Book Review: Firewalk with Me by Mychael Black #GayRomance #review #DarkFantasy


Firewalk With Me (Fae-ry Tales 1) by Mychael  Black

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genres: Paranormal, Dark Fantasy
Themes: Gay, Magic, Elves and Magical Creatures
Length: 41 pages

About the Book

Eight years ago, Kyle Stafford had everything a seventeen-year-old kid could want — the latest gadgets, the best clothes, the newest sports car, and a palatial home. A single lapse in judgment changed everything. Now he’s lucky if he eats once a day. Taking refuge in a small cave to avoid a torrential downpour, he’s hoping for a safe place to sleep. What he gets is far from restful… and definitely not safe.

Roen of House Vakeor takes his job as a guard very seriously. When his patrol leads him to one of the hidden portals to the humans’ side, he stumbles — quite literally — into a young human male sleeping right at his realm’s front door. Whether the human knows where the entrance is or not, Roen’s duty requires him to take the young man prisoner — back to House Vakeor.

Purchase at Changeling Press


This is my first time reading a book by Mychael Black, and I really enjoyed it! I love books about the fae and I can’t wait for the rest of the series to become available. Firewalk with Me is book one in the Fae-ry Tales series. Roen’s character drew me in from the beginning, and I wanted to know everything about him. My heart hurt for Kyle and what he’d been through with his family, and I was so glad that Roen gave him a chance. The chemistry between the two was intense, and I hope we see more of them in future books in the series. The story ended with not quite all of the loose ends tied up, but it was apparent that it was done that way on purpose, leaving the reader hungry for the next book.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆


I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.



Book Review: Kraken’s Prey by Echo Ishii #review #newrelease #LGBT #fantasy #BDSM


Can the Kraken convince Aristad to stop his pirate ways and love him once more?


Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genres: Dark Fantasy, BDSM
Themes: Shapeshifter (other), Gay
Length: 66 pages

About the Book

Pirate Aristad, Captain of the Night Witch, is always on the lookout for treasure. Knowing where his former captor, Black Death Joe, hid his loot makes it all the easier. An abandoned manor holds a secret stash, but Aristad knows it comes with a price — the treasure is guarded by a creature that is half man and half beast. It is the Kraken in one of his many forms.

Aristad can’t resist the Kraken’s pull — he gives into sexual cravings that only the Kraken can fulfill, but he knows once his first mate, Delacroix, discovers his secret, mutiny will follow. Has he made too many mistakes to return to the life he left behind, and follow Kraken into the sea?

Purchase at Changeling Press


It’s been a while since I read a pirate romance, and I loved the twist at the end about who Aristad truly was. It’s no secret from the beginning that he’s something different, but I wasn’t quite certain what. I was pleasantly surprised. Kraken was both powerful and endearing, and I fell in love with him quite easily. I was so glad they had a happily-ever-after. The story was well-written, and the descriptive writing was beautiful. Overall, I really enjoyed the story. The author pulled me in from the first page, and I couldn’t stop reading until the very end. Excellent job, Ms. Ishii!

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆


I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.


Sunday Snippet: Conquest by Jacquelyn Frank #DarkFantasy #BDSM #NewRelease @changelingpress

Melena has power to wield, but is she woman enough to guide Valerian into betraying Vicktor? 


Conquest (Mine to Take 2) by Jacquelyn  Frank

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Angela Knight
Genres: Dark Fantasy, BDSM, Alternate Universe, Men and Women in Uniform


Valerian sat staring out his window. In his hand he held a missive from the Eastern Plains, where the Moglu rebels were stirring up more unrest. It was hard to subjugate a people when their heroes continued to elude capture. People were looking to the rebels’ leader, Grulon Ni Coro, to free them from tyranny. But in a twist of fate, a stunning unintentional victory, Grulon Ni Coro’s blood sister was now in Valerian’s harem.

He wondered what Grulon would do if he knew his sister Melena was shisha to Valerian — if he knew she was becoming willing and compliant for him. If he knew Valerian was going to strive to make her love him one day. He was unlike his brother in that way. Vicktor felt fear led to ultimate control. Valerian desired domination as well, but on a completely different level. He preferred loyalty to fear.

Valerian folded the missive and snapped his fingers sharply. A servant appeared at his elbow. “Take this and place it on my table, directly in front of my chair.”

“Yes, Sir,” the small female said softly before taking the letter and hurrying to do as instructed.

It did him no good to sit here and mull over things he could not control. Vicktor was not one of those things. Valerian had learned to manage his brother. It took a certain skill to do so. It took a man willing to spend all his time and energy balancing on the precipice between doing enough and going too far.

Valerian sighed and pushed to his feet. His mind would not rest. Why could he not just be satisfied with his life the way it was? What was it he was searching for, anyway? He was afraid one day he would get sick of his brother’s warmongering — or he would get sick of his brother, period.

And do what? What would or could he do? Turn against his brother? Try to become emperor himself? No. He did not want that mantle. It was too heavy. He was his brother’s general, a cunning tactician who had yet to be bested in any undertaking. One day a better tactician, a better soldier, would be brought to bear against Valerian. Oh, what a worthy battle that would be. He longed for that. A worthy battle. What he did now, for his brother, was not so worthy. He invaded the lands of innocent people, killed their men, and enslaved their people. All under his brother’s commands. Were it up to him…

But it wasn’t up to him. What he needed was a worthy diversion.

