Chain of Illusions (Bringer and the Bane) by Boone Brux
Rell has lived in the Shadow World for thirteen years as a Demon Bane, the formerly vivacious young woman now the demonic enemy of the immortal Bringers. But when she is given the chance to become human again—and a full-powered Bringer—Rell isn't sure if it's better to be a demon in the Shadow World or to risk her life for her humanity.
For two years, Siban had been tortured in the Bane prison, only to fall in love with the beautiful demon who helped him escape. Tormented by the thought of never seeing her again, he maintains a life of solitude. So, when Rell's human body is rescued from the Shadow World, he will do anything to be with her—even if it means challenging death to become a Bringer, too.
But once their Bringer transformations and training are completed, Siban and Rell must join a mission to go deep in the Shadow World to rescue others trapped by the Demon Bane King. And what they discover destroys everything they knew about the Demon Bane. The lovers must learn to trust themselves, each other, and their new powers if they're going to make it out alive.
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Siban lifted his chin toward the gray sky and inhaled. Crisp air filled his lungs, clearing his head. The time had come for him to take his place among his people, the Bringers. Past time, actually. They needed him in the fight against the Demon Bane — a fight the Bringers seemed to be losing.
He exhaled and walked to the closest outbuilding. His hand hovered on the cold metal of the door handle, his determination wavering. Could he go through with the ceremony that would finally bring him to full power as a Bringer? Perhaps if he hadn't seen Luc's conversion firsthand, hadn't watched the blade drive into his friend's chest, and hadn't felt the life draining from Luc, he wouldn't feel so anxious now. But there was no turning back. Hopefully he'd be able to control the power that came with being a Bringer Tell. Endowed with the Knowing, he would sense things more strongly. Would know truth from a lie. Saints willing, the darkness that still tainted his soul from his years of imprisonment in the Demon Bane's Shadow World wouldn't grow stronger as well.
Chilly wind whipped his hair, bringing with it the smell of fall and the hint of snow. The sky echoed his mood. For a year he'd been dealing with the dark memories of being held captive the only way he knew how — alone. But now he'd found Rell again and she needed him to be strong. He'd been the one to change her mind about being put to death by one of the immortal daggers of the Bringers. As the only weapons that could vanquish a Demon Bane, it was the only way to kill her, but Siban wouldn't let that happen. For too long he'd grieved the loss of her. Nothing would stop him from helping her survive the healing that would transform her from a Demon Bane back into her human form — and into a Bringer.
Inside the building waited the other full-blooded Bringer warriors, newly transformed and ancient, planning to face down Vile, the Demon Bane's King, and his efforts to overrun Inness with his Bane. No longer could Siban avoid his destiny — or his past.
He yanked on the door but the wind beat it closed again, as if sensing his apprehension. He pulled again, this time opening it and slipping inside. A cloud of warmth and the smell of lavender and sage enveloped him. All eyes turned toward Siban, the Bringers' conversation halting. He closed the door behind him and exhaled softly, stilling his urge to turn around and walk back out. Dozens of candles lined the wall and burned on every available surface, lending a calming, golden glow to the room. But the ambiance did very little to reassure him about the impending pain he was about to experience.
"You came." Rhys Blackwell, his best friend, approached and held out his hand. "I was afraid you'd change your mind."
For years Rhys had thought he was the only full-blooded Bringer left after his parent's had been assassinated by Vile. He'd roamed Inness, protecting humans against the Bane and building a small army of mixed-blooded Bringers, those whose bloodlines had been diluted by humans. Thankfully, Rhys had recognized Siban for what he was and had taken him in, even though he was tainted by the Bane's evil darkness. Since then Siban's loyalty had never wavered. He gripped Rhys's forearm in a show of solidarity. "And miss all the fun?"
"My apologies for doubting you." Rhys laughed and released Siban's arm. "Come, Gregory has everything prepared."
Gregory, the King of the Bringers, met Siban halfway, a smile creasing his face and brightening his eyes to the color of liquid silver. "You look like a man facing his own execution."
