Black Rose Sorceress Series
Genre: Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Audience: General Adult
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We belong to the King—those of us with the black roses tattooed on our left wrist, directly over our pulse. As if every beat of our hearts reminds us that we are not our own. Those around us know it, too, and are reluctant to come close.
Ten gold coins were paid to my father when I was tested young and then tattooed. Another ten will be paid when the vehicle arrives to take me away. That is the full worth of our lives, as short as they will become.
In the King's library, The Book of the Rose says to honor the tattooed women.
More than anything, I wanted to spit on its pages.
Any girl who wears the tattoo is never befriended, as if our deaths are already assured.
Yes, there are tales of some who survive, but I'd never seen any of them. That led me to believe that tales were all they were—with no real survivors.
All those women who were found with talent—with the fire burning within them—they were culled and taken to the warriors, to provide more energy. Energy that the warriors would then use to defeat the barbarians from the ocean of sand.
Women with black roses on their wrists are emptied of their power by those warriors, who care not that they die a shrunken husk.
The King also has no care for these—his subjects who give their lives to repel the vicious hordes in their destructive machines of war.
"We fight with what we have," he always says.
That means the warriors with the fire within them, who draw more fire from the women who serve them.
Until they die.
The thought of running away is foolish.
The thought of taking a lover before they come for us—also foolish.
We must be untouched when they come; else it is a quicker death when they test us again.
As for running—there is one thing worse than having a black rose on your wrist. That is for the enemy to find you and see the black rose on your wrist. Your death will be slow and excruciating at their hands.
I felt defeated. Helpless. If Sherra were alive, why didn't she mindspeak to tell me so? Every day, I floundered against that notion—that if she were alive, she'd have contacted me by now.
"Don't give up, Thorn," Hunter said softly. "We don't know everything there is to know."
"Hunter, every day reminds me of how little we actually do know."
* * *
Sherra has not returned to the King.
Seven months have passed and Kaakos, Ny-nes' leader, is rebuilding his army. His plan is to unleash an onslaught against Az-ca—in retaliation for the destruction of his troops and weapons.
In Az-ca, the King's health is failing, the enemy is on the march and Merrin and his rogues have forged an alliance with enemy infiltrators.
Will the Crown Prince be forced to deal with attacks from both sides, without Sherra's help?
Will Az-ca survive if Sherra is dead, as so many believe?
* * *
Az-ca's Kings have never invaded the land of their enemy. Will a Queen be so bold?
Sherra devises new ways to strike at the Supreme Leader of Ny-nes, only to discover that he is stronger and more devious than she and Kerok could ever imagine. When they inevitably clash, will there be a victor?
"You thought you could walk right into Az-ca, take over where you left off centuries ago, and everybody would just fall in with your plans. Is that it?"
"I didn't count on her—never saw her in all my divinations."
He meant Sherra. An unseeable. He'd divined Thorn II, just not his Queen and partner. "So. You wanted to take over after practically destroying their current King—who was a very good King, and before that, an excellent Commander of the army. That's a hell of a way to get Az-ca's population to adore you, isn't it?"
"I can offer them peace," he began.
"Except you can't. Kaakos is still alive, remember, and he'll be coming for you—of that I have no doubt. You know it, too, and you can't take him on without Az-ca's army at your back."
"I thought we could work together—Thorn II and I. That he'd see the reason in it after a while."
"And, as he's currently powerless, what choice would he have?" I sniped.
* * *
The present King of Az-ca has been rendered powerless through an unsuspected coup, and is overcome with despair.
Kaakos has escaped death, but is forced to leave Ny-nes. Now, his sole focus is revenge.
Az-ca's citizens have fallen victim to the enemy's lies, and civil war threatens to split the country.
Sherra is forced to divide her attention between searching for the enemy, dealing with traitors and struggling with the King's misery and desolation. When the blood spell that rendered Kerok powerless takes a turn even its maker didn't expect, only her dreamwalker, with help from another, can hope to turn the tide...