He needed something fresh and exciting. Something new.

He whistled sharply, and another servant popped up beside him.

“Yes, Sir?” he asked softly.

“Tell Anajou to prepare Melena for my pleasure tonight.”

“Yes, Sir.” The servant hastened off to do as instructed.

Valerian crossed the room to his bed and eyed the room critically for a moment. He wanted to make certain he had everything he needed. He wanted to know he could take his time with his new shisha, the latest lady to join his harem.

He had his favorites. His top three were the harem mothers, the women who cared for and guided all the other shishas — Anajou, Daria, and Hassa, the original three who had begun his harem. The three of them had been a gift from his brother on the day Vicktor’s first child, a daughter, was born. Valerian had not been allowed to keep a harem until that birth five years ago. Even though he had a harem now, none of his women was allowed to get pregnant and give birth until one of Vicktor’s shishas finally gave birth to a son, thus securing the succession of his empire.

Valerian pulled open his top dresser drawer, withdrew a key, and unlocked the chest at the foot of the bed. Unlocked, but did not open it. He knew what was in there. He would access the contents a little later, after Melena had been brought to him.

He smiled to himself when he thought of Melena. She was full of fire and defiance. But now, after spending a day and a night in his company, she was softening. She was confused. She didn’t know what to make of the situation she found herself in. He needed to gain her trust. In order to do that he needed to keep the promise he had made to her to find her sisters and bring them to her in safety… provided they were still alive and could be found. That was his next task. He could tell just how special she was. She could be very important to him. Yet trust was needed on both sides. It would take a lot for him to come to trust her… if she could be trusted. He didn’t know her well enough yet. But she showed incredible promise.

First he must break her down. Not break her will. He wouldn’t want that. Her will was one of the most beautiful things about her. He must break down the walls that stood between them. Walls like her hatred for his people. Her inherent mistrust of men… something she might not even realize she had. He wasn’t sure yet. He needed to break through this idea she had that giving in to him would be the same as losing herself. That was going to be the tricky part.

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Jacquelyn Frank

Jacquelyn lives in the Western North Carolina mountain area around Asheville. After a lifetime of striving to be good enough to be published, she has enjoyed the many blessings her fans have rained on her with their loyalty over the years. With four sisters and other family scattered up and down the Eastern Seaboard, and a history of living all across the USA herself, she still always finds ways to give a nod to her native New York in her work.

Jacquelyn lives with her three “children,” a trio of domestic shorthaired cats whose personalities have often inspired aspects of her characters. A former sign language interpreter and substitute teacher, she is a powerful advocate of reading and writing. She is known for her persistent gifts of books to her nieces and nephews, as well as all the other children in her life, in an effort to see them love both as much as she does. She believes there is nothing more rewarding than the imagination and all it inspires, and nothing more tragic than illiteracy.

Feel free to contact her at or visit her website at and follow her on and

#NewRelease – Valerian by Jacquelyn Frank #BDSM #DarkFantasy @changelingpress

When Vicktor threatens Melena she pushes Valerian to rebel. But Valerian’s not a man to be mastered.


Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Angela Knight
Genres: Dark Fantasy, BDSM. Alternate Universe

Valerian Jorku is second born heir to a massive throne overseeing the largest country in many lands, a country that is ever growing, thanks to his power hungry brother Vicktor, the emperor. But Vicktor is a cruel master and Valerian grows increasingly restless as he experiences his brother’s brutal nature and its effect on others.

Melena, a newly acquired slave girl he is conditioning to his pleasure, whispers nightly of his responsibilities to the people and how those responsibilities should outweigh his honorable intentions toward a brother who is clearly insane. Should he listen to this woman, sister to a rebel thorn in his side, or should he continue to honor his father’s last wishes and be Vicktor’s silent general, doing whatever he asks, no matter how wrong?

When Vicktor threatens her life and begins to turn Valerian’s women against him, Melena seizes the opportunity to push Valerian further in the right direction. But Valerian is not a man to be mastered. He is the one in control and ultimately it is he who holds all of their fates and futures in his hands.

Available February 23rd at Changeling Press

Pre-Order for March 2nd:
Amazon / B&N / iTunes / Kobo



Valerian Jorku looked down at his newest captive, Melena, and tried to use the sight of her to soothe his troubled mind. And yet she was the cause of some of his troubling thoughts.

She had said some things to him recently… things that plagued him. Comments about the dictatorial ways of his brother. Vicktor was a savage man. Not that he wasn’t intelligent, for he was frighteningly so. His brother had led his armies into wars that had more than doubled the size of the already vast Jorku nation. Although, in all honesty, it had been Valerian who had led the actual armies. It had been Valerian’s tactical know-how in the field that had allowed him victory. But his brother took credit for both his own achievements and Valerian’s. Vicktor was like that with all things. What was his was his… and what was yours was his, as well.

This was to say nothing of how he treated people as a whole in other ways. Vicktor was a cruel man with a vicious streak in him that ran a league wide. He had never met an enemy he couldn’t defeat, and that made him proud and arrogant, regardless of the fact that it was Valerian who had defeated those enemies. As far as Victor was concerned Valerian was simply a tool which he used with mastery.

