Duty and Sacrifice: Possessed

The God Jars Saga Book 3

Possessed-Kindle

Valis works as a man possessed, but there’s no outrunning the past.

In war training, Valis advances quickly, but in magic training, he’s lucky not to blow himself up trying to wield his dual magic. Constant growth spurts make him outgrow his training armor and his attraction to his mentor, Tavros, rising to molten levels puts Valis under added pressure.

And there’s one more problem Valis can’t seem to shake—his birth father, Roba. He demands Valis pay him a visit in exchange for information, but his request is one Valis can’t accept.

But Roba is not a man who deals well with being told no, and he will do everything in his power to get his way. And his way may just haunt Valis forever.

Published: December 12, 2017
Publisher: Magelight Press
Cover Artist: Devon Vesper
Genres: FantasyFantasy RomanceM/M Gay Romance

4.9/5

Kindle: $4.99
Paperback: $12.99

Part of the God Jars Saga:

No amount of hard work and dedication could ever prepare Valis for becoming the world’s only hope of survival, but after finding love and true family he’s determined to give that destiny his all.

The God Jars Saga by Devon Vesper is a raw epic tale of strength and love in the face of adversity. If you’re looking for sword & sorcery fantasy with rich character development, intensity, uniqueness, and an unforgettable love story, look no further!

Over two-thousand years ago, one of the ten God Jars went missing.

In the wake of that ancient theft, the god attached to that Jar has become evil and wrought havoc and despair across the world. Brave souls of the Aesriphos order that’s comprised of same-sex mated pairs of noble men and women battle the resulting scourge with magic and might while continuing the endless search to bring the missing god jar home and end the devastation.

But soon may not be soon enough.

In this nine-book epic saga of medieval-esque sword and sorcery, the weight of the world rests in the hands of a single man, but only if he can find the strength within himself to overcome his trauma and face the world as he truly is.

Chapter 1

The squeal hurt Valis’ ears. The worst thing was, it came from his own lungs as Tavros’ mage bolt hit him in the chest. He staggered back a few steps before he caught his balance and rubbed his sternum. “That was less than manly.” He groaned and let out a weak cough. “And I think I inhaled my mint pulp.”

“What happened to your shield?” Tavros asked. He frowned at him and crossed his arms. “It snapped up on instinct before, and now you actually have to think about it?”

“I’m not sure,” Valis admitted. “May we stop a moment so I can calm down?”

“Of course, kid.” He motioned to the bench at the side of the room. “Let’s go have a seat.”

As they sat, Valis closed his eyes and leaned his head on Tavros’ shoulder. His mentor chuckled as he shifted and wrapped his arm about Valis’ shoulders to hold him close. Having that arm wrapped about him was a comfort that Valis hoped he would never take for granted, not after having Tavros’ hate directed at him for so long. “What’s wrong, Valis?”

“I’ve just been thinking, and my mind keeps running in circles.” He shifted to look up at his mentor and fought back a scowl. Tavros was gorgeous, tall and well-muscled with short black hair and the clearest gray eyes Valis had ever seen, like looking at clouds through a pane of clear glass. And something about his slightly crooked teeth did strange things to Valis’ heart and gut every time he smiled. Tavros was dark and stormy, where Valis was sunshine and summer skies with blond hair, blue eyes, and a fading tan from working the farm in his old life.

He couldn’t very well tell Tavros he’d been secretly lusting after him since he’d met him, so he chose a safer topic that had been bothering him. “If Phaerith once roamed the earth as a powerful mage, and mages had magic while he lived… and our magic comes from the Gods, where did Phaerith and the other mages’ magic come from before he ascended?”

Tavros smiled and stared out into some nebulous spot in the arena, or beyond. “Our magic doesn’t come from Phaerith,” he said. “We are either born mages, or we are born laymen. Children from mages have a higher tendency to be born mages themselves, but it isn’t always the case. I’m not sure how the first mages ended up with magic, but our magic doesn’t come from the Gods. The Gods just… enhance it, from my understanding, and assist us in using it to its full extent through prayer.”

A thought had him anxious, but he didn’t know why. Tavros squeezed him again, and he tucked himself closer to his mentor with a lazy purr. Whatever unease had been between them before, Valis no longer felt it and he was glad. “So it can act on our own will without prayer?” Valis asked.

“Mm… why don’t we take a break on the lesson and go ask Thyran?” With a nod, Tavros nudged Valis and stood. “That’s a good idea. It will give you time to calm down from being hit with so much energy.”

