Friday, December 7, 2012


Want to win a signed print copy of Falls the Shadow and some original character art? Join the contest, no need to have read the books (see reference art below)! To raise some interest in my epic fantasy adventure series, The Chronicles of Midgard, I am hosting an art contest! If you win, you'll get a signed print copy of the first book, Falls the Shadow, along with some art and website features!

Details:

Rules: Draw one or more of the characters from my book, Falls the Shadow.  All art mediums are allowed, including photo-manipulations, but must resemble the characters. No extreme gore, violence, or sexual content please. You can leave your signature or website address on your work, just keep it along an edge so that it doesn't interfere with your art. Limit two entries per person.

To enter: Send all entries to msasina@zoominternet.net by May 1, 2013 (members of deviantART can send me a link via comment or note to the finished entry).

All entries will be judged on a basis of creativity and likeliness. Skill is not necessarily required. Please be sure to send your e-mail address so you can be notified upon winning. DeviantART users are asked to please share the contest in one of your journal entries before the contest deadline date of May 1, 2013. You will be able to find me at shiovra.deviantart.com

All art must be new and original!
Judges: authors Melissa Sasina, T.L. Shreffler, and M.A. Bronson from runawaypen.com

ALL ART WILL BE FEATURED IN THE CHRONICLES OF MIDGARD COMPENDIUM (EXPECTED RELEASE IN 2015)
 
First Place:

  • 1 signed print copy of Falls the Shadow
  • 1 ebook copy of Sora's Quest by T. L. Shreffler
  • 1 ARC ebook copy of Pirate Girl by M.A. Bronson
  • 1 18 x 24 colored pencil drawing of Maeja
  • 1 photomanipulation by travelthenight
  • 1 feature on my website, my facebook author page, and runawaypen.com
  • (deviantART winner will receive 1 journal feature from me and travelthenight)

Second Place:

  • 1 ebook copy of Falls the Shadow
  • 1 ebook copy of The Watcher by M.A. Bronson
  • 1 8.5 x 11 colored pencil drawing
  • 1 photomanipulation by travelthenight
  • 1 feature on my website, my facebook author page, and runawaypen.com
  • (deviantART winner will receive 1 journal feature from me, travelthenight)

Third Place:

  • 1 ebook copy of Falls the Shadow
  • 1 ebook copy of Under a Bridge by M.A. Bronson
  • 1 feature on my website, my facebook author page, and runawaypen.com
  • (deviantART winner will receive 1 journal feature from me, travel the night)

Honorable Mention:

  • 25% off Falls the Shadow on Smashwords
  • 1 ebook copy of Ashes, Ashes by M.A. Bronson
  • (deviantART Journal features from me and travelthenight)
And here are a basic idea of the characters:


Ril'Hounithra (a.k.a. Ril)
Status: pirate
Hair: platinum white with violet dyed tips
Eyes: pale blue
Skin: deep blue tinged gray
Clothing: Ril has a preference for high class clothing: crisp white shirts, simple black jacket with teal trim, light beige pants and leather boots and belt. Wears speak stone earrings: dark blue, light blue, crimson, green, and yellow.
Personality: as a pirate, Ril tends to keep treasure at the front of his thoughts followed by his airship, the Sacred Hart (which is featured on the cover of Falls the Shadow)

 





Maeja Ragnarr
Status: Valkyrie
Hair: fiery red
Eyes: blue-green like the sea
Skin: fair
Clothing: varies depending on country she's in, but Maeja enjoys wearing dresses with vivid colors.
Personality: Maeja is a strong woman with a bit of a stubborn streak and a troubled past. She wants nothing more than to keep the Empire from winning.




Mjrn
Status: pirate's accomplice
Hair: red-brown of autumn leaves
Eyes: sunset amber
Skin: subtle ashen blue
Clothing: tends to wear pales colors of greens and yellows, very light fabrics--many sheer--all cuts accentuating her curvy body. Wears speak stone earrings: dark blue, light blue, crimson, green, and yellow.
Personality: Mjrn hardly speaks and when she does she can be very blunt. She is the half-sister of Linkyn and Connor, and of a race known as Rhine Maidens.







Linkyn Cuchulainn (a.k.a. Link)
Status: Wolf of Odin
Hair: light brown with a lock of copper on right side
Eyes: piercing blue
Skin: very lightly tanned
Clothing: tends to wear earth colors: greens, browns, and even some light blues. Will occasionally wear black.
Personality: Linkyn likes to joke around, but can be extremely serious when it comes to the safety of his friends. Picks fights with his twin brother Connor. Half-brother of Mjrn. 
Special: Linkyn bears several tattoos, all on the right side of his body: triskle on his neck, tribal wolf on shoulder, Yggdrasil on arm, and the runes for Geri on his hand from thumb to index finger.