Valerian had always known his place and had respected it. It had been given to him by his late father along with a plethora of other graces and wisdom. He had stayed true to his father’s desires long after his death. And one of his father’s desires was that Valerian never rise up against his brother. That he dutifully accept his place as second son and do all he could to support Vicktor’s rule.

His father couldn’t have known what a monster his eldest son would become. He couldn’t have known that, by association, by being his brother’s right arm, Valerian had become a monster as well.

But this woman… this slave… she had spoken simple truths to him, and he had listened as if hearing them for the first time.

Your brother has no honor. You surely must see that,” she had said. “Perhaps by following his dictates you are betraying the people who died at his hand and in his wars. Did you ever think of that?”

He had thought of it. He had thought of it for years. But since she had said as much he had thought of it with constancy he’d never exhibited before. What made her words so special that it was as if he was hearing them for the first time?

Perhaps it was because she herself was a victim of his brother’s wars. Her country had been dominated by Vicktor’s armies, and now she was a slave. Her sisters were slaves. Her brother was forced into hiding and led a small band of rebels that had no hope of ever making a difference in the fight to regain independence from the Jorku nation.

She wasn’t a slave any longer, he argued with himself. She had been elevated to shisha, a woman of Valerian’s royal harem — an honor among women. And she was also his current favorite… a place of privilege within the harem itself.

From her perspective she was now being made to serve the man who had been the cause of all her family’s misery. Yet she was coming around. She had thought his predilections perverse and cruel at first, but he believed quite strongly that there was great pleasure to be found in pain and more so in the relationship that developed between a master and his shisha. Now she was coming around to his way of thinking. She was beginning to bend to his hand.

It was a war of sorts in and of itself — a far more personal one. One where he would one day be able to show his vulnerabilities to her and not fear that she would use them against him. He craved such a relationship. He craved a place where he could rest his head and speak of his troubles without fear of his brother hearing about it or fear that others would perceive him as weak for it.

He had trained other women, but he had never reached the point of full trust with any of them. He hoped, as he always did, that this would be different. That she would be different.


Jacquelyn lives in the Western North Carolina mountain area around Asheville. After a lifetime of striving to be good enough to be published, she has enjoyed the many blessings her fans have rained on her with their loyalty over the years. With four sisters and other family scattered up and down the Eastern Seaboard, and a history of living all across the USA herself, she still always finds ways to give a nod to her native New York in her work.

Jacquelyn lives with her three “children,” a trio of domestic shorthaired cats whose personalities have often inspired aspects of her characters. A former sign language interpreter and substitute teacher, she is a powerful advocate of reading and writing. She is known for her persistent gifts of books to her nieces and nephews, as well as all the other children in her life, in an effort to see them love both as much as she does. She believes there is nothing more rewarding than the imagination and all it inspires, and nothing more tragic than illiteracy.

Feel free to contact her at or visit her website at and follow her on and

Jackie’s Changeling Page:

Sunday Snippet: Way of the Wolf (Northlanders Boxed Set) by Shelby Morgen #PNR #werewolves #Fantasy #RomanceBooks

The shape-shifting women of the Clan of the Wolf fight for their very survival…


2nd Edition Way of the Wolf (Northlanders) by Shelby  Morgen

Genres: Paranormal, Suspense, Dark Fantasy

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Length: 344 pages

“You shall break my mind,” he whispered.

She slid slowly back down his rigid member, rocking back slightly as she enveloped him all the way to his balls. “I would own more than thy body,” she told him, reaching this time to flick her tongue over the tip of his right nipple. He thrust up into her harder. “I would have thy heart.”

He laughed, though a little breathlessly. “You already have it, M’Lady. You have owned me body and soul since I first looked up at you from my place in the mud. Do you not understand what Mael amin means?”

She raised herself up slowly to her knees again. “It is more than a pretty name?”

“My heart,” he whispered. “It means my heart.”

Her smile turned wondrous. “My heart. Mael amin. Ye have my heart as well, Mael amin.”

The chains of a fear he had not known he harbored fell away as he surged up into her hot, wet cunt. This time she made no move to withdraw, but rocked hard against him again and again, driving him home to the place where he’d always wanted to be — the place where he had but dreamed of being. His restraint broken, release came quickly, but not before she convulsed around him with a strength that threatened to shatter his sanity. It was his turn to hold her in his arms as hers lost their strength and she toppled to his chest.

Mael amin?” Her voice was but a whisper against the quiet of the night wind.

“My love?”

“If ye would stay with me, then ye should know the truth.”

His lips quirked up into a slight smile. “There is more?”

Her tone remained serious. “I have been sent to House Yarishet for more than just simple negotiations. The House of Yarishet holds a talisman of import to House Lochinvar. This talisman was stolen from our house long ago. Still, I canna’ simply burst through the door and demand its return. To slaughter the entire house of Yarishet over a talisman would be in bad form. We would lose many political allies.”

Relief surged through him. If that was all… He dragged his tongue over the tip of her still darkened nipple. “Perhaps I can help you.”

Her breath caught in her throat, making her response a strangled sound. “How?”

His body was recovering already, wanting her more than he had ever imagined he could want a woman. The legends were true. She was as an intoxicant to him. “I have been often within the walls of the keep at Yarishet. I know the castle layout well.” As he indeed knew the layout of her body.

