Since his childhood, Brieden Lethiscir has admired The Sidhe, the beautiful and magical beings native to the Faerie world outside his homeland of Villalu. Though he grew up in a culture accepting of Sidhe enslavement by Villalu’s elite, Brieden finds that he can no longer tolerate the practice when he becomes a steward to Prince Dronyen, who is viciously abusive of his sidhe slave Sehrys. Captivated by the handsome and mysterious sidhe slave, Brieden vows to free and return Sehrys to his homeland.
As they escape the capital and navigate a treacherous path to the border, Breiden and Sehrys grow close. Breiden soon learns both the true power of The Sidhe, and that the world that he thought he knew is not what it once seemed. If they survive to reach the border, he will have to make a choice: the love of his life, or the fate of his world.
Amazing. One simple word to sum up this book. But it’s so much more than the word. You follow this journey Brieden and Sehrys take so they can be free. But along the way so many things change that it brings new meaning to the word for both. Ms. Ashe created this beautiful world that is so deep and complete I want to go and visit and truly feel like it’s a place that exists somewhere. I grew to love Sehrys and Brieden quickly and hoped for the happy ending the happy ending they deserved. There are many obstacles in their way but I have faith they will be together for centuries to come. Their story isn’t over and I cannot wait to read the next book when it’s out. Ms. Ashe is a beautiful story weaver and I am eager to read more by her in the future.
Four and a half
I asked Sehrys to join us and share his favorite childhood memory. I have to say that this memory is so beautiful. But at the same time, a little sad. I hope you love reading this bittersweet memory as much as I did. Read and enjoy!
My best childhood memory (even if it wasn’t my happiest)
By: Sehrys Silerth Valusidhe
The Festival of Dragons began in silence each year, the faint lights growing closer and brighter as we stood, blooming like liquid jewels across the night sky. Sapphire and emerald and ruby and amber and amethyst swirled and bled into one another, creating the most gorgeous palette of color I have ever seen in my life. Once the heavens were well and truly painted bright, the festivities began; spirits and nectars and candied flowers and games and music and dancing. It was near enough to Beltane that many of the adults slipped away to celebrate the promise of spring in the most natural way they knew how, and by the end of the night the festival was mostly just a crowd of rowdy, joyful children running through the cool sand, arms reaching up toward the sky.
As children, we knew the simple version of what was happening. We were not lied to, but neither were we given the complete story. We knew that the fire came from the throats of baby dragons, just hatched, trying to find their way across the sea to their ancestral home. We knew that dragons never flew across open water, except under two very specific circumstances: mother dragons would fly to the hatchling island to lay their eggs, and the hatchlings themselves would fly to the Fire Lands as soon as they were able to flap their wings. The mother dragons flew silently, in groups of two or three, at the end of summer. We would sometimes spot their enormous silhouettes in the distance, but they gave us no fire for a festival. I can only imagine the power and vibrancy of full-grown dragon fire, and every year Nehaisa and I spent hours on the beach as summer faded into fall, staring at the sky and hoping that perhaps this would be the year we saw a mother dragon breathe fire. My seventh elder said that she had seen it happen once, centuries before, and that it lit the entire sky as red as my hair and tinted the entire world pink for a brief but striking moment.
As children, we did not know that most of the baby dragons never made it all the way across the water. That the fire with which they colored the sky as they flew was due to an inability to control their bodies, let alone their magic, rather than any sort of desire to put on a show. Only the strongest dragons survived the miles-long journey on tender new wings. It was simply the way of things—the dragon population remained stable, and only the strongest and most determined lived to adulthood. As an adult myself I can see the benefit in the fact that so few dragons occupy our world. A solitary dragon could destroy an entire feririar in a single breath. But as a child, the discovery shattered my heart into a thousand pieces, and I wept for those dragons. What had always been a wondrous spectacle became a map of carnage across the heavens. With every fire that blinked out of existence, I knew another baby dragon had died.
The spring after I learned the truth, I didn’t go to the festival. I couldn’t. I stayed behind in the darkness of my room, refusing comfort from my elders, until Nehaisa slipped in and sat beside me. She told me she didn’t want to go to the festival either, and instead we sat and ate buttercups and whispered to one another about plans to rescue the baby dragons as the house emptied out around us.
Before we fell asleep, Nehaisa said: “I think we should go to the festival next year. The dragons that die create the most beautiful thing in the world with their dying breath, and it is a gift to us whether they intend it to be so or not. We should go.”
The next year we did go. Neither one of us knew it would be the last festival that Nehaisa ever saw, but somehow the heavy truth of the festival made the spectacle even more beautiful even as my heart ached. I barely danced that year, but it was the best Festival of Dragons I had ever attended, because it had become something new and moving and bittersweet. I held my sister’s hand, stood in the cold sand with a blanket wrapped around my shoulders, and watched the world’s most beautiful and heartbreaking swan song paint the sky.
The sidhe was tall, supple and lithe, as all sidhe tended to be, with milk-pale skin that glowed like moonlight over lean, taut muscles. Like all the others before him, he was naked, giving potential buyers a full picture of what they were bidding on.
And he was extraordinary, head to toe.
His chin-length hair was violet-red and it gleamed in the afternoon sun. His lips were pink and delicate with a pronounced bow, his nose had a narrow, smooth slope and his eyes…
It wasn’t that they were the most incredible color imaginable: a storm of deep, contrasting, impossible greens unlike any Brieden had ever seen. And it wasn’t that they were large and almond- shaped beneath a fan of plum-colored lashes.
It was that they were full to the brim with life.
Never before had Brieden seen a sidhe slave with such lively and expressive eyes, even as he stood for auction. Those eyes were not dull or defeated in the slightest. Wary, yes, and utterly devoid of trust, but also blazing.
Blazing like the eyes of that sidhe Brieden had seen at the riverbank when he was twelve years old— the only free sidhe Brieden had ever had the chance to behold.
The elf stood on that platform as if he owned it. As if he were judging every human man before him, and not the other way around.
He tucked a lock of hair behind a delicately pointed elfin ear, then jutted his chin to reveal a chiseled jaw that contrasted beautifully against his tender features.
And though he knew it was insane, Brieden was quite sure that he was in love.
Charlotte Ashe is a social worker by day and a writer of romantic fantasy by night. A long-time fan of speculative fiction that skews feminist and features LGBTQ characters, Charlotte loves writing stories that are sexy, heartfelt, and full of magic and adventure. She has put her B.A. in literature and creative writing to use over the years as a writer of online fan-based fiction, and her most popular work has drawn more than one million readers worldwide, been translated into several languages, and been featured in online publications including The Backlot.
Charlotte lives in Portland, Maine and can be found sleeping at the beach all summer and clomping along the cobblestones in her Bean boots all winter, writing fairytales in her head to distract from the cold.
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