Elemental Trials Book 1
by Ronelle Antoinette
Genre: Fantasy Romance
They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but In Egalion’s Imperial court, you can't tell one from the other...especially when they change at the flip of a coin. Behind the luxury and splendor lies a realm of treachery where cloak-and-dagger political maneuvering threatens to destroy the peace of two thousand years.
Twenty-five-year-old Battlemage Jex Xander has a mouth that frequently gets him into trouble, while in contrast, Enari Namelum speaks not at all. When Jex becomes the target of a faceless curse-slinger, Enari, the girl he has protected since the day they met, must now protect him. A string of ritual human sacrifices coupled with Jex’s growing inability to keep his feelings (and hands) to himself only serve to complicate matters. Amidst the mounting chaos, passion and romance should be the last thing on their minds, but life and the Goddess seem to have other ideas.
In a world as enticing as it is perilous, love, danger, and magic will collide, leaving lives irrevocably changed. The events of a single summer stand to change the course of more than just the kingdom of Egalion and the ones dismissed as pawns may yet prove to be the most important players.
“Errant Spark” is the hush before the storm, the last deep breath before the plunge. The flint has been struck and it’s possible the whole world might go up in flames…because love in the Imperial court is as dangerous a thing as backroom politics and jealousy can be as much a driving force as silver and gold.
Fantasy? Action? Romance? Yes! This romantic fantasy novel by Ronelle Antoinette is a broad, epic, sweeping fantasy with more twists and turns and ups and downs than a wild roller-coaster! The first installment of the Elemental Trials series is one of those books that really is so much more than what the blurb can convey. Described as “surprisingly complex and visionary” by one reviewer, “Errant Spark” will leave you mesmerized from the first page to the last.
Hailed by Amazing Stories Magazine’s Ricky L Brown as “a simple story about interesting characters with just enough romance and magic to make it work. […] Errant Spark is as complex as George RR Martin, with a world that is well-suited for conniving and cavorting. Rest assured, there is plenty of sex and violence, but not as raw and stabby as the aforementioned works. It’s more like a big kid’s version of a fairy tale.
•Mature teens and up
•Fans of epic fantasy and romance
•Those looking for characters they want to eat…or take home and enjoy
•Readers who can appreciate a gorgeous tapestry of magic, myth, and mayhem
•Connoisseurs of fine love stories that complement the plot and that ‘slow burn’
•Lovers of surprises, twists-and-turns, and well-placed, necessary supernatural elements
•Anyone looking for sex, magic, love, fantasy, and a story that will sweep you away
•Those who don’t mind staying up all night so they can turn that final page
Update: As of 11/21/16, a series glossary has been included at the end of this novel (in ebook and print form only).
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True night had fallen on Tor’s Alley, with only a few pale squares of light cast by nearby windows to illuminate the way ahead. The far end of the street was utterly dark, a patient maw waiting to swallow them whole. A dog barked in the distance and they heard the hiss and yowl of fighting tomcats somewhere much closer. Tipping her head back, Enari gazed at the stars that were clearly visible in this poorly lit part of the great city.
“We shouldn’t dawdle,” Jex said in a low voice. He moved down the steps, putting them on a level when he faced her, and bent to pull a dagger from the top of his boot. She hadn’t even noticed it before and wondered what else he had hidden on his person.
Holding it up, he took her hand and curled her fingers around the leather-wrapped hilt.
“Do you know how to use this?” he asked seriously.
When she shook her head, he closed his eyes in dismay and exhaled heavily. She watched the faint glint of starlight trace the razor edge as she tilted it slowly. He shook her once, snapping her attention back to him.
“Eyes, throat, belly, groin.” He touched each body part on himself as he spoke. “They’re soft and the blade won’t stick. Any part of a man will do, but those will drop him fast.” Placing his hand over hers, he showed her a simple thrust-and-twist motion.
“Put it in your belt, like this. Good. Now let me see you draw it. Watch you don’t cut your fingers.”
Enari did as instructed and once he was satisfied she could draw the weapon without catching on anything, he took her hand again. They started down the dark street at a brisk pace and Enari observed a change in the way he walked. His stride was still confident, but there was a new alertness in his posture, a deadly grace that proclaimed he was not someone to be trifled with.
“What did she give you?” he asked more casually than she would have expected.
Reluctantly, she fished the amulet out of her bodice and held it up so he could see. He coughed and glanced away, but not before she saw the color rising in his cheeks. Even in the dim light, the blush was visible.
