The Night Blade Indulgence Series 2
Lose yourself in the second installment of bestselling author Erin Kellison's Indulgence series, where unlikely allies must contend with savage beasts, spiteful gods...and each other to survive.
Luck isn't going Terah Crane's way. She's stuck with the prince of Fury, the arrogant scion of Pyre, who passionately hates her. Yeah, well...she doesn't like him much, either.
When a vengeful goddess captures someone Terah loves, Adomanei reluctantly joins the rescue mission to settle the debt he owes her. Enemies at heart but united by purpose, they set out upon a dangerous journey into a foreign godland to reach their quarry.
Adom's godborn talents allow him to disguise his identity, but Terah must travel under the cover of darkness, even if it takes them into the belly of a mountain beast and across a sea of bones. A cryptic clue suggests that Terah has allies among the ghosts of Phemerae—if only she can find them. But Adom doesn't trust anyone who strives against the gods.
Beset by monsters and pursued by spies, Terah and Adom are forced to watch each other's backs, learn to speak with a glance, and be there when the other falls. But will it be enough? Because a malevolent Power stalks them, utter ruin on its mind, and Adom and Terah find themselves trapped together in an intrigue of the gods that will change their world.
★★★★★ "To say I loved this book is an understatement. Let me just make this review simple and say, go read it, go purchase it and sit down to read the entire book. I know I did, I could not put the ebook down and had to charge my kindle at the end of the book."
★★★★★ "The pacing is fast, with beautiful phrases tucked in like carnations...I drank this up over my weekend, only rising from the iPad for food and exercise...I was enraptured."
- The Night Blade is book two in the Indulgence series
- The Night Blade releases on May 23, 2022.
Excerpt from The Night Blade
Long rows of smashed-together houses lined each side of the cracked and narrow street. Terah's footfalls, and those of Adom beside her, made no sound on the pavement, but she couldn't dismiss the nape-prickling unease that someone was following them.
She glanced over her shoulder—the night air was still, shadows stagnant—and then lifted her gaze. The jagged teeth of the Crescent Mountains jutted up all around as if the Phemeran godland were taking a bite out of the star-studded sky, and this village was already in its black mouth.
"What is it?" Adom asked, voice low and tight.
"Nothing." She didn't trust her senses at the moment, though she'd never admit that to him. The altitude made her dizzy, and the space behind her eyes pounded from lack of sleep and dehydration.
Their search for her nephew, Max, inevitably had to take them from the craggy wilds of the Phemerae-Aranos border and into civilization. Maybe not this soon, but she wouldn't blame herself too much for this little detour. Still, openly walking down the goddess Phemera's roads increased the chances that they'd be spotted, or worse, recognized, and they'd fail before finding Max. Before even learning if he were still alive.
Adom veered toward a house near the end of the street, its three small windows dark for the night.
"Let me do the talking," he said.
"Obviously," Terah returned.
Adom rapped on the door as Terah adjusted the thin scarf that covered her head and loosely wrapped the lower half of her face. Through the light fabric, she smelled the mineral freshness of the crisp air, which helped fight the gritty and sticky sensation of dirt and dried sweat that a godsweek of travel by foot had left on her body.
After a moment, Adom pounded on the door again, harder. The assertive boom-boom, boom-boom had a yellow light flicking on across the street, throwing their shadows against the wood door and white plaster wall of the house before them.
"Sure, why not wake everyone?" she muttered under her breath.
"We have no choice," Adom cut back.
He'd made no effort to get past his anger about having to deviate to the village of Bask instead of going on to Aubade. A couple of days ago, he'd commanded her to wait while he investigated a trail ahead. Fine. She'd settled down to do as he asked. She hadn't known the fissure was there—or that his pack would be lost inside it—until the ground gave way. Would he have preferred that she'd fallen to her death along with it? Because, for a moment, clawing in the loose, rocky earth, she almost had.
And, anyway, she hadn't wanted Adom to come with her into Phemerae in the first place. Aranos was three days—maybe four—behind them. If he started back now, he could be soaking his princely ass in a warm, bubbly bath in Pyre in no time.
The front door suddenly cracked, a sliver of a face in the dark gap—brown eye, a spray of wrinkles at its edge, white stubble unevenly sticking out of a weathered cheek and chin.
"I need to speak with Seve Penallin," Adom said.
"She works the night market," the man told him, his voice gruff. "Come back in the morning."
