Apprenticed to a mysterious man of dangerous appetites, Livia finds it hard to ignore the allure of a man whose dark, tortured soul unnerves her as much as it attracts her.
Perrin, tainted by Fiendgen blood, spends his life isolated, protecting Guthdry from utter devastation. But the time has come to train an apprentice. Unfortunately for both of them, no matter how hard he struggles against his dark desires, Livia is a temptation he doesn’t really want to resist.
Published: June 2006
Word Count: 41,018
Genre: Futuristic Romance
Rating: Erotica. Contains Violence, Adult Situation, Graphic Language, and Explicit Sexual Content.
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Eliza Black, June 2006
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
“If you are to learn from me, you must dedicate yourself completely to our craft. I will accept nothing less than your very essence.” Perrin’s voice, as rich and deep as a lion’s purr, resonated in the unfurnished marble room lit only by a single muted lantern dangling from the tall ceiling. The mere shadow of his face shown beneath the hood of his black cloak.
Though Livia strained to see the detail, his features eluded her.
“And if I promise, all you know--all your secrets--will be mine?”
“My knowledge--a lifetime of study in Lumeris-noire--shall be yours. I warn you--do not come to me unless you fully intend to accept my will in all things.”
“But what if--”
“In all things.”
Livia watched him carefully. “What assurance have I that you won’t use your will to gain illicit favors? What assurance do I have that you won’t demand I give up my dignity?”
“If you have dignity, girl, no one can take it from you. As for your other worry, fear not. I have no interest in your feminine wiles. My concern is to pass on my knowledge to a worthy apprentice. Whether or not you prove to be up to the standard is yet to be seen. And you’d best keep your thoughts off acts of the flesh, as you’ll need all your strength to endure the education I plan to give you.”
Though annoyed by the scathing manner in which he’d replied, Livia felt satisfied by Perrin’s answer. Besides, what he offered was something she could get from no one else.
“When shall I begin?” she asked.
“Immediately. You will follow me.”
“But you must give me a chance to pack my belongings and speak to my family.” Though Livia was often immersed in studies, she loved her family and felt close to them.
“You will write your family a letter that I will have delivered. You may ask them to send anything you require--unless you’ve already changed your mind?”
“No,” she whispered. For the first time since meeting Perrin she nearly panicked. Oh, he’d frightened her from the first with his black cloak, hidden face, and power that seemed to spring from his every pore, but until this moment there had been a chance to escape him. Now, if she followed him deeper into those obsidian tunnels just beyond the open door at the back of the chamber, she would be completely at his mercy--but his knowledge and skill would also be hers for the taking.
“Decide quickly. There are others waiting to accept the challenge if you dare not.”
“Yes,” she said, her voice sounding like a rasp compared to his magnificent tones. “I accept.”
“Before you speak in haste--” He lifted his slender hands and pulled the hood away from his head.
Livia drew a sharp breath, hoping she didn’t appear as stunned as she felt. Framed by long, unkempt sable hair, Perrin’s smooth-shaven, hawkish face with its chiseled lips and sharp cheekbones bore the marks of evil. Gleaming black scales covered his forehead and nose to the tip. His wide-set eyes glowed with a pale unnatural green. Only practitioners who had engaged in an illegal ritual in which they gained phenomenal power from masters of Lumeris-noire, called Fiendgens, were marked in such a way.
“I had no idea–”
“Few people do. As you can imagine, the Overlord doesn’t advertise that his strongest defense against evil is associated with evil itself.”
“Do you expect your apprentice to make the sacrifice you did to attain such power?”
“I wish for no one ever again to make the sacrifice I did,” he snapped. “That is why I am here with the Overlord. That is why I have helped him hunt down the masters who taught me, and that is why I have decided to pass on my experiences to an apprentice. In the event of my death, I want my knowledge given to a worthy successor, one who will denounce the sort of evil that gave me this face. I feel that person is you, Livia, if you have the stomach to learn from one who has consorted with devils.”
Livia knew she should turn and leave, forget she ever saw him, but something in his eyes captured and bound her to him. Though his revelation terrified her, it also made her more curious than ever to know this man who had given their Overlord so many years of loyal service and wielded such power.
Like all great domains, theirs, called Guthdry, was protected by an enormous dome empowered by the Overlord’s most trusted practitioners of Lumeris-noire. Before Perrin, their dome had nearly collapsed beneath attacks from Jotamiana City, a domain that had taken over many others and sought to rule their world. His power had strengthened the dome so that even their fiercest attempts to breach it proved futile and they moved on to weaker domains. Perrin had nearly died while empowering the dome, but once recovered, he dedicated his life to serving their domain. His presence still kept them safe from Jotamiana City and others like it. The chance to study with him, learn his secrets, and truly help in the defense of her domain was not something Livia could pass by for any reason.
“I have accepted the position and intend to stand by my decision,” she stated.
Without another word, he turned, his cloak rippling like midnight waves, and headed for the door.
Her heart pounding, Livia followed.
Just like chasing after death, she thought.
Perrin guided them down a long corridor, his hand sweeping the smooth granite walls and activating randomly placed illumination stones that dimly lit their path. Livia’s heart beat so fiercely she thought it might leap through her chest. A chill rippled down her spine and she flexed her cold fingers inside the oversized pockets of her long black coat.
At the end of the corridor, they stepped through a door to a spiral staircase so deep that Livia’s stomach fluttered when she looked down.
Perrin glanced at her. “Something wrong?”
He continued downward at a mind-spinning pace. Livia became so involved in keeping up with him that she slowly forgot about the steep decline of the staircase. When they reached the bottom, they continued down another long, winding corridor.
“Is this a tunnel to the other side of the world?” Livia asked.
“I suggest you keep your poor attempts at humor to yourself.”
“Are you always so friendly?”