Connor Cuchulainn (a.k.a. Conn)
Status: Wolf of Odin
Hair: dark brown
Eyes: piercing blue
Skin: very lightly tanned
Clothing: Connor prefers dark colors with lots of black, grey, and dark blue. 
Personality: While he likes to joke around, Connor is the more serious of the two brothers, though he will not hesitate to pick a fight with his twin brother Linkyn. Half-brother of Mjrn.
Special: Connor bears several tattoos, all on the left side of his body: triskle on his neck, tribal wolf on shoulder, Yggdrasil on arm, and the runes for Freki on his hand from thumb to index finger.





Amena Evenwood
Status: Lady of High Wood
Hair: golden-blonde hair
Eyes: sapphire blue
Skin: fair
Clothing: Amena tends to wear dresses that have the patterns and appearance of butterfly wings while maintaining a regal air at the same time. Often does barefooted, even though she's basically the queen of High Wood.
Personality: gentle and kind


Severus Valine
Status: Grand Duke of Ragnarr (different in book two)
Hair: brown, often worn pulled back in some manner
Eyes: stormy grey
Skin: normal Caucasian colors
Clothing: As the son of the Emperor of Shilyka, Severus wears very expensive, but simple clothing. He tends to wear the royal blue and on formal occasions will wear his family crest: three crossing swords intertwined with a serpent.
Personality: Severus is a calculating man and a military genius. He will do whatever he deems necessary for the sake of his younger brother. He is seen as the enemy by many, especially Maeja, Connor, and Linkyn.
Ilivarra Vicyrr
Status: Queen of Azrith
Hair: very pale blonde
Eyes: pale ice blue
Skin: deep blue tinged grey
Clothing: Ilivarra wears clothing that shows off her body, legs and bust. She has a tendency to wear deep crimsons and dark purples with either gold or silver trim.
Personality: Arrogant, cruel, and sadistic with a deadly swift mind. She has many people in the Shilykan Empire wrapped around her finger.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Coming February 2013!

I would like to reveal the cover for Betrayal, Book Two of the Priestess Trilogy. The re-release date will be February 24, 2013 for Kindle and paperback. Betrayal continues the story of the High Priestess of Tara, Shiovra, as she finally journeys to Dún Fiáin to wed into an enemy clan. Having grown close to Odhrán, she is not prepared for the truth to his purpose.


Shiovra, High Priestess of the village Tara, is set to wed one considered the enemy for the sake of her clan. Torn between her heart and her people, between love and duty, Shiovra decides her fate and faces the truth about Odhrán.

Still hunted by both the Milidh clan and her own kin, she learns that not all enemies are quite what they seem.


Loyalty is brought into question and power lost within enemy ranks in what shall ultimately lead to one thing: BETRAYAL.

Also, The Chronicles of Midgard has not been forgotten with the re-release of The Priestess Trilogy. Opening of Lost Doors, book three in the Midgard series, will be released late 2013, date TBA.

Friday, October 26, 2012

GoodReads Giveaway




Goodreads Book Giveaway

Falls The Shadow by Melissa Sasina

Falls The Shadow

by Melissa Sasina

Giveaway ends January 24, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Giveaway Closed!

What an amazing turnout for the GoodReads giveaway of Defiance! 939 people entered and the two winners were selected electronically. Within a few weeks or so they should be receiving their autographed copies of Definace. Though this giveaway was limited to residents of the U.S., the next signed book giveaway will be open to more countries. So keep an eye out for it!

Promotions coming up: "Defiance" free on Kindle for 3 days, date TBA!

On another note, the print copy of Defiance has met a small delay and will be available for purchase 2 or three days after the Kindle release, which is October 24th.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Counting Down!

The release of Defiance, Book One of the Priestess Trilogy is drawing near! Resident of the U.S. can eneter to win one of two signed copies on GoodReads.com! (see link below) You can read a sample of the prologue for free here: deviantART
Shiovra has been named High Priestess of the village Tara, but she quickly finds herself hunted by the Milidh, a clan born of war and vengeance. With the safety of Tara at stake, it is decided that she is to seek aid from her betrothed, one she considers the enemy.
At her side is Odhrán, a Milidh warrior sworn to protect her and determined to gain her trust. But their journey is fraught with peril and Shiovra learns that darkness lurks in the hearts of her own kin.
Steeped in ancient Irish myth, this tale is spun of love, war, and DEFIANCE.



