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Authors: S.S. Skye

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The Warrior (Kiss Me at Midnight)

BOOK: The Warrior (Kiss Me at Midnight)
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Table of Contents

Title Page
Book Details
The Warrior
About the Author

The Warrior

S.S. Skye

Kiss Me at Midnight

Edander has been at the Conservatory for twelve years, ever waiting and hoping for the day he finds a warrior with whom he can bond. But hope and opportunity are running out, and even the arrival of a promising stranger cannot quite convince him that perhaps his chance has come at last.

Book Details

The Warrior

Kiss Me at Midnight Collection

By S.S Skye

Published by Less Than Three Press LLC

All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission of the publisher, except for the purpose of reviews.

Edited by Michael Jay

Cover Illustration by V. Rios

This book is a work of fiction and as such all characters and situations are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is coincidental.

First Edition January 2013

Copyright © 2013 by S.S. Skye

Printed in the United States of America

ISBN 97816200417833

The Warrior

It’s a new year; everything’s going to be different. It’s a new year; everything’s going to be–

There was a streak of lightning, the following crack of thunder, and a sudden downpour of rain.


exactly the same.

Edander sighed. He hadn’t really expected anything to change, but it had been nice to pretend that this year was going to be a little less hellacious, even just for the morning. He’d been deluded if he’d thought for one moment he’d receive some sort of reprieve in this kingdom.
The clouds eternally brewed and the rain never stopped pouring and Edander couldn’t remember what it was like to be warm and dry.

Sometimes, in the dark of the night, he thought about home, while the thunder crashed outside his window. Compared to this kingdom, most would consider it a desert, with the sun beating down and warm, dry breezes blowing through the open air houses in the afternoon. Rain was only a seasonal occurrence back home, and even then, it was nothing like the rain here, driving and biting and
cold
.

With another sigh, he put it from his mind and kept trudging, thankful at least that the Conservatory had been designed by a competent architect who’d had it built almost entirely of stone. The ground might always be wet, but the great flagstones that made up the paths kept the mud to a minimum.

Edander yelped in surprise as two boys came bounding through the planter of trees beside him, splashing him with mud as they whooped. "Hey!" he protested, though it was simply a bit more mud on an already mud-splattered coat, and it was still raining besides.

"There’s a stranger in the Receiving Hall!" one of the boys called over his shoulder, before the two rounded a corner and disappeared from sight.

Edander’s eyebrows ticked up a notch. He’d been at the Conservatory for a number of years, since his magic had first presented itself and he’d been sent there to learn to control his magic
.
Once he’d achieved that, he’d been forced to remain there, to wait until he could find a bondmate, that stabilizing force which would balance him out and keep him grounded as his power increased in breadth and strength as he matured.
Outside of the Conservatory and without a bondmate, it would only be a matter of time before he either lost his control or went mad trying to keep it.

While he'd lived there, the Conservatory had seen any number of arrivals every day, most of them mages who came seeking control and bondmates, the rest traders who did regular business bringing goods to the thousands of students and boarders who lived here. The one thing they did not get was strangers.

Deciding against returning to the dorm barracks, where the rain would be unbearably loud on the roof and drive him just a little bit crazier, Edander cut around the same corner the boys had, making for the Receiving Hall.

It was unsurprisingly crowded when he arrived. No doubt everyone in the Conservatory knew by now that there was a stranger.

Edander couldn’t see from his vantage point, pressed against the wall not far from the door, but he could hear the Conservatory’s chancellor going through the welcome speech, and could hear the unintelligible
answer in a deep baritone. He couldn’t understand what was being said, but he knew it would filter through the crowd quickly enough.

As expected, it was only a few moments before the people around him started whispering bits and pieces to each other.

"…very handsome…"

"…suppose he thinks his scars look…"

"…says he’s heading to war…"

"…pity he’ll die and that voice’ll go…"

"…didn’t see a bondmate; wonder if…"

Edander slipped away then, having gotten enough of a gist to appease him. He was not much interested in the direction the gossip would soon take. It was a truth universally acknowledged, that a warrior in possession of his stars must be in want of a bondmate, and if the rumor was true that he was indeed unbonded, the stranger was going to find himself drowning in the sudden attentions of unattached mages.

Edander knew better than to bother by now. In a kingdom as damp as this, it was hard for a mage who dealt in fire to truly excel. He’d managed well enough for himself, getting good marks in his studies and receiving his accreditation with no problems. This kingdom boasted more weather and water attuned mages than anything else, though, and mages with other affinities were scarce at the Conservatory. When warriors came looking, the professors were always sure to put their best pupils in the warriors’ ways. Edander had no such advantage.

Rather than risk the public spaces in the Conservatory which would no doubt be flooded with gossip, he headed back to the dormitory. Relieved to find it empty, he sat to write his weekly letter home and then complete his reading for the next day’s seminar.

When the rest of his dormmates finally wandered in in the wee hours of the morning, he was fast asleep at his desk.

