All her light—and all his love—may not be enough to hold the nightmares at bay…
Guardians of Light, Book 4
Mingling with other races is strictly forbidden, but dream faerie Pryseis has no choice. An innocent goblin child suffers dangerous nightmares, and it should be a simple task to cure him and return to her anxious sisters before the council knows she’s gone.
Yet there’s a reason a creature of air and sunlight has no business underground. Now in chains, prisoner of an ungrateful goblin sorcerer, Pryseis despairs that anyone will save her. Her only comfort—the memory of a man she can only touch in her dreams.
Benilo ta Myran, with the reluctant blessing of his elven king and queen, takes up a quest some would call mad, driven by the certain knowledge that the beautiful faerie who invades his dreams is in danger. He carries a terrible secret—war has broken his healing powers—yet he cannot leave her to face the darkness alone.
The first touch of their flesh surpasses their most erotic dreams, but the nightmare has just begun. There’s the suffering child, and a sorcerer who won’t go down without a fight. And the clock is ticking down for Pryseis, who must return home—or fade away.
Product WarningsBeware of wounded bunnies, hungry trolls, low ceilings, glowing mold and goblins bearing gifts. Most of all, beware beautiful faeries and hot elves appearing in your dreams. They may lead you astray…and steal your heart.
Copyright © 2010 Renee Wildes
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Benilo dragged himself over to Pryseis, brushed the glistening hair back from her face. Long shimmering strands, like iridescent silk, caressed his hand. Her skin was so soft. No bruising marred the pearly glow. He ran a hand down the curves of her body, checking for internal injuries. She seemed fine—except for being unconscious. Blurring vision warned him to conserve his strength. Dracken rue, he had once been able to do so much more than this! He reached out to the earth, to the water in the hot spring, to the deep fire making the water hot, to the air around him. Each in turn, drawing a bit of strength from each until his vision cleared and he stopped shaking. His headache dropped to tolerable.
Deciding it worth the risk, he drew Pryseis into his arms and held her close, reaching out with his own mind to brush hers. “Pryseis?” He waited a moment. “Can you hear me?”
Pryseis stirred. “It worked. You’re still alive.” She opened her eyes, and gasped. “You look terrible!” she whispered, reaching out her hand to trace his lips.
He fought the temptation to drown in her misty amethyst gaze and reached out with his mind to touch the pain she bore—part overreaching with her own gift and part the sorcerer’s attack. He pulled it from her, much as he had the nightmares of the women and girls in Shamar. Then it had poisoned him. One more now would not make much difference.
But it would help Pryseis.
“What did you do?” she mind-sent. “Cease. Heal yourself first.”
“I did.” He pulled some more power from the elements until the double-headache receded. “I imagine I look worse than I feel.”
She snorted. “Somehow I doubt it.”
“Food would help.” Benilo spoke this aloud.
Pryseis grimaced. “Brace yourself. They have a meat-based diet—roasted bats and even the porridge has grubs or maggots in it. I wouldn’t recommend it.”
“You have eaten naught?”
“I’m not that hungry.”
Benilo considered their options. He could sustain himself for weeks if needs be on elemental power, but her situation was much more precarious. If she didn’t return to the sun and the pool… “I met Dax.”
Pryseis jerked at that statement. Tears welled. “He’s alive?”
Benilo nodded. “I found him in the cave and healed him. He made it to my people with the amulet.”
She started to shake, and Benilo found himself holding her closer. Part of him marveled at how right she felt in his arms, the ease with which they were able to speak mind-to-mind. How they had connected, how he had been able to find her through fathoms of the unkenned, almost as if they were…she was… He rejected the idea. She was not his life mate. Surely the Lady would not be so cruel?
But even as the possibility registered, his body stirred. The words of the vow crept into his mind. He swept them aside. What had he done to merit such an extraordinary person? He was the last thing Pryseis needed.
“Thank you,” she whispered in his ear.
He frowned. He did not want her gratitude. “Shh, now. Easy. You must rest.”
She shuddered. “Sleep brings me closer to his nightmares. He’s here. He’s right outside. I can sense him. But sleep brings me closer to everyone’s nightmares. They’re worse here. There’s something about this place. The sorcerer. Even—” She stopped, her cheeks flaming.
“What?” he asked.
“’Tis naught.” Pryseis refused to meet his gaze, but his mind caught an image of the two of them entwined afore she could censor the thought.