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Defiance by Melissa Sasina

Defiance

by Melissa Sasina

Giveaway ends October 21, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Defiance

Coming October 24th on Kindle and in paperback: Defiance, Book one of The Priestess Trilogy.

Enter a time of ancient Irish mythology where tales of Great Invasions are spun. Of races long forgotten and beings of myth. And of a great battle between Túatha Dé Danann, and the newest threat of the Milidh.

Shiovra has been named High Priestess of Tara, but she quickly finds herself hunted by the Milidh, a clan born of war and vengeance. With the safety of Tara at stake, it is decided that she is to seek aid from her betrothed, one she considers the enemy.

At her side is Odhrán, a Milidh warrior sworn to protect her and determined to gain her trust. But their journey is fraught with peril and Shiovra learns that darkness lurks in the hearts of her own kin.

Steeped in ancient Irish myth, this tale is spun of love, war, and DEFIANCE.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

GoodReads Book Giveaway

How would you like the chance to win a signed paperback book? When my author page on facebook reaches 150 likes, I will list a giveaway on GoodReads.com for two signed copies of my book, Falls the Shadow. You can help bring this giveaway into motion by spreading the word to other lovers or fantasy books! Falls the Shadow has an average rating of 4.6 stars out of 5!

Like my facebook page to help set this book giveaway into motion! Read the first three chapters free [here]


Falls the Shadow
Everything had been taken from her: her family, her home, and nearly her life. Now, two years later, Mæja is still haunted by what the Empire did to her. But a new deception is afoot: the Empire is seeking five sacred treasures to reawaken the dark god, Loki, which could plunge all of Midgard into irreparable darkness.... With betrayal fresh in mind, she seeks to reclaim the ancient treasures before they fall into enemy hands. She is joined by the pirate Ril and his accomplice Mjrn, and the roguish rebels Connor and Linkyn. Their unlikely alliance is now the only defense against an Empire that could destroy all of Midgard. Embark with Maeja on a treasure hunt of epic proportions....
For promotions, release dates, reviews and more, follow this blog!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Who doesn't enjoy a good book?

Looking for a new book to read? Want to try a book by someone new? How about one by an Indie author? Then check out these great books! Give them a read and leave your own rating and thoughts!

Genre: fantasy, adventure, epic
 Everything had been taken from her: her family, her home, and nearly her life. Now, two years later, Mæja is still haunted by what the Empire did to her. But a new deception is afoot: the Empire is seeking five sacred treasures to reawaken the dark god, Loki, which could plunge all of Midgard into irreparable darkness....

With betrayal fresh in mind, she seeks to reclaim the ancient treasures before they fall into enemy hands. She is joined by the pirate Ril and his accomplice Mjrn, and the roguish rebels Connor and Linkyn.

Their unlikely alliance is now the only defense against an Empire that could destroy all of Midgard. Embark with Maeja on a treasure hunt of epic proportions....

Amazon:  Kindle $1.99   Paperback $9.99
Smashwords:  Various ebook formats  $1.99
CreateSpace: Paperback  $9.99



Genre: YA, fantasy, epic
A noblewoman, an assassin, and a soul-stealing necklace....

Sora planned on running away from her wedding, but she never expected to be kidnapped! Dumped into a world of magical races, arcane jewelry and forgotten lore, she finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won't let her go -- not when her Cat's Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life.

But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power -- or will the power wield her? (Winner of the SKOW 2006 Best Fantasy Award)

Amazon: Kindle  $0.99
Smashwords: Various ebook formats  Free

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Indie Authors Need Love Too!

Want to try a good book by someone new? Want to experience the wonderful world on Indie Authors? Well, then check out some of these great book series by a fellow Indie Author friends and myself!

