Ashra pushed past the blackness at the start of his memories, expecting deeper darkness. Instead, the colors shifted into shades of ochre and gray. Memories, older than his body, resided in his soul; memories of an Earth long since lost to them—a planet surrounded and nourished by water; images of tall buildings glistening beneath a benevolent sun, and of thriving cities filled with the bustle of humans; memories of quiet and intimate conversations beneath a silver moon, the same silver moon that now graced Malum Turris with its light, though a thousand years older and viewed only from beneath the protection of the dome.
She saw herself as he must have seen her, a much-younger icrathari, still hopeful for the future, never realizing that the Earth they had all known and loved was irretrievably lost. Had she ever looked that vulnerable? Had her smile ever been so beautiful, so filled with love as she looked upon—
“Rohkeus?” Oh, blessed Creator, was that stricken whisper her voice?
Ashra pulled back and stared at the human. Her mouth dropped open. Her heart pounded in her chest, its beat erratic. It couldn’t be. It simply couldn’t be—
She looked up at Tera. The other icrathari nodded.
Rohkeus’s soul reborn…in a human.
Ashra threw her head back and laughed, a despairing sound.
Elsker stepped forward. The sole male icrathari was slightly taller than the female icrathari, and dressed in a black silk shirt and linen pants. His silver hair was cropped short, and his light blue eyes were wide. “Rohkeus reborn? That’s impossible.”
Siri shrugged, her red gown shifting around her curvaceous frame. Her silver hair, cut short, framed her face. “Stranger things have happened.” Her pale violet gaze raked over the human. “At least he had the good sense to choose a pretty body.”
Ashra shook her head, the movement jolting her out of her daze. Her prince, her love, reduced to a human? Her slender fingers coiled into fists. Her golden eyes glittering, she pushed away from him, though her body trembled from the loss of his warmth. No, the human was not Rohkeus; he could never be Rohkeus.
Steeling herself against the gasp of pain that escaped from his lips as the anesthetizing effect of her kiss faded, Ashra rose to her feet with sinuous grace. “He is not one of us. Not anymore.” Nothing had been more devastating than losing Rohkeus to a human assassin. To see his soul reborn in that contemptible and weak race was an insult to the person Rohkeus had been.
“Should we turn him into a vampire?” Tera asked.
“Kill him. Set Rohkeus’s soul free.”
Siri seized Ashra’s hand before she could turn away. Siri’s lips, painted the same provocative color as her dress, shaped an O. “You’re not serious. How many people are offered a second chance at the love of a lifetime?”
A second chance? Her traitorous pulse raced even as her lips curled with disgust. “He’s human.”
“We can make him immortal—a vampire.”
Ashra swallowed hard. “But not an icrathari.”
Siri’s gaze fell. “No, of course not.”
“You can’t.” Siri stepped forward, placing herself between Ashra and the barely conscious human. “This is amazing. It’s never happened before—a soul reborn.”
“Rohkeus is dead, and I rule Aeternae Noctis.” She turned to Tera. “I told you to kill him.”
Tera hesitated for a fraction of a second, and then she shook her head. “I won’t do it, and neither will Siri or Elsker. If you want him dead, you’ll have to do it yourself.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jade Kerrion developed a loyal reader base with her fan fiction series based on the MMORPG Guild Wars. She was accused of keeping her readers up at night, distracting them from work, housework, homework, and (far worse), from actually playing Guild Wars. And then she wondered why just screw up the time management skills of gamers? Why not aspire to screw everyone else up too?
So here she is, writing books that aspire to keep you from doing anything else useful with your time.
Her debut novel, Perfection Unleashed, spawned the Double Helix series which has won a total of seven science fiction awards, including first place in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2012 and the gold medal in Readers Favorites Awards 2013. She is also the author of Earth-Sim and When the Silence Ends, which placed first and second respectively in the 2013 Royal Palm Literary Awards, Young Adults category.
She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with her wonderfully supportive husband and her two young sons, Saint and Angel, (no, those aren’t their real names, but they are like saints and angels, except when they’re not.)
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Genre - Fantasy, Paranormal
Rating – PG-13