Ah—so it had been both of them there in the dream-mist. Even now he felt the silken slide of her skin against him, the soft curtain of her hair wrapped around them. Her legs wrapped around him.
“Cease!” she hissed. “’Twas just a dream.”
“Was it? We both had the same dream?” He raised a brow, daring her to negate the fact.
An adorable blush spread all the way down to her toes. Her skin heated against his.
“Now is not the time to bring that up.”
She was right. Benilo removed himself from temptation and sat up. “What goes on here? What do they want with you?”
Pryseis ran a hand through her hair. It shimmered in the dim light. “The sorcerer wants something from me, but I don’t ken what. Communication is a serious problem. I can’t ken them when I’m awake. When I’m asleep, he keeps asking if I feel it too, if I sense it too.”
A shadow crossed her face. “Just wait. ’Tis a darkness creeping in. Fear. Doubt. There’s something here that magnifies every bit of negativity. Fear to terror. Anger to violence.” She hesitated. “Desire to lust.”
“And the lad?”
“’Tis all but crippling him. He looks like he hasn’t eaten for days. I made them feed him my portion.” She grimaced. “Apparently, they like grubs. Either that or he was too hungry to care.” Pryseis held out her hands, studying them with a frown.
Benilo tensed. “What is it?”
“They’re fading. ’Tis not noticeable yet.”
He recalled Dax’s warning. “Elixir.”
“He told you?” She bit her lip. “How long’s it been? ’Tis impossible to keep track of time down here.”
“I’m not sure.” Benilo shook his head. “Pryseis, what happens after seven days?”
“Remember what happened to Shallan when she tried to travel to Poshnari-Unai with that elven mage, Anika?” Hallar had said. “Shallan scoffed at the pool legend, and when Anika brought her back, she was barely alive. You can’t leave, Pryseis. It’ll kill you.”
Pryseis gasped and shuddered, running her hands over her arms to stave off the chill in her heart. “I’ll fade and weaken. They taunted me, said Dax was coming along to carry my body home when I fell.”
Anger flashed in his blue eyes. “Who said that?”
“The faerie council, in an attempt to change my mind.” She offered a wan smile. “I should have listened to them.” The chain attached to her ankle scraped with her every movement.
Benilo staggered a bit as he stood, pulling her up with him. “We are not dead yet. You cannot lose hope.”
He looked terrible, probably felt ten times worse. Every bruise shone dark against his fair skin. Shame flushed her cheeks. That he encouraged her! Pryseis paced to the doorway and peered out. The lad stared up at her from where he sat weaving. She saw dark clouds obscuring the full moon, shadows stretching from giant boulders across the barren ground. Cheery piece. One shadow in particular caught her attention. It almost looked like the monster in her vision—that same spiky profile. It loomed over a prone shadow that resembled the body of the goblin slain earlier.
He returned to his work.
Pryseis ducked back into the tent. Benilo peered out a crack in the cloth on the opposite end. “What are they doing?” she asked.
“Half of them are passed out, snoring,” he reported.
She shivered. “I should join them.”
He crossed the floor to pull her into his arms. His mind brushed hers. “It is not safe.”
“But ’tis the only way to ken what’s going on, if things are getting worse.” Pryseis didn’t look forward to it, but what choice was there?
“Well, you shall not go alone.” Benilo clenched his jaw, looking rather fierce for a healer. “Where you go, I go. You could use the support.”
She searched his face. “You don’t want to do that.”
“What? Leave you to face them alone? I think not.”
Her heart tripped at his words. Of their own volition, her fingers brushed his lips. Swollen, not yet healed from the beating. His eyes darkened at her touch, and he curled a hand behind her neck to draw her closer. Pryseis barely had time to gasp afore he swallowed it in a light, tender kiss. The wet velvet of his tongue brushed over her lower lip, and she heard a moan. His or hers? She stiffened and tried to pull back, but he was having none of that. His other arm slid around her waist, and he deepened the kiss as if he felt no pain at all.
Desire, yearning, rose hot and swift. She trembled, remembering the taste of him, the feel of him under her hands. But this was no dream. He was real. Hot skin over hard muscle, solid warmth. Strong hands with calloused fingers glided across her skin. She raised her arms, slid her hands up over his shoulders to anchor in his hair. Long, silken soft where everything else was so hard, it spilled across his shoulders, across her own like a cloud of winter sunlight. Almost binding them together.
“You are not alone, Pryseis. You do not face the dark alone.”
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