All is fair in love and war. Or is it?
On the world called Ana-Darasa, the gods of war engage in a desperate search for their lost hearts while waging a battle against the Good Mother for supremacy. But theirs is not the only struggle as dominant men, powerful rulers, and demigods clash, fiery passion erupts, and destinies are shaped on the battlefield and in the bedroom. In a war between pride and love, no victory is ever simple.
All is fair in love and war. Renaldo has lived happily by that proverb his entire life. But he has finally met his match, and he’s about to discover how unfair love and war can be.
When demigod and warlord Lord Renaldo takes a beautiful stranger captive during an ambush, he is delighted to have found a distraction that will keep him entertained during the upcoming siege. Little does he know, Casto is keeping more than just one secret from him. Slowly, Renaldo gets sucked into a turbulent roller-coaster relationship with his mysterious prisoner, one that begins with hatred and soon spirals into a whirlwind of conflicting emotions. And when it seems that things can get no worse, an old enemy stirs right in the heart of his home.
Determined to keep Casto by his side, Renaldo has to find a balance between the capricious young man and his own destiny as a ruler and god to his people.
“Renaldo, you won’t believe what we just found!”
The desert brothers, Kalad and Aegid, approached their god with broad smiles on their faces. He looked at them expectantly.
“If I won’t believe it, then you better hurry up and tell me before I run out of patience.”
“A caravan! And right now it’s taking a break at the oasis we discovered yesterday. You know, it’s not even an hour from here. We could go there, get the quarry, and be back before anybody misses us.”
Lost in thought, Renaldo observed their camp that was set up in a dip beneath the hill where he had waited for Kalad and Aegid. Renaldo’s brother, the powerful Wolf of War, had sent them on patrol to make sure the area was entirely safe. So far, they had not come across any danger, which meant that it was all right for them to have some fun. His brothers-in-arms looked at him eagerly.
“Well, there’s no harm in having a look, is there?”
Kalad’s lively brown eyes overflowed in happy anticipation. “No, definitely not. We’ll show you the way.”
The other members of the patrol led by Noran—like Aegid and Kalad, he was an Emeris, a chosen counselor of Renaldo and Canubis—were ten of the best and most experienced mercenaries in the service of the warrior gods, and they lined up behind the desert brothers. The group rode sharply toward the oasis that had quenched their thirst only a day ago.
Between the trees there was indeed a caravan with thirty camels, every beast burdened high with merchandise. It was not only the traders who delighted in the fresh water from the spring; the warriors also spied some heavily armored men patrolling the goods. Renaldo shot Kalad a slightly poisonous look. Kalad had obviously forgotten to mention this small detail, but the desert warrior just shrugged. There weren’t enough enemies to get them into any serious trouble.
At that moment the people at the waterhole stirred.
A man wearing a floor-length cloak led a pitch-black stallion to the spring. Although the stranger was clothed in white, as was sensible in the heat, he radiated an intimidating arrogance that surrounded him and the steed like a shield. The traders, as well as the mercenaries, hastened to make room for the exceptional pair. Renaldo’s eyes lit up. Never before in his long life had he seen a horse like that: its mane and tail sparkled in the sunlight like polished blackwood; the noble head with the big, intelligent eyes sat on a muscular, proudly held neck; the long, clean legs with hooves as hard as flint carried the powerful body with elegant, elastic movements despite its mass. The long silky tail trailed like a banner behind the proud beast. Then the stallion bent down to drink, and the man leading him followed his example.
Renaldo watched this scene in fascination, purposely ignoring his fighters’ imploring looks. He had to have that horse, no matter the cost.
The horse’s small ears were nervously flicking back and forth, and then suddenly the noble head reared up and snorted a warning.
The hooded man jumped into the saddle, drawing his sword in one strong, fluid movement while his eyes scanned the oasis, searching for intruders. “Danger!”
His voice echoed through the loosely scattered date trees like a melody, causing panic among the traders and priming the mercenaries to fight. Renaldo couldn’t suppress a satisfied nod. Those men were highly professional and definitely worthy opponents.
He turned to his men. “Let’s go!”
They left cover in a semicircle, each attacking their chosen mercenary. Renaldo had planned to go after the hooded man and his steed, but two of the enemy bore down on him from the sides. On his periphery he could see one of his men going against the stranger and being swept out of the saddle for his trouble. Then Renaldo lost sight of the man and the horse he so wanted.
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About the Author
Biography Xenia Melzer
Xenia Melzer was born and raised in a small village in the South of Bavaria. As one of nature’s true chocoholics, she’s always in search of the perfect chocolate experience. So far, she’s had about a dozen truly remarkable ones. Despite having been in close proximity to the mountains all her life, she has never understood why so many people think snow sports are fun. There are neither chocolate nor horses involved and it’s cold by definition, so where’s the sense? She does not like beer either and has never been to the Oktoberfest – no quality chocolate there.
Even though her mind is preoccupied with various stories most of the time, Xenia has managed to get through school and university with surprisingly good grades. Right after school she met her one true love who showed her that reality is capable of producing some truly amazing love stories itself.
While she was having her two children, she started writing down the most persistent stories in her head as a way of relieving mommy-related stress symptoms. As it turned out, the stress-relief has now become a source of the same, albeit a positive one.
When she’s not writing, she teaches English at school, enjoys riding and running, spending time with her kids, and dancing with her husband. If you want to contact her, please visit either her website, http://www.xeniamelzer.com or write her an email: firstname.lastname@example.org .