Blood Grace Book 4
When an ancient evil rises, can they save the peace talks and their love?
Lio and Cassia spend their nights in each other’s arms, but sit on opposite sides of the negotiation table. Their clandestine partnership has brought his immortal kin and her fellow humans close to a treaty after generations of violence. Lives hang in the balance. Failure means war. Peace would bring the future they hope for, when their love will no longer be forbidden.
Just when success is within reach, they realize their plan has played into the enemy’s hands. A threat lurks within the delegation, an old nemesis with magic unlike any they have ever faced. Together, are they strong enough to stop the destruction of everything they love?
Blood Sanctuary Parts One and Two were previously published as one ebook.
Praise for Blood SANCTUARY PART Two
“I laughed, I cried, and I felt every emotion in between as I stood with Lio and Cassia through every sweet moment of tenderness and every second of paralyzing danger.”
– Reader K.P. Alexander
“Vela Roth has a way of drawing you into the world she has created and makes you want to stay there forever.”
– Reader Sharon Wingo
“Vela Roth has created an amazing world that each book keeps building up and leaving you obsessing over her amazing characters.” – Kaija @strictlybookish_kai
“Lio and Cassia’s HEA was a wonderful payoff to all their moments over the past books.” – Sahana @books_and_draws_eclectic
Upon escorting the Tenebran embassy into the amphitheater, Lio discovered it was possible to feel more trepidation than he had when proposing the Summit to the Firstblood Circle. The last time he had spoken before the firstbloods of every family in Orthros, he had experienced a brush with mortality. This time, the lives of countless mortals and Hesperines could depend on the Circle’s negotiations with the Tenebran embassy.
But tonight he was free of the Craving. There was no vertigo to trip him. No pain to halt his thoughts and rob him of his words. No danger of collapsing at the podium from life-threatening withdrawal from Cassia’s blood. Sustaining power coursed through him, feeding his determination to bring all his best abilities to bear, to bring his best efforts to fruition tonight. Thank the Goddess he did not strive alone.
His greatest ally was in his very veins and at his side. Cassia stood and stared at the amphitheater spread out before them and the crowd of ancient power personified. A thrill rose in her aura, stronger than her anxiety. She would soon experience for herself how differently Orthros was governed than Tenebra. She would not kneel, voiceless, before a king. Here, she would stand before the Queens and be heard.
Whatever happened, neither he nor Cassia would end this night on their knees.
Lio felt as if the entire Blood Union swelled within his chest. Whenever he was in the Firstblood Circle, his own people always inspired awe in him, but it meant more when his Grace beheld it for the first time. And when Orthros’s enemies must behold as well.
The Dexion was actually silent for several moments before he found his voice. “I see Hespera’s temples loom large in Orthros’s memory. But then, memories are all that’s left of them.”
“Her Great Temples are alive and well.” Lio spoke the undeniable truth the mage must see.
He followed the Dexion’s gaze down to the Firstblood Rose emblazoned on the floor of the amphitheater. The vast marble rendition of Hespera’s Rose pointed its thorns, the arrows of his people’s compass, toward the statues that bordered it.
“The first Hesperines keep vigil yet,” Lio said. “My father’s memorial sculpture of Ritual Firstblood Anastasios, his Gifter, stands before the seats of our bloodline and our Ritual tributaries, so we may always honor our origins at Hagia Boreia, the Great Temple of Hespera in the North, where Anastasios was Prismos. You see the statues of Ritual Firstbloods Daedala and Thelxinos before the seats of Blood Timarete and Blood Kitharos, heirs of Hagia Zephyra, Great Temple of the West. And there are the memorials to Ritual Firstbloods Eidon and Ourania in front of Blood Argyros and Blood Hypatia, who hail from Hagia Anatela, the Great Temple of the East.”
Tychon looked greener than usual, and Lio knew it was not only the toll of being his master’s channel. Eudias’s teeth were actually chattering from the force of the Firstblood Circle’s magic. The apprentice could not blame his distress on the cold. Geomagical warmth drifted up from the stones beneath their feet. Tonight a ward shielded the entire amphitheater from the elements for the mortals’ sakes—and closed them in with the most powerful blood mages in the world.
Lio looked at the Dexion. “There are more Hesperines than statues.”
Chrysanthos would not look at him, only at the two southerly memorials. “The Prismos and Prisma of Hagia Notia in Corona have naught but a wall behind them.”
“A wall inscribed with Ereba’s name. She did not survive to become an elder firstblood of Orthros and carry on Ritual Firstblood Eukairia’s Gift. The only living mage of that temple failed to honor Ritual Firstblood Khariton’s legacy and is unworthy to have his name spoken within the Circle.”
“No wonder you have shoved the statues of Khariton and Eukairia aside.”
“The better to devote the southern section entirely to Elder Firstblood Kassandra and her many Ritual tributaries.”
“A prescient reminder of your Imperial allies to the south,” Chrysanthos commented, as if upon a move at the game board.
Indeed, the time for subtle moves was past, and they both knew it. Tonight, they would see each other closing in for the win.
The Dexion had best remember the Queens were the most powerful movers on the board.
“Prisma Alea is not a statue,” Lio said.
The top thorn of the Firstblood Rose pointed straight to the Queens. To the rows upon rows behind them filled with the royal bloodlines. To all the power Annassa Soteira had built beyond the temple where her Grace’s Gift had begun.
Lio informed the embassy of the arrangements Cassia already knew. “Your seats await you on the Circle floor. Each of you will have a place before one of our bloodlines befitting the part of Tenebra you call home. Solorum’s royal representative shall sit before our royal family.”
She gave him a deep courtesy. “I hardly know what to say, Ambassador. I am highly unaccustomed to such honors. You recall my seat at last year’s Summit.”
“This is not the Equinox Summit, Lady Cassia, and we are not in Tenebra. This is the Solstice Summit in Orthros. Allow me to escort you to your place of honor before our Queens.”
Cassia’s shoulders were tense as they prepared to descend from the gallery, and she held her skirts tightly in her fists. He could sense her bracing herself against the anxiety that beset all of them who were young and trying to add their voices to this ancient chorus. He had counseled her thoroughly in preparation for this night, but this was not the circle on the Queens’ Terrace, and there was no preparation that could make one immune to the splendor of all the firstbloods.
Xandra and Nodora smiled encouragement from below, and Kia waited with stacks of notes in front of her, ready to subtly cue Cassia and Lio about any historical facts they forgot. Mak and Lyros stood guard behind the embassy. Lio hoped Cassia would draw as much confidence as he did from their friends.
The Queens nodded to Konstantina. Lio could only imagine the Second Princess’s reluctance as she acquiesced to her mothers and signaled Lio.
“The Circle is ready for us,” he announced.