Read an Excerpt
Wet blood stained the parchment in a perfect circle. Tiny ridges and whorls from a large finger held Taric's attention for far too long. He tore his gaze from it with difficulty to the man who'd left the smudge. No wound marked him, but then, Taric hadn't thought it was Bryton's blood. Bryton was far too skilled at questioning prisoners.
"You got him to talk?"
Bryton tightened the cinch on his destrier with a sharp tug and moved to the pack mule behind him. "Enough pain'll make anyone scream secrets like a girl and beg for mercy."
"Did you give him mercy?"
A whoosh whispered through the stable when Bryton palmed his dagger. Unsatisfied revenge tightened his jaw as he spun the knife, presenting the hilt to Taric with a raised brow. "Meet Mercy, Your Majesty. She's delighted to make your acquaintance."
Mercy, carved along the handle in a scrolling script, was darkened with age and worn smooth with use. Taric didn't blink and Bryton thrust the dagger back into his belt. The blade glinted with malicious hunger but not one drop of red marred the steel. Bryton had taken time to clean his weapon, long-instilled duty overriding his consuming anger.
Taric scanned the orderly list of names and prison numbers, his mouth filling with sour distaste. So many were crossed off, but not the one Bryton hungered for. He refolded the parchment and tucked it into his belt. "I still don't like this."
"You don't have to," Bryton muttered.
"I don't have to let you go, either."
Bryton ran a huge hand through his hair and jerked his head, cracking his neck with a loud pop. Lines of stress and strain furrowed his brow beneath the shock of inky black now staining his long copper hair. The wide line of black hair had appeared overnight, over one long terrible night more than a full summer ago. That thick swatch wasn't the only darkness Bryton now carried.
The determination blazing from his bright blue eyes would have made a lesser man cringe. As it was, Taric fought the urge to step back.
"I'm going," Bryton snapped. "The plan is sound. One man has a better chance of sneaking into their camp and executing an ambush. I'm the best soldier you have and you know it. Even Myla agrees tha"
"No, Myla agreed a platoon would be too easy to spot. You took it on yourself to plan this suicide mission." Fisting his hands, Taric fought for an even tone. "You haven't slept. You look like shit. A few days won't matter."
"I'll sleep when I make camp. I'm not letting that son of a bitch go, not when I'm this close."
"You?" Taric roared, his temper slipping. The stable boys dropped their water buckets and scurried away like mice. Bryton never flinched. "Over two hundred murderers were wrongly given their freedom and turned loose on my kingdom. It's taken over three long bloody summers but I've been right there beside you, my friend, sending the Skullmen back to hell."
"There's no way in hell's asshole Karok is getting away from me this time." Bryton locked eyes with Taric and gritted his teeth. "That bastard murdered my wife. You can bet your royal ass I'm going to kill him, and I'm going to make it hurt."
To read more, visit www.carinapress.com/upcomingbooks