RED SKY DAWNING ~ chapter two

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It’s that time again. Chapter two of my erotic fantasy story…up for your enjoyment. And don’t forget. Anyone who leaves a comment will be entered to win a $20.00 Amazon gift card. It’s free money to spend, folks. And if you jump over to Jessica Jarman’s blog, she’s also giving one away for comments left for her amazing New Adult serial, YOUR LIES. Just click on her banner at the bottom of this post.

You can read the previous chapters here… Prologue. Chapter One. Or via WattPad if that’s your thing, though you do need to create an account for WattPad.


Chapter Two

“Dark hells, his soul has been bound to this wretched tomb by a blood spell.”

A voice. A woman’s voice.

“Aelwyn. Breaking a blood spell could kill him, but more likely just kill you. I’m not sure even you’re strong enough to withstand the pain.”

A man. Older. His pitch rising as fear wove through it.

Gentle fingers brushed across Rylan’s forehead, grazing his cheeks before cupping his face. Mumbled words he couldn’t make out echoed around him, building pressure along his torso then down his legs. The air thickened, pressing against his chest, slowly wrapping around his throat, crushing every attempt to breathe. He fought against the force holding him down, managing to lift his hand—wrap his fingers around one, small wrist.

The chanting stopped for a moment, lips grazing his ear. “I know this is uncomfortable, but you have to try and keep still. I’m almost…”

Her voice rasped into a groan as the pressure increased, pain lacing the jumbled words that followed. His limbs shook, a scream tearing from his chest as his skin seemed to stretch in all directions. Colored specks danced in the darkness before they billowed outwards, exploding in streaks of shattered light, finally releasing him. He gasped in a breath, his hand falling to his side as soothing warmth seeped through his skin, a calming glow beckoning him from the gray.

Rylan rolled his head to the side, blinking in an attempt to open his eyes. More pain flared through his temples, sealing his eyelids shut before he’d done more than catch a faint glimpse of light. Low murmurs scratched at his conscience, the noise stopping him from fading back into the darkness.

The warm feeling intensified, prickling his skin, easing the stabbing ache in his skull. The sensation wove through his veins, skipping down his body, lifting the numbing weariness from his muscles. He blinked again, this time prying open his eyes. Long brown hair streaked with gold framed a delicate, feminine face, her green eyes full of compassion. Her fingers lingered on his chin, a soft, aura illuminating her skin.

She gave him a smile, tilting her head to the side. “Welcome back. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to help you. It’s been so long…”

He frowned as her voice trailed off into a rough breath, her eyes closing for a moment as a shiver trembled along her body. There was no mistaking the pain creasing her face. The dark smudges beneath her eyes. Her fingers shook against his jaw, the obvious strain tensing her muscles. He raised his hand, brushing his thumb along her cheek. Bits of ash laced her skin, but he focused on the soft caress of flesh beneath his—the way wisps of soft golden light swirled just below the surface before winking out.

She gave him a stunning smile, her fingers grazing his, when footsteps echoed behind her. He blinked again, shifting his gaze, finally registering his surroundings. Dank stone walls wavered in the flickering torchlight, shadows dancing along the edges of the chamber. Two men stood near the border of light, faces masked, weapons drawn but at rest. Cold bit into his back, the hard surface bleeding through the warm glow he’d felt earlier. Memories tumbled through his mind, lingering images of chains and blood spurring him into action.

He yanked his hand away, rolling in the opposite direction, falling off the stone platform he’d been resting on. Hard rock jarred his body as he hit the ground, the sharp jolt clearing the foggy feeling in his head. He sprang to his feet, swaying against one of the walls when his equilibrium shifted, the room suddenly tilting to the left.

The woman skirted to the side, gaze fixed on him. She arched a brow. “Despite my best efforts, you’re not quite ready to wage war.”

Rylan drew himself up. He’d rot in the dark pits of hell before he showed any sign of weakness. “Who are you? A witch? Where am I?”