She smiled up at him. “Ye may well be useful in other places than beside me in bed.”

“Useful?” he mocked, nipping at her bottom lip. “Is that what I am to you? Useful?” His rigid cock pressed against her thigh.

“And entertaining.”

He pinned her hands to her side, his body over hers, brushing her mouth with his lips again. “Allow me to entertain you again.”

“Ye shall entertain me to death,” she whispered.

Somehow, the words did not sound like an objection.

You can purchase this title at:

Changeling Press / Amazon / B&N / iTunes / Kobo

Find more Shelby Morgen books!

 Praise for the Northlanders

“I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed the book, but seeing is believing! Go grab this book and let the heat begin and the addiction start. I for one am now addicted to Shelby Morgen’s books, which are oh so worthy of a look!”

— Wendy, Fallen Angel Reviews, for A Sorcerer’s Seduction

“The action develops smoothly in this story with some surprises along the way. The sex scenes are electric with both leads characters being aggressive and strong. It’s a ride guaranteed to heat up the reader.”

4.5 Stars! — Kirra Pierce, Just Erotic Romance Reviews, for A Slave’s Price

“Extremely erotic, this story will literally have you squirming on your seat. It is the sort of book that you need to set aside occasionally to regain some composure.”

4.5 Stars! — Mireya Orsini, Just Erotic Romance Reviews, for A Sorcerer’s Seduction


Be sure to leave a comment on this post for a chance to win this free book – A Kiss in the Dark by Shelby Morgen!

A Kiss in the Dark (Duet) by Shelby  Morgen

The storm of the century dropped her in the arms of a stranger-Now she can’t get him out of her mind…

Spotlight: Kraken’s Prey by Echo Ishi #LGBT #Fantasy #NewRelease


Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genres: Dark Fantasy, BDSM, Shifters, Gay

Pirate Aristad, Captain of the Night Witch, is always on the lookout for treasure. Knowing where his former captor, Black Death Joe, hid his loot makes it all the easier. An abandoned manor holds a secret stash, but Aristad knows it comes with a price — the treasure is guarded by a creature that is half man and half beast. It is the Kraken in one of his many forms.

Aristad can’t resist the Kraken’s pull — he gives into sexual cravings that only the Kraken can fulfill, but he knows once his first mate, Delacroix, discovers his secret, mutiny will follow. Has he made too many mistakes to return to the life he left behind, and follow Kraken into the sea?


There was no sound of footfalls or breathing, though something deep inside me told me that we were not alone down in that cellar. Even with Atlantis gone, the old gifts of my homeland told me: there was another mind out there.

“Stay here,” I commanded.

I rounded the next corner. No one followed this time. In the dim light, I stared directly at a rotted wooden door. I hesitated. It may have been a prison but whomever or whatever had been there escaped long ago.

I took several cautious steps toward the door and pushed it open.

I held my breath.

There wasn’t much to see at first, just a stone floor was covered in straw. No grisly remains. No stench of death. No splattered blood.

I let out a breath.

This room was no prison but something dwelled here. I felt the tingling in my bones.

I swung the lamp around to glance at all corners.

There they were… two large trunks pushed against the wall.

Delacroix shoved past me and stood in the middle of the room. He took one look at the treasure chests and his eyes went wide.

“Damn! It’s all ours,” he said with glee.

“Wait,” I told him.

Delacroix turned to me.

“There’s a fortune in front of us,” he hissed at me.

“Exactly. Two trunks filled with treasure just sitting there,” I said.

I turned to the others who’d joined us in the room. They all stared wide-eyed, greed written across their faces.

“Before you touch it, ask yourselves why unguarded treasure has stayed here all this time?”

That made them stop. Pirates are a suspicious lot. We all knew that gold didn’t sit there for the taking unless there was a price to be paid.

“I’d listen to your captain if I were you,” came a deep, dark voice out of the shadows.

Purchase Kraken’s Prey:

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About Echo

Echo Ishii loves to write stories of the fantastic — from high fantasy to high tech and everything in between. She is a long time science fiction fan, as well as a fan of all things fantasy and paranormal — classic sci fi movies, shows, and even radio dramas.

Check out Echo’s other Changeling Press titles!


Spotlight: A Slave’s Price by Shelby Morgan #DarkFantasy #kindleunlimited @changelingpress


$3.99 or FREE with Kindle Unlimited

Purchase at Amazon

The shape-shifting women of clan Wolf make the best lovers on earth – if they don’t kill you.

The Way Of The Wolf… In a world befraught with racial prejudices and dangerous lovers, Humans, Barbarians, Dwarfs, Elves, Fey, Orcs, Ogres, and Trolls vie for the same territories. Lady Evalayna buried her past and sacrificed her personal desires to raise House Lochinvar to High House over all the Wolf Clan. Will her own children find love? Or will Evalayna rule their lives as her mother sought to control hers?

Politics… Cassadara, youngest daughter of House Lochinvar, is to travel across the wastelands to the northernmost outpost of the Humans. Her mission: negotiate a truce with the House of Yarishet. Just the sort of assignment the young Shaman expects — pointless and boring. Until her party is attacked by marauding Orcs — Orcs? In the wastelands? — and she’s left without an escort. To make matters worse, now she must negotiate with the Dwarven Slave Trader Argolyn for a Warrior guide.