The Chronicles of Midgard by Melissa Sasina

Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Books currently available: Falls the Shadow (4.7 stars), Melody of the Dark (4 stars)
Formats available: Kindle, paperback
About: "Journey into the Midlands of Midgard where lumini stones illuminate homes, speak stones allow communication across distances, and ships fly in the air! Falls the Shadow centers around an unlikely group of companions as they are thrust together as the only defense the Midlands have against an empire seeking to bring about a second Ragnarok."
Where you can learn more: [blog] [facebook]
Where you can find them: Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble.com | CreateSpace

Cat's Eye by T. L. Shreffler

Genre: YA Fantasy
Books Currently available: Sora's Quest (4.5 stars)
Formats available: Kindle, ebook
About: "A noblewoman, an assassin, and a soul-stealing necklace....Sora planned on running away from her wedding, but she never expected to be kidnapped! Dumped into a world of magical races, arcane jewelry and forgotten lore, she finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won't let her go -- not when her Cat's Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life.But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power -- or will the power wield her? (Winner of the SKOW 2006 Best Fantasy Award)"
Where can you learn more: [blog] [facebook]
Where can you find it: Amazon.com | Smashwords.com

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Meet Teefa

Let's meet Teefa Loughlin from The Chronicles of Midgard series! Teefa is the owner of the Stumble Inn, located in Greywater, High Wood. One of the Vaettir race, her height is around 3' tall. Teefa's first appearance in the series is in chapter 11 of Falls the Shadow. Though her parts are still small, she will start to play a bigger role as the series continues in book three, Opening of Lost Doors, release date TBA in 2013.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Eisa


Here we have Ril's mage gun from my book series, The Chronicles of Midgard. This gun fire different types of energy cryst bullets which, as described in the first book, are quite dangerous to make and thus the mage gun is not only extremely rare, but nearly impossible to find ammunition for, unless you have a right connections, as Ril does being a pirate of his caliber. Currently unnamed in the currently released books, Falls the Shadow and Melody of the Dark, in book three it shall be named Eisa. As of book two, Melody of the Dark, only two types of bullets have been mentioned: silver blue ones he normally uses, and black ones that pulse with a crimson glow and can be quite explosive.

Please bear in mind that I mostly focus on drawing people, so this is my first attempt ever at a gun, let alone one of the magical fantasy type. So, if you could draw a more awesome one, feel free to do so and share it with me! :D

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fan of The Chronicles of Midgard?

Are you a fan of The Chronicles of Midgard? Did you know that there is a fan page on facebook where you can share your love of it with others? Join the group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/chroniclesofmidgard/ !

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The second free Amazon Kindle copy of Falls the Shadow went over well. So, in total between the last free promotion and the most recent one, 947 free copies of Falls the Shadow were given away in the U.S., 133 in the U.K. and 15 in Germany!

I would also like to take this time to announce that when Opening of Lost Doors, Book Three in The Chronicles of Midgard, is released (date TBA), I will also be releasing a new book, Alyce, which will be an urban fantasy. At this time, Alyce will be a stand alone book and is completely unrelated to the Midgard series. I will release more information about the upcoming books closer to their release dates once they are determined.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


This is a scene from the first book of my published book series, The Chronicles of Midgard, the characters are Ril and Maeja.

The woman did not hesitate to notice that his eyes drifted to the gold ring adorning her left hand. "Ah...treasure. How could I have so easily forgotten." Maeja sighed, pulling Draupnir off her finger and stepped towards him. "Is that ALL that interests you? Treasure?"

"Tch. Once again, must I remind you that I am a pirate?" drawled Ril, running a hand through his violet tipped platinum hair.

Maeja scoffed and grabbed his hand, dropping Draupnir on his open palm. "Must I remind you that you placed that very mage gun to my head in the attempt of gaining Draupnir?" she remarked, her eyes flickering to the gun at his hip.

"An idle threat."


~a scene from chapter 13 of "Falls the Shadow"


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Good Reading!

I would like to take a moment to give a shout out to a fellow fantasy author, Theresa Shreffler. she has four books out currently: Cat's Eye, Blood of the Wolf, Mark of the Wolf, and Dawn of the Wolf, all of which have received 4 and 5 star ratings! I would highly suggest checking out her books!

Here are some places you can find her!

Where you can purchase her books:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What do you like best?

When it comes to books, how do you like them best? Good old paperback and hardcover? Or do you prefer electronic versions such as Kindle and Nookbook?

Recently, I had a promotion for Falls the Shadow on Amazon. For three days I offered to Kindle version of the book for free. 655 people got themselves a free copy. I was thinking about doing a contest offering a print copy for free on GoodReads, but I want to know how many people actually enjoy a printed copy of a book. Let me know your thoughts!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Trailer

Falls the Shadow not has a book trailer for viewing and sharing on youtube! Please check it out!
 

Also, if you haven't already given it a look, check out the character art in "A Look Into the Characters" right here on my blog!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Take a look!

I have added a new page "A Look Into the Characters" featuring both artwork and tidbits about the characters of my books. I will periodically add more artwork here and there, so follow me if you'd like to see more! All artwork is drawn by me, my medium being Prismacolor Colored Pencils. I hope you enjoy and find something interesting!