What he meant, was that every time he hit Valis with a mage bolt, Valis seemed to absorb it more than it actually harmed him. It hurt, and his skin grew raw from the blasts, but his essence seemed to just suck it in. Even now, Valis’ heart pounded like the hooves of a racing horse. His hands trembled, but as he stood and moved, it started to calm.

As they ascended to the top of the monastery, two Aesriphos—or Paladins as Valis used to call them, holy warriors who used magic as well as swords and whose tasks were to keep the monastery where they lived safe, and to hunt for the missing God Jar that housed Qos’ ashes—stopped them in the wide, curving stairway to the last level. The redhead held a cool stare, but her mouth twitched into a maternal smile. “Brothers Valis and Tavros?” she asked. When they both answered affirmative, the women flanked them. “Brother Thyran wishes to see you both. Please come with us.”

Each pressed a plate-clad hand to their lower backs and guided them up the staircase. Valis looked up to the brunette at his side. He tried to hide his worry. Why had Thyran sent for them? Were they in trouble? What had they done? “We were just on our way to see him. Do you know what he wants us for?”

She smirked and reached across to pat his sore chest. “This.”

Valis wrinkled his nose and reached into his belt pouch for a sprig of mint. When he stuffed it into his mouth, the brunette Aesriphos giggled. “Trying to impress the ladies?”

The sudden blush almost made Valis dizzy, and he shook his head. “I got addicted to chewing on mint when I was recovering from my time in prison,” he murmured. The woman frowned and laid a gentle touch on his back again as he went on. “So, when I told Firil of my addiction, he gave me a few jars of mint that weren’t infused with the anti-nausea stuff to chew when the craving strikes.”

She gave him a proud nod and lifted her hand from his back to squeeze his shoulder. “That you could admit your addiction is commendable. It was also sweet of the Master Healer to give you a safe way around it.”

Valis ducked his head and grinned. “It was. Tav’s little brother, my best friend Aryn, talked me into it. I wanted to just go without. He said it was better to be addicted to the mint instead of the pain reliever.”

“Wise friend,” she said. The redhead opened the door and ushered the other three inside. Once the brunette stood at Valis’ side again, she shaded his eyes when Valis stared at the orb of Phaerith’s light. Even though Valis knew how it affected him, knew how, if he even looked at it for a second, its comfort and the way it made him feel loved would suck him in for hours if someone didn’t intervene, he still couldn’t help his instinct to look up and stare at his God’s Light. The woman chuckled and patted his cheek with her other hand. “Stay with us, lad. You need to be present for this.”

But he didn’t want to be present. For the first eighteen years of his life, until his adopted fathers, Darolen and Kerac had found and rescued him from his sire, all Valis had ever known was pain and hate. That orb of light made Valis feel loved, cherished, wanted, and if he couldn’t have his fathers around, he wanted to bask in that light for eternity. But his heart sank. He had to adhere to duty. Maybe one of these days, he would have Tavros or one of their other friends come to let him bask. Just for a few hours.

Valis sighed with the direction his thoughts had wandered. With the Aesriphos’ hand over his eyes, Valis could only see the blue runner at his feet that ran from the entry to the back where ornate double doors hid the reliquary beyond. Valis turned his head to see that they were alone in the Hall of Communion, all the concave benches with their sapphire cushions empty. Being in here alone always made him want to study the tapestries that hung at even intervals around the circular room, but this time Valis had a set mission. He blinked rapidly and ducked his head. “Sorry.”

“No need.”

She gave him that proud smile, and he suddenly remembered her face. “You are one of the reliquary guards.”

“Yes. I am Kaltani.” She motioned to the redhead. “My partner is Netai. We often guard the reliquary on rotation.” The smile she turned on him made Valis melt. “You touched my pride when last I saw you. It is good to see the two of you have worked out your differences.”

Tavros smiled as he looked over at Valis, and just that look had Valis’ insides liquefying. “Took me long enough.”

“Length of time does not matter,” Thyran said from the reliquary. He strode out to meet them, his posture tall and regal for one so stout. Valis noticed his salt and pepper hair had grown a little longer than he usually kept it. He caught both Valis and Tavros in his piercing blue gaze, but the laugh lines around them crinkled as he smiled, making his eyes a little less fierce. “What matters is that you see the truth and correct your mistakes. I am proud of you both. Especially you, Tavros. You have come farther than I had hoped.”