Legend… The shape-shifting women of Clan Wolf make the best lovers on Earth — if they don’t kill you. Mâkakao has dreamed of a Wolf woman for his own since he came of age. Yet as he’s soon to discover, every fantasy has its price!


The noise of the marketplace rose like the shrill whine of wildfire. The press of bodies around her became oppressive, sucking the air out of her lungs. Cassadara shifted her armor, automatically standing taller, straighter, as if her imperious stance could somehow remove her from the filth and squalor. Her nose wrinkled in distaste, but she refused to acknowledge the underling who groveled before her. The Dwarf was not worthy of her attention.

The trader’s voice droned on, extolling the virtues of yet another chunk of Human waste. The slaves all looked the same. The Dwarf dragged them out of their pen in a string, chained together like so many goats on a tether. Warriors, indeed. None of them would even raise their eyes to look at her. She terrified them. To a man, they would rather die here than travel with her.

Something inside her turned cold as the arctic spring. These Humans were nothing. Spineless bundles of flesh huddled together, trying to hang on to their miserable existence. They meant nothing to her. Let them stay here and earn their freedom in the pit if they could.

Cassadara crushed the courier’s message and tossed the paper into the fire. Unfortunately, she couldn’t rest until she had fulfilled Lady Evalayna’s directive. Irritated, perhaps unreasonably so, she thumped the small bag of gold coins against her leg. Even with the words burned to a crisp, Cassadara could hear Mother’s voice as if the Lady had just spoken aloud.

“Although I am pleased to ken ye survived the Orcs’ assault on thy escort, I fear for thy safety. I wouldna’ have ye travel alone. Go ye to the Dwarf called Argolyn in the City of Stone. This vile creature claims to have one of our own amongst his slaves. Such a thing canna’ be allowed. In freeing this Warrior, ye shall also secure a second sword arm to stand at thy back. May the gods be with ye.”

A second sword arm. A slave. Cassadara felt her frustration mount as she surveyed the expanse of Human degradation. She would find no Warriors here. She had sent to Mother asking for a company of Northland Soldiers — her own men, who would gladly follow her into battle if need be rather than cower in fear of her while the enemy hacked them to pieces. Instead Mother sent the Mage Shammall and a small bag of gold. Cassadara would rather have traveled alone than take on the added burden of another responsibility. But there was no defying Mother.

At least the errand boy had spirited himself away after delivering Mother’s instructions. She’d rather deal with the Dwarf than that damnable Mage.

“This one is a true Warrior, Lady. He is strong and well-endowed.”

Cassadara looked down, trying to focus on the matter at hand. Argolyn was attempting to call her attention to yet another of the objects huddled in the mud. His sales pitch, delivered in Dwarven, sounded like he was trying to clear phlegm from his throat.

“Stand up!” the flesh-monger hissed. The slave made no move to obey. The trader kicked the battered body at his feet. The Dwarf received as his reward a glare of defiance from deep green eyes glinting like ivy-etched steel. Her attention secured, Cassadara watched the scene unfold like a play. The trader yanked ferociously on the chain by which his property was bound, cutting off the slave’s air supply. Cassadara wondered why blood didn’t spurt from the Human’s neck.

The Dwarf kicked the slave yet again, ignoring the choking wheeze of the Human’s strangled breath. The lack of oxygen had the desired effect. Almost insolently, the man at Argolyn’s feet rose. Grabbing hold of the chain threaded through the torc around his neck, he hauled himself up hand over hand, using the sturdy Dwarf as anchorage. Up and up and up the Human rose, until he towered over the Dwarf, who reached barely to his crotch.

Undaunted, the trader fisted his hand in the fabric of the man’s tunic, yanking the thin covering from the battered body with one swift jerk. A grubby paw poked at the slave’s testicles, as if to make sure Cassadara had an unobstructed view. “You see, Mistress, there is enough here to satisfy even a member of the Wolf Clan!”

To his credit, the Human barely flinched as the Dwarf displayed him.

Cassadara’s focus lingered for a moment on a cock that hinted, even flaccid, at enough size and girth to be worth a second look, before she let her gaze wander back to the slave’s face. His attention still centered on the Dwarf, his eyes blazed with cold, bare defiance. This one could not have been a slave for long. Although his body had been damaged, his spirit had yet to be broken. Still, he had obviously learned better than to actually attempt to attack the Dwarf. One move of the slave’s hands, chained though they were, and the guards would beat the man to a bloody pulp.

What did his spirit matter? She wasn’t here to secure a personal slave for the night’s usage. She didn’t want a man who would fight her, and the Human would never travel willingly at her side. Besides, without the guards around, the Human might be hard to control. He was not the Clansman Mother had sent her to free. Cassadara didn’t bother to look back at Argolyn. She answered in the common tongue of merchants, refusing to expend the energy necessary to spit out the words in the Dwarf’s own language. “Thy merchandise is unacceptable.” She turned away, as if to move on.

“You need not fear me, Mistress. You would be safe with me.” The words were spoken in High Elven, a language that managed to capture the essence of poetry in its most common vocabulary. The voice caressed her, sliding over her skin like silk in the darkness, little more than a low rumble that might have come from Earth herself.