"It feels a bit like that, yeah." Siban scanned the room. Most of the faces he recognized, but there were a few new Bringers he hadn't been introduced to yet. That could wait until he was through the transformation. Siban nodded and exhaled. "All right then, let's get this over with."
"Of course." Gregory placed a hand on Siban's shoulder and guided him toward a long wooden slab in the center of the room.
A smaller table had been erected about four feet from where he was to lay. A white sheet covered it. Siban stopped and stared at the form pressed against the cloth. The outline was of a woman — Rell's human form lying in perfect repose.
"We thought your transformation would be easier if you remembered what you were fighting for," Ravyn said from beside him.
"Thank you." He glanced at her. Ravyn watched him with understanding. She'd already gone through the transformation to become a Bringer and understood the risk. He looked back at the body on the table, refraining from voicing the fact that the person on the table was a stranger to him. His Rell was a Demon Bane with smooth green skin, leathery wings, and small delicate horns. He released a heavy breath, pushing aside the dark thought that he might not be able to accept her as a human. It had been the demon who risked so much to help him escape the Shadow World. Would the human female be different from the demon he'd fallen in love with? "I'm ready."
"Remove your shirt." Gregory turned to examine the immortal dagger lying on a small table.
Siban slipped his tunic off and handed it to Ravyn. Shivers from the chilled air ghosted across his skin. When Gregory lifted the dagger, Siban's heart began to pound. I can do this.
Ravyn spread a linen blanket over the wooden slab and placed a small pillow at the head. "Lie down, please." She patted the table. "I promise we'll take good care of you."
Without replying, he slid onto the table and rested his head against the stiff pillow. The blanket did little to cushion the hard wood pressing against his back, though he doubted he would have been able to relax. Unsure where to place his hands, he interlocked his fingers and rested them against his bare abdomen. He shifted his shoulders, trying to find a more comfortable position and ignoring the awkwardness of being everybody's focus.
Four Bringers he didn't know approached, each carrying two small sacks. In evenly spaced positions they emptied the contents of the bags onto the table.
Cloves, lavender, and a piney scent rose up around the edge of the table. Siban swallowed and stared at the ceiling. He mentally counted the dark beams above, forcing himself not to watch the Bringers working around him. Another shudder rippled through his body. Three months ago, allowing somebody to cut or stab him would have been unthinkable. The nightmares from his time among the demons still haunted him. He pushed away the dark thoughts, unwilling to give them power over him. After having been tortured with everything from talons to shards of rusty metal while in Vile's prison, Siban's consent to be brought to full power was a testament to his devotion to Rell.
It helped that he'd made the choice and that Gregory's action would be done with gentleness not malice. Still, when the man turned toward Siban bearing the knife, it took all of his self-discipline not to hurl his body from the table and flee the room.
A low, healing chant kindled to Siban's left. The song flowing around him was one of the most beautiful Siban had ever heard. Clear and pitched surprisingly low, the notes resonated along his body and sent tingles skittering along his skin. Another voice joined the melody, deeper in tone.
The light in the room shifted, altering Siban's sight. Ribbons of blue and white drifted from the Bringers, encircling them like lace, binding each together. The lyrical composition surrounded him and burrowed under his skin, winding its way to what felt like his soul.
More soft voices mixed with the song, and the light from the ribbons grew stronger, pulsing inside him and creating a halo of light around the table.
Ravyn and Rell's sister, Jade, joined the circle and each placed their hands on one of his shoulders. When Rhys and Ravyn had brought their friend Luc Le Daun to full power, Siban had held his legs down in a similar manner. Luc had fought them, almost escaping their hold. Siban wondered how Ravyn and Jade expected to keep him restrained if his control broke.
The two women joined the chant and instantly warmth flowed into his body. Streams of light spiraled from their hands and entered his shoulders at the point where they touched. Tension eased from his muscles, the mantra lulling him into a relaxed state. Even when Gregory approached, fear did not grip Siban.
