Blood Grace Book 6
An ancient magic will put their love to the ultimate test.
When Lio brought Cassia to the land of their allies, he believed nothing would threaten her or their fated Grace bond. But a nameless enemy has ensnared her in a conspiracy reaching as high as the Imperial Court. With the Empress out for Cassia’s blood, will Lio abandon his path as a diplomat and unleash his fangs?
Although Cassia is now a fugitive, she can’t flee to safety until they uncover the secret that could change the fate of two continents. Their path leads into a treacherous desert where long-forgotten magic threatens to tear her apart from Lio forever. Can she find the hidden power within herself to survive?
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Praise for Blood Union Part Two
“Beauty at its best… The story is jam-packed with action, craving, making friends, and finding the truth. I adore how Vela writes and this book is completely next level. It feels like the story has come out from my dreams by itself and kept me glued to it.” – @stories.buddy
“Mind! Blowing! I love when an author can throw me into an adventure without me noticing until I am at the end of the book and realized I finished it in one sitting.” – Author Evelyn Fae
“Wow. That was quite an adventure and what an ending. The revelations? HOLY CRAP.” – @darling.book.mage
“Absolutely loved this wild adventure of Lio and Cassia’s, as they battled (literally) through the desert in their quest to find [redacted]. This book was very much raw with emotions and speeches, and I loved that. I also really loved the new band of side characters! And the plot twists, omg!!” – @books_and_draws_eclectic
They arrived in the gloom under a copse of trees, and Lio’s night vision revealed that they were at the edge of a small village.
“Did I get us close?” he asked.
“Yes,” came Monsoon’s grudging answer. “This way.”
Monsoon was apparently capable of navigating in the darkness, but Cassia tripped over a rock with a frustrated grunt. Lio caught her under her elbow and lifted his other hand to his mouth. Pricking his thumb on one fang, he conjured a small spell light from a drop of his blood. She murmured her thanks.
Monsoon huffed. “Your Goddess made you a powerful thelemancer, then threw in some light magic as an afterthought, too?”
“Blinding an attacker with a flare of light is much faster than bringing down his mental defenses,” Lio pointed out.
“Huh. I suppose it is. Not as satisfying as knuckles to the nose, though.”
“I save that for war mages.”
Monsoon laughed. Lio didn’t think the mercenary realized it was no jest. Lio could still remember the sensation of the bones crunching against his knuckles when he had hurled his fist at Chrysanthos. That had wiped the smug expression off the Cordian fire mage’s supercilious face.
Lio could understand why his father had spent eight centuries as a Hesperine errant in Tenebra, battling their people’s mortal enemies to protect the innocent and vent his own frustrations. Lio felt the need to break someone’s nose at the moment, and there were no Cordian war mages at hand whom he could maim in good conscience.
He bit his tongue as he and Cassia followed Monsoon out from under the trees and into an open area surrounded by a circle of houses. The tidy round homes had mud walls and thatched roofs, and Lio could hear the peaceful breathing of the mortals sleeping within. This was most likely a community of farmers who rose and rested with the sun.
But for a seemingly humble village, there was certainly a great deal of magic protecting it.
“We’ll be safe here,” Monsoon said.
“Yes,” Lio confirmed. “This whole village is draped in powerful protections of various affinities. How interesting.”
Monsoon offered no explanation. He paused, and his own magic swept over the trees and across the ground, as if he too were checking the village’s defenses. Knight whined, but didn’t go into hiding behind Cassia this time.
The spells did not prevent Monsoon from leading them toward the largest home in the circle. The door was hung with artfully carved wooden symbols and female figurines. They had great presence, although Lio could not identify the magic they held. Ancestral power, he thought.
“This must be the village matriarch’s home,” Lio said to Cassia. “The rest of the residents are most likely her sisters and their families.”
A pace from the door, Monsoon turned to them and planted a hand on Lio’s chest to halt him.
The man waved a hand at Cassia. “You’ll never find your way back here, so you aren’t a threat.”
Cassia must have decided this was not the time to protest that she should not be underestimated as a threat.
Monsoon fixed Lio with his eagle stare. “But you can step back here any time. I expect you not to abuse the privilege.”
Lio looked calmly into the man’s murderous gaze. “I have only the purest intentions, I assure you.”
“Don’t expect me to let you off easy because you’re a Hesperine with overwrought principles.” Monsoon gave his chest a little shove. “Think about that little sister of yours. Now think about what you would do to me if I harmed a hair on her head.”
Lio let his fangs show. “This is not inspiring my purer intentions.”
“Then you understand. If you bring misfortune upon the people you’re about to meet, or even set foot here again without their invitation, my intentions will be anything but pure. What you would do to me for hurting your family? I’ll do it to you. In your sleep. Then I’ll turn you over to some friends of mine who are just as powerful as I am and let them have a go at you.”
He gave his wings a snap, then approached the door.
Cassia, her aura bristling, slid her hand into Lio’s. Nothing riled her like being dismissed. Nothing made him seethe like having his honor questioned.
Monsoon called quietly through the door in Cifwani. Lio thought he understood something about birds and flames. Code words? From within, there came the sounds of sleepy bodies shuffling. The door swung open, and firelight spilled out into the night.
“Monsoon!” cried the silhouette of a girl. Lio recognized her aura from Monsoon’s memories. She threw herself into the man’s arms.
He swung her around. “Hello, nyakimbi.”
Lio didn’t understand what Monsoon called her, perhaps an endearment or kinship term. What was clear was that the mercenary adored her.
Then again, Lio reminded himself, Chrysanthos doted on his young nephew. That didn’t change the fact that he was a murderous war mage.
Listening closely, Lio was able to make out most of what Monsoon and the girl said to each other.
“I can’t believe you’re here!” she cried, laughing.
He set her down and held her at arm’s length. “Mweya’s Wings, look at you, so strong and pretty. You grew up while I blinked.”
She was perhaps five years older than she had been in Monsoon’s memories. The girl he remembered as all knees and elbows now bloomed with new confidence, her carefree spirit brighter than ever. Despite her rumpled headwrap, crooked cotton dress, and bare feet, the sleepy girl had presence.
“You wouldn’t be so surprised if you came around more often,” she scolded, beaming. “You have to promise me you’ll take me flying while you’re here. It’s been ages.”
“Of course I will.”
“Oh, I’m so glad you’ve come back. You even brought friends!”
Despite Monsoon’s clear distinction, she beckoned to Lio and Cassia. As they came nearer, curiosity lit the girl’s aura. “Monsoon, is she—”
“A client,” he repeated.
Worry hung over Lio. Any citizen of the Empire could turn Cassia over to the authorities. Even this sweet girl. And if she didn’t, she could face dreadful consequences for aiding a fugitive, especially a shadowlander.
But the girl beckoned again, bidding them welcome in Cifwani-accented Divine. As they entered her warm, firelit home, she appeared unfazed.
Until she had a good look at Cassia. Her eyes widened.
Lio held Cassia closer, her body strung with tension against his. They shouldn’t have come here.
Then the girl’s face lit up. “You’re—”
Monsoon put a finger to his lips.