Authors: Kristen Ashley
Tags: #Fantasy, #Romance, #magic
Published by Kristen Ashley
Copyright 2011 Kristen Ashley
Discover other titles by Kristen Ashley:
Rock Chick Series:
Rock Chick Rescue
Rock Chick Redemption
Rock Chick Renegade
Rock Chick Revenge
The ‘Burg Series:
The Colorado Mountain Series:
Other Titles by Kristen Ashley:
Edition, License Notes
This ebook is
licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be
re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share
this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy
for each person. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase
it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return
to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for
respecting the hard work of this author.
The land you’re about to be introduced to
has its own language. In order not to disturb the look and flow of
the book, I have not italicized this fictional foreign tongue. I
have, however, translated within the narrative or, if not, the
dialogue is annotated and the translation is included at the end of
the chapter. For your reference, I have included a Korwahk
dictionary at the end of the book. This dictionary includes
definitions of Korwahk words as well as explanations of the
different countries, regions and seas of my fictional alternate
In order to move the story along, I also took
liberties with the amount of time it takes our heroine to learn the
new tongue and our hero to learn hers. Our Circe is a clever girl
and our Lahn is fabulous but no one is that clever and fabulous…
except in a fantasy.
Welcome to Korwahk. I hope you enjoy spending
I was running.
Running on those stupid, flimsy little
Running for my life.
He was on his horse, I could hear the
beast’s hooves pounding behind me, hear this mingled with my own,
panting, ragged, panicked breaths – and they were getting
I was covered in blood. Not mine. It was
still warm from spurting from that man’s body.
I didn’t know where I was or how I got
there. I wasn’t certain what was happening. I went to bed in my bed
in a world I understood and I woke up here in a world that was
entirely foreign to me, everything about it, and not one thing
about it was good.
And now I was running for my life.
The horse’s hooves got closer; I knew they
were almost upon me. Frantic, I glanced back and saw I was right.
Not only were they close, the man, the rider, so huge he seemed
giant, had leaned so deeply to the side, his body was in line with
the horse’s middle.
And his long arm was stretched out.
I faced forward and tried to run faster.
But I couldn’t go any faster and I certainly
couldn’t go faster than a horse.
I cried out when the arm hooked me at the
waist, closed around and lifted me clean off my feet before my ass
was planted on the horse in front of him.
Without thinking, I screamed bloody murder,
twisted on the horse and prepared, instead of running for my life,
to fight for it.
One hour earlier…
I was in a pen, a kind of corral.
Like you keep animals in. Except basic, not
modern, primitive – tall, thin but sturdy-looking stakes woven with
leather bands all around.
There were enormous, extremely muscled men
standing guard every four feet around the corral wearing nothing
but pants made of hide, their upper bodies painted with black and
white streaks. And the inside of the pen was filled with women
dressed like me.
Flimsy sandals and wisps of thin, silky
material of all shades curved around our bodies and held together
at two ends at a kind of ring-like necklace at our necks.
Their faces were made up to extremes. Heavy
kohl eyeliner. Pink, purple, green and blue eye shadow. Penciled in
brows. Rouge. Deep red, pink or berry lips.
And everyone had lots of hair. Lots and
lots of it. Out to
I suspected I looked the same.
Truthfully, if I hadn’t been in that corral
wearing a light blue wisp of material and a silver ring-like
necklace, I would have thought they looked cool. Whoever did their
hair and makeup was a master. It was phenomenal.
But I was too terrified to think anything
There were people milling about around the
corral looking in but not getting too close. They were not getting
too close because the guards weren’t letting them get too close. We
girls in the pen were off-limits, it was clear. They could look but
they couldn’t touch nor could they speak to us.
Some of these onlookers wore weird clothing;
the men, hide pants like the guards but some had loose vests on top
or wide leather bands around their chests (only the guards had the
black and white paint, however). Some women wore what looked like
sarongs at the bottom, attached to and apparently held up by belts
mostly made of woven material or leather or some were made of
metal, silver or copper, but there weren’t many of those. Up top
they wore bandeau-style or halter bikini tops, some a folded piece
of material that went straight across the tops of their breasts,
the bottom coming down to a point.
There were other men looking in too, these
men dressed in old-fashioned clothes, breeches, boots, flowy
shirts, vests, wide-brimmed hats with feathers.
There were no women wearing old-fashioned
clothes, just the men peering in.
It was clear there were two types of people
there. There were those, like the warriors, with deep tanned skin,
dark-toned eyes and black hair. These were the women in their
sarongs and the men in the hide pants.
They looked at us with curiosity.