Cassadara raised an eyebrow in surprise as she turned back, surveying the man again. The Human had dared to address her — and in a language almost unknown in these parts. He had taken great risk to speak to her privately. Why? ‘Twas a foolish risk that might well earn him yet another beating.

Cassadara’s curiosity trapped her. Did he not know who she was? Did he not know what she was?

Deep green eyes clashed with hers, anything but subservient. Surprisingly, she saw no trace of fear. Instead she saw wariness mixed with desperation. The Human knew his fate. Unless she purchased his contract, the man would undoubtedly die here.

So. This slave was willing to cross the lines of race and class to save his own life. Yet somewhere within his battered body the man retained enough pride to keep him from begging.


She stepped closer — close enough to smell the foul odor coming from the pen where the men were kept. By the gods, this one was tall. He was almost as tall as her brother Tyrell — the slave was certainly the tallest Human she had ever seen. Taller by far than her own six-foot-four. At this distance she would actually have to tilt her head to meet the man’s eyes, so she didn’t. Instead she trailed her gaze over his body, surveying every inch of him, looking beneath the filth to see the long, lean muscles on a powerful frame, capable of grueling days of marching and hard hours of fighting.

The Human was too large and well built to have escaped the arena. The spectators would love to see this one fight. She let her gaze wander the length of him again, frankly curious about those other attributes the Dwarf had mentioned. This time his cock responded, jumping to life as if she had stroked him with her fingers instead of her eyes.


He was indeed well endowed — far better equipped than she would have expected for a Human. As she watched, his cock grew harder, bobbing its deep crimson head as if straining to reach her.

She hadn’t even touched him yet and he was already hard for her?

Despite the chill of the arctic spring, a fine sheen of sweat stood out on the Human’s body now, trickling down his smooth, naked chest. She found herself imagining licking the sweat from his bronzed skin. Her nipples hardened at the thought of what he might be able to do with that equipment.

Did he want her? Or merely the freedom her money could purchase for him?

She’d heard tales of Human lovers. The Humans might not be good for aught else, but they were said to make incredible mates. She followed the line of sweat back up, gradually returning her attention to the man’s face. He let her look her fill without comment, though his cock jumped again as if she’d caressed him rather than merely admired from a few feet away. A single drop of moisture leaked from its tip. She wondered briefly what he might taste like. Just how different were Humans?

Cassadara hid her smile. She was fairly certain he was not what Mother had had in mind.

She answered in the common tongue, wanting to be sure the Dwarf understood every word she said. “Why should I trust ye, Human? I know what thy people think of my kind. Ye call my race Barbarians. Yet ye condone this.”

The sweep of her hand indicated not just the squalid pens huddled at the base of the cliffs, but the amphitheatre-like arena at the far edge of the camp, and indeed the whole system by which men were bought and sold like sled dogs.

“Why would I pay this Dwarf for thy services? As soon as we are away from this place, ye shall try to kill me. Then ye shall die, and I shall be out a great deal of gold. I have no time to worry over the likes of ye.”

“Then do not hold me as a slave,” he answered, once again in Elven. “Let the price of my freedom be my indenture. I will pledge myself to your service. Allow me to earn my freedom and I will prove my loyalty beyond the boundaries of race and class.”

The Dwarf looked perturbed by the banter, but if he did not understand, Cassadara surely would not translate. This time she answered the Human in Elven as well. “Ye would never live to see thy freedom, Human. No’ where I go.”

The man didn’t deny the truth of her words. Instead he stared back at her, holding her attention with the intensity of his gaze, his eyes asking for her faith. “I know where you are bound, M’Lady. I will gladly die beside you if that is the will of the gods.” He swayed unsteadily on his feet, righting himself before he toppled back into the mud. “Better to die in battle at your side than here in the pits for the entertainment of the Lords and Ladies. Death in the arena robs a Warrior of his honor.”

Cassadara examined the Human again, using her gift this time. A long half-healed gash ran the length of his shield arm from shoulder to elbow. Heat radiated from the wound, a sure sign the cut was infected. She looked deeper. Beneath the bruises his ribs were cracked, and his knuckles were swollen and bloody. He had undoubtedly survived several rounds in the arena already. His face, half-hidden under untrimmed fur, looked hollow and gaunt.

He’d take a great deal of healing to be of any use. If she bought this one she would be spending days in this hellhole of a town before the man was ready to travel. Worse yet, healing him would leave her exhausted and vulnerable — and at his mercy.

Cassadara let her gaze drift down to that thick, weeping cock again. “If I buy thy indenture, what will ye do for me?”

“Whatever you wish, M’Lady.” Deep green eyes warmed slightly, lending character to the face where she’d seen only anger and despair. “In my homeland, I am known as a man of my word. I pledge to serve you loyally.”

Cassadara touched the tip of her tongue to suddenly dry lips. At her frank perusal, the Human’s cock bobbed stiffly against his belly, looking painfully hard. Dampness stained the inside of her thighs. Yes. If he knew how to properly entertain a woman, he might be worth the time and trouble he would undoubtedly cause.

When her gaze traveled back up the length of him, his eyes met hers with a trace of something that might have been a grin. “I can cook.”

The man knew he had her attention. Cassadara fought to keep her expression distant as she turned back to the Dwarf, addressing him once more in the common tongue. “How much?”

