Tardon opens the massive wood door and summons me inside. “Sit”
I pause and scan from his calves to his broad shoulders. I know I wrote the man, but geesh, he’s even more intimidating than I thought he’d be in person. His arms are as big as both of my thighs put together, and I was a dancer. I force a warm smile, but he only returns a grunt and a nod before motioning me to sit at a table inside his family chamber.
Kendar, Tardon’s servant, enters with a tray filled with some fruit and cheese.
I sit and retrieve my pencil and paper from my backpack. Tardon eyes my writing utensil, but I don’t give him a chance to investigate. Good thing I didn’t try to bring my lap top that would have really freaked him out.
“We must begin. I am uncertain how you traveled here, but it will be too dangerous to leave once night falls upon the castle walls.” Tardon takes a swig from his cup.
With a broad smile, Kendar hands a wooden cup to me and backs away. I sip the pale purple beverage and nearly choke, but I manage to clear my throat and continue despite the bitter residue remaining on my tongue.
“Tell us a little about your childhood. Did you always live locked in a castle?”
“No, my family worked the land. We lived free beyond the walls.”
Short and clipped. Yep, he’s a man of few words but lots of action. “When did you move into the castle? Tell us a little about that night.”
Tardon gripped the cup in his right hand and snarled. “Elder’s sent Enforcers to move us into the castle. Stated the curse was taking over the land. They warned the amulets would no longer protect us and that we needed to abandon our homes. My father refused at first, but the Enforcer grabbed me and informed my father that the Elder’s decreed that any family refusing to leave would sacrifice their eldest son to the evil creatures that approached.”
Kendar shuffled forward and poured more drink into Tardon’s cup before retreating back to the shadows.
“That’s harsh. Okay, so you move into the castle. How was that?”
Tardon shrugged. “The Elders were kind and protected us from the Curse. My parents were given a family chamber where my grandfather, my parents, and I lived.”
“How did you go from young boy in the castle to Elite Warrior?” I bite into a piece of fruit in an attempt to extinguish the lingering flavor from the beverage.
“When my parents were Cursed, I was left to live with my Grandfather who took to his bed. At that point, providing food, shelter and care for my grandfather became my burden. That is when I began training as a warrior.”
“Who is the best warrior in the Castle?”
Tardon sits straight and pulls his shoulders back. “I am the top ranking Elite Warrior in the castle.
Yeah, I should’ve known he’d say that. Dumb question. “Okay, who is the next best warrior?”
“There are several warriors that train hard and will have a chance at Elite Warrior status in only a few moons.”
“Have you ever lost a fight?”
Tardon stiffens and juts out his chin. “Only once, but I was…distracted.”
Kendar snickers but Tardon snarls at him, sending him to cut some bread at the end of the table.
“I’m sure he was a formidable opponent. I mean, you are one huge man.” I struggle to keep eye contact, but can’t help but steal a glimpse of his bulging biceps.
“The warrior was Arianna. As I said, she distracted me. It will not happen again.”
I stifle a chuckle myself. “Is Arianna an Elite Warrior?”
“No. She has been promised the opportunity to test, but I do not believe that the Elders will allow a woman to earn the title of Elite Warrior.”
“Will you have to fight her if they do?”
Tardon’s eyes grow distant and he scrubs his chin. “No, most Elite Warrior matches are between two warriors that wish to earn their status. If I did have to fight her, she would not stand a chance.” His voice dropped to even a deeper octave, lacing his words with sadness.
Kendar winks at me and smiles.
The door swings open and a grizzly of a man dressed in black shrouds the torchlight from the hall. There is more to that story, but I’m out of time. The narrowed gaze from the freak of nature Enforcer will not allow another minute.
Since our interview is being cut short, how about a sneak peak at what happens in The Curse of Gremdon.
Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1Fg8B_du8U
Magic. Lust. Love. Sacrifice. Intensely gripping from the opening scene, this riveting tale of destiny and desire will have the reader hungering for more, page after page, all the way through the ending. ~ Night Owl Reviews (Top Pick)
Arianna inhaled the damp night air and glanced over the castle tower wall to the center courts. All the inhabitants lay asleep in their chambers below, leaving only her opponent and the Elder to stand as witness to her honor or demise.
She slid her palm down her leather skirt to wipe the sweat away and stepped forward, gripping her sword tightly. The Elder’s head, shrouded in a black hood, nodded in consent to begin. Instinct propelled Arianna to attack.
Blades clanked. Tremors reverberated through Arianna’s shaking biceps. She whipped around to counter-attack. Loose strands from her braid distorted her vision of Tardon, her opponent. She swung high while he ducked.
“Certainly, you can do better.” He enunciated each word through a playful snarl.
With shoulders the size of an ox, Tardon towered over her by a foot, but she held her ground. His copper eyes bore into her soul and his contemptuous grin ignited a flame at her core. Only her burning desire to win Elite Warrior status drove her forward and allowed her to stay focused on what was important—winning.
In one fluid motion, she swept around with her leg extended and knocked him off balance. His shoulder smacked against stone and he rolled onto the ground. Before she struck again, he arched his back and flipped onto his feet, sword at the ready.
“You would do well to pay attention to your own defense or risk the slice of my blade.” Arianna squeezed her weapon so hard her knuckles ached.
Swatting his thick brown hair away from his cheekbones, he wielded the blade in his right hand and rotated it in small circles.
