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Jade: First and Last

The Stones of Power 9

by M.D. Grimm

Morgorth and Aishe must contend with a deadly threat that could spell disaster for their world.

Payshthas were the first of the Mother’s intelligent children. It is rare for true friendship to form between them and another species—which makes Morgorth’s bond with Enfernlo unique. And it is due to their friendship that Morgorth doesn’t hesitate to answer Enfernlo’s plea for help.

A thief has stolen something vital from Enfernlo’s colony—a stone of power.

Their hunt for the stone leads them to a war torn kingdom, and Aishe can hardly stomach what he sees. The devastation urges him to assist however he can, no matter the risk. Meanwhile, Morgorth is faced with reminders of the monster he used to be, and contemplates how far he’s come, and yet how far he still has to go. And when his estranged mentor joins them on their search, Morgorth is forced to confront his resentment and sense of betrayal, and use Master Ulezander as a tool to save the payshthas.

Forced into a deadly quest where trust is in short supply, and faced with challengers for the stone, Morgorth must put his faith in those he loves and in himself... and become a champion not just of the Mother but for Karishian itself.


I sighed. Where do I go now?

My mentor told me to find a home. But where? And how?

I glanced over my shoulder at the fortress that was my mentor’s home. It had been my own for years upon years. My first and only home until now. Before Master Ulezander, before I’d called to my magick, home had been a foul word full of pain and misery and humiliation. It had been something to escape. And now… it meant Muelsel. It meant safety. A sanctuary.

My goal for so many years had been to embrace my destiny and become the most infamous villain of history. I’d wanted to destroy and maim and terrorize. To my great annoyance, it had done little to quell the agony inside me. But now I had a new goal.

Creating a home.


My magick rose from my core, heating my blood and sizzling through my limbs like a campfire. I murmured a word and sped through the snow, away from Muelsel, from the mountains. Away from familiar lands and peoples. I needed to travel if I was going to find what I sought.

Unfortunately after months of searching, I couldn’t find a location that called to me. I’d journeyed the entirety of Karishian, and I was beginning to despair of finding a place to claim. Most places had either already been claimed or weren’t up to my standards. As my frustration deepened, so did my urge to revert back to my old ways. The itch, the fury, never left. It was a darkness hiding in the corner of my mind, biding its time, waiting for me to slip just a little. If it hadn’t been for the vow I’d made to Master Ulezander, I might have slipped long before now since being a villain and terrorizing the populace had been so much easier and less strenuous.

I snorted to myself and shook my head. I sat on a beach on the southern continent, far west of a massive desert. After being a guest of the Jesllan tribe for about a month, I’d finally left them to wander once again. Then I’d found this beach, and it occurred to me I hadn’t taken a moment to relax and reflect since leaving Muelsel. Probably out of self-preservation since what I had to reflect upon were dark thoughts and memories. And even I got tired of being a broody asshole at times.

I took a deep breath of salty air and focused on the sounds of the waves lapping the shore. I’d kicked off my shoes to dig my toes into the sand. The sun beat down on me, my black clothing containing the heat, causing me to sweat. I didn’t care. There wasn’t anyone I had to impress.

If I was going to avoid becoming my father, then I needed to stay away from anyone who’d tempt me into starting a family. Easy enough. I hated kids, and who’d be stupid enough to love me? Love. I made a face. Stupid, worthless emotion. I was certain it had been a perverted form of love that had made my mother stay with my father, despite his monstrous actions. Love was also vulnerability, and I’d been vulnerable enough in my life. I would never be a victim again. I would never give someone else control over me. I wanted to be as far away from love as I could get.

I took another deep breath and sifted sand through my fingers. The beach was small and deserted. Just a little spit of land between two cliffs. The water slapped against the rock on either side, churning around sharp spears of stone. But it was calm in the center, and the dying sun glinted off the water, making it resemble polished gems.

Master Ulezander had said that I could stop the pain instead of causing it. I could protect people too weak to defend themselves. I’d yet to determine if that was worth my time. Although, I wouldn’t mind pitting my strength against a worthy opponent. And if that emphasized my reputation while also winning me some points with The Council of Mages, how could I lose?

A dark shadow flittered overhead, disrupting my thoughts. I frowned and glanced up, only to scramble to my feet, my heart jumping into my throat.

A payshtha.

There was a payshtha circling above me.

I gaped in awe as the sun shone off glossy blue scales. Two silver horns curved over his eyes before stretching behind his head. He had a long snout with big, bright blue eyes that latched onto me. I couldn’t move. I hardly breathed.

He—or she—was magnificent. The serpentine body twisted gracefully as wings, double the length of their body, flapped and adjusted to the changing wind currents and angles they swerved through. I’d never seen anything so enchanting. I’d never been this close to a payshtha before. And while my mentor was the council’s ambassador to the payshtha colonies, he’d never taken me to any of his diplomatic meetings.

Hoping this payshtha was a male—females were known for their aggression—I stayed rooted to the sands as he descended, still circling me, perhaps as intrigued by me as I was by him. Unlikely, sure, but then why else was he giving me his attention? Payshthas didn’t eat creatures of higher intelligence. They much preferred fish and livestock and even birds when the mood struck them. At least, that was what Master Ulezander had told me.

The payshtha finally landed not far from me, kicking up air and sand. I covered my face and blinked my eyes clear. He stood about twelve feet off the ground and appeared to be almost three times that in length. He folded his wings along his back and lowered his head, tilting it slightly to peer at me with one large eye.

“Good evening,” he said, his deep voice confirming he was a male. While females also had deep voices, theirs had a musical timbre. This one’s voice, however, reminded me of the solidness of mountains and their ageless beauty.

“I see that you enjoy sunsets as well,” he continued.

I swallowed hard and bowed my head. My heart raced and pulsed in my temples. “Yes, er. I do. I enjoy them more than sunrises.”

The payshtha bobbed his head. “I am Enfernlo. What is your name, mage?”

Reviews:Maryann on Queer Romance Ink wrote:

Morgoth has always had the reputation of being cruel and a villain, and was feared and hated by all. Now, though, he has changed, with the support and love of Aishe, his bondmate... another epic novel in “The Stones of Power” series, filled with colorful descriptions of the dystopian world, along with an abundance of fascinating creatures, tribes and names. It's well written, flows beautifully, and is easy to understand, even with all the unique elements. There are flashes of sadness, greed, hatred, violence, romance, love and even snarky humor. There’s never a dull moment in this fast paced, adventurous, action packed romance that goes beyond the imagination.

Lord Morgorth is a dark mage on the planet Karishian. His peers consider him a villain, but there is more to him than they choose to understand. Cursed by a dark destiny and tormented by painful memories of the past, Morgorth struggles to find his place in the world. Far from innocent, Morgorth has teetered between embracing his destiny and fighting against it his entire life. A decision that is made easier when Aishe comes into his life. Aishe is a creature of the forest, a warrior and healer. He has the moral compass that Morgorth needs, and Morgorth gives Aishe the companionship he craves. Together, they forge ahead, weathering the storms and fighting the enemies fate puts into their paths. However, their greatest enemy is not a living being, but gemstones infused with deadly power. They are addictive, seductive, and completely treacherous. Morgorth hates them and is determined to find and imprison all of them. But he soon realizes they are keys to a greater power. He learns his destiny is not all he thought it was. And an even greater enemy stirs in the darkness. Enter the world of “The Stones of Power.”

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About the Author

M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!). After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English, (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?) she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier. Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain, (or else what’s the point?) finding their soul mate in the process.