The Misted Cliffs [Aronsdale Series Book 2] [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Catherine Asaro
eBook Category: Fantasy
eBook Description: Award-winning author Catherine Asaro, creator of The Skolian Empire, returns to the world of Aronsdale, a place rich with magic and power. One generation after war had nearly destroyed three nations, evil was returning. And only Mel Dawnfield's daring sacrifice could stop it... The promise of peace rested on this young woman's noble vow: to marry Cobalt the Dark--heir to a family of legendary cruelty. With only her uncontrolled spells to guide her, isolated in Cobalt's solitary home in the Misted Cliffs, knowing poisoned blood ran through her husband's veins, Mel struggled to embrace her unexplored mage powers and unveil the light in her shadowy new world--including the radiance hidden in her husband's soul. For her enemies were gathering strength and they would soon unleash the darkest of evils in the name of war. In the final battle, Mel's ability to harness her magic would mean the difference between a harmonious world ... and annihilation.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/LUNA, Published: 2007
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2007
This eBook is part of the following series:
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Citadel of Rumors
They called him the Midnight Prince.
Cobalt the Dark, the only son of Varqelle Escar, stood on a ridge and looked out across the Barrens. In the distance, the blurred towers of a half-hidden fortress made black silhouettes against the darkening sky. The Citadel of Rumors. It guarded a bleak, northern landscape.
This sunset would finish far more than one day. An era would soon end. For the last eighteen years, the people of Aronsdale, Harsdown, and the Misted Cliffs had lived without hostilities among their three countries. Tonight, the Midnight Prince would destroy that peace.
For eighteen years, his father had been a prisoner in these desolate Barrens. For eighteen years, Varqelle, the king of Harsdown, had lived in the Citadel of Rumors against his will, captured by the Aronsdale king, guarded by Aronsdale cavalry and troops, locked here in isolation while an imposter sat on his throne in Harsdown.
Now that would end.
Cobalt mounted his horse, a powerful charger. He had left Admiral, his travel horse, back in camp. This one stamped and snorted, straining to run. His advisers had cautioned him to wait for morning, but Cobalt had waited and planned for years. He would delay no longer. He drew his sword and stretched his arm straight up with the blade pointing at the sky. Behind him, six hundred warriors would be leaning forward in their saddles, ready to charge. His men would thunder out of the crimson sunset like avenging angels.
He intended to free his father—no matter what the price.
* * *
Melody Headwind Dawnfield went by the name Mel, and woe to anyone who called her Princess Melody. She sat astride Tangle, a horse from the royal stables, and rode through the orchards on her family's estate in Harsdown. The practice sword at her hip had interlocking polygons engraved on its hilt. Her yellow hair caught leaves, and she knew she ought to tie it back. She would have preferred to cut it off, but she had promised her father to reconsider.
Mel sighed. Her father was an admirable king, a great army commander and swordsman, but he cared about fashion too much. She preferred to tramp about the orchards and hike in the woods. Her behavior would be considered scandalous for a woman of the royal court in Aronsdale, the country of her father's birth, but here on their farm in Harsdown it was only odd. Her father often grumbled about her lack of decorum, but Mel knew he enjoyed her free spirit. Although she had no desire to conform, she also wished to do well in her role as heir to the throne. Someday she would have to follow the dictates of protocol more closely, but for now she had the liberty to be herself, and she relished that freedom.
She reined Tangle to a stop under an apple tree rich with green and gold autumn leaves. She loved this fertile country far more than the stark mountains to the north or the humid southern climes. The horse snuffled and shook its head, then settled down to nibble at straggles of grass. Mel sat in the saddle and braided her hair. The last rays of the sun slanted through the trees, and many shapes showed in the patches of light and shadow on the leaf-strewn ground, a triangle here, a circle there. One caught her notice in particular, an almost perfect square. It glowed with light, so bright she had to squint. Oddly enough, it had a red tinge—
The leaves within the square caught fire.
"Hai!" Mel swung off Tangle and stamped on the flames. The horse stopped grazing, but otherwise didn't seem concerned. This wasn't the first time he had witnessed her mishaps. Fortunately, only a few leaves caught fire, and she easily put out the small blaze. Tangle went back to grazing.
Mel winced. "Sorry about that." At least a horse didn't chastise her for losing control of the spell. It was more than she could say for Skylark, the elderly mage mistress who was training Mel.
She knelt by the ashes. Apparently she had exerted more control than she realized, for the fire had burned in an exact square. She focused on the square and thought of the color hierarchy of spells, from lowest to highest level: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo—like the rainbow created when light shone through a prism. She imagined the next color after red—and the square glowed orange, adding its luminance to the fading light of a gorgeous autumn day. Refocusing on yet another spell, Mel imagined the orchards in a season when their trees were thick with green leaves and green foliage carpeted the hills. The light within the square turned green—and suddenly Mel knew how much Tangle enjoyed the succulent grass.
"Hey!" Mel grinned at the horse. He lifted his head to look at her, then returned to his meal. She sat back on her haunches. Amazing. Would Skylark believe Mel had felt the mood of a horse? Green spells worked mainly on human beings, revealing their emotions. They might conceivably work on an animal, but usually only an experienced mage could achieve that level of nuance. Mel had come into her abilities relatively late in life, only within the past few years, and she had a great deal to learn.
"What do you say?" she asked Tangle. "Shall I try a blue spell?" Mel doubted she could go as high as blue, the color of healing. She struggled when Skylark worked with her on such spells and had yet to create one. Mel's mother, Chime, was a green mage, one color below blue, and Mel suspected green would be her highest color as well. Her father, King Muller, was an indigo, but he could use only flawed shapes. They damaged his spells, with unpredictable results. For that reason, he rarely called on his power, lest his spell go awry and hurt someone.
Copyright © 2005 by Catherine Asaro.