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Ruby: Lost and Found

The Stones of Power 1

by M.D. Grimm

Lord Morgorth is a dark mage on the planet Karishian. He’s considered a villain by his peers and relishes the title, having embraced the role early in his life. However, not all of his actions are necessarily villainous.

Despite owning several of the Stones of Power—gemstones infused with powerful magick—he doesn’t use them, preferring to keep them hidden away and out of destructive, power-hungry hands. He hates them more than anything. So when a sorcerer gets a hold of a major stone, Morgorth has no choice but to go after him. But, to his irritation, he is not alone. Aishe is a dialen whose tribe was massacred by the sorcerer, and is now on a mission of vengeance. The attraction is instant between them, but Morgorth keeps his distance. Because of a traumatic childhood and a deadly destiny, he has no desire for emotional complications. But Aishe’s very presence challenges Morgorth's resolve.

Not only does Morgorth admire Aishe’s strength and intelligence, but he begins to see Aishe as a friend. As their hunt continues and their time together lengthens, their bond deepens, as does Morgorth’s fear. If he becomes the monster that destiny claims he will be, will he hurt Aishe? Will he harm the one person who sees right through him? Who accepts him wholeheartedly? Determined to not let that happen, Morgorth keeps Aishe at a distance. But when Aishe is kidnapped by the sorcerer, what will Morgorth do to get him back?

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Publisher: Independently Published
Cover Artists:
Tropes: Antihero, Powerful Artifact, Quest, Redemption Arc, Reluctant Hero, Villain to Hero
Word Count: 72014
Setting: planet of Karishian
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Tropes: Antihero, Powerful Artifact, Quest, Redemption Arc, Reluctant Hero, Villain to Hero
Word Count: 72014
Setting: planet of Karishian
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters

Cold suddenly slithered up my spine. I looked up as a fireball dropped from the sky and collided with the crop field, the flames consuming it eagerly. I was still for only a split second before shrugging off my invisibility like a blanket and stepping out into the center of town. The citizens were running and screaming for water, everything else forgotten as they tried to save their food source. I stood, my hands clenched, my anger mixing with my magick and making my hands burn.

Who dared harm my village?


I looked up in time to see another fireball hit a flayn and send the poor creature crashing to the ground, feathers burning. I snarled a word and flung my hand out, sending a force that smothered the fire even as the flayn thrashed on the dirt. Once the flames were doused, I looked around me, the chaos and screams infuriating me. Stands were tipped over, hand-made merchandise crashed to the dirt, and terror was painted on the faces of all the citizens of Happy Valley.

Someone was going to pay for this.

A whirling noise brought my attention up and to my left, where a swirling mass of air, like a grounded tornado, held up the mage currently destroying my village. He had a sort of manic glee on his face, and as I watched, horrified and pissed, he pointed a finger and sent a bolt of pure force directly at the group of dialen helping the downed flayn.

I surged forward, bent my left arm over my face, and formed a shield that stretched ten feet into the air and touched the ground. The mage’s force bounced off it, and I managed to angle it to shot back toward him. He didn’t react quickly enough, and the force struck him in the chest, sending him to the ground. He landed hard and the whirlwind underneath him dissipated. I was on him before he could draw breath.

My hands glowed and burned with the magick lashing through me. I lifted water from a well nearby and flung it at him. Then I sent a freezing wind at the mage, causing the water to ice over, solidifying his clothes to his skin, immobilizing him. I ran over and stared down at him, not recognizing him at all.

“You bastard,” I spat and reached down to grab his collar. “You insignificant insect. You dare come into my territory and harm my village!”

He snarled at me, a golden prince with narrow blue eyes. He had the look and physique of a mage, but all the intelligence of hired muscle. Did he really think he could destroy my home and walk away? I was about to end him, I was already forming a ball in my hand that resembled a small star, and it had just as much power as one, when I heard my name called.

I swung my head around to see a male dialen staring at me in panic. He was about six feet tall, making him several inches taller than me, and he had that athletic build most of his species were prone to. I noticed a lot of things about him: his forest green attire, the fact that he had a bow, currently pointing an arrow at me. But the most prominent feature was the black strip of paint across his eyes. It started at his ear, stretched across his eyes underneath his eyebrows and over the bridge of his nose, and ended at his other ear. It was a mark, a warning to all who encountered him. It warned that someone had killed a blood relation of his, and he was honor bound to avenge them. The dialen called it a hakum. He would use any means to complete his task, and would kill anyone who got in his way. His entire life was put on hold until he finished his mission, which meant he couldn’t indulge in any pleasure whatsoever.

