QSFer Xenia Melzer has a new MM fantasy book out:
In war, loss is the price of victory, and the cost of love is sometimes pain.
After Renaldo and Casto finally celebrate their marriage, the time has come for revenge against the followers of the Good Mother who tried to kill Casto—though this time, the gods of war won’t use bloodshed to take Medelina.
As a member of the Confederation of the Plains, Medelina answers to Ummana, the head of the alliance… and Casto is heir to the throne of Ummana. Accompanied by their most capable mercenaries, Canubis and Renaldo travel to Ummana to make Casto king.
They’ll face the Council of Elders; Lord Aran, Casto’s father; and Princess Anesha, Casto’s sister—none of whom are happy about the king’s return. For Casto, the city is a reminder of a terrible childhood, and Renaldo can only helplessly watch his beloved fight a seemingly hopeless battle.
Through trickery and political scheming, vengeance against the Good Mother is finally within their grasp—but their success might be bittersweet. Not everyone will return to the Valley with Casto and Renaldo.
Gods of War Book Three
THE DAY the Pack celebrated the wedding of Lord Renaldo, the Angel of Death, with his heart, Prince Castolus of Ummana, dawned in splendid glory. The sun’s rays cut through the chilly air like swords ripping an enemy’s body apart, and they transformed the snow into a sparkling carpet of diamonds.
Excited anticipation ruled over the huts, the stables, and the main building. Even the slaves were affected by the nervous energy permeating the morning.
In Frankus’s chambers, Casto stood in front of a huge, almost man-sized mirror and studied his body that, in only a few hours, would be scarred in the most barbaric way imaginable. Behind him, Frankus was busy arranging all kinds of oils and ointments on a table. While doing this, he kept rambling on in hushed tones.
“I explicitly told you to drink some wine so you could have a good night’s rest. But why listen to somebody who’s had as much experience with weddings as me? You had to brood the entire evening, as if today wasn’t the happiest in your life. You probably wanted to put my skills to the test, didn’t you?”
Completely unfazed by the scolding, Casto kept staring at himself in the mirror. Since he had fled from Ummana, his body had changed dramatically. During his year on the run, he’d still resembled a child, with the long, slender limbs of a newborn foal, though showing signs of his later build. After the Barbarian had taken him prisoner, the awkward adolescent body had transformed into a muscular, elegant weapon already forged in battle.
His skin was still as flawless and soft as back then, the studs in his flesh the only difference. Of course Frankus was right; he had seen better days, ones without those dark circles beneath his eyes that told of a night spent in useless musings. Then again, how often did one marry a god? If anything, those circles were well-earned.
Frankus pushed him away from the mirror, prying him from his useless pondering. “To the bath! You’ve got half an hour to clean yourself. Then we’ll see what I can make of this disaster.”
Without a word of protest, Casto obeyed Frankus, knowing that the man was probably even more nervous than Casto himself. The wedding was important in more than one respect, and Frankus was aware of all the implications that came with it.
The warm water managed to soothe Casto a little, and his thoughts went back to the day he fled from Ummana.
Most of his memories about that night were blurred because he had been so emotionally high-strung, not knowing what would become of him when he left the only home he’d ever known. The one thing he could remember clearly was the agitating mixture of wild triumph and utter fear swamping his senses as Lys galloped through the storm he had summoned.
At that time, Casto had been used to the feeling of being powerless. His father and Voltara, the torturer, had seen to that. While the gusts tugged at his cloak as if they wanted to tear him apart, Casto had experienced what it was like to control such powers through his connection with Lys. The ambiguity of those emotions left a deep impression on him, one that had influenced his actions more than he wanted to admit.
Now, too, he felt as if he were riding a storm, but this time he was alone, without Lysistratos to calm and protect him. And it wasn’t an escape either, or at least, not a proverbial one. It was a step—no, a leap—into a whole new life that would permanently sever him from his past. Perhaps it would even banish the demons still haunting him—or so Casto hoped.
At the end of that day, he would be the mate of a barbarian god from the North. This fact would shape and change everything Casto had ever been, his entire personality. His whole identity was going to be created anew, not by him, but by the people around him. By the way they looked at him. It hadn’t been easy becoming who he was, and Casto wondered whether he could make that change a second time. He was deeply afraid of losing himself to the Barbarian, of drowning in a different kind of helplessness.
Renaldo was just too much of everything, too intense—which was also the reason Casto loved him.
Xenia Melzer was born and raised in a small village in the South of Bavaria. As one of nature’s true chocoholics, she’s always in search of the perfect chocolate experience. So far, she’s had about a dozen truly remarkable ones. Despite having been in close proximity to the mountains all her life, she has never understood why so many people think snow sports are fun. There are neither chocolate nor horses involved and it’s cold by definition, so where’s the sense? She does not like beer either and has never been to the Oktoberfest—no quality chocolate there.
Even though her mind is preoccupied with various stories most of the time, Xenia has managed to get through school and university with surprisingly good grades. Right after school she met her one true love who showed her that reality is capable of producing some truly amazing love stories itself.
While she was having her two children, she started writing down the most persistent stories in her head as a way of relieving mommy-related stress symptoms. As it turned out, the stress relief has now become a source of the same, albeit a positive one.
When she’s not writing, she teaches English at school, enjoys riding and running, spending time with her kids, and dancing with her husband.