Friday, January 20, 2012

New Promotion!

Check out my promotions page to see how you can get a free copy of Falls the Shadow! 

Congratulations to the 10 people who won themselves a free copy of Falls the Shadow, currently the promotion is over. Watch this blog to see when more promotions become available.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Melody of the Dark

CHAPTER ONE SAMPLE



15th of the Blood Moon; Brightstone, Sannr Midgard

The Midlands of the world known as Midgard had gone through a drastic change after the doom of the gods known as Ragnarök. The power unleashed by the gods fused itself with the very stone and earth, creating levistones, energy crysts, and lumini stones. With the passage of years, the people of the Midlands learned how to utilize those wonders to their benefit, creating airships, which not only eased travel, but had become a greatly desired luxury. With such advantages, cities flourished and changed with the passage of time. And, as greed would mount, the Midlands had become easily fractured into several distinct kingdoms.

There were places in the Midlands where the past and the present meshed together quite nicely. Brightstone was one such place. Hundreds of centuries old, the Dvergar city was equally as impressive as it had been during the Age of Gods. Deep within the Syrnja Mountains lay a massive cavern with a towering ceiling and walls lined with veins of shinning mythril in its natural state. Raw lumini stones jutted out from the walls in the form of massive crystals. The city itself had been hewn of stone and tiered up towards the peak of the cave, carved from one colossal stalagmite and was surrounded by a labyrinth of deep black ravines. Wooden bridges stretched out from the city, bearing tracks for mine carts across water that rushed below. Buildings were decorated in carvings of geometrical design and the doors were thick, heavy metal.

Grim Stoneshield stood at an entrance tunnel, looking across the stone bridge leading into Brightstone. One of the Dvergar himself, it had been many years since he'd last been to his ancestral home. Like most of his race, he was stout and tough, much shorter than the average human. Grim bore a thick and long brown beard, an ancient custom among his ancestors, and bushy brows above hazel eyes. An axe lay across his back, the blade bearing centuries of battle scars.


"Boss is waiting."


His attention turned to his most unusual traveling companion. Liskula Darkwind, one of the storm Jötunn race, towered well above the heads of the tallest humans at ten feet in height. Her light skin was touched with gray and her long hair was so dark it was nearly black. Her gray eyes mirrored the sky with the coming of a storm. Though she was a member of the Adventurers' Guild with Grim, Liskula was a merchant first, always finding time to try and sell wares.


Grim nodded. "Alright, lets get to it." With a grunt, he shifted his pack on his shoulder and walked across the bridge. Boss had told them to meet him in the bazaar, at a tavern called the Bearded Lady, a place he knew would be hospitable to Liskula. The presence of Imperial soldiers wasn't highly noticeable in the lower regions of the city tier, which was much to Grim's delight, especially since he and Liskula had the pleasure of their presence halfway into the entrance tunnels.


The bazaar itself, situated to the left of the bridge, was filled with wooden stands covered in bright, colorful cloths. The bazaar was crowded, mostly with Dvergar, but he did spot the occasional human and Álfar, their height alone making them easy to pick out. Nestled in the corner, out of sight but by no means forgotten, was the Bearded Lady tavern.


Walking up the three steps, he pushed the door open and walked into the dimly lit tavern. Lumini stones were few, and bore a few cracks. The wooden tables were round and crowded with patrons. Smiling serving women with long braided hair carried heavy trays covered in pints and mugs, weaving their way effortlessly through the tables without spilling a drop. It was certainly an odd place for Boss to request their meeting, but Grim could easily understand. The Empire was the enemy of many and the best way to remain unseen was to keep low, and the Bearded Lady was by all means low.


"Grim! Is that you?" called a sweet feminine voice.


Turning, he found a Dvergar woman approaching him with long golden hair and an equally long braided beard. She was the owner of the Bearded Lady and the namesake of the tavern. Her green eyes danced as she approached him.

"Ah, Svanna Thorshammer," he greeted her warmly. "How have you been?"

"Can't complain," she replied with a smile. "The tavern has been pretty busy lately." She played with the end of her beard as she spoke. "What brings you back to Brightstone, Grim?"

"Business," Grim replied simply.

"You'll be looking for Boss then, won't you?"

He nodded.