He looked between Valis and Tavros with so much pride that Valis beamed at him. It wasn’t so long ago that Tavros had hated Valis. First because he found the tattooed mark of Qos—an evil God—on Valis’ neck behind his left ear on his first day in the monastery of Avristin. Then because Valis’ birth father, Roba, entered Valis’ dreams, and upon waking Valis had hurt Tavros’ little brother Aryn, when Valis thought he was strangling Roba. And then because when Thyran unlocked Valis’ magic, they found his magic was tainted.

Usually magic is either gold or black. The former is the holy color, the latter belonging only to followers of Qos. Valis, however had gold magic with black veins that looked like the splintered stalks of lightning. It had taken a while, but with the help of their friends—Tavros’ baby brother Aryn, Maphias and his sister Seza, Jedai and his little sister Aenali (who was the fiercest child Valis had ever met)—Tavros and Valis were now as close as brothers. Or, hopefully lovers, Valis thought. Someday.

“Thank you, Brother,” Tavros said. A soft smile lit his face as he squeezed Valis’ shoulder sending a wave of warmth through Valis that made blood rush to his face. The heat traveled down his neck to end somewhere past his nipples. The roaring of his blood in his ears almost drowned out Tavros’ voice as he said, “After our last meeting, that means much.”

With a gentle push, the Aesriphos urged them into the reliquary and closed the door behind them. Valis headed for Thyran’s side and smiled up at him. Tavros came to stand behind Valis. When Thyran turned toward them, he looked between their two faces and sighed. “Last I saw you—which was not that long, mind—you were only up to my chin, Valis.” He smirked and shook his head. “I need to find a heavy rock to tie to your head.”

Valis blushed as Tavros laughed. “Growth spurt. I’m not the least surprised with the way the kid eats.”

“Indeed,” Thyran mused. “At least he is growing instead of remaining stagnant. It will prove necessary in the months to come. I had worried that unlocking his power would stunt him for a time… or the complete opposite.”

Valis tried to tamp down the sudden paranoia that tried to claw at his mind. If his magic could stunt him or grow him, what else could it do? No, I won’t fall into that trap. Just be glad Thyran is pleased with the results. And what would happen in the months to come? Why would growing be necessary? He looked up at Tavros and blushed again, hoping Tavros didn’t notice. At least if I grow, Tavros won’t see me as a kid anymore.

Thyran smirked at him then and nodded as if he heard every word of Valis’ thoughts. That scared him more than the thought of growing unnaturally. He tucked against Tavros’ side, making his mentor give him a quizzical look.

“You okay, kid?”

To lie, or to tell the truth? “I just had a bad thought… I’m fine now.”

That smirk turned into a soft paternal smile as Thyran patted Valis’ chest. “No bad thoughts, Valis. They have no place here.”

“What did you want to see us for?” Tavros asked.

“Lift your tunic, Valis,” Thyran requested. “That may give us some answers.”

Valis frowned but shucked his tunic and draped it over his right arm. When he looked down at his chest, he cringed. The head-sized area where Tavros’ mage bolts hit him looked raw and swollen. It appeared more painful than it felt, which worried him. He looked up at Thyran and was about to speak when the historian pressed his warm hand to the raw wound.

Thyran closed his eyes. After a moment, the wound grew uncomfortably warm and Valis looked down to find Thyran’s hand glowing.

“What are you doing?” Valis asked. Panic built in his chest. Pain flared for an instant, and he tried to jerk away, but it was as if his chest were cemented to Thyran’s palm. “What—”

“Calm, Valis,” Thyran murmured. “I am not harming you.”

Valis knew that was true. He felt uncomfortable, but the pain receded. Instead of focusing on the discomfort, or the glow of Thyran’s hand, Valis closed his eyes and focused on his breathing.

On his third breath, Valis felt a tug. He shuddered and reached for Tavros’ hand. When Tavros threaded their fingers together, the tug came again and Valis whimpered.

“What’s wrong?” Tavros murmured near his ear.

“I feel a tug in my chest,” he whispered. “It feels wrong.”

“I feel it as well,” Thyran murmured. “I am almost finished.”

“What are you doing to him?” Tavros demanded. The protectiveness in his voice sent a shiver through Valis. He desperately wanted to hear it again. And the way Tavros squeezed his fingers, the way he stepped closer had Valis’ heart tripping and rolling in his chest, made his breath catch. Thyran must have felt it as he smirked, but covered it with calm words.