"In death there is life," Gregory said, circling the blade in front of him in a looping pattern. "In sacrifice, return." Heat traveled down Siban's torso and his eyes remained steady on the king. "All barriers destroyed and evil be spurned." Gregory lowered the knife and laid the blade against Siban's chest, directly over his heart. Despite the relaxing chant, he couldn't help but tense when the cold metal touched his skin. "No hindrance remain, from our blood be renewed." Gregory dragged the edge downward, lacerating Siban with a shallow slice. In an effort not to cry out, he bit down on his lower lip. The metallic taste of blood coated his tongue. "That which was taken, settle in those who Bring true."
Fire danced along the cut and Siban braced himself, waiting for Gregory to plunge the dagger in his heart as they had done with Luc. Instead of stabbing him, Gregory set the knife between two piles of herbs on the wooden platform and placed his hands next to Ravyn's. Again the king spoke, but they were words Siban did not understand.
The heat burning along the slice spread across his chest, eating up every inch of Siban's body. Searing pain ignited his organs as if incinerating him from the inside out. He gasped for breath, but couldn't inhale as wave after wave of pain gripped him.
The chant around him grew louder and more hands pressed against his legs and arms. His muscles convulsed. It was as if his very soul was being pulled from his body through his chest. He choked against the tightening at his throat. His mouth opened in an effort to suck in air, but none could pass.
The words grew louder and above the unified chant he heard Ravyn's voice. Separate from the other Redeemers, she spoke the Bringer's ancient language. Her words demanded and coaxed the darkness from inside him. His vision blurred and his head pounded as the need for air became desperate.
Ravyn placed her hands on his forehead and raised her voice, shouting, "Avec mea!"
From Siban's throat rose a white vapor. It hovered a foot above his mouth and then descended to cover his face. The sensation of being branded scorched the skin under his lower lip. After a few seconds, the white vapor evaporated completely. Siban gasped, drinking in the cool, perfumed air, and collapsed against the table. All traces of pain and the ribbons of healing light disappeared. The blood pounded in his ears, and his heart raced. He waited, expecting another wave of agony, but none came.
Gregory stared down at him and then smiled. He touched his index finger against the skin directly below Siban's lower lip. "A Tell."
The spot burned and Siban flinched away, pressing the back of his hand to the area and trying to numb the sting, knowing he now bore a the single black line of the Tell. "Are you finished?"
"Did you want something more?" Gregory smirked. "Perhaps you would have preferred I plunge the dagger into your heart?"
Siban's craned his head to look at Ravyn. "Expected, not preferred."
Ravyn cleared her throat. "It seems actually stabbing somebody in the heart isn't required to bring a person to full power."
"That would have been nice to know." Luc scowled at her and rubbed his chest.
She shrugged. "Sorry. If it's any consolation, I did it to myself as well."
Siban struggled to sit up, spreading the herbs along the edge of the table and knocking some of them to the ground. He looked at his chest. A thin red line stretched from his sternum to his left side, but there was no blood. "What was that white smoke? I felt like I was choking."
"Think of it as a net that encased your powers. Due to generations of Bringers breeding with humans, the Bringer essence within us becomes bound. The ceremony severs that bond." He pointed to Siban's cut. "It will be healed by morning and the only evidence of the ceremony will be your Tell mark." Gregory placed a hand on Siban's shoulder. "How do you feel?"
How did he feel? It was difficult to put into words. New vitality hummed through his body, as if a million tiny sparks had snapped against his skin, leaving their tingling reminder. Even his head felt clear, unfettered from the nightmares and dark thoughts that had been his constant companion since his imprisonment in the Shadow World. "Better."
"You are a master of the understated," Rhys said, handing Siban his shirt.
"Thank you." Siban slid the tunic over his head and shook his chin-length curls from his eyes. "When will you heal Rell?"
"Tonight." Gregory placed the dagger back on the table. "That will give you time to rest. She will need all of our strength."
"I will be there." Nothing would keep him from Rell's side.
