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Sapphire: Home and Abroad

The Stones of Power

by M.D. Grimm

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Sapphire: Home & Abroad - M.D. Grimm
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Pages: 226
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The time has come.

The Dark Mage, Lord Morgorth, and Aishe of the Ravena Tribe, are to become bondmates.

Morgorth is equal parts nervous and excited. He wants to unite with Aishe in the sacred dialen ceremony, to proclaim their devotion to the world, to show everyone that Aishe is his equal and deserving of respect. After all they’ve survived together, why shouldn’t they make the cosmic promise before friends and family? But duty must often come before pleasure. When Morgorth’s estranged mentor, Master Ulezander, comes to him with a time-sensitive mission involving a major stone of power, Morgorth has little choice but to acquiesce.

Aishe knows his mate struggles with the revelation of his true destiny, after a lifetime of defining himself as the future Destroyer of Karishian. All he can do is reassure Morgorth that being the Savior is a far better fate for both of them. But as Morgorth and Aishe leap through worlds and dimensions in pursuit of a stone of power, more pieces to the puzzle of Morgorth’s destiny are revealed. And they form an image of sacrifice and tragedy.

The dark cloud of an ancient enemy looms ever closer, and the path to becoming the Savior might prove more monstrous than that of the Destroyer.

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Excerpt:

I collapsed onto the floor, panting, sweaty, sore. “I’m done. I quit. Mercy!”

Adella chuckled as she hovered over me, bent at the waist, her smile showing pity and amusement. A small black crystal swung from her neck, a safety feature, allowing her to traverse my home without any of the enchantments attacking her. She had a sweet, pale face, her bright eyes showing amusement coupled with ruthless determination. Aishe’s aunt was such a slave driver.

“Get up, mage. Come on, get on your feet.”

I groaned. “No.” I sounded like a petulant child and I didn’t care.

She grinned. “The three most important dances of your life won’t practice themselves. You want to make my nephew proud, don’t you?”

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I glared, though my magick stayed locked tight. She was doing me a huge favor, and Aishe would never forgive me if I blasted his mother’s sister into the wall.

“Low blow. That was a cruel, nasty low blow.”

“Did it work?”

I grumbled and grimaced and whined as I heaved to my feet. She stepped back to give me room, slim hands on her modest hips. She was a sturdy dialen who preferred tunics and leggings to dresses. Her long hair was pulled back in a tail at the base of her neck but a few locks stuck to her face. Despite her advanced years, she was spry, with a youthful appearance, like most dialen. I envied her grace. I was certain that I was in the best shape of my life, but trying to learn three of the ritual dances for my upcoming bonding ceremony with Aishe proved that I was mistaken. My legs threatened to give out and my back ached constantly.

Maybe the dances were just too damn complicated for the likes of me.

I shook out my limbs and narrowed my eyes. “All right, let’s do this again.”

She laughed. “Maybe if you didn’t tense like you were going into battle, you’d ease into it.”

I muttered darkly under my breath and struggled to unclench.

We continued to practice in one of my smaller training rooms within Geheimnis, my fortress home. It was built into, and on top of a sharp mountain peak. Her silhouette rose like swords stabbing the sky, and I’d constructed her with my own hands and magick years ago. She was my sanctuary from the ugliness of the world. And the ugliness inside me. The massive forest of Vorgoroth surrounded us, a haven itself for the darker creatures roaming our world of Karishian. All the beasts that lived in Vorgoroth owed me their loyalty, and in return I gave them a home. That hadn’t been my intent when claiming the territory for my own but it was a happy side effect. And it tickled me pink that my home was the contested land between two massive kingdoms to the north and south. I enjoyed sticking it to those in authority.

“Left foot, Morgorth. Remember, left foot on the turn. Imagine yourself as light as a leaf on the wind.”

“I’ll tell you what you can do with your leaf.”

She chuckled and continued illustrating the steps and twists, singing softly to let me become accustomed to the beat. I did my best to follow her instructions, wishing I could cast a spell on myself that would make the practicing unnecessary. Maybe I should have spent all this time experimenting with potions. One that might give me inner rhythm and grace, for instance. But that was cheating. I couldn’t stomach cheating when it came to one of the most important days of my life.

“That’s it. Sweep your foot. Lift your arm just a bit higher. There you go. Now sweep again, kick, move your hands. Keep looking straight ahead. Aishe will be mirroring your moves so don’t get confused and try to match him.”

How had my life come to this? Taking dance lessons from a dialen. Anticipating my bonding ceremony with another who owned my heart, body, and mind?

“You got it! How does that feel? Do you feel the difference now?”

“Aye, I do.” And I did. Leaf on the wind, indeed.