The men wearing old-fashioned clothes were
different. They had all colored hair and eyes.
All of them were looking in with curiosity
too but this wasn’t benign or indifferent. It was lewd.
And it scared me.
Outside the pen, beyond the onlookers, I
saw big, round tents and torches. Beyond that, it was dark because
it was night but it appeared the ground was dirt or sand and stone
broken by intermittent thrusts of dark brush. It looked like a set
but not fake and therefore definitely unfunny.
I had woken up there not an hour ago,
panicked and freaked way the fuck out mainly because I was not in
my bed in my townhome in Seattle which would freak anyone out but
meant I was
This caused a minor sensation when I surged
to my feet and started to act exactly what I was, scared out of my
brain, panicked and freaked way the fuck out. This was not looked
upon favorably by the painted, muscled guards. In fact, they made
it very clear my freaked out, panicked behavior was highly
unwelcome. Luckily, an unknown sense of self-preservation kicked in
and I quieted immediately, sat on my behind, pulled my shit
together and decided to get my bearings.
At first, I thought it was a dream. In
fact, I decided it
to be a
dream. This kind of shit didn’t happen to people, right?
But, unfortunately, after repeatedly
pinching myself and coming to the understanding that in dreams you
didn’t think you were in a dream, I realized it was not.
It was something else.
And that something was
So as I surveyed my surroundings, I decided
that I had to get out of that something bad but I was in a pen, for
goodness sakes, being leered at by icky men and looked over by
people who appeared to be natives of some weird, foreign
And furthermore, to get out I had to know
what I was
So I paid attention and took in my
And the thing I noticed, outside what was
going on on the outskirts of our pen, was that there were different
kinds of women
There were those with black hair, dark eyes and tanned skin – in
fact, this was the vast majority of the women. And they did not
seem panicked or scared. They seemed content, some chatting to
others in a language I didn’t understand, others holding themselves
separate and eyeing their compatriots in a guarded or even
calculating way (and it made matters worse that a lot of these
kinds of looks were aimed at me). Some even preening for the
Then there were others who were not like
them. Not many, I counted three.
These women looked scared out of their
These women were like me.
And once I made this realization, I decided
what I was going to do first. I had no clue what I was going to do
second but at least I knew what I was going to do first.
And that was, find out what the fuck was
It appeared we had freedom to walk around
and talk so I decided my target, got up and started to walk over to
This was a mistake. The guards hadn’t
forgotten my minor freak out and dark, forbidding eyes came to me.
Also, onlookers who had witnessed my freak out turned their
attention to me likely because they were keen to see what happened
next. And further, nearly every black-haired, dark-eyed woman in
the corral pinned her eyes on me and they did it in a way that
didn’t feel all that great.
Cautiously, I persevered and walked across
the pen to a woman with pale skin, light brown hair and
light-colored eyes. She didn’t look panicked, as such. On closer
inspection, she didn’t even really look scared. She looked resigned
and she looked wired. Like something was about to happen and she
was mentally preparing for whatever that was in a way that took all
of her concentration.
I made my way across the pen and jumped when
one of the black-haired women reached out and pinched me, hard, on
the sensitive skin behind my arm.
“Ouch!” I snapped, my hand going to the
skin, my eyes going to her.
She leaned forward and hissed at me from
between her teeth sounding like a snake.
I jumped further and scuttled away.
Jeez, what was that all about?
I glared at her as I backed away and when I
was out of her reach, I turned back to my target. I saw she’d
stopped concentrating on whatever she was concentrating on and had
her eyes on me.
“Hey,” I said quietly when I got to her, her
brows drew slightly together, her head tipped a bit to the side and
she replied hesitantly, “Erm… hey.”
“Do you, um… mind talking?” I asked.
“No,” she said softly.
Awesome, she spoke English.
Then I watched a small, weird smile play at
her lips. “Especially not since you’re the first person I’ve talked
to from Hawkvale since I was taken.”
Oh no part two.
I was getting the distinct impression she
had not woken here from a dream. Not like me.
Her hand came out and captured mine, holding
strong, her eyes searching mine, she whispered, “It’ll be good
knowing, once we’re claimed, someone close will be from home.”
On no again.
She’d spoken two sentences and we already
had a lot of ground to cover so I prioritized.
“I’m not from Hawkvale,” I told her and her
head tipped further to the side.
“Bellebryn?” she asked.
Okay, there it was again. I was thinking she
wasn’t like me.
“Um… no, listen –”
Her face changed before she cut me off to
say with some surprise, “Middleland?”
“No, I’m from Seattle.”
This time, her brows shot together and she
asked, “Where is that? Is that across the Green Sea?”