Argolyn answered in his own tongue, disdaining the common vernacular. “For you, fifty gold pieces, Mistress.”

“He paid but fifteen,” the Human offered in that same guttural language.

The powerful Dwarf snapped the chain in a move that dumped the man back on his knees in the mud. “Silence! Your upkeep alone has near bankrupted me!”

“I have earned you ten times my purchase price,” the Human argued. “If your word meant anything, I would own my freedom by now!”

If she left the man here, the Dwarf would surely beat him for such audacity. Cassadara stepped between them, distracting the Dwarf. She moved her shoulders in a studied show of disinterest. “This Human is indeed well-endowed, but he is insolent. He is no’ worth the fifteen ye paid for him. Where is the Northland Warrior ye promised?”

The Dwarf allowed himself to be distracted. “This is the Warrior we spoke of, M’Lady. Truly he has done well in the pit, though he has not yet won the Grande Mêlée. That event does not come here until after the thaw.”

Cassadara tapped her foot impatiently. “Warrior or no’, he is no’ one of my people. Ye have lied to Mother. Lady Lochinvar will be much angered with ye.”

Argolyn spread his hands wide, his face a mask of innocence. “He is big. He is strong. He is well equipped. I sent word to Lady Lochinvar only that I had an acceptable candidate. Come back tomorrow. I will have broken him for you.”

Broken. Aye. That he would be. Cassadara felt a surge of pity well up. She suppressed her weaker emotions with the harshness of reality. “I have no time to waste with ye. If he is the best ye have, he will have to suffice. I will give ye thirty and leave with him now.”

“M’Lady, surely you jest. A big strong fighter like this will bring near to one hundred after the Mêlée.”

“Then wait for the Mêlée. Away with ye.” From down below in the mud, eyes flavored with desolation searched for hers. Did he understand nothing of trading? Cassadara intentionally looked away. She spun on her heel and headed toward the gates.

A filthy little hand tugged at her sleeve. “Please, Mistress, let us not haggle over money. I can see you desire this slave. Enjoy him. My gift to you at only forty gold pieces.”

A slight metallic ping sounded as her short sword leaped into her hand. Her voice hissed out low and flat. “Remove thy hand from my person while ye still possess a hand to remove.”

The Dwarf drew back stiffly, but swallowed his pride in the face of the threat in her eyes. “You drive a hard bargain, M’Lady. Thirty it is.”

Her upper lip curled in a sneer. “Twenty-five.”

Argolyn stared up at her for the space of two long, deeply drawn breaths. “Twenty-five.”

The sword slipped soundlessly back into its sheath. Cassadara withdrew the coins from her leather pouch and dropped them. Argolyn picked the coins deftly out of the air as they fell. Short stubby fingers extended a large iron ring toward her. “Your keys, M’Lady.”

She stepped back, refusing to touch the tainted metal. “Ye may keep thy chains.”

“M’Lady! Think what you say! Surely you cannot mean to –”

Her hand still rested on the pommel of her sword. “The purchase is made. The Human belongs to me. I do no’ wish him to serve me in bondage. Remove thy chains.”

The protest died on the Dwarf’s lips. Wordlessly he unlocked the wrist cuffs, yanking the chain through the rings on the torc that shackled the man’s neck. Ignoring both the Dwarf and the pain of the twisted torc, the Human kept his gaze fastened on Cassadara. He still clutched his tattered tunic. Cassadara watched in fascination as he tied the remains about his waist, concealing that rigid cock. Despite his privation, he retained some degree of modesty.

“You were not told to dress!” Argolyn barked, snaking out a grubby paw to yank the shredded tunic away from the man.

Cassadara caught the Dwarf’s wrist in a grip as strong as his own. “Ye shall no’ touch what is mine. No’ now. No’ ever. Neither ye nor any of thy men.”

Rage colored the trader’s face. With his free hand he grasped a talisman hung about his neck on an ancient leather cord. “Take him and be gone.”

Something sharp brushed against her mind. Cassadara dropped the Slaver’s arm, suddenly finding him far too filthy to touch.

“You shall regret your treatment of me,” the Dwarf hissed as he turned and stalked away, rubbing his injured wrist.

“Harm what is mine, and ye shall no’ live to ponder my fate,” Cassadara promised his retreating backside.

Truth be told, she already regretted having dealt with the little Slaver at all. She had no wish to own another, nor be responsible for anyone other than herself. Yet here she was.

She turned back to the Human. Eyes fixed on her feet in a traditional show of subservience, the man knelt before her in the mud, his ripped tunic clutched around him. Ice crystals were already forming in the man’s beard. Pity swayed Cassadara yet again. She unbuckled her cloak and settled the heavy wool over his shoulders. Green eyes raised up to meet hers, still wary, but there was something in them she hadn’t seen there before.


The hope was tempered by uncertainty, but it was there.

The torc still marked the man as a slave. Cassadara saw no smith about whose forge she might use. She hated to touch iron. Still, she would have to touch the man if she was to heal him, probably more than once. Better to deal with the cursed iron now than endure its taint.

Sliding one hand under the twisted band to protect his neck, she closed her eyes and focused on the welded lock. She pictured the metal heating under her fingers until it was soft and malleable. Using all of the strength of her race and her magic, she twisted the welded hasp until the metal crumbled beneath her fingers. The lock sprung, allowing another few inches of space between the ends of the band. As gently as she could, she spread the worn collar apart and removed the hideous thing from about his bloodied neck. Venting her anger on the metal, she flung the filthy piece of iron out across the tundra.