“I’m sorry. That was rather, um, forward of her. Have to give her credit for perceptiveness, though. I’m not sure I’d have thought of that until it was too late, and then where would we be? Well, where would you be? As soon as Vasi found out, I’d be dead for certain. I know I don’t have to tell you to keep it out of sight unless you want people to talk. Not that I’d be ashamed, but, well, that brings us back ‘round to the me dying thing.” Throughout the entire rambling monologue, his eyes swept their surroundings and he kept a firm grip on her hand.
They’d nearly reached the market square where the encounter with the Dust addict had occurred that afternoon when a figure stepped into the alley, blocking their path.
“Thought you two would be along,” drawled a male voice, “Made us wait long enough to be sure.”
Jex stopped dead as three more man-shaped shadows joined the first. Slowly, attention never leaving the menacing strangers, he drew Enari behind him so that his body shielded her from view. As the pack moved to the center of the alley, moonlight dimly illuminated their features. Three of the ruffians were hulking, heavily muscled men, flat faced and heavy browed, while the fourth, apparently their leader, was whipcord thin. All four were dressed in dark clothing and armed to the teeth.
“We don’t want any trouble, friends,” Jex said, polite and cautions, “Let us pass.”
The men laughed. The sound was ugly and filled with the promise of impending violence.
The leader shook his head, long hair falling into his eyes. “Oh no. The Lady doesn’t take kindly to a dandy like you roughing up her people. Yeema may be a slimy, Dust-mad little worm, but he’s still Brotherhood.”
“The Lady Shadow should warn her men against accosting mages and young kvinnas in a public market, then. Your fellow was sloppy and I only gave the maggot what he deserved,” Jex shot back. “You have no quarrel with us.”
“Be that as it may, we can hardly let such actions go unaddressed. You nobles might start getting uppity.”
“Perhaps we can work somefing out,” one of the big men suggested. “The lassie there is nice-looking enough. Let her be the payment.”
“You’ll touch her over my dead body!” Jex snapped. His tone was no longer friendly. He spun his staff in one hand and planted the end solidly into the dirt at his feet. Its runes began to glow scarlet and a sphere of crackling fire sprang to life in the air above his cupped palm. Two of the men took a hasty step back.
“That can certainly be arranged,” the thin man said with a snigger, “or you can stand aside, mageling. Let us have our fun and we can all go on as if none of this unpleasantness ever happened. We promise we’ll be quick and the Lady need never hear of it.”
The man behind him made a vulgar gesture and elbowed his closest associate. “You might be quick, but I plan to take my time. She looks fresh.”
“Take one step from where you stand and before the Consorts I swear you’ll die before you can take another,” the mage warned him. The orb of flames grew a little bigger as his anger built.
Then, speaking softly so his voice did not carry beyond her hearing, he addressed Enari, “Nani, do you see the doorway to your left?” He felt her nod against his back. “I want you to walk over there, slowly now, and put your back to it. I’ll veil you until you get there, then stay down and out of the way. If one of them gets past me, you run as fast as you can and head for a lighted street. Look for a guardsman.”
Walking backwards to keep the men in view, Enari crossed the narrow space until she felt her back bump against uneven stone. She sidestepped into the dim recess and held her breath, pressing as close to the door as she could manage.
“Hiding your toys isn’t very polite, you know,” sighed the leader, although he really didn’t sound that disappointed. A dagger appeared in his hand as if by magic and he grinned. “Never mind. I haven’t had a decent fight or a good fuck in ages.” He jerked his head towards Jex. “Get ‘im, lads. She’ll reappear once he’s dead.”
Elemental Trials Book 2
Scandal will shake foundations.
A night of careless passion leaves Battlemage Jex Xander and Adept Enari Alycon in a precarious position. Long-time lovers they might be, but the Imperial ambassador and the daughter of Egalion’s High Mage have rather public roles in the court—whether they wish it or not—and scandal couldn’t come at a worse time.
Treachery will tip balances.
When a hostile kingdom reluctantly agrees to parley, the fate of two-thousand years of peace is on the line. In the midst of negotiations, Enari becomes the target of one of the Greater Maelstrom. She and Jex must race against time to save her life and that of her unborn child. What happens when an earth-shattering secret, a demon bent on destruction, and a kingdom teetering on the brink of war collide is anyone’s guess.
Choices will have consequences.
The decisions of a few will determine the fate of many, and who or what will remain standing in the end is still uncertain. Hearts and lives are on the cusp of irrevocable change…and not necessarily for the better.