“Nothing untoward.” Thyran stroked his free hand down Valis’ arm to where his and Tavros’ hands were linked. “Keep the connection. I need time.”

“Time to do what?” Tavros growled. He tightened his grip on Valis’ hand.

“Time to sever the link between Valis and the Sovereign Priest of Qos,” the historian said. He kept his voice soft and serene. “The power of Qos that resides in Valis comes from his sire. In essence, the Sovereign Priest believes that Valis is his sire.”

“If he believes that, why would the Sovereign Priest of Qos keep Valis from erecting his shields?”

Thyran hummed a breath. “My guess is he, or she, now knows Roba has been captured, and thought to eradicate him before he could reveal any secrets.”

With a full body shudder, Valis opened his eyes to see black veins crawling up Thyran’s wrist. “Your hand!”

“Calm, Child,” Thyran murmured. “It is not harming me. It is simply your own dual magic mingling with mine. I am almost finished.”

Tavros clutched Valis’ hand. He rubbed the back with his other as he rested his forehead against Valis’ nape. When Thyran finished, the area over Valis’ chest felt cool for a breath, then warmed to normal. He glanced down and grinned. The skin that had been swollen and raw looking, now appeared normal and unblemished.

Once Thyran stepped away and broke contact, Valis shivered and squeezed Tavros’ hand. “It’s all right now, Tav.”

His mentor let out an explosive sigh and relaxed his hand. “Since that is finished, why did my mage bolts only make Valis jittery? They should have knocked him flat, if not tossed him across the arena.”

“I had a small hand in that,” Thyran admitted. “I felt the tug of the Sovereign Priest during your practice. When Valis’ shields failed, I siphoned your mage bolts and diffused them into Valis’ system as added energy. I would have sent for you sooner, but the siphoning took all of my concentration, so I had to wait for a pause in your training session to dispatch my Aesriphos.”

Valis frowned and rubbed his chest. He tried to process that as he slipped his tunic back on. When he looked back up at Thyran, the historian gave him a solemn nod.

“I must apologize, Valis,” he said. “I have been keeping a mental connection with you since our first meeting. I wished to see how you progressed, and I have not been disappointed.” He gave an apologetic smile and bowed. “Please rest assured that I only made the connection during training, and when I felt you unknowingly quest for my presence.”

Tavros snorted, but Valis reached back and squeezed his hand, even as he blushed. “At first I thought you were Sovras. I had an idea it was you after you shaded my eyes during my visit in the Hall of Communion with Father.”

“You were correct,” Thyran said, smiling. “Now.” He clapped his hands together and kept them clasped before him. “I believe you had a question for me.”

Did it matter now? Valis smirked to himself. His curiosity nagged at him. “Where did mages’ magic come from before Sovras ascended?”

With a tilt of his head, Thyran seemed to consider that as he led Valis and Tavros out of the reliquary and to one of the concave benches in the Hall of Communion. Once they sat, he sighed. “It originated from the same place it originates now.”

“That is hardly an answer,” Tavros murmured.

“This is true,” Thyran agreed. “Truth be told, it is akin to a deformity. It can be inherited, but not every child will inherit it. Laymen parents can have a brood full of mages. It is true that prayer can enhance our magic, but it is also just as true that you can wield magic without ever having uttered a prayer.”

“So Valis’ shield erecting on reflex isn’t necessarily Phaerith’s intervention?” Tavros asked. “It could just be a basic reflexive action?”

“Correct,” Thyran mused. “However, as Valis has had dreams of Sovras—or Phaerith as he is now called—in youth, anything is possible. I would go with reflex, personally. Though, he is getting good at erecting it consciously.”

Tavros smiled and bumped Valis’ shoulder with his own. When Valis looked over, his mentor held a fond, proud smile. “He’s advancing well. I’m quite proud.”

“As am I,” Thyran said. “And that brings me to the second reason I wished to see you.”

Valis’ stomach pitted so hard bile rose in his throat. He did his best not to shrink down into the cushion, but Tavros sat forward. “What is it, kid?”

“Something bad is going to happen,” Valis whispered.

“Oh, certainly.” Thyran sighed and crossed his legs at the knee. “However, good often cannot emerge without facing the bad.”

The bile bubbled up and Valis swallowed hard to send it back down into his stomach. He reached for the pouch at his belt and dug out a mint sprig as he whispered, “Roba…”

Thyran nodded. “It is almost time, Valis. Are you prepared?”