"Good." The king faced him. "I don't foresee her transformation to be as easy as yours."
"I'll give her whatever strength I have." He scooted from the table. His legs quivered, and he grabbed the edge of the wood in an effort not to stumble. Gregory reached for him, but Siban waved him away and straightened. "I'm all right."
"Then come to the house and eat." Willa, Rell's mother, stepped from the shadows. Her white-blond hair glimmered in the candlelight and her eyes sparkled with determination. "We're all going to need to fortify ourselves if we plan on saving my daughter."
Though he wasn't the least bit hungry, under no circumstance would Siban contradict Willa once she'd made a command. The woman was fire and ice mixed into a tiny, unassuming package. He was fairly certain Willa would have gone into the bowels of the Shadow World herself to bring back her daughter's body if Luc and Jade hadn't beaten her to it. Such fierce loyalty was a trait he understood and respected.
He nodded. "I am coming, my lady."
The wind beat against the thick, murky glass of the window, its low howl like a consoling friend. Rell dragged her talon through the dirt on the floor, circling the point in an endless design of interconnecting loops. Though the Bringers had provided her with a comfortable bed and blankets to warm her against the nip in the air, she preferred to feel the cold. Material comforts were something she hadn't had since she was a human and using them now somehow poked at her like a lie.
The cell the Bringers had constructed for her sat in the center of the room, out of reach of the stone walls, which had been warded to keep her in. The iron bars pressed against her back and wings like an icy reminder that though the Bringers were trying to help her, she was still subject to their decision of whether she would live or die.
"You look like a giant bird," said a child's voice from near the door.
Rell dragged her eyes away from her mindless scrawling and leveled her gaze on the small boy. Hayden, she'd thought she'd heard the human woman call him. His blue eyes were round and his brown hair tousled from the wind. Dirt smudged his face and the faint scent of fear mixed with unrepressed curiosity emanated from him. He'd been a regular visitor, though Rell suspected his mother didn't know. "What kind of bird?"
"A love bird." Hayden scooted forward a few inches, his pants scraping against the dirt floor. "Like the pretty green one in the painting in Lord Le Daun's library."
She cocked a brow. "You think I'm pretty?"
His head bobbed up and down. "Sometimes the light from the fire makes your skin sparkle, like jewels. And sometimes, like now, your eyes turn bright green."
"My eyes turn green?"
He nodded again. Except for her reflection in the hot pools in the cavern of the Shadow World, where she'd raised Jade, Rell had never seen her demon reflection. Always she'd assumed her eyes were yellow, like the other Bane. The boy's words pushed the darkness that threatened to steal through her soul back to a tolerable level. His unguarded innocence and honesty encompassed her like the warm blankets she refused to use.
Excerpted from "Chain of Illusions"
Copyright © 2013 Boone Brux.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Hes so hot. Lol
Boone Brux is an author I didn’t know and of whom I’ve never heard about. I confess to have chosen this title for very basic reasons: the synopsis and the cover (LOL). Chain of illusions is the third book in the Bringer and the Bane series. The two previous volumes are Shield of fire and Kiss of the betrayer. It’s a fantasy series in a medieval time full of magic, of parallel word and of shape shifters who change in mythical creatures (dragon, phoenix, …). The action of this novel begins just in the end of the previous book. But the reader who’s discovering the series can follow the story without having read the two others. Yes, there are a lot of characters, who are present in Shield of fire and Kiss of the betrayer, among them the heroes of these two novels, but the author gives enough explanations without going into details and the reader understands quickly the ins and the outs of the main plot of the series. The series turns around a group of warriors, the Bringers, who are enemies of those from a parallel word, the Bane. Each volume is about a main couple but each member of the group has his importance in the series, so nobody is put aside and nobody disappears strangely. I really like this factor. Indeed, there’s nothing more frustrating that knowing the good ones are at war against the baddies and that the heroes of one volume are alone for illogical and useless reasons. Here the author succeeded in keeping the reader’s attention on the main couple, Rell and Siban, and also on the quest carried out by the group of warriors. Boone Brux made me want to read the two first volumes of the series. Rell was kidnapped very young by the Bane and transformed into a demon. When the series begins, the