Nasha Fano has lived her adult life as the host of Ithena, red star of the northern sky. Refusing to believe that her deceased father sold her to Lord Kalowell, she fights for her freedom and the survival of her people. Caught on the wrong side of the wall between her people and the invaders, Nasha is made a captive by the Lord who wanted the avatar of Ithena, but he has no idea that she is the very woman he seeks. Learning about him, his people, and the course of events that brought them together is humbling, but the star inside her will not come out to confront the other avatar or the star he holds. Frustrated, Nasha gives in to the last thing she wanted and embraces the power of his touch in hopes it will rouse the star within.
This bloody battle was not supposed to have happened. He was supposed to be spending the first week with his bride. Thorn cursed and laid the woman on the small cot. “Do what you can for her.”
“Yes, sir. Do you know why she is unconscious?”
He grunted and scrubbed his hand over his face, spreading her blood on his skin. “I struck her when she attacked me. She crumpled in my arms.”
The healer muttered, “That would do it.”
“Is there any major damage?”
“I can’t tell. She is covered in blood, my lord.”
“Then wash it off.”
The healer called a page over and sent for water. “Her hands are abraded, my lord. There is also a gash within her hairline.”
Lord Thorn scowled and strode to the tent opening. He watched his men trying to find survivors, but there was a curious lack of civilian casualties on the field. “Where are the villagers? The people of the keep? The servants?”
General Alsco came up next to him. “What do you mean?”
“The first time we came to the keep, there was a village of hundreds, over fifty servants in the keep. Where are they?”
Alsco looked confused. His dark blue brow furrowed. “We didn’t see any large groups of that kind.”
“I know. Where are they?”
A scout came running up. He knelt at Thorn’s feet. “My lord. The Fano gap is gone.”
“The gap. The division between the public lands and private. The tiny pass into the Marshkar valley. It’s gone.”
A tingle of hope ran through Thorn. “Show me.”
The scout swallowed and nodded.
They moved across the field of death and the wall of rock greeted them at the end of their destination.
Eshkar surfaced. Ithena was here recently. She touched this stone and closed the gap.
Are you sure?
Do you think I do not know the feel of my destined mate? It is Ithena. Her avatar lives, you only have to find her.
It is not as easy as you think. She has hidden this long, do you think she will run to my arms after I slaughtered her people?
She made the choice to hide and her people sacrificed themselves to keep her safe. It is touching, but she needs to understand that you have the contract signed and sealed.
I seriously doubt that it will make it easier for her. She is a lady after all.
And as a lady, she will do what is best for her people. Question the peasant woman that you found. She will know something. At least you can get a description of your mate.
Thorn sighed as Eshkar receded. It was always uncomfortable to have the star speaking directly in his mind. He supposed he had never given into the star completely. He wondered if Ithena’s host was doing the same. It would certainly explain why Eshkar could not locate the presence of the other star.
Grimly optimistic, he made his way back to the command tent. The woman with the healer might be his best chance at finding the avatar. He was not going to let her out of his sight.