Valis stuffed the mint sprig into his mouth and chewed. Once the fresh flavor chased away the taste of the bile, he sighed. “I’ve been waiting for someone to say that for months. Now, I’m not so certain.”

“You don’t have to, Valis,” Tavros said. He sat forward and grasped Valis’ hands in his own. “It doesn’t have to be you.”

Touched, Valis stared into Tavros’ worried eyes and fought the almost overwhelming urge to let Tavros convince him of that. For a brief moment, he wanted, with every fiber of his being, to shirk that duty. His adopted fathers’ faces hove into his mind’s view, and he took a deep breath. His Papa, Kerac, thought he wasn’t strong, even though he attended to duty when he would rather stay home and care for Valis. Even when things seemed to be at their worst, he took his job seriously, stayed strong for Darolen, Valis’ other father. He attended to duty when things seemed black and impossible. I want to be that strong. I have to be strong. Squaring his shoulders and gritting his teeth, Valis shook his head. “I have eighteen years of misery to return to that bastard. No one will take that right from me.”

 

 

Chapter 2

Once training ended for the day, Valis excused himself and headed for his room. Tavros didn’t understand his desperate need to be alone. He wanted Valis to spend time with him and the rest of their group for a while before bed. With the daunting task of dealing with Roba on the agenda for tomorrow, though, Valis needed time alone to prepare himself mentally. And to fret, whine and grouse where no one can hear me…

If Valis had his friends surrounding him tonight, nothing would get done for weeks. Valis knew himself well enough that he would let his friends talk him into “just a few more weeks” because he “wasn’t ready yet”. But, no. Roba had to pay. It was long past time. It was either face his sire and his fear, or swallow his pride and beg the Duty Captain to keep his sire in stasis forever.

But what could that hurt?

Anxiety threatened to draw him down. Rather than going to bed after his evening ritual, Valis fingered the key Thyran gave him before he left the temple as he prowled his room. Unable to sleep while this agitated, Valis huffed a frustrated breath, stuffed a mint sprig into his mouth, stalked to his desk and sat in the chair. He had new letters from Kerac and Darolen that he wanted to translate. Rather than reading the letters to him, Aenali had given him an Arlvorian to Evaki dictionary, showed him how to use it, and told him to translate them on his own as part of his lessons.

The beautiful scrawl of Kerac’s handwriting flowed across the page. In places, it was hard to discern the words in order to look them up. In others, Kerac used what Aenali called ‘slang’ and made it near impossible for Valis to translate. Those, he had to sound out, put into context, and ponder over for long minutes, though some took hours.

Darolen’s handwriting seemed more deliberate, as if he had taken his time to ensure every word was legible. By the time Valis had both short letters translated, he sat back to go over them in one fluid read with Kerac’s first.

Valis,

It has been too long since I was young. So many decades have passed since Darolen and I first met. It seems as if time slips away from me. However, I recaptured some of that lost youth last night. Do you remember our time back at the garrison on the border of Isrivo and Arlvor when we traveled from your sire’s farmstead to the monastery? You, Darolen and I were all squished onto that tiny bed, and that was where you first called me “Papa.” After a tear-filled breakdown, I told you of my dreams.

Just as in my youth, I had the same dream. I had all but forgotten most of the details. They became hazy and unrefined as the years passed so that I only remembered you calling me “Papa” and waking to find I had no son.

It was the same dream, Valis. I know not what had my heart weighed down. Darolen was elsewhere. I felt so alone, like I was missing something. Then, atop the hill above me, your golden hair waves like a banner in the wind as you crest and descend toward me. Your gilded armor shines in the sun’s glory. Blood smears your darling face, but you beam with radiance and pride. When you catch sight of me, you dash down the hill, and the air shivers with your voice calling, “Papa! I’m home!”

I can still hear it, my son. It echoes even now. When I woke, rather than feeling sorrow as I had in my youth, my heart radiated with such profound peace that Darolen teased me for grinning like a loon throughout the day. I miss you terribly, but that dream gave my soul the rejuvenation I needed to push through this assignment, and gave me hope that I will see you again soon.

With all my heart and love,

Papa

Valis scanned over the text again with a full heart. He wondered, though, why Darolen wasn’t in that dream. As he folded the page, Valis sat back in his chair and took the original letter up. He pressed it against his face and inhaled. It smelled like Kerac. The scent was faint, but it was there. The scent on those letters calmed Valis more than the words. Tears filled his eyes, but he tucked the letter into the drawer of his desk with the rest and pulled Darolen’s to him. His was shorter.

