17-year-old Prince Sylas of Killeagh wants what every one else wants: control over his own life. When he tries to run away from home and escape an arranged marriage, the last thing he expects is to fall in love with a robber in the woods. Hiding behind a mask, the robber girl seems to lead a life of freedom Sylas has only dreamed of. Their adventure comes to an end when the Castle Killeagh guards hunt Sylas down and he’s forced to return home. He convinces his parents to allow him to find the girl again and consider her as a candidate for marriage, but he only has until the next full moon to find her, or all bets are off.
Death has a name, and it is Crwys. As a ban sidhe, her job is to visit the great houses of The Summer Isle and keen out the living to prepare them for death. King Sionnach has far outlived his days and it is time he cross to the Unliving World. When she arrives, a young prince named Sylas intervenes and offers to go in his grandfather’s stead. This break with tradition, and selfless sacrifice, move Crwys into loving Sylas, who looks so much like a shadow from her past. But when he crosses her to be with his true love, he invokes the wrath of a woman scorned.Rós is just a little, aura-seeing, red hen whose master believes she is chosen by the gods. Her arrival at King Sionnach’s court is insignificant to Sylas at the time, but their destinies are interwoven. Can she help Sylas save himself from the curse Crwys has planned for him? Or will he become a fallen frog prince?A NOTE FROM OUR HERO:
“Once upon a time, I fell in love. Madly, deeply. With my whole being. I’d do anything for the girl who robbed me of my heart.
I tried to save her…
But Darkness came. The ban sidhe, Crwys, death herself, wants me for her own. She thinks I am someone from her past, and she will not rest until I submit.
I have secrets. Some I can barely live with myself for, and every night I dream of two women. One I cannot save, the other I cannot escape….”
—Prince Sylas of Killeagh
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Sylas stalked the driver of a hay wagon bound for the king’s castle through a tavern. The hay driver took up a seat in a corner with a friend, but the prince boldly sat at the center of the boisterous conversation. Small town gossip had become one of his favorite pastimes while indentured to the blacksmith in Coad. Gossip spread like wildfire. Here was no different.
He kept his covered head low, plunking down a gold coin in exchange for a flagon of mead. He was always sure to wear his gloves and coverings when in public, so as not to startle anyone. Hearing the townspeople prattle on about their daily lives reminded him of his days in the throne room. With a smirk, he leaned back in his chair and croaked softly, “Sylas Mortas.”
No one seemed to hear at first. He casually locked his hands behind his head and croaked again, “Sylas Mortas.”
He repeated it a few moments later. The conversation at a nearby table paused. Sylas listened carefully to the two men sitting there.
“Say, you remember that old legend about Sylas Mortas?” asked the one man to the other.
“What about it?”
“He was a terrible son of a sídhe,” he said with a shiver.
“How do you know? That was nigh eighty years ago.”
Sylas took a slug from his flagon. He spoke over his shoulder. “I heard he killed virgins for fun.”
One of the men at the other table pointed to him. “See? He knows.”
“What does he know?” the other man muttered.
Sylas drank again. “Met him once.”
The two men fell quiet.
“The Sylas Mortas,” Sylas croaked a little louder, garnering the attention of other patrons.
“How could you have met ‘im? He’s dead.”
“I know. Bumped into him on my way here. Got lost in the bogloch.”
More of the tavern dwellers turned in their seats. Sylas continued. “He’s not as handsome as the legend says. Then again, he’s been dead a long time. You knew that though. Did you know he escaped?” Sylas tipped his flagon and drained it. He held it upside down over the table and cocked his head as a single drop fell out. He shook the flagon, acting dismayed that it was empty. Someone tossed the barkeep a coin and demanded this poor traveler be offered another drink. When it arrived, Sylas continued.
He placed a hand on his heart, pretending to tremble. “It was awful. Terrifying. The stench of the bog. The hungry, buzzing gnats.” He nodded to one of the patrons. “You ever been there?”
The patron, a fat, squat, balding man, nodded frightfully.
“Well.” Sylas smacked his mouth. “You know how awful it is. That son of a sídhe rose from the water in a belch of green bubbles. He bore his fangs at me. Yes, fangs.”
Gasps rose from the crowd like the sound of waves rushing the beach.
“The legend said he was a handsome lad. Red of hair, face kissed by the sun god. But no longer. Oh, no! He’s green now. Like a frog, and yet… not. Tall as a man, horrific to look at. I saw my reflection in his eyes as he breathed over me with long, yellow nails, and just dripping with spittle from those saw-like teeth of his.” A woman in the background swooned and fainted. Sylas forged ahead, breathlessly. “I begged for my life.” He faked an upsetting sob. Another flagon was presented to him. He allowed his hands to shake. “Do you know what he said?”
Some of the patrons leaned in. Others shook their heads. The woman who fainted received a good fanning.
“He said he would grant me one wish.”
“Is that how you escaped with your life?”
Sylas drained his flagon greedily. “No.”
“What did you do?”
“Too afraid of the price, I asked him only the one thing that came to my mind. What was he was doing in the bogloch?” Sylas said with a tremble.
Sylas drummed his nails on the table. “Sick and twisted as he was, he will not show his face in the light. That is why he’s been hiding there for decades.” He emphasized the decades bit. “And he will grant a wish to any soul brave enough to seek him in the bogloch, for I did not use mine.”
The patrons hushed.
He had to bite his fist to keep from snorting in laughter. His shoulders convulsed. He hiccuped a breath. Though deliriously silly inside, he appeared to be openly shaken. He knew people appreciated a good story. They paid for the rest of his drinks, consoling him.
He kept an eye trained on the wagon driver who was just as shocked as everyone else. Sylas gripped his final flagon and announced, “The dark prince Sylas Mortas, killer of virgins, does not wish his name to be spoken.” He slammed the empty flagon down a moment later. “For the wishes he grants are closely guarded, stemming from magic deep and terrible. They are not without their price.”
He rose and left, looking for the hay cart outside. When he found it, he hid inside. The driver was not far behind. Sylas smirked as he listened to him speak to someone else. There was fear in his voice, and Sylas knew at once that the driver would run his mouth, eager to tell anyone who would listen of this terrible creature in the bogloch. A bit of theatrics, a portion of truth, and just a twist of the words, Sylas thought, works every time.
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