An amused smile quirked one side of her mouth. “I’m Aelwyn, and I’m not a witch.” She waved at the chamber. “You’re in a dungeon beneath Aldhaven’s Castle Keep, though I think you know that. I can’t see Cane sparing you the knowledge of where he planned to keep you entombed.”

Rylan sneered at the mention of the vile name. He’d see Cane’s blood spilled along his blade before he left this realm.

“I see you remember Cane. I lifted his blood spell. The one that kept you trapped here.” She sighed, shaking her head. “The man plays with power he can’t hope to control. He’s lucky it didn’t kill you.”

“I doubt it would have worried him if it had.” He studied her, glancing at the men behind her. “Why did you break his spell?”

“Other than because it was wrong of him to imprison you?”

Rylan glared at her. “Do you take me for a fool? Your garb bears the mark of Aldhaven. You serve Cane and his puppet king, Aern.”

Anger rose in her cheeks, the green in her eyes darkening. “I have never served Cane, and I will die before I pledge my allegiance to him.”

“And what of King Aern? What loyalty do you have to the throne?”

Her jaw flexed, sadness reflecting in her eyes. “I’m loyal to the true heir of Aldhaven—Prince Aelrik.”

“Heir? Aern has not fathered any…” His breath caught, some of her words replaying in his head. He took a step toward her, ignoring how the men matched it. “How long have I been down here?”

The lines around her mouth tightened, and she shifted her weight between her feet, a weary sigh finally lighting the air. “About a century.”

He coughed out a few breaths, trying to process the shock. A century? Entombed in this…dungeon? He glanced the length of his body. He didn’t feel a hundred years older.

“You haven’t aged, if that’s what you’re thinking.” Her voice sounded strangely soft. “It wouldn’t have served Cane’s purpose to have you become anything less than the warrior he’d imprisoned.”

He looked at her, anger bleeding through the disbelief. “Is that supposed to be a blessing, witch? Do you think it justifies what he’s done?”

She flinched at the harsh tone as she held up her hands. “I assure you, had Aelrik been able to release you sooner, he would have. It was going to be his first act as king. He knows who you are—why you were taken. He wanted to make it right.”

“Make it right!” Rylan marched over to her, taking her wrists in his hands. “How can you make losing a hundred years right? Friends. Family. Many are likely dead and buried, all while I rotted away inside some kind of enchanted tomb!”

Twin blades gleamed in the torchlight, the edges pointed a few scant inches from his face.

The younger of the two men leaned closer, placing the tip of his sword next to Rylan’s throat. “I’d be very careful how you proceed. She’s the only one in here who doesn’t want to see your blood pool on the ground.”

He gathered his power, feeling it breathe through him as he unleashed the hold he’d used to keep it in check. Buried. He stared at her, watching her eyes widen in recognition as he released her arms, moving several steps back. “Then perhaps she shouldn’t have woken me.”

Aelwyn lunged at him. “No. Wait!”

Flames sparked to life in his hands, racing along his arms until his entire upper body was consumed by flickering red light, licking upwards at the air. He clenched his fists, focusing all his power at the man guarding the wooden door to the tomb. Fire shot forward, hissing as it hit an invisible force, sending it billowing toward the ceiling. Pain erupted in his head, dropping him to his knees as he palmed his temples, his power coiling tight before sinking down inside him again.

Small fingers dug into his scalp followed by another rush of intense, warm light. He tried to pull away, but they held him firm, low murmurs sounding through the room.

Time faded until the pain eased and Aelwyn raised his chin, making direct eye contact before frowning. “Are you in such a hurry to die you’re willing to kill yourself before you’ve taken a single step outside?” She released him, more of those strange golden wisps dancing along her skin before seemingly fading into her.

He pulled free, stumbling backwards until he hit the wall. He stared at his hands. His magic strummed beneath his flesh, the red tinge coloring his skin. He reached for it, assuring himself it still lived within him before sneering at her. “What have you done to me?”