From high atop the Elder’s tower, she watched the thick mist roll in over the castle walls below. Swirls of gray lingered like fingers ready to grab a leg and pull her into the darkness of the outer land. A shiver shot up her spine. Too many souls have been lost to the Curse of Gremdon. Her heart ached at the memory of the last time she held her sister. She swallowed, forcing down the incessant feeling of doom.
A sharp pain swept from her side and radiated through her abdomen, taking with it the last ounce of air in her lungs. Gasping, she clutched her side and Tardon withdrew the dark hilt of his sword from her ribs.
“Distraction means death.” He pulled back then bounded toward her.
With a well-timed pivot, she diverted another blow. Leaning back on her left leg, bringing her right knee up, she thrust her foot into his gut. He stumbled back, but swiftly regained his footing.
Both stood in a ready stance.
Both gasped for air.
Neither was willing to admit defeat.
A rush of wind filled with sweat finally penetrated the barrier in her lungs.
Dull pain settled low in her stomach, but she lunged forward, blade aimed straight at Tardon’s abdomen to claim her victory.
But he parried.
A fist smashed against her cheek. Her back slammed against the stone wall. Dust and dirt plumed around her face, taunting her to sneeze. She blinked back tears.
The familiar metallic taste of blood invaded her mouth. She swiped her leather gauntlet across her lips, wiping the blood away, never removing her eyes from Tardon.
She pushed up onto shaking legs. The Elder standing on the edge of the cobblestone circle raised his arm. His gnarled hand extended from the black cloak, ashen skin matching the surrounding mist.
The breath caught in her throat while she waited for his life or death signal. A flick of a pasty white finger summoned her to continue. Icy pain raced through her body as though she’d jumped from a great height on a cold day. The Elders only demanded death once in a thousand moons. Certainly, today would not call for true bloodshed.
But things had changed recently, and no one knew what to expect.
Tardon’s pupils widened, leaving only a thin circle of copper.
She shifted and covered her bubbling despair; her emotions threatened to ruin everything. Arianna adjusted her stance in hopes no one would see her desire to run from the fight to avoid killing him, an unforgiveable sin for a warrior.
You can’t run. Too much is at stake.
She fought the facial muscles betraying her cover and coaxed her face into a blank stare. Tardon shuffled around and she followed, keeping her attention on his best assets and greatest weakness: his muscles. They twitched before he moved.
Arianna circled him, until the Elder crossed his arms with impatience. A match to claim Elite Warrior status required more than a few bruises and flesh wounds. No more time would be allowed. Tardon’s bicep twitched.
Arianna pulled a dagger from her belt, maneuvered under his blow, and slashed his upper chest. Blood flowed down his leather vest. She swept his legs out from under him. He fell to his knees and she jumped on his back, knife at his throat, sword aimed at his gut.
His Amulet of Protection glowed orange.
Her stomach twisted in knots at the thought of harming him, but she had no choice. If the Elders demanded such an offering, she’d have to slice deep and end his life. They remained motionless awaiting the life or death decision. The masculine scent of leather and earthy spices wrapped around her, testing her resolve.
The blade shook in her hands, and she steadied it against his skin. The hooded Elder lowered his arms and turned away from the fight. Loud clicks echoed from the doorway then faded with each step as the dark figure descended the Elders’ tower.
Relief flooded her. After seasons of sacrifice and training, she would receive the Elite Warrior Mark.
Arianna released Tardon and the breath she’d been holding. She stumbled down the stairs to the main passageway and collapsed in a nearby alcove. The knife clinked against the gray stone.
Tardon sauntered from the tower. He sheathed his sword and marched down the walkway but stopped briefly. Sweat rolled down his hard, striated triceps.
Warmth curled through her belly, but no, she could not care for him. One day I might have to kill him.
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Other Worlds of Romance
The Curse of Gremdon
By Ciara Knight
In a world where marriage is forbidden, sex is only granted to male warriors, and the outer realm is full of murderous creatures, Arianna fights to protect the life of her only living relative, her brother.
Tardon, an elite warrior, is granted anything he desires by the Elders, but finds little joy in the voluptuous women presented to him. Born for the bloodlust found only in battle, complicated emotions emerge when he discovers his equal in the alluring warrior, Arianna.
Charged by the Elders with saving the castle from attack, Tardon and Arianna risk the curse when they traverse the vast outer realm to retrieve serum from the Tree of Life. If successful, the Elders have promised Tardon the right to marry and Arianna the cure for her brother's death fever. Will their love carry them through or will the discovery of a great deception be their ultimate demise?
Ciara Knight always had a passion for storytelling. At an early age, she wrote several short stories and poems, and in college she started work on her first novel. It wasn’t until late 2008 that she returned to her true passion of writing. Over the past few years she has penned five novels and joined several professional writing organizations to better her craft.
When not writing, she enjoys reading all types of fiction. Some great literary influences in her life include Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare, Francine Rivers and J K Rowling.
Ciara is happily married and enjoys family time. She has learned to embrace chaos, which is a requirement when raising three boys, and utilizes the insanity to create stories not of this world including, Fantasy, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, and Young Adult Dystopian.
Her first love, besides her family, reading, and writing, is travel. She’s backpacked through Europe, visited orphanages in China, and landed in a helicopter on a glacier in Alaska.
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/Ciaraknightwrites
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