And secrets? Those will change everything.
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She laced her fingers through his and swung their clasped hands between them. “I’d be happy to. It might be nice not to sneak around like naughty children all the time.”
“You don’t think Vasi will have me killed, do you? This is the place to find a contract hitter if you’re looking.”
Instead of laughing as expected, Enari stopped mid-step and pulled him to a halt with the tether of their clasped hands.
“I’m not her apprentice anymore, Jex,” she said. “Consent is mine and mine alone to give. Stop worrying about Vasi.”
They studied one another for a long moment before his face broke into a broad grin.
“As it please you, my lady.” He sketched her a courtly little bow.
“Besides,” Enari added with a quirk of her eyebrow, “she’s a master apothecary. If she wanted you dead, she wouldn’t need to hire anyone.”
He blinked at her, mouth open. She sounded more sure of that than he was comfortable with.
She did laugh then, and darted up the stairs ahead of him. He was quick to give chase.
They reached his room on the fourth floor and Enari was watching him over her shoulder as she reached for the knob. His expression changed to one of dismay and he started to call a warning, but it was too late.
Her fingers closed around what should have been cold metal and blistering pain lanced up her arm. An ominous crackling filled the air and the door emitted an angry orange glow. She tried to pull away but found herself rendered immobile by the hostile magic.
Jex was at her side in an instant, muttering a few words under his breath and slashing a hand through the air. The noise, light, and heat vanished and Enari jerked back, tears beginning to stream down her cheeks.
“Diu, I’m so sorry. I completely forgot!” He took her hand and examined the reddening skin. “I’ve had to ward the door to keep unwanted ‘servants’ from going through my things.”
He raised her palm to his mouth and blew on it before planting the most delicate of kisses against the inside of her wrist. Then, without releasing her, he took the key from his pocket.
Once the door shut behind them, he dropped their packs to the floor and started rummaging in a side table. He finally turned up a small jar and a roll of bandages and came back to her.
“This should help ease the sting,” he said, spreading a thick cream over her palm and rubbing it in with his thumbs.
“I take it I’m not the first to have a run-in with your little booby trap?” she quipped.
“Eh, no. I’ve burnt myself twice,” he admitted with a sheepish smile. He raised his left hand and showed her the scar.
Securing the bandage around her hand, he examined his work before raising his eyes to hers. “Are you hurt anywhere else?”
Enari shook her head, biting her lip to keep from smiling. “I think I’m fine, but thank you for asking, sir.”
“Are you sure? We’ve been riding an awfully long time and Astraeus was a little overenthusiastic. Maybe I ought to check the rest of you.” His hands dropped to her hips, then slid around to cup her bottom.
Her giggle became a moan as his mouth descended on hers.
“Jex…” she protested between kisses. “They’re expecting us for dinner and there’s something I need—”
“Shh,” he murmured, working at the clasps of her tunic, “I know what you need, and don’t worry about dinner. No one will mind if we’re fashionably late.”
A stray, lust-driven thought that was not her own flitted into her mind’s eye as his mental barriers relaxed for just an instant. She saw her own body arching to meet his and heard tiny moans as he thrust into her again and again. The image was gone almost as quickly as it had come, but the intensity of it left her heart pounding and her breath ragged. Psychomancy could be distracting if they weren’t careful, as strong emotions made it difficult to maintain the protective barrier around one’s thoughts. With Jex, it was also intimate on a level most never experienced. It enhanced their pleasure, looping back on itself and feeding the arousal of one to the other.
Her hands went to his belt and began pulling at it. He was right; dinner could wait. They couldn’t.
Just as his hand slipped into her tunic and cupped around her breast, the door behind them began to open.
“Jex, some important messages came while you were gone and Mama said—oh.”
A pained look crossed his face. Eyes closed and teeth clenched, he counted under his breath before turning to face the intruder.
“Torina. I know you’ve been taught to knock.”
Kylan’s wide and startled eyes darted from his aggrieved expression to Enari, who was fumbling to secure the front of her tunic.
“Oh. Ohhh. Um, sorry! I’ll just…I should go.” She started backing out of the room but stopped when Jex shook his head.
“You’re already here.” He held out a hand. “Let’s have them.”
Ronelle dabbled in creative writing for many years before making it a career. (She even considered it as a major in college, though she ended up getting a Bachelor's degree in Counseling Psychology.) She published her first novel, Errant Spark, in July of 2016.
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