"Over there." She gestured to a small table sitting in the corner. Surprisingly young, Boss was only sixteen years of age, but deeply respected and looked up to. Though head of the guild, he had much of the world yet to see. His brown hair was a bit longer than when Grim had last seen him, reaching long enough to finally be tied back. His grey eyes seemed dark in the dim light, but Grim knew well that there was always a mischievous light in them.

Boss waved them over with a bright smile.

Digging in his pouch, he handed Svanna a few coins. "Bring us a round. You know what we like." Making his way to the corner of the room, Grim sat his pack down on the floor and hung his axe belt off the back of his chair before sitting down with a grunt. Liskula grabbed a tall stood and made herself comfortable.

"Relax a bit, Grim," suggested Boss. "There is no need to rush."

Grim raised a brow in question.

"There has been whispering among the merchants here in the bazaar," he continued. "Even Tiny himself saw the same their eyes have. The signal fire has been lit and the Door of the Valkyrie was opened. Not long after, a group of five travelers arrived in the city. One merchant claims to have actually seen them come from the Valkyrie's Pass into Brightstone."

Grim frowned. "But the Door of the Valkyrie will only yield to a Valkyrie," he stated bluntly. "Surely Mæja's distant ties to Brynhild would not be enough to grant her passage."

"Exactly," replied Boss, running a finger along the rim of his cup. "It wouldn't be enough. Even the Rhine Maiden wouldn't be able to break the seal that Odin himself put in place. Which could only mean…"

"That Mæja is a Valkyrie," answered Liskula, keeping her voice low.

Boss nodded. "If she has awakened as a Valkyrie, that means that she has been chosen by the gods and that the threat of a second Ragnarök is indeed looming before us."

Grim cursed softly and rubbed his face. He hardly noticed Svanna as she brought a tray of drinks, sitting them down quietly before leaving. "So that leaves the matter of finding them…"

"Already done."

He looked up in surprise.

Boss grinned. "Don't look at me like that, I have my ways. They are all staying at the Grumble Inn," he continued. "We'll have time to observe them while passing in the streets. I don't want their suspicions raised. I am almost certain they are here for Thor's hammer, Mjollnir. Which means that if they are after it, the chances of Emperor Ensor or even Severus looking for it as well are very high. Our goal is to gain their trust and cooperation. Is that agreed?"

Grim and Liskula nodded.

"Good!" Boss smiled brightly. "You're next round is on me!"

Smirking roguishly, Grim leaned towards Boss. "How about my coins back for the airship trip all the way up here?"


* * * * *


The room wasn't overly large, with only three beds to share between the five of them, but it did have its own private bath, which was much to Mæja's liking. They'd hardly set foot in the Grumble Inn before Connor and Linkyn decided to go and sample the drink at the Cellar Rat tavern, leaving Mæja with Ril and Mjrn. The inn keepers wife, Devi, brought them a warm meal for dinner and fresh juice to drink, which they had gratefully accepted after so many days of nothing but travel rations.

Sitting on a bed, Mæja ran slender fingers through her long, fiery red waves while her blue-green eyes remained fixed on a certain pirate with all the turbulence of a stormy sea. Ril, on the other hand, remained apparently oblivious to the cold glare centered on him as he carefully cleaned his mage gun. As for the Rhine Maiden, Mjrn had decided to partake in a long bath.

Mæja's eyes unconsciously followed the movement of Ril's dark, blue-gray hands as the Dökkálfar man paid careful attention to every nook and cranny of his gun, the gold ring on his left hand shinning brightly in the light of the lumini stones illuminating their room. Colorful speak stones swayed from gold clasps attached to his long, pointed ears. Absently, Mæja began to wonder what Ril used to dye the tips of his platinum hair violet.

Sighing, Mæja pulled her legs up onto the bed and crossed them. She was tired and worn from their trip. Since her reunion with Connor, and unfortunately Ril, they'd hardly had a moments rest. Everything had gone wrong when Ilario had betrayed them. It wasn't that he'd betrayed the resistance to the Grand Duke, but that he'd sided with him. Severus, son of the Shilykan Emperor himself, knew that she was alive, and that alone could prove problematic to their plans.

Mæja could not guess how much Severus knew of their plans, but since Ilario had given him Brynhild's book, she knew certainly that he would go after the five treasures of the gods. Running into Ilario in Lahrheim had proved it far too well. The feeling of the knife he'd pulled on her remained fresh in her mind. The edge of the blade had been cold against her throat before it had broken her skin. The wound had closed up well and wouldn't leave a scar, but his violence, his greed and betrayal, had marked him by the Wolves of Odin. She knew as soon as Connor and Linkyn got their hands on him, Ilario's life would be forfeit.