She arched one pretty brow at him. “I’m not a fool, either. I know what you’re capable of. How strong your magic is. There’s a reason you hadn’t lost a battle before coming here. But you’d never faced someone like Cane—been blindsided like that. Attacked when all you sought was peace.”

“There’s no hope for peace—not between our kingdoms.” He nodded at the lone platform. “That’s what attempts at peace get you in Aldhaven.”

“Not everyone shares Cane’s opinions…” She glanced at the other two men, sighing. “Rylan, son of Roan. Heir to the throne of Ravendale.”

He laughed, gaining his feet before leaning against the wall. “So you do know who I am. Is that why you freed me, witch? Do you hope to gain favor with my father? Is he even alive?”

“Stop calling me a witch. I’ve already told you I’m not.”

“Then what are you?”

She pursed her lips together, releasing a slow breath. “An outcast. A relic from a time long before you were born. Before greed and power split our realms. And Roan is still king. But I have no wish for favors from him.” She squared her shoulders. “It’s your help I need.”

He smiled, allowing a single flame to flicker to life from his fingers. He watched the way it danced, allowing the steady strum of energy to calm his nerves before glancing at her over the wavering red light. “What did you do to my magic?”

Aelwyn glanced down. “I merely channeled it. You can still use it to defend yourself or us, but any attempts to target it against us or someone I deem worthy…” She cocked her head. “You’ve seen what happens.”

“And you claim you’re not a witch. How else would you be able to work such…powerful spells?”

“As I told Bearn…the world’s not as simple as everyone thinks. And for the last time, I’m not a witch.”

He pushed out a long breath. Every flex of her muscles, every twitch of her mouth told him she was speaking the truth. Her hatred for Cane practically rolled off her in visible waves. So why was she hiding the true nature of her power from him? As if she thought it’d scare him? Repulse him.

He pushed off the wall, walking in a slow arc from one side of the chamber to the other, keeping them in front of him. If he could get to one of the men’s swords… “You spoke of needing my help.”

Aelwyn glanced at the older man, then back to him. “I mentioned that I was loyal to the true heir of Aldhaven.”

He smirked. “Your precious Prince Aelrik. You mentioned that right before you tried to kill me.”

“The spell won’t kill you. And if you’d allowed me to explain before wielding your magic…you wouldn’t have been hurt.”

Her words washed over him, and he glanced away, gently flexing his muscles. Though he distinctly remembered falling to the ground in agony, all traces of pain were gone. As if it’d never happened. Rylan looked at the woman—Aelwyn. Her hair had been braided back from her face, the rest left to cascade along her shoulders and down her back. She was beautiful, but in a way he’d never seen before. Pure.

His gaze skipped along her torso. Her body looked remarkably strong for her size—easily several inches shorter than him. Firm muscles moved beneath her pale skin, with just enough curves to soften her silhouette. But her hands—they barely looked capable of holding the sword sheathed behind her back, though they’d been surprisingly strong when they’d touched him.

A ghostly image wavered in his mind, the echoed voice of a seer playing through his head.

He shook away the memories, drawing his focus back to Aelwyn’s face. The dark smudges beneath her eyes had deepened, as if she’d weakened further since he’d woken. Even the slight tremble in her hands had increased. As if sensing his thoughts, she crossed her arms on her chest, effectively shutting him out.

Rylan ran a hand through his hair, wondering where this discussion was going. “Do you have a point?”

The brave warrior was back, her chin held high, her mouth pulled tight. “My br…” She paused, clenching her jaw before continuing. “The Prince was attacked two nights ago on the castle grounds. I believe he’s been taken to Ravendale as tribute for Merek, Roan’s advisor.”

“I’m aware of who Merek is, sweetness. I grew up there. But what you’re suggesting is treason. Merek’s not the kind of man to tempt my father’s patience with such traitorous plans.” He arched a brow. “Or are you suggesting my father’s behind the abduction?”