Adom put a flat hand to the door. "We'll wait inside while you fetch her."
Terah glanced back down the road. For rut's sake, this Seve woman's neighbors weren't going to let them just push into her house in the middle of the night.
The man's eye squinted. "What's this about?"
"A debt," Adom said.
A shadow moved across the brown iris. "If she owes you money, she'd be better able to repay come the sun."
"It's a life debt," Adom clarified.
A flicker of fear in that rapid blink.
"Da?" came a young voice from behind him.
The man's face pulled back into the darkness. "It's all right, Roel," he whispered. "Go back to bed."
Terah grabbed Adom's elbow. A child in there? No.
Adom discreetly but firmly removed his arm from her grasp and, when the man turned back around, gave him a patient smile. "I need to speak with Seve immediately. Please let us in and go fetch her."
As if a smile and a please made anything better. Gods, this was a disaster.
If Bask were like all other Phemeran villages and patterned after the sun, then the narrow rays of the streets should lead to the center star, where the night markets were held. Once there, someone could surely point out Seve Penallin. Or, better yet, why not find someone with a car and hire a ride to the capital, Azimuth? Tonight would be good. Terah could sleep on the road.
"This isn't how this works," the man hissed.
"I'm certain that it is," Adom returned. "You will let us in now."
Another yellow glow flicked on in a nearby house, and the brown of the man's eyes warmed to amber. His mouth turned down, but he finally opened the door and backstepped to give them room to enter.
"Thank you." Adom crossed the threshold without hesitation.
Terah reluctantly followed, silent in her dread.
They shouldn't be here, barging into this family's home. If Adom had simply helped when she first asked...when the Phemeran beasts that had taken Max captive could've been stopped before reaching the Aranos border...
And the plan after that opportunity had passed?
Well, she wouldn't have trekked through the rutting teeth of the Crescent Mountains. She'd have followed Vey's lowland directions outlined in the book he'd left on her bedside table, complete with places she'd find shelter and names of those who'd help her. She could be halfway to Azimuth by now—halfway to Max.
But Adom didn't trust the lenolae as a rule—Vey in particular—and had insisted on using his network of crimson spies to find and retrieve Max.
Reluctantly, she'd agreed. Vey had saved her life, but he had problematic ulterior motives—wanting to kill the gods was only one. Wanting her to lead the effort was another. And Adom didn't need to know about the latter.
So, fine. No Vey. But this was a family home, not some secret crimson spy cell staffed by armed soldiers.
The man slapped a switch on the wall, and the room filled with a warm glow, though the home retained the late-night heavy air of sleepy quiet. Geometrically patterned throw rugs, faded by foot traffic, were scattered on the smooth stone floor. A squared-off sofa and chairs faced a fireplace built into the wall, its embers white, the space cool.
And beyond, a boy about four years old loitered in a dark passage.
"Close the door," Adom told Terah without looking over his shoulder.
Terah had made it a personal rule not to obey his commands—and an open door left a convenient means to flee—but she did as she was asked. This time.
When she turned around, the boy asked, "Are you ghosts?"
In Phemerae, ghosts were scary malefactors rumored to come out at night. Dangerous and mysterious, they skulked in the darkness, stealing stuff, murdering people, and vilifying the goddess Phemera, who refused to acknowledge their existence. Vey had wanted her to find them.
"Roel, back to bed," the boy's father answered, a soft admonishment in his voice.
The boy pulled back into the shadows, but Terah was sure they still had a curious witness, one who could not be trusted with information. The same thought must've knotted the man's tongue because he didn't immediately ask for identification, the nature of the life debt, or how Adom expected repayment.
After a moment's internal debate, the man stepped down the passage and leaned into the boy's room, saying, "You can play for a little while." He closed the door. Then, with a quick glance at Terah, he said to Adom, "Give me a moment."
He entered another room, and just as Terah was about to hiss at Adom that they had no business being here, the man emerged with an older girl, her face sleep-smashed, hair sticking up on one side. He grabbed a shawl from a peg and said, "Find your ma. Tell her to come home. Don't say anything to anyone about our visitors. Not even to her. Just tell her she's needed here."
From the open front doorway, the man watched the girl hurry down the road before shutting the door and rounding on Adom. "Who are you? What is this?"
Adom seemed to grow even calmer, giving him a strange density that made him the unmistakable center of the house. "My name is Adomanei, and it's time that Seve served her god again."
