Her body was far warmer than his own, as if it were heated by the darkness.
He did not know what he was doing in this moment. It may have likely been the first time that his mind was clear from thought, acting without thinking. Though, in time, he may consider that when his death was nigh, he found that this was something he wanted to do before death found him.
The crashing against the ice pulled him from the moment. Tyran pulled back, moving the Vucari’s hair from her cheek. “You won’t kill me, Erzebeth.”
“No,” she breathed. Her hands fell to his chest. “But, it still needs to be done.”
Joshua currently lives in Alaska with his wife and children. In 1999, he began crafting the world for Thrice Nine Legends, including Melkorka and Anaerfell. He is also the author of the A Midwinter Sellsword and Gladiators and Thieves in the Hawkhurst Saga. His short story, Grimsdalr, is inspired by the tale of Beowulf.
J.C. lives in the Midwest with his wife and two dogs. He is currently pursuing his M.A. in English Literature while continuing to craft his own dark fantasy world. Before he had completed junior high, J.C. had received his first box set of Dungeons & Dragons and devoured the J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. He has had a passion for the fantasy genre ever since.