It was because of Ilario's attack and the Imperial presence that Mæja decided she was content to stay in the room for the time being. Which left her, most unfortunately, in the company of a certain pirate who decided he wanted to stay in instead of wandering the streets of the Dvergar city of Brightstone, no matter how impressive it was. And so, once more, Mæja's gaze narrowed on the man in burning fury. With Mjrn in the bath, she was, essentially, left alone with Ril. A matter to which she wasn't entirely fond of. After all, her second meeting with the pirate was when he had put that very mage gun he cleaned to her head in Ragnarr castle. She had, after all, been in possession of the treasure he sought, Odin's ring of power, Draupnir. The resistance's attack on the castle had proven to be her escape when she fell through a portal which had inadvertently sent her far north to the High Woods and away from him.

But, as luck would have it, the gods cursed her and she was forced to meet with him a third time. Draupnir had then served as their bargain to grant them passage by his airship, the Sacred Hart. She still didn't know how Connor or Linkyn had come to know the arrogant pirate, and at times could care less. She would be rid of him soon enough.

"Do you expect me to burst into flames under the intensity of your glare, Jarlessa?" came the rich, upper-crust accent of the pirate, his tone laced with sarcasm. It seemed he had not been as oblivious to her glare as she had assumed.

Mæja frowned. She really could not abide the man's insufferable manner and detested being addressed by the title of Jarlessa. Her kingdom had fallen under Imperial control when her father Woden, Jarl of Ragnarr, was murdered by Grand Duke Severus' own hand.

"I could only hope," growled the woman in irritation.

Ril chuckled a bit, not pausing in his work. "If looks could kill, then I suppose your glare alone should have killed me a thousand times over by now."

Mæja looked away. Perhaps, if she could get him to walk the streets with her, she would get the opportunity to shove him into the labyrinth of deep ravines surrounding the city.

"Ah, don't pout so, Jarlessa, it diminishes your beauty," Ril told her with a cunning grin.

Mæja didn't justify his teasing with a response. She knew it would only encourage him.

He was silent a moment, almost contemplative, before sitting his mage gun down and turning his full attention on her. "What is it, exactly, you find so detestable about me?"

"Can you honestly be so ignorant in the matter?"

The pirate flashed her a bright smile as he relaxed a bit on his own bed. "Enlighten me."

Mæja had long decided he took far too much enjoyment in her hatred of him. "You're a petty thief for one."

"Pirate," he corrected.

"Is there a difference?"

"I have an airship," came Ril's cool reply.

She resisted rolling her eyes. "Fine, pirate then,"
remarked Mæja. "Not to mention you are arrogant and cocky. You have this confident air about you that I simply cannot tolerate. You are the most insufferable man I have ever been forced to meet, let alone been forced to travel with! You act as if you know everything and place yourself on this high pedestal above everyone else. You are every bit the cocky bastard Connor said you are!"

Ril chuckled in agreement. "Is that all?" he asked in amusement. "Well, Jarlessa, you aren't much of a pleasure yourself. You are as stubborn and haughty as that noble blood flowing in your veins. You regard Connor and Linkyn so highly even though they have more blood on their hands then even the dogs of the Empire. You refuse to trust anyone simply because of what Severus did to you and your father, acting as if anyone and everyone will stab you in the back," he countered.

"Is it too presumptuous of me not to expect that of a pirate?" retorted Mæja.

He rose to his feet and approached her. "Now, now," scoffed Ril, "I told you before, I may be greedy, but I'm not murderous."

Mæja scooted back away from him, wanting to maintain what she considered a safe distance from the pirate.

Ril flashed her a wicked grin. "Careful there, Jarlessa," he warned.

"Stay away from me, you worthless, good-for-nothing, bastardly scoundrel!" demanded the woman, continuing to scoot back on the bed.

Ril put his hands on the bed and leaned towards her. "My, my, getting more creative in your insults, are you, Jarlessa?"

He was so close she could smell the semi-sweet, mildly spicy scent of dragons blood he wore. She wanted to hit him, push him away, but her body wouldn't move. Mæja could feel the warmth of his breath on her own lips at their close proximity and an odd feeling filled her. She refused to break eye contact, fearing her eyes might wander somewhere that he could use to his advantage. It was closer than she ever wanted to be with the arrogant pirate and still she couldn't push him away. That was until the door clattered open loudly.