Unfortunately, as I observed this, though it took less than a second, the mage was able to break through the ice. He flung force at me, and I was knocked away, the star ball flying out of my hand. We both got to our feet at the same time, and that was when I saw that he gripped something hard in his hand. His knuckles were white, he was clenching that object so hard.

An arrow flew at him, but he managed to jerk out of the way in time. He scowled at the dialen and flicked a finger at him. The dialen went flying into the side of a house and through it. The mage stared at me, and a small smile touched his face.

“You thought you could keep them all for yourself,” he said, his voice deep. “But I got one anyway, Lord Morgorth.”

He said my name mockingly, and I bristled, wondering what the hell he was talking about. Then he held up his hand, the one holding the object. He moved his fingers, and I saw what he was holding. My body went from boiling to freezing in less than a second.

“By the Mother,” I whispered and sent a bolt of fire at his hand, trying to knock the object loose, but he had been expecting that, and he spun away, laughing.

“You can’t harm me. You can’t defeat me. I will rule the world and destroy every other mage until only I remain. You will go first.”

I lunged away from his spell and rolled to my feet, a fireball ready. Another arrow flew through the air and lodged itself in the mage’s leg. I grinned and flung my fireball at him. He didn’t dodge, and the flames consumed his clothes. He screeched but managed to douse the flames even as I levitated several lengths of wood that used to be someone’s wall and flung them at him. He collapsed underneath them, and I ran forward. But before I could grab his hand, he shoved the wood away. Some of it hit my shoulder. I staggered in surprise, and he stood up, gave me a look that should have turned me to stone, and vanished. Poof.

Fucking-A. I hadn’t even mastered teleportation! Damn it.

Before I had time to think, I had to dodge another arrow aimed for the mage but had missed him when he vanished. I staggered to the side and glared at the dialen who now ran toward me.

I turned away from him and looked around my village, fury boiling the blood in my veins. He wasn’t going to live, that much was certain. I raised my hands and looked at the fire, the destruction, the destroyed crops, before closing my eyes. I focused my magick, focused on the words I would use, and the magick flowed out of me like a gentle breeze. I could see it working even though my eyes were still closed. The flames died, though they gave me particular trouble because I had not conjured them, therefore I had limited control over them. The houses began to rebuild themselves. The wood attached itself once again as walls and doors, and the hay became the roofs once more. The stands tilted back onto their feet, and the merchandise that had been trampled and broken repaired itself and organized itself neatly, ready to be sold.

But I couldn’t fix the crops. Or the burnt wood. I couldn’t repair what had been completely disintegrated and turned to ash. But I quelled the fires, saving what I could.

I exhaled slowly and opened my eyes, seeing my village the way it was supposed to be. Before I had committed my pranks, before the mage’s destruction. That’s when I noticed the dialen and I were surrounded by a crowd. The entire village stared at me with awe, and I felt horribly awkward.

I narrowed my eyes and leaned toward them, satisfied when they leaned away.

“Boo,” I said. Most of them scattered, some faster than others. I couldn’t smile, and I winced when I looked at the charred flayn. It was a female, and her feathers and hide were blackened; she had to be in pain. I wasn’t talented at healing magick, and I wondered what I should do when the dialen stepped forward. He knelt in front of her, setting down his bow and softly speaking words I couldn’t hear.

That’s when I remembered most dialen had healing magick. I stood there and watched, feeling sore and winded, as the dialen set his hands gently on the flayn. Then his hands began to glow a warm yellow. Fascinated, I watched the flesh repair itself, the charred feathers being replaced by new ones. It was similar to what I’d just done, but instead of repairing what was broken, he regrew what had been disintegrated. I felt a little germ of jealousy worm its way alongside fascination. I’d never been good at healing magick. My desire to heal, especially heal someone else, had never been strong.

I waited for the flayn to thank the dialen before walking toward him, intent on asking him who the hell he was. But I wasn’t the first to speak.

He turned to me and narrowed his eyes. “I can’t believe you just let him go! Do you know how long it took me to track him? How hard? It’s not like he left footprints, he flew!”

I was shocked and only stood there as he dug a finger into my chest.

“All I needed was for you to hold him, and then I would have stuck an arrow in his heart. Was that so hard? Now he’s gone, and you have to help me.”

I shook my head slowly, not unaccustomed to the hostility but to his boldness. It had certainly been a while since anyone had spoken to me with such courage. No fear showed on his face, only anger. His voice was slightly accented, and he spoke in the tongue common around these parts. Despite his anger, his voice was pleasant to listen to—musical and deep. “Who are you?”

His nostrils widened as he exhaled, and I found myself enjoying watching him gain control over his emotions. The blast of his vibrant green eyes and the fierceness I saw in them delighted me. He intrigued me, and the fact that he was gorgeous didn’t hurt. I got a closer look at his face and liked what I saw—a regal nose, elegantly sharp cheekbones, and his hair was incredibly white—the sun actually shone off it like it was a precious gem.