*~*~*

The next day dawned a bleak gray, clouds hovering oppressively low and mist hanging in the air. Edander had woken up still slumped over his desk, a crick in his neck. His dorm was already half empty as he got up and stretched, moving stiffly to collect all he would need for the day.

The corridors he favored were mostly deserted at this hour and they sheltered him from the weather when it became extreme. He still wouldn’t call them pleasant, but at least they kept him dry.

As if on cue, the wind whistled in through a crack under one of the doors that lined the hallway, and Edander pulled the collar of his coat higher, trying to burrow into the scarf his mother had sent after his first year there. He’d been wholly unprepared for the cold that winter, but in the years since, he’d at least figured out how to survive, if not terribly comfortably.

Too immersed in his thoughts, Edander didn’t see the person coming around the corner until too late. His nose smacked into what he thought might be the other person’s chest and he flailed as his balance shifted. Large hands clamped onto his elbows and they almost toppled over, before the person he’d crashed into tugged him forward. The ground steadied under him, but he only distantly noted it.

Pulled into the other’s personal space, Edander felt a wave of heat wash over him and blinked stupidly for several moments before he realized how inappropriately close they were standing.

He jerked back a couple steps, looking at his boots as he blurted, "Terribly sorry – my fault – wasn’t watching where I was going –" He started edging around the man he could just make out from the corner of his eye.

Edander was making progress down the hall when the man called, "Wait!" He turned slightly to look, taking in a brief look of him finally. "I… can you tell me the way to the Chancellor’s offices?"

He stared uncomprehendingly for a minute. "Uh… just head straight down this corridor until you reach the library. Take a right there, and then the next two lefts."

The man shot him a grateful smile that showed a surprising number of teeth and that made the hallway seem a little brighter. He offered an absent thanks over his shoulder as he turned away and headed in the opposite direction.

Edander was halfway down the corridor before he realized there were a limited number of people with business concerning the Chancellor and only one who wouldn’t know where her offices were.

He tried to pull up a mental picture of the man he’d run into, so he could judge for himself how true the rumors of the stranger's appearance were. All he could summon, though, was that fleeting moment of finally feeling warm.

*~*~*

The afternoon found him in one of the practice courts, meditating and using his powers to shape a small flame to exercise his control. He drew it into a long wire, weaving it in and out around itself, a burning knot that floated in front of him and whose flames licked at his hands as he manipulated it.

"I’ve never seen such control before."

Edander startled, recalling his fire so quickly that he nearly scorched his fingers. He whipped around, finding he’d been joined at some point by the man he recognized as the stranger from earlier that day.

The man held his hands up in a gesture of peace. "My apologies. I’ve never been a quiet person; I was sure you had heard me approach. It wasn’t my intention to alarm you."

Edander waved his hand, as though dispelling some nonexistent smoke. "When I meditate, I miss most of what goes on around me." He didn’t mean to seem rude, but he was mostly sure he failed. "Was there something I could help you with?"

He thought the stranger’s face might have fallen a bit, but he’d become distracted tracing the scars that crisscrossed the stranger’s face with his eyes. It took a moment for Edander to realize the stranger was talking again. "I didn’t mean to bother you. They told me I was free to wander the Conservatory, but it seems to be mostly empty and I’ve been a bit at a loss. I’ll admit, I was feeling a bit nosy when I came in here." He scrubbed a hand across the back of his head, looking remarkably sheepish for a man who Edander suddenly realized was dressed in a warrior’s everyday leathers. "I think perhaps I’ll just go," the man said, shifting his weight in the direction of the doorway.

"You don’t have to," Edander blurted without thinking, having to scramble to keep up with his mouth. "I don’t mind the company; I just thought you must have some reason for being here. I had imagined they would keep you busy showing off all that the Conservatory has to offer."

Weight shifting back and settling, the stranger grimaced, oddly guiltily. "I’m sure they would like to, but I’ve been begging out of everything they’ll let me."

Edander cocked his head curiously, absently calling up a flame that he twined over and over through his fingers.

The stranger started talking, though his eyes were fixed on Edander’s hands. "It’s a very nice university, but they seem to spend a great amount of time outdoors in this awful weather. I’ve just spent three weeks traveling through it. If I’ve only got two weeks to rest and await my messenger, I’m certainly not going to waste it being soaked through all the time." His nose wrinkled in distaste, though his gaze hadn’t wavered from the flame.

Edander laughed softly, eyes on his flame. "If you’ve managed to stay dry, stranger, then you have managed more than I have in the dozen years I’ve lived here."

"Ignifer."

Edander looked up only to be caught by bright green eyes.

"What?" Edander nearly rolled his eyes at himself. It would be entirely in keeping with his life that he would have the opportunity to speak with the stranger and be incapable of anything resembling intelligence.

The stranger grinned at him, revealing a dimple nestled between what looked to be two nasty claw marks. "My name. It’s Ignifer. If I am to be intruding upon your day, I thought I had at least better introduce myself."

BOOK: The Warrior (Kiss Me at Midnight)
9.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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