Mæja started, finally regaining control of her body, and pushed herself away from Ril, only to fall off the edge of the bed and land on the hard stone floor with a grunt. While Connor and Linkyn stood in the doorway, a bit surprised, Ril kneeled on the bed and looked down at the woman, amusement dancing in his pale blue eyes.

"Ril, ye bastard, what the feck did ye do ta her?" demanded Connor.

The pirate spared the man an admonishing glance. "Nothing. We were only talking. Honest."

Connor and Linkyn hardly looked convinced.

"I'm fine, by the way, thanks for asking," muttered Mæja. "And we were talking…in an argumentative sort of way."

"Argumentative sort o' way?" commented Linkyn with a laugh, as he walked over and offered his hand to the woman. "Will the two o' ye ever get along?"

"I tolerate him, isn't that enough?" replied Mæja bluntly, placing her hand in his and letting him pull her to her feet.

"Only tolerate? You wound me, Jarlessa," Ril remarked with a feigned tone of hurt.

Mæja gave a short laugh. "I highly doubt that," she sneered in return. "My dislike of you only amuses you. I know you see this as a game."

"Oh, you noticed then?" grinned Ril.


* * * * *


Ashylia, Capital City of the Shilykan Empire

The capital city of the Shilykan Empire continued to flourish as the Empire thrived, becoming the center of innovation and learning. Though lacking in natural resources and fertile land, the Empire had come to prestige and wealth through studies and technologies that brought them the most powerful airship fleet in all of the Midlands. Knowledge was the true strength and power behind the Empire, giving rise to famed mages and housing the High Order itself within the borders of Ashylia.

Octagonal in layout, Ashylia was divided into eight separate districts with the Imperial palace sitting in the center of it all. The streets of Ashylia were cobblestone and very well maintained, lined with lanterns of lumini stones to illuminate them at night. Buildings stretched tall, at times reaching over four stories tall, with bridges connecting many. Shops, inns and residences served as the lower floors while the upper floors were left to the pleasure of the wealthy. A large central port compensated the many airships that docked and brought to Ashylia various wares and travelers.

The architecture of the Imperial palace was not shy in shamelessly flaunting the Empire's wealth. Intricately sculpted statues lined smooth stone paths of a lavish courtyard and garden where a grand fountain stood. The outer stone walls of the palace were covered in well crafted bas relief carvings that depicted Shilyka's history and rise to power.

By far the most impressive room in the palace, the Grand Chamber was circular in design with walls and ceiling of curved glass. Hanging from the center of the glass ceiling, suspended by a heavy, thick chain, was a chandelier covered in several sparkling lumini stones that twinkled in the sunlight, but glowed brilliantly at night. A long, rich azure rug bearing the golden emblem of House Valine, three swords intertwined with a snake, stretched across the polished marble floor, leading from the door to the heavy oak desk and chair. Two statues flanked the desk: that of an archer standing ready with a bow drawn, and that of an armored soldier with a sword held before itself with two hands. Exotic plants lined the edge of the circular room, adding rich colors to the chamber.

Ensor the VIII of House Valine, Emperor of the Shilykan Empire, had always found solace in the Imperial palace's Grand Chamber, that was until that moment when papers continued to mount upon his desk and the man before him had delivered rather upsetting news. "Are you sure of this?" he drawled in a low, gravely voice as he looked up from a smaller stack of papers. Age had not been kind to him, leaving his brown hair full of gray streaks and heavy wrinkles by his gray eyes.

The man standing before the Emperor nodded with slight hesitation. "Yes, my lord," he replied. "House Krövekks refuses to allow the Dagnir soldiers to conduct sweeps through Brightstone to look for the wolves."

Ensor folded his hands together on the desk. "It would seem that We shall be forced to rely on Ilivarra's contact to locate the wolves then," he muttered. "We need the levistones that Brightstone provides Us with, so We cannot risk endangering our trade agreements by intruding upon their wishes. Contact Gavin and Micah. Inform them of the situation. The wolves must be located and detained. Too long have they run free."

"Yes, my lord," answered the man. "The contact has also informed the third squad that there were two others following the wolves. A Dvergar man and Jötunn woman. From the information provided, the two only seem to be after the wolves and not the female that Ilivarra seeks."

Grabbing the stack of paper before him, he tapped the bottom edge against the table. "This female wolf…We wonder what it is that Ilivarra knows that We do not," he murmured. "For her to hold the female at such value does indeed concern Us." The Emperor looked back up at the man. "Tell Gavin to see if he can learn more about the female wolf."

The man nodded, bowing low. "Yes, Your Imperial Majesty."