“My name is Aishe.” He pronounced it as Ash. “I am of the Ravena tribe, who are now all dead because of that monster. I must kill him to bring peace to my tribe, and I cannot do it alone.”

It seemed to bother him to admit that. I couldn’t blame him; asking for help was something I never did. I rolled the shoulder that had been struck by the wood and cringed.

“Your tribe held one of the Pferun Dulleriin,” I said. It wasn’t a question.

Aishe nodded.

“He killed all of them?”

Aishe nodded again, and I saw the flicker of grief and rage he had bottled up. I winced and looked away. Even at my worst, I’d never committed genocide. But I’d never had a stone of power at my disposal. The mage I’d fought had one, and not just any stone, but a major stone. Rambujek, a medium-sized ruby, and I had felt its call. I had felt the promises it offered, the violence and war it lusted for. Of all the abominable things, he just had to find that one. He was nothing but a sorcerer, or a very weak mage...and suddenly, his words to me made sense. He was the mage Grekel had mentioned before. He had tried to gain access to Geheimnis to get my stones, and my traps had discouraged him quickly.

He had attacked my village out of vengeance. I looked around at Happy Valley, at the citizens obviously still shell-shocked but attempting to go about their day, their celebrations, trying to ignore us. A group of them headed for the crop fields, and the rest were trying to repair the thatched roofs. What would have happened if I hadn’t returned when I had? I shuddered to think.

I looked back at Aishe as he watched me impatiently. I also noticed that his fury, though under control, was shooting off him in sparks.

“How’d you survive the massacre?” I asked.

“I was banished,” he said through gritted teeth. “I rejected tradition and was sent away for a time, and when I returned, everyone was dead.”

That bumped up my admiration for Aishe. It took a lot of guts to go your own path.

“That was a couple of months ago,” Aishe continued. “I have been tracking him ever since. I had to keep you from killing him. It must be me who kills him, do you understand?”

I raised an eyebrow. “I get the whole mission thing you’re on. The hakum. And I am going after him. If you want to be the one to kill him, better get there first.”

Aishe frowned at me, and I wondered what was wrong with me that his anger, his wrath, aroused me. I understood his need for revenge, and I sensed a soul that was similar to mine. Dark and rebellious, and one that yearned for freedom.

My arousal annoyed me.

“I was seeking you,” Aishe said. “I know I am no match for a mage with a stone of power, so I sought another mage. His attacks seem to be made at random, but he was moving in this direction. I...hoped I would find a way to have you assist me.”

He looked away, and I saw sadness come into his eyes as he gazed at my village. “But I would never have hoped for something like this to convince you.”

“Who says I will help you?” I crossed my arms over my chest in a belligerent fashion. “You’ll just slow me down, and I don’t need you.”

He turned back to me. “Considering I tracked the murderer this far shows I am not useless or someone who will slow you down. I will search him out with or without you, Morgorth.”

The way he thrust his chin forward, and his eyes sparked made him even more awfully sexy. I thought about what he said. I didn’t have companions, travel or otherwise, but he could prove useful later. At the very least, as a good distraction. Added to that, I had to respect him for how far he’d come already. And I couldn’t help but enjoy the way he said my name.

“Please help me, Lord Morgorth,” he whispered. “I must do this, it is my duty. I failed my family once. I cannot fail again.”

I didn’t understand his devotion to his tribe. They were dead, so why the hell would he feel obligated now, when in life he’d rejected them? Just because I knew about the dialen custom didn’t mean it made any sense to me. My so-called family could rot in the underworld for all eternity. Well, the fact was, Aishe would go after the sorcerer with or without me, and what mattered most was the stone.

With any luck, we could find the sorcerer in a day or two and then go our separate ways. But when have I ever been that lucky?

“Fine. You and me,” I said. “And we better hurry. The longer he has Rambujek, the more power he’ll unlock until he can rule the cosmos and bring it to ruin.”

Aishe’s eyes widened slightly. I smiled, but it was humorless. “You might be going after him because of your tribe, but believe me, this goes far beyond you and your tribe. The whole of Karishian is now in jeopardy, and unless the other mages take an interest, you and I are the only defense.”

Aishe looked down for a moment, and his chest moved slowly in and out as he took a deep breath. I couldn’t help but watch. He wore tight green leggings and a short-sleeved tunic, and neither hid his well-toned body. His boots were brown and rose to mid-calf, and they were muddy and well-worn. His belt was golden, and a couple of pouches hung from it. His clothes looked like they’d been torn multiple times and stitched up. He certainly looked like he’d been traveling for months.

