Blood Grace Book 2
Will their Grace bond be his salvation or end his eternal life?
Lio is keeping a fatal secret. His Craving for Cassia has pushed him to the brink of death, but he can’t tell anyone she’s his Grace. If the Hesperines bring her to Orthros to save his life, they’ll destroy the fragile peace in Tenebra she’s fighting to protect.
Cassia’s enemies are closing in. The king knows there’s a Hesperine sympathizer at court, and the war mages are bent on unmasking her. When her father’s political game forces her into a betrothal, will an arranged marriage be his weapon of choice for her murder?
Praise for Blood Solace
“Every chapter, every moment, and every word had me spellbound! I don’t have the right words nor the proper articulation to justly express my love for these books or for the beautiful spirit that I have found within them.“
– Reader K.P. Alexander
“Vela has such a gift of hooking readers within an instant of them starting this book. It was so fun to get back into this world of romance, danger, and political intrigue.” – Samantha @bookobsessedandblonde
“Hypnotic in its execution, lyrical in its masterful command of words this deeply complex and detailed story continues to captivate and keep the reader spellbound as do Lio and Cassia with their forbidden love for each other.” – Reader C. Sinclair
“This followup to Blood Mercy was so good!! It kept my attention for the whole read, I could not get enough! Lio and Cassia are absolutely amazing! What they go through in this book will have you riveted.” – Kris @a_bookish_dream
A gust of wind whipped across the deck of the Observatory and struck Lio head-on. He sucked in the bracing air, hungering for any hint of scent from the south. But all he smelled were the fresh snows and evergreens, ice caps and ocean depths of Orthros Boreou. Not enough to give him relief from the aftertaste of his last drink. The fetid remnants of deer blood threatened to gag him. He kept swallowing and focused on the horizon.
The Umbral Mountains stood sentry on the rim of the world, guarding the border between Orthros and Tenebra, between his nocturnal homeland and the mortal realm. Polar twilight cloaked the range in indigo, while the snow on the peaks gleamed under the lights of Hespera’s night sky. Vivid aurorae veiled the constellations named for those whom Orthros had lost, who would have lived forever with their fellow immortal Hesperines had they not given their lives for others. The Goddess’s Eyes, the twin moons, looked on. The shadow of her lashes had just begun to descend over the smooth white orb of the Light Moon, while the Blood Moon was a crescent iris of liquid crimson.
No fire lit the mountains.
At this great distance, the Summit Beacon must appear as nothing more than a candle flame. But the bonfire the Tenebrans lit atop their fortress on Mount Frigora was visible to keen Hesperine eyes from Hypatia’s Observatory, the tallest tower in the capital. Orthros’s ambassadors always came here to look for the Beacon.
Tonight, only Ambassador Deukalion. Alone, Lio stood his elders’ watch and saw no fire. The King of Tenebra had not ordered the Summit Beacon lit.
A few hours remained before dawn. The Beacon might yet appear. There was still time for Lio to behold the sign he prayed for: an invitation from the king for the Hesperine embassy to return to Tenebra in the spring and reconvene the Equinox Summit. Another chance to renew the Equinox Oath that would secure peace between their two peoples.
Lio’s chance to keep his promise to Cassia that he would return to her.
The Tenebrans would light the Beacon before the night was through. They must. Because she intended for them to, and Lio had never known a plan of hers to fail.
He looked again at the scroll in his hands. It was the best portrait he had of her. Not nearly enough to remember her by. But he added each additional detail with great care, as if he could make this some kind of antidote to the months, the miles…the hunger. As if the cure for that was not out of reach.
The Goddess’s Eyes looked with him, illuminating the paper with moonlight. Lio re-read the neat, black lines of his own handwriting in search of one more pattern he might have missed, one more revelation that had not yet struck him.
He was sure there were many who would not feel particularly flattered if a lover immortalized them in a list. But somehow he thought Cassia would appreciate this effort far more than any work of art designed to capture the physical beauty she worked so diligently to hide. Here in this documentation of seemingly unconnected events lay her true beauty, which Lio had beheld with his own eyes.
Each of the events he had recorded here, which he had meticulously gleaned from the reports trickling in, had occurred in Tenebra in the last half year. To the Queens of Orthros, their envoys, and every diplomat besides Lio, these were political developments of great import, but of no specific significance except for their potential impact on Hesperines. Lio, however, could see Cassia’s hand in each and every one.
What tantalized him was the knowledge he had missed some. No doubt word of many of her deeds simply never reached him. And in the piecemeal information he did manage to gather, more developments for which she was responsible might lay hidden, while he lacked the insight to recognize them. She only became more creative; there was no telling what she might try next. These were only the events he knew of and felt certain he could attribute to her, and it was already a generous list.
Her clandestine victories against her father reassured Lio time and time again. The king did not suspect her.
Lucis Basileus, the cleverest and strongest king to rule Tenebra in generations, had no idea the most dangerous traitor in the land was his own daughter. He saw his late concubine’s bastard as nothing more than a spare tool that might prove useful to his ends, while she defied his vision of her more and more. It was she who sabotaged his attempts at alliance with the Mage Orders in Cordium and stoked the nobility’s resentment of his tyranny. The Council of Free Lords pressured the king, but it was Cassia, unseen and unsung, who pressured the free lords. If she had her way, Lucis would have no choice but to break ties with the Cordian mages and seek a peace treaty with Orthros instead, lest he lose the Council’s mandate and his grip on his frightened subjects. The king must soon bend to the will of his people…to Cassia’s will.
The reflections of her that Lio saw in the tales of her achievements were nothing like enough. They did not sate his hunger. But they were all that reminded him he had done the right thing when he had left her half a year ago.
Six months or two seasons according to the Tenebran calendar. Four lunar months or one season according to the Hesperine calendar. The vapid numbers amounted to an eternity of agony by Lio’s reckoning. But Migration Night had come at last, when his people returned from Orthros Notou in the distant south. As of tonight, the eve of the Autumn Equinox, the Hesperines were once more in residence here in their northern home that bordered Tenebra, and Cassia knew it.