“Not that it matters if he is. Your king took his son. Seems only fitting…”

“So you’d put your people at risk to get revenge on a man who’s nothing more than a shell of what he once was? You’d watch your kingdom destroyed for selfish pride?”

Rylan grinned, allowing the flame in his hand to bounce above his palm. “I’m having a hard time seeing the downside in this. You’ve released me, and my father has revenge. A way of bargaining for my release. I’m unclear how that will result in the devastation of my people.” His grin flourished. “Perhaps you should have thought this through.”

“Your father’s gone mad. He has as much knowledge and control over your kingdom as Aern does over mine.” She snagged her lip, looking uncharacteristically unsure before releasing her worried flesh. “It’s Cane. He wants to start another war.”

“Another?” Rylan scoffed. “When, exactly, did the war end?”

Aelwyn sighed. “After you…disappeared, your father had his priests erect a barrier around Ravendale. Only those born within the kingdom can pass. Others require an escort to safely breech the wards. It has resulted in a false form of peace for some time.”

“It sounds as if my father found a way to achieve what I couldn’t. Why would I risk that for you? Even if you were to give me my freedom?”

“Because your people are dying, Rylan.” She took a few steps closer, the golden light shimmering across her skin as if sensing her unrest. “That barrier is killing your crops and your livestock. Killing your people. If Roan doesn’t remove it soon—they’ll be nothing left but weathered bones.”

“Killing…” He extinguished the flame, moving slightly toward her. “How do you…” He paused, giving himself a mental shake. He’d been asleep too long—had seemingly forgotten his negotiating skills. “You seem to have a way with spells and barriers. Why don’t you simply lift my father’s wards?”

“It’s complicated.”

“Are you saying you can’t break it?”

“Of course, I can break it. But…” Her lips quirked, fading into a slight frown. “Ravendale’s barrier isn’t a simple spell. It’s a living, breathing entity. The priests who’ve fashioned it weave their magic through it as if its an extension of their physical body. After all this time, it’s become a part of them. To destroy it…” A shiver trembled through her. She glanced at the men on either side of her, sighing. “To destroy it would be to destroy them. Only they can extinguish it and still live.”

His chuckle was fuller. Deeper. “Oh, sweetness. Do you honestly expect me to believe you’d mourn the loss of a handful of my people?”

“I’d prefer not to have innocent blood on my conscience.”

He glanced at the men. The younger was obviously a warrior, bearing the mark of captain on his garb. The other—even from across the room, Rylan could feel the older man’s magic strumming around him, vibrating the air with its unrest. The man was a master sorcerer.

Rylan motioned to them. “Even if that’s the truth, I don’t think your captain and master share your reservations.”

She took one more step forward. “I will not shed Ravendale blood. There’s been enough to stain the land for a thousand centuries to come.”

He raised a brow, then continued pacing, still working out a way to get one of their swords. “So what is it you need from me?”

“Isn’t it obvious? I need you to get me through the barrier—help find Aelrik then return us to our land.”

He stopped, drumming his finger on his lips. “You want me to be your guide?”

“If that’s what you’d like to call it…then yes.”

“All for the safe return of your Prince?”

“Have you not been listening? He’s the only hope both our realms have of ever finding peace. Real peace—not the kind manifested by illusions and magic. Aelrik is not his father’s son. I promise you that.”

He released a heavy breath, shaking his head. “You’re in love with him—Prince Aelrik. Why didn’t I realize that from the start?”

Her brows furrowed into a crease across her forehead. “Of course, I love him.”

“So this is a lover’s quest?”

“Lovers? Why would you suggest that?”

“Sweetness, there’s only two types of men a woman risks her life for—her lover or her son. And you’re not old enough to have a son. What are you, thirty years? Less? Have you even reached the age of consent?”

“I’m thirty-five. And what has that got to do with anything? Aelrik’s not my son.”

“No, because he’s your lover. Or are you merely in love with him? Does he even know you exist? Dressed the way you are…” He sighed. “I don’t recall seeing many Aldhaven maidens garbed as warriors.”