I turned and walked over to where the sorcerer had collapsed on the ground. I looked around, my eyes focused and searching. Finally, I found what I needed and picked it up carefully, holding it firmly in my hand.

“What is that?” Aishe asked from behind me.

“A tool,” I said. “Now, let’s go.”

Aishe had to grab an old bag from the inn where he’d been staying before we could leave. He walked beside me as we headed out of the village. We through my forest and weren’t bothered at all. I knew we were being watched, but everyone knew to stay out of my path. I saw their eyes, heard their sounds, felt their curiosity, but they kept their distance.

I saw Aishe shiver. “I have heard rumors about this forest,” he said, looking at me. I tried not to meet his eyes because looking at them made it hard for me to form a sentence and to keep my distance emotionally. I had to puzzle on why he was affecting me so quickly. He was just too damn beautiful and it made me uncomfortable. His pale skin indicated his tribe had been probably been northern forest dwellers. He had a short sword strapped to his side and that coupled with his bow and quiver of arrows lead me to suspect he had at least one or two daggers hidden on his person. He was certainly a warrior, prepared for anything.

“I’m sure you have,” I said. “I started most of them.” Not even a twitch of the mouth. Well, I really didn’t expect much humor from a dialen on a hakum.

We continued through the rest of my forest in silence. But once we neared the southern end, we were accosted by the knight who’d harassed me yesterday. It seemed like a lifetime ago. The ambush basically involved him jumping out from behind a tree and brandishing his sword.

“You have not vanquished me, Villain!” he roared.

I smacked the heel of my hand against my forehead and groaned. Why wouldn’t this guy give up? I glanced at Aishe, who simply stared at the knight, eyes hard.

“I get that a lot,” I said, oddly feeling the need to explain myself and the situation.

“I would assume so,” he said. “You are a villain after all.”

The lack of judgment in his voice puzzled me further. I stepped forward and decided I wasn’t playing nice anymore. My magick rose to the surface, and I called silently to the truls roaming around the forest. I was intimately linked to the forest through my magick, and every living creature, including the trees, would feel my call, would understand the wordless communication. It wasn’t long before the truls came lumbering out from behind the trees. The knight paled and backed away. The truls looked hungry, with drool dripping from their mouths.

I felt Aishe step closer to me as the truls walked past us. They were large gray monsters with tusks jutting up from their lower jaws and a smell that could curl your nose hairs. They had overly long arms that caused their knuckles to drag the ground and their bodies seemed to be misshapen, as if a drunken sculptor had created them. But they could play music better than anyone. Who would have thought?

“This is your last chance,” I said to the hero. He turned his wide, panicked eyes toward me, and I shrugged. “Run or die.”

Five truls were closing in on him, and he ran. The truls couldn’t run, but they had long strides. I watched them chase the knight back toward his kingdom. I wondered if he’d make it.

“Not much of a warrior,” Aishe commented.

“They rarely are,” I said. Before I could start walking again, Aishe gripped my arm and met my gaze. I jerked at the contact. It had been a long while since anyone had touched me. He stared hard into my eyes, and I could have sworn he was staring straight into my soul.

“Lord Morgorth, as I’ve said, I’ve heard a lot of rumors—about this forest, your castle, about you. I saw how you fought the mage today. And I need to know, are you as good as they say you are?”

I couldn’t look away from the emotion he allowed me to see. Grief, rage, determination, all of it was visible inside those green eyes for the space of two heartbeats and then was gone. The shield had been rebuilt, and I wondered how long he could lock away his need for emotional release.

My emotions were touched, which annoyed me further. Aishe needed hope, needed something to cling to. He wanted to believe so badly he would be able to find justice for his tribe. He had chosen to put that belief, that faith in me.

He had made a bad choice. But at that moment, I couldn’t crush his hope.

“Yes, Aishe. I am better than what they say.”

Reviews:Kara on Inkd Rainbow Reads wrote:

5 Stars!

Loved this world M.D. Grimm created in this book!

Morgorth is a powerful mage who is a loner due to his childhood and the way he was raised he prefers to not have any emotional entanglements. So he likes being feared and not being close with anyone else.
Well that was true until he meets Aishe who is a dialen on a quest to avenge his family and his tribes deaths. Let’s just say as soon as Morgorth meets Aishe he has a instant attraction to him but he fights it.

I have to say I loved the way this author wrote this story and these characters. From the moment I started this book I could not put this book down.

You get so much action and angst but you also get the sweet when Morgorth finally stops fighting his feelings. Then there was the steam which was so hot between these two men. I honestly can not wait to read the next book in this series.

All together I really loved this book!
I would definitely recommend this book!

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.