Bringers were killing every demon until they realize the transformed ones could become humans again provided their soul return to their body. The big bad guy of the series had hidden the sleeping bodies in his world. This element incites the Bringers to change their tactic and their main quest is to get back their people’s bodies. Rell’s body was picked up in Kiss of the betrayer and her soul returns to it in Chain of illusions. Siban has been prisoner of the Bane for two years and was able to escape thanks to Rell in one of the previous books. I wouldn’t be able to tell you which one. When the reader begins Chain of illusions, he knows Rell and Siban already love each other. However, having been a demon for several years left consequences in our heroine because she did some terrible things (which are not told in this novel) when she was under the Bane’s influence. Her feeling of culpability is very strong and she’ll have trouble to feel comfortable among her people. Furthermore, the heroes must learn to trust each other for them to be able to move forward in their relationship and in the adventure. I really liked the evolution of Rell and Siban’s relationship, the fact that they never hide their love in spite of everything that separates them. The sex scenes are few, which is logical as their quest is their priority, but they are done well. The author’s style is very lively and the reader quivers at the same time as all the characters. We are afraid for each of them every time they must fight and we want them to get rid of their enemies ASAP. The plot and the suspense are consistent and believable and the decisions are taken in a group. Chain of illusions is for me a good series of adventures and romance. I look forward to reading the sequel especially as the author gives us some indications about the potential future couples and I can’t wait to discover their story.
The tale continues as the Bringers learn more about the bane of their existence Vile and his minions. Rell and Sibon’s story blossoms and the reader is immersed in the couples journey to finding the balance in their relationship. Love has many tests for these two. Rell helped Sibon while he was in the Bane prison. He fell in love with her demon and hopes that she will love him once she’s returned to her human form. The years under the control of the Bane have given Rell a foundation of understanding that Sibon is vexed to understand. The conflict that this brings to the story is intriguing and frustrating for the young couple. Trust is a large obstacle in their path. The story is fast paced and ended way too soon! I can’t wait for the next installment!
Rell has lived in the Shadow World of the Bane for thirteen years. She has been rescued and regained her humanity. Now that she has obtained her full power, she is fighting with Siban and the other Bringers to stop the treachery and find her peace. Boone Brux is a masterful storyteller. This book is well plotted. All the characters are well defined and filled with deep emotions. Whether you love them or hate them, they grab your attention and pull you into their story. This is her third book in the Bringer and The Bane series and they just keep getting better. She balances action and suspense with love and deep emotions. I couldn't put this book down.
Another hit by Boone Brux! I loved everything about this book! I have yet to be disappointed by her and don't see it happing anytime soon
This is Esmeralda "Rell" and Siban's story. It is also about rescuing the converted Bringers from the Shadow World and Vile. Great book. It covers the adjustment Rell has to go through internally after her conversion as well as the adjustment her family and the other Bringers have to go through to accept her as part of the group. This book also tackles the hard subject of PTSD in both the Rell and Siban characters which is part of what brings them together. Boone Brux does a great job covering these subjects as well as creating an interesting story about the Bringers and the Bane. There are several signification revelations and plot developments in this book. One of the revelations is concerning Icarus. Icarus is a Bane introduced in the first book. Even though he was a loathsome character in the first book, Ms Brux created him in such a way that I really liked him. Through the previous 2 books she has revealed more and more about the character and my like of him as a character has increased. Overall strong book and strong series as I've come to expect. A definite recommendation.
This is the third in a strong romantic fantasy series. This is Esmeralda "Rell" and Siban's story. Like the books before there is a ton of action and adventure but we also get a boatload of surprises in this book. We find out more about the past and are given clues as to the future. If you are looking for a well-rounded, well written tale with heroes, magic and monsters this is for you.. I received an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.