"For rut's sake," Terah said. They were going to die. Any minute now. Die.
The man's mouth soundlessly shaped the name of the scion and Hood of the Crimson God, the enemy across the border. Adomanei's face was famous everywhere—it closely resembled his father's, Great One Aran. But Adomanei had shifted his features to make himself look like an ordinary man from the Aranos-Phemerae border region: dark brown hair, muddy brown eyes, his face narrower, cheekbones flatter. And, somehow, independent of outward appearance, he'd shed the aura that made him the son of Passion and Fury.
Nevertheless, only one person bore the name Adomanei, and he shouldn't be here. Adomanei should be governing Aranos from his father's seat in Pyre.
The man's gaze flicked to Terah.
"I'm really sorry about all this," she said, but she didn't offer her name. Nor did she pull down the scarf covering the lower half of her face. She couldn't shift her features, and these days, she was just as recognizable as the Crimson Hood beside her.
"We have children here." The man's voice was a harsh mix of anger and pleading.
"We love our children in Aranos, too," Adom told him.
In fact, two were at the root of this venture across the border. Terah had saved Adom's five-year-old sister, Raissa, and though Terah hadn't expected repayment, Adom was here to help her rescue her teenage nephew, Max. A life for a life.
The man stared, lips twitching in impotent fury.
"We've been traveling for many days across harsh country," Adom said. "Will you give us water while we wait?"
The man's face flushed, and then he disappeared through an open arch on the other side of the room—presumably, the kitchen.
Terah shot Adom a look of irritated question. They were in a hostile godland, hunted by Great One Phemera, imposing upon strangers for help and safety. He could show a little gratitude.
He gave her a subtle shake of his head.
The man returned and knocked two glasses of water on a table. Fluid sloshed up the sides and splashed on the wood.
Terah's throat was parched from the final, fast hike to town, the last of their water having dripped onto their tongues sometime yesterday. She started toward the table, but Adom held up a hand to stop her. "No."
Another command? Really? Why?
Adom was in some battle of wills with this man. The Hood would win, of course, but Terah was rooting for the father. Nevertheless, she stepped back again. Games of power were stupid.
The boy opened the bedroom door just enough to slide his body out as if keeping the door mostly shut somehow meant he was still obeying his father. His voice was husky. "I have to go."
The man glanced at Adom and then at Terah, but he had no choice but to take the child by the hand back down the passage and into the bathroom.
"We must have their full cooperation or nothing," Adom said, his voice low.
"Yeah, I get it," she muttered. The water was right there.
The man returned, the boy sitting on his forearm, head on his father's shoulder. Terah recognized the position from her brother's children as a hold of last resort, intended to keep the child close and controlled.
Uncomfortable silence stretched as they waited.
A foreign prince stood in his house, and the man didn't offer a seat. He didn't offer them the use of that bathroom. Then again, Phemerans were supposedly born equal and bent to only one person's will. Clearly, Great One Aran had no claim on this man. Did he love his wife enough not to turn them in to the Phemeran Guard?
At last, a shuffle sounded outside on the stoop, and the door swung open, a breathless woman on the threshold, the girl at her side. The woman noted the boy on her man's shoulder and then looked at her visitors.
"Come in and shut the door, please," Adom said.
The woman's brows drew together as she frowned deeply, but she did as he'd asked.
"Friends of yours from a long time ago," the man said as soon as the latch clicked.
Friends? Everyone here knew better. The older girl, too.
Seve's mouth drew back in question.
Adom answered, "Perhaps your eldest can put the young one back to bed."
"I'll take them," the man put in. He looked at the girl. "Calla?"
Calla took her time following, her gaze lingering behind her, but she was soon down the passage and shut into the back room with her little brother.
Adom waited a beat before speaking. "Ser Seve Penallin, you look well. It's been a little over seventeen years since you stood before me in the red court and begged the Crimson God for forgiveness."
The Ser must have been intended to remind Seve that before anything else, she was a servant of the gods. Specifically, Great One Aran.
Seve seemed to stop breathing, but after a moment, she lowered to the floor on hands and knees, head bowed. "Hood Adomanei, you honor my home."
Adom gave a single nod. "It is an honor to find a welcoming refuge in a foreign godland."
Terah stifled a snort, though she didn't think humor was Adom's intention.
"I am yours to command, sire," Seve told him as she stood.