I’ve been working on a new project, a fantasy romance I’m calling Ash Fall. When it’s released, it will be under my K. Lynn Bay pen name. I’ll be posting chapters here. I’d love to hear what you think.
Captive of a barbarian lord…
Asha, daughter of the lord of Thiel, isn’t happy about being shipped off to marry the Conn lord’s son, a man she’s never met, for a political alliance. But things get worse when the barbarian Drakhari attack Conn and Asha finds herself bound hand and foot in the tent of the dragon-eyed Drakhari lord, Drakhar.
Captivated by a lowland woman’s spirit…
Drakhar, determined to possess the rich lands of Thiel, proposes to wed the Thiel lord’s daughter. When her father rejects his offer, he arms and rides out to take Asha by force. What he never expected was that a soft lowlander woman would cross swords with him, or defy him at every turn. Without willing it, he soon realizes there’s one thing he wants more than Thiel– Asha herself.
In the cold, stony mountains of the Drakhari, fire ignites between them. But giving herself–and Thiel–to the seductive barbarian who stole her away is unthinkable…unless Asha can learn to accept an impossible love.
The hunting magic led Drakhar far across the mountains late in winter. It had been another bad winter, early snows, and deep. People suffered. Some had died. The hunting magic called more often, and called him farther. This time, it called him to the very edge of the lowlands.
They stretched away below him, a rumple of winter-brown hills smoothing into a shimmering haze of distant valleys. Drakhar crouched down and shaded his eyes, leaning on his bow. A silver slash of river glinted in the low, cool sunlight. Threads of smoke rose from a huddle of dwellings among bare trees.
Ah! So perhaps it was raiding the magic hand in mind. But a successful raid needed a party of well-armed men on horseback, not single man equipped only with a bow and a knife, many days’ journey from home. Why call to him to hunt alone?
He stood and slipped back into the trees, ghosted under them along the slope. Bare rock shouldered up, forcing him higher and back into a fold of mountain. The edge grew steeper until he padded along the top of a cliff. The land below rose as well. Oaks, their black, twisted branches bare, crowded against the cliff face.
A voice came, a snatch of laughter echoing up the cliff face. Drakhar froze, listening, scenting. No scent yet, but the voice came again—no, voices. The magic sharpened, drew him forward. He crouched and eased along the cliff top. A break in the trees below showed ahead, a meadow nestled in a cul-de-sac of the cliff face. He flattened himself to the stony ground, called on the magic to conceal him and crept forward until he could see.
Two foreshortened figures, little more than heads and shoulders, moved below. A lowland man and boy, both dressed in loose trousers and short jackets. A trick of wind brought their scents up the cliff face. No, not a boy. A woman.
The magic pulsed, sharp and hard as the thrust of a blade, but the urge to attack didn’t come. The magic only held him there, watching, while it beat and shivered around him stronger than he’d ever felt.
In the clearing below, the man stalked toward the woman. She backed away, her hands raised as if to fend him off. The man lunged. She spun away, but he caught her by the sleeve and jerked her toward him. She gave a cry, and he bore her to the ground. Drakhar leaned forward, his breath coming faster. The magic held him suspended, every muscle tense yet unable to act.
She slammed a knee upward. Drakhar winced but the man, rather than falling writhing to the ground, laughed, rolled off her and pulled her to her feet. He spoke, punched the air two or three times as if demonstrating. He walked back a few paces and began another menacing approach.
The magic abruptly released Drakhar. He rocked back, still breathing hard. Sweat filmed his body and a flush of heat ran under his skin. Below him, the man and woman grappled again, both of them laughing too hard to be effective at either attack or defense.
Drakhar hesitated above the pair, confused. The magic still pulsed, just as powerful and persistent as before, but now neither drove nor held him. Attack seemed reasonable, but he didn’t feel like attacking. He had no desire to retreat, either. It was as if the magic whispered, Look. I brought you here to see. What will you do with what you have found?
The pair below stopped. The man gave the girl a gentle cuff on the head, just as Drakhar did with his younger siblings. He slid an arm around her shoulders and they walked off, back into the trees.
Suddenly, watching a weak lowlander man try to teach his young sister to defend herself, unconscious of the Drakhari hunter who lurked above them, Drakhar knew exactly why he’d been brought here.
His people would no longer be a whispered tale told in the night of the lowlands, a shadow that swallowed traders and travelers whole on the mountain roads.
The Drakhari would hunt in the fields and orchards of the lowlands.
Click here to read the next chapter of Ash Fall.