My Son,

I am sorry to say we have to be away on the anniversary of your birth. Before we left your homestead, I searched through the documents in your sire’s study. Those documents pertaining to you are in your lock box, in a false top. Press the left corner on the side nearest the latch, and it will move. Pull it away, and the documents will be there. I left the key to your lock box with Brother Thyran. You seemed to trust him, and I trust your judgment.

Also, inside the false top, you will find another key. Come the sixth day of Temperance, take that key to our suite and unlock the chest at the foot of our bed. What lies inside is our gift to you.

Love,

Your Father

Frowning, Valis read Darolen’s letter a second time. He still had the key Thyran gave him in his hand and as he set the letter on the desk, he stared at the key to his lock box, suddenly aware of why it had been so familiar.

With a gasp, Valis jumped to his feet and bolted through his room. He nearly slammed into his closet door in his haste and jerked it open. Frantic, he pawed through his clothes to the back of his closet, pulled out his lock box and opened it.

Once the lid lay flat, he pressed the upper left corner of the top. The lower right corner popped up. Valis’ breath came in excited gasps as he pried away the board to get at the documents inside. The magically enhanced paper he set aside, but the key he found, Valis clutched to his chest.

It isn’t even Temperance yet. There are still… He counted on his fingers in his haste and sighed. Three weeks and six days left.

I am certain your fathers would not mind, Thyran said into his mind. What they have waiting for you may just ease your fretting mind.

Valis frowned as he made his way out of his closet, sagged into his chair, and thumped his forehead down on his desk. It isn’t right, though. …Wait. Do you know what they got me?

I do not. However, as it is from your fathers, it may boost your mood enough to quit brooding, the historian said in amused tones. You must unravel the tangled coil of your angst and frustration. Even when I am not in your mind, I can feel your anxiety roil off you like heat from a stoked hearth. It is not healthy, nor does it do you any good.

And you think getting the gift will make my anxiety go away? Valis sighed and thumped his head against the desk again. I’m more anxious to see what they got me now, than I am anxious about Roba.

That is almost worse than being anxious about your sire. Thyran’s laugh echoed in Valis’ mind. Truly, it is up to you. Just know I would not have given you the key if I did not think you would need what your fathers have left.

…You knew about the letters? Valis asked.

Thyran sighed into his mind. Darolen told me he would write such a letter if he knew he would not return in time for your nineteenth birth anniversary. Like you, I also have pre- and retrocognition, though more advanced. When he and I spoke, I glimpsed a brief part of today, so when that time came, I knew it to be time to return your key.

Thyran? Valis’ throat tried to close up, and he wiped his eyes.

Yes, Valis?

Are my fathers coming back? His voice cracked, even in his own mind.

Thyran went silent. When that silence stretched on for over five minutes on the clock, Valis sobbed into his hands. As he curled over his desk, a cool hand cradled both sides of his neck and drew him back.

“Hush, Child,” Thyran cooed. “This is a conversation I am not comfortable with over telepathy. I should not have left you so abruptly.”

He stroked a hand over Valis’ hair and rounded his chair. It took Valis a few moments to regain his senses. Once he had his breathing under control, Thyran handed him a cool, damp cloth. Valis bathed his own face and neck, sniffled, and after another moment, Thyran’s steady, gentle presence had him calm.

“Why did you leave?” Valis whispered.

Thyran drew the chair he brought over from the seating arrangement closer and sat. “Because you are too much like myself,” he said, again using that amused tone. “You need a living presence more than you need words, whether in your head or elsewhere.”

Valis nodded and looked into Thyran’s eyes. All he truly saw was compassion and understanding. What he hoped to see were answers. “Are my fathers coming home?”

The smile that crept across Thyran’s face gave Valis hope. The historian leaned forward and grasped Valis’ hands in a slow, deliberate move. “I cannot tell you, Valis, for I do not know.” Valis’ breath hitched, but Thyran squeezed his hands. “You grew with so much certainty in your young life. You were always certain your sire would cause you pain. The only uncertainty was when. Life, however, is so full of uncertainties that not even we with precognition can truly tell the future.”

That made sense. With a sigh, Valis sagged into his wooden chair and closed his eyes. “I understand.”