The Human said nothing, only continued to stare up at her as he rubbed dirt stained fingers against the raw wound at his throat.

She extended her hand to him, but he made no move to accept her help. Her temper leapt to the surface again as she let her hand drop back to her side. This was a poor start to things.

No. She would not judge him on the basis of race alone. Perhaps he had simply misread her intent. She tried again, choosing her words with care as she addressed him in his own language. “Are ye fit enough to travel?”

Understanding flickered across his face. Still watching her intently, he rose cautiously to his feet. “Aye, M’Lady.” Even as he spoke, he swayed like a drunkard.

She sighed, knowing he was not fit to go anywhere but to bed. “Have ye a name?”

He blinked in surprise. “To my friends I am known as Mâkakao.”

Cassadara twisted her tongue around the foreign name. “Makâ…”

“Mâkakao,” he repeated.

She laughed at her own clumsiness with the name. “Mâk?”

His lips turned up slightly at one corner. “Mâk.”

“As much as I admire thy body, I would no’ have ye travel with me naked, Mâk. Ye will attract the wrong sort of attention. Get ye to yon merchants and see to thy clothing. Something sturdy, but light enough to travel in. Get ye outfitted. A warm tunic and light armor and a traveling cape. Whatever else ye shall have need of. And get ye a good sword.”

He stared at the bag of coins she pressed into his hand. His voice sounded odd when he finally spoke. “You would trust me in this, M’Lady?”

Cassadara looked up and down the one mud path that ran between the stone huts of the merchants. “Would ye rather remain here?”

A smile, a real one at last, stole through his reserve. The smile touched his face with the promise of beauty. “No. No, M’Lady, I would not.”

“Mâk?” She spoke softly as he started to turn away.

“M’Lady?” On his lips the word sounded like a caress.

“Find ye a bath and a barber.”

Green eyes turned stormy gray. A flush stole over his cheeks. “As you wish, M’Lady.”

He thought she meant him to prepare himself for her bed? The idea was not unpleasant, but he was in no condition to enjoy such exercise at the moment, and she had no wish to kill him. Cassadara smothered her laughter. “Have the barber see to thy arm. I would no’ have thy wound heal badly.”

He flinched as if she had hit him. “‘Tis nothing, M’Lady. A scratch of no importance.”

“Have the wound seen to,” she insisted. “And get ye something to eat. A good dinner may cure what ails ye.”

The Human inclined his head in a show of respect. “M’Lady.”

She liked the way the title sounded when he spoke. Almost as if his words caressed her. Still…”Cassadara. If we are to share this journey, ye might as well know my name.”

One corner of his mouth lifted up. “I know your name, M’Lady. In the language of the Fey, your name means Daughter of the Wind. I think all in these parts know your name by now.”

“Then ye shall have no trouble finding me when ye are outfitted and ready to depart. I shall be at yon tavern at the edge of what passes here for a town. I have paid for a room there for the night, but I would rather leave this place behind us.” She let her attention flick briefly toward the Slaver’s hut. “Have caution. I do no’ trust the Dwarf.”

His eyes warmed slightly. “I will return to you, M’Lady.”

If he did not, she would be out nothing but a small bag of Mother’s coin. She watched the tall Human turn and walk away, admiring the hard angles of his shoulders beneath the cape. Somehow she trusted he would be good to his word. Cassadara thought briefly of the Human’s other attributes and smiled to herself. Perhaps she would not regret this bargain after all.

Even as the thought occurred to her, the Human stumbled up the steps to the nearest merchant’s hut, clutching at the doorframe as he tried to right himself. Cassadara sighed. With a movement as swift as her name implied, she reached his side. Although she was shorter by a hand’s breadth than any of her clansmen, she had at least inherited the strength of her race. She gathered the man into her arms as she would have an injured child. Even through the wool of the cape, she could tell he was burning up with a fever that had not been there a few minutes ago.

Eyes the color of wintergreen sought hers as thick ebony lashes parted. “The Dwarf…”

She too remembered the Dwarf laying his hand on the talisman.

His voice trailed off and his eyes slipped closed, only to jerk suddenly open again. “Please, do not let me die in this place, M’Lady,” he implored. “Not here. The tundra…”

“Ye shall no’ die. No’ here. No’ today. I give ye my word.”

His eyes slid closed again. “Clan of the Wolf is known for keeping its word,” he whispered. As if the effort of speaking had been too much, his head lolled loosely to one side.

The door before her gave way at a kick from her fine steel-clad boot. A tiny merchant woman looked up at them in terror, reaching for a pitiful excuse for a knife.

“I have need of thy assistance,” Cassadara explained calmly. “I shall pay thee well.”

About Shelby

Shelby Morgen loves writing offbeat tales that defy as many rules as possible. She likes chocolate with her peanut butter, suspense with her romance, and kink with her sex. She’s always had a hard time keeping science fiction, fantasy and paranormal from mixing with her kink. Shelby shares her belief in electronic publishing with her longtime friend and partner, Bill, her husband of 35 plus years. Find more of Shelby’s titles at Changeling Press —

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