While we’d gone through all three dances to give me a sense of what was expected of me, now we narrowed our focus to each one, making sure I got every move as accurate as I could. This was the Dance of Beginnings, performed as we moved down the aisle to the platform where the main ceremony would take place. And it was the easiest of the three. I was doomed.

“You’re doing great, Dark Mage. Don’t doubt yourself so much and just let your body move as it wishes to.”

She smiled and winked at me as we took a short break. I stretched out my kinks, and she sipped water, gazing out of the large window that offered a magnificent view of my expansive forest.

She’d said Dark Mage with such affection, I didn’t know how to feel about it. I’d embraced the moniker of villain not so long ago, and I’d acted accordingly, making sure everyone knew not to fuck with me unless they wanted a messy, agonizing death. I’d felt as though I had no choice at the time since the Council of Mages, my peers, had thought me a villain since I was a child. They’d treated me like a criminal before I’d even done anything, and then I’d seen no reason not to give them exactly what they expected. So I’d scourged the land, a plague on the helpless. Killing and maiming with glee. Using the torment of my childhood and projecting it onto my victims. But that was then and this was now.

I wasn’t the monster I had been but I could never rule out the necessity of becoming him again, especially if those I cared for were ever in danger. Yet my entire identity had been flipped on its head about a month ago.

For my entire life I’d assumed, and the council had assumed, that I would become the Destroyer of Karishian. But I knew the truth now. For good or ill, I wasn’t the Destroyer. I was the Savior. The Mother’s champion against her greatest enemies.

The formoryans were ethereal entities that had existed before the Mother had come with her Light and started to Create. It was she who gave form to the ether and the chaotic energies of the cosmos. She Formed and made rules and laws and set everything into motion. To do so, she needed to lock the destructive formoryans away. They resided in their cage at the edges of her Creation, a place called Oblivion.

And somehow, someway, I was supposed to assist her in an upcoming battle?

It still didn’t seem real.

“Morgorth?”

I blinked out of my dark, chaotic thoughts.

Adella stared at me, puzzled and concerned.

I sighed. “Can we be done for the day?”

She nodded. “I want to check on Aishe, anyway. See how he’s coming along with your bond tunic. He’s not the best with a needle.”

I snorted and nodded. “Aye, go do that. He’s been a bit grumpy about it the last few days.”

She chuckled and paused beside me to touch my arm. “He’s also nervous and excited. I suggest you both take some time and leave all the planning behind. Escape and remind yourselves why you’re doing this. I can handle anything that comes up.”

I patted her hand. “That sounds like a fantastic idea. I really appreciate all your help. Even if I don’t act like it.”

“I know.” She winked again and hurried off.

Her casual, friendly touch wasn’t one I would have received a mere year ago, before Aishe. I wouldn’t have accepted it and no one would have offered it. So much had changed… for the better as far as I was concerned. With Aishe came possibilities, options, real happiness and a modicum of peace… if my foes would ever leave me alone.

I slid down the wall and sat on the floor. I took a deep breath. Aishe wasn’t the only one nervous and excited. Since mages were sterile, we didn’t have marriage or union ceremonies. We just borrowed from those of other creatures, most often the seelas, the species that we were born from. Dialen tribes had their own unique cultures and much of the bonding ceremonies were centered around song and dance. When I’d proposed to Aishe, I hadn’t realized how much learning I would need to cram into such a short amount of time. Granted, even if I had known, I would have still proposed. I wanted Aishe to know, for the world to know, what he was to me. Who he was. The importance of his existence. He was my better half, and he deserved the fear and respect and awe that such a position would inevitably bring. It wouldn’t be long now before he was not only Aishe of the Ravena Tribe, but Aishe, the Bondmate of Lord Morgorth, Dark Mage of the North.

I leaned my head back against the wall and stared at the ceiling. We’d wanted the ceremony to take place on our one-year anniversary. It still tripped me up to think I’d known Aishe for one year. Just one year. Not that long ago, I hadn’t known he even existed. So much had happened since then, lots of good and lots of bad and lots of ugly. But we were here now, stronger than ever. He’d never abandoned me and always became incensed at the very notion.

I adored him and was more than willing to go through any pain and humiliation to prove that. Even dancing and singing in front of the citizens of Happy Valley.

I let out a large groan and flopped onto my back on the floor.

COLLAPSE

Make sure to check out the other books in this series!

1 - Ruby: Lost and Found

2 - Peridot: War and Peace

3 - Amethyst: Bow and Arrow

4 - Agate: Then and Now

5 - Emerald: Good and Evil

6 - Carnelian: Dreams and Visions

7 - Lapis Lazuli: Forgotten and Remembered

8 - Sapphire: Home and Abroad

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.