“I know.” With a smile that lit his eyes, Thyran leaned forward and drew Valis’ hands up to kiss their backs. “Do you want to go see what your fathers have left for you?”

A smile tugged at Valis’ mouth and he shook his head. “No.”

Honest confusion perked both Thyran’s brows. “Oh?”

Hope bloomed in Valis’ chest. He didn’t know where it came from, why he felt it, or why it brought him such contentment, but he squeezed Thyran’s hands. “I want to wait.” He reached over and opened the drawer with his fathers’ letters and tucked the key inside. “I want them to give it to me themselves.”

“You have a long and arduous road before you,” Thyran said. He stood and cupped Valis’ cheek. “Try to sleep.”

Valis smirked and pushed himself out of the chair. “I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon.”

As Valis stretched, Thyran headed for the door and glanced over his shoulder. “Let there be Light in the darkness. Dream well, Valis.”

The surreal tone to Thyran’s words echoed in Valis’ mind minutes after he left. Even so, the anxiety that plagued him since he and Tavros left the Hall of Communion eased. It bled away during his conversation with Thyran, even when that conversation brought forth new fears.

Now, though, a familiar ache crept into Valis’ chest. He rubbed it as he went to his bed, slipped out of his uniform and crawled under the sheets. I begged everyone to leave me alone tonight to prepare. I’m not allowed to be lonely.

He sighed and tried to get comfortable. With a grunt, he reached for the side of the bed and pulled Peraval close. With the stuffed bear tucked against his chest and the covers pulled up around him, Valis closed his eyes.

Sometime during the night something plucked at Valis’ mind. He opened his eyes with a yawn and blinked. Aenali’s face, half-squashed on the mattress, was turned toward him, her eyes closed and her breathing deep. The pillow her head should have rested on laid atop her. Peraval rested on her other side.

Panicked because a girl child laid in his bed, Valis lifted the comforter and sagged. His uniform pants yet graced his lower half.

Wait… I got naked before getting into bed…

An eerie feeling crept over Valis. He lifted his head when he heard a grunt. When he gazed at the sitting area, he gasped. Sprawled on the floor amid a mess of blankets, pillows and tangled limbs lay all his friends. He chuckled as he realized one or more of them had somehow managed to wrangle his naked backside into some pants so Aenali could sleep on the bed.

I don’t want to know how they did it without waking me. It doesn’t matter. He stared at his friends a moment longer before laying his head back onto the pillow. Thank you, Sovras, for my family.

Well once again, I was blown away with how this turned. I was NOT expecting this. And am still reeling over it. Damn. 

Valis has had Roba, his father, hanging over his head since his birth. The man tattooed him with an evil tattoo, beat him and abused him almost every day for his whole life. And now he’s saying he wants to reveal things. But only if Valis is present. But it was more or less a run around. When Valis and his mentor, Tav, save a sister, Valis knows he needs to see Roba once more before they accompany the sister back to her caravan. But when he goes to see Roba with Tav, Roba blasts Tav with a spell. Valis gets others to help while he deals with Roba, […] Now he really needs to train to be in control of the power he has and with this journey ahead of them, the bad feeling in his guy is leaving him extremely fearful. Especially when the historian confirms it. 

The troubles Valis is facing in this book are unbelievable. He misses his fathers and are scared for them, he’s accelerating at his training, yet feels like he’s failing because he can’t get his magic under control. Roba is still a thorn in his side. His fear of the man is overwhelming and when he tries to fight back, he can’t be side he’s not strong enough. Which makes him feel like an even worse failure. One of his friends, Aryn, is coming on too strong and really freaking him out but nice talking to him isn’t working. Tavros is who he wants. And to beat everything, Roba committed suicide, forcing his powers into Valis. And now the Sovereign Priest is giving him a title he hasn’t even earned yet but now has to live up to. And find a mate for. Things just keep get piled up and it’s all getting too much for him. I wept for him so many times in this book, because he just cannot catch a break. Now matter how hard he tries. 

Times are changing as well. War is coming. Premonitions are showing different things but they all have one result and it’s not a good one. And this journey they are about to take, their survival rests on Valis’s shoulders. Shew. Too too much for that boy. Not to mention a few other surprises thrown in there. And not pretty ones. 

Needless to say, I’m extremely anxious to see how this is going to turn out. If you guys aren’t reading this series, you need to. It’s so so good.

 

Love Bytes LGBTQ Book Reviews, Reviewed by Becca

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