“I’m not—”

“Is this in an effort to gain his affections?” Rylan moved closer, smiling inwardly when her captain followed suit. “Are you hoping he’ll return your feelings if you save him?”


Rylan stopped abreast of her, using his height to try and intimidate her. “Do you honestly think any man could ever want you?”

Tears gathered behind her eyes, her obvious pain coiling guilt in his chest. He had every right to lash out, to hurt those who’d imprisoned him. So why did the mere sight of her glassy eyes tear at him?

Her captain lunged forward, brandishing his blade. Rylan reacted, spinning away before, twisting back, catching the man on his left side. The captain landed an elbow to Rylan’s chest, winding him slightly before catching him in the jaw. Rylan grabbed a hold of the man’s arm and shoulder as he reeled backwards, gaining ground, when the air around them crackled.

Aelwyn raised her hands, those golden wisps shimmering to the surface of her skin. “Enough!”

The glow billowed outwards, exploding in a burst of yellow light. The air swirled around him, tossing him backwards against the wall. Colored dots swam across his vision as a force held him pinned to the stone, his feet dangling above the ground.

She stormed closer, the yellow aura intensifying until he had to squint against the glare. “Don’t mistake my gender for weakness. That kind of error could well be your last.”

He blinked, chest heaving, his magic writhing in protest beneath his flesh. It coiled tighter, small flashes shooting out, spinning with hers until the red dimmed to a warm orange.

Aelwyn’s mouth gaped open, her eyes widening in shock before she waved her hands, removing the invisible hold as quickly as it’d manifested. He dropped to the hard surface, bracing his weight against the wall to stop from continuing down onto the damp rock. Aelwyn’s labored breathing drew his attention. Her body shook, head bowing to her chest as she tripped to one knee before gathering her composure and pushing herself upright. She met his gaze then turned, taking a few shaky steps away before her shoulders drooped and she spun, once again focusing on him.

“I’m sorry. You have every reason to be angry. To be suspicious of what I claim. To hate me for nothing more than my heritage.”

Rylan watched the last of her magic wink out. “You control air? But I thought you were some kind of fire mage? Why else would your skin glow?”

She didn’t answer, just let her gaze run the length of his body. “Did I hurt you?”

He stared at her. Something in the tone of her voice, the pleading look in her eyes, compelled him to answer. “I’m fine.”

“I could…” She moved toward him a few feet before stopping—physically drawing herself back. She took what looked like a series of calming breaths before raising her gaze to his. “I’m here to make you a proposition.”

He rubbed his shoulder where it’d impacted with the wall. “What kind of proposition?”

“An exchange. You help me—”

“Us, Aelwyn.” Her captain stepped forward. “Bearn and I are part of this, now.”

She glanced at the man. “I can’t ask you to willingly commit treason, Tarn. Bearn, either.”

“Prince Aelrik was my responsibility. It’s my duty to see to his safe return. Even Cane will have to acknowledge that.”

She snorted. “Once he discovers you’re with me, any loyalty to you or Bearn will be severed. You know this.”

Tarn shook his head. “Matters not. We’re accompanying you, so you’d best make peace with it.”

A hint of a smile quirked her lips before she glanced at the older man, nodding when he merely arched a brow. She focused back on Rylan. “You will help us gain safe passage to Ravendale, see us through the barrier and back again—after we’ve freed Prince Aelrik.”

Rylan leaned against the stone, tilting his head as if he were actually contemplating it. “And in return?”

“Once we’re safely back in Aldhaven, I’ll release the spell binding your magic. And you’ll be free to return to Ravendale.”

“And if I refuse?”

Her expression hardened. “I will get Aelrik back. At any cost.”

His lips lifted into a smile. “Then I have a proposal for you, sweetness.”


Thanks for reading. Chapter Three will be out the second week of May. Don’t forget the gift card giveaway. Now hop over to Jessica’s blog for her story. It really is awesome. Just click on the banner below.

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