Nightbred: Lords of the Darkyn

BOOK: Nightbred: Lords of the Darkyn
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Praise for the Novels

of Lynn Viehl

The Lords of the Darkyn Novels

Nightborn

“Lynn Viehl is an amazing storyteller.
Nightborn
strikes through the heart with stunning strength, creating an addictive, complex world—and characters who are so alive that turning the last page will make you feel as though you’re losing the best friends you wish you could have. Especially in a fight.”


New York Times
bestselling author Marjorie M. Liu

“A clever, rip-roaring adventure from start to finish with more twists and turns than a back road in the French countryside. Loved it, loved it.”

—#1
New York Times
bestselling author Patricia Briggs

The Kyndred Novels

Dreamveil

“The Kyndred story line is fast-paced throughout as the action never stops. Yet the cast is strong, as is the romantic triangle containing a delightful, unexpected late twist. . . . This urban fantasy is pure magic.”

—The Best Reviews

“Viehl’s imaginative spin-off series continues as she once more explores the hazardous world of the genetically altered Kyndred. This story is rife with stunning secrets, treachery, and betrayal, guaranteed to keep readers guessing. With multiple story lines and secretive characters, the revelations come at a brisk pace. Romance fans take note: This new Kyndred novel takes a truly unusual turn.”


Romantic Times

Shadowlight

“Hot enough to keep anyone warm on a cold winter’s night.”

—Romance Reviews Today

“My love for Lynn Viehl’s Darkyn series runs deep.”

—Bitten by Books

“Fast-paced and filled with plenty of suspense.”

—Alternative Worlds

“Complex and engaging. . . . Fans of Lynn Viehl will enjoy this book immensely and hopefully a group of new fans will be brought into the fold.”

—Fallen Angel Reviews

The Novels of the Darkyn

Stay the Night

“Truly transfixing!”


Romantic Times

“The best Darkyn novel to date.”


The Romance Reader

“Filled with romance, intrigue, and nonstop action, this book does not fail to satisfy.”

—ParaNormal Romance (A PNR Staff Recommended Read)

Twilight Fall

“The pace is fast and the characters strong . . . whets the appetite for more.”

—Monsters and Critics

“Intense and dangerous emotions . . . one highly satisfying read!”


Romantic Times

“[An] intelligent and breathtaking addition to the incomparable Darkyn series.”

—Fresh Fiction

“Viehl scripts an excellent story in
Twilight Fall
.”

—ParaNormal Romance

“Electrifying . . . a definite must read.”

—Romance Junkies

Evermore

“Full of exciting twists and turns.”


Publishers Weekly

“Lynn Viehl sure knows how to tell a hell of a story.”

—Romance Reviews Today

“Another highly satisfying chapter in the Darkyn saga.”

—Vampire Genre

Night Lost

“Viehl had me hooked from the first page . . . exceptional. . . . I definitely recommend this marvelous book.”

—Romance Junkies

“Fast-paced and fully packed. You won’t regret spending time in this darkly dangerous and romantic world!”


Romantic Times

Dark Need

“A must read.”

—Vampire Genre

Private Demon

“Lynn Viehl’s vampire saga began spectacularly in
If Angels Burn
, and this second novel in the Darkyn series justifies the great beginning.”

—Curled Up with a Good Book

If Angels Burn

“Erotic, darker than sin, and better than good chocolate.”

—Holly Lisle

“This exciting vampire romance is action-packed. . . . Lynn Viehl writes a fascinating paranormal tale.”

—The Best Reviews

O
THER
N
OVELS BY
L
YNN
V
IEHL

Lords of the Darkyn

 

Nightborn

 

The Kyndred Series

 

Shadowlight

Dreamveil

Frostfire

Nightshine

 

The Darkyn Series

 

If Angels Burn

Private Demon

Dark Need

Night Lost

Evermore

Twilight Fall

Master of Shadows
(eSpecial)

Stay the Night

NIGHTBRED

LORDS OF THE DARKYN

Lynn Viehl

 

SIGNET

Published by New American Library, a division of

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,

Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:

80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Copyright © Sheila Kelly, 2012

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

Contents

Praise

Also by LYNN VIEHL

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Epigraph from JOHN KEATS

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

 

Epilogue

Excerpt from NIGHTBOUND

 

For Dad:

I love you,

I miss you,

I love you.

 

And in the midst of this wide quietness

A rosy sanctuary will I dress

With the wreath’d trellis of a working brain,

With buds, and bells, and stars without a name,

With all the gardener Fancy e’er could feign,

Who breeding glowers, will never breed the same:

And there shall be for thee all soft delight

That shadowy thought can win,

A bright torch, and a casement ope at night,

To let the warm Love in!

—John Keats, “Ode to Psyche,” 1820

Chapter 1

Baucent Stronghold

Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina

“Y
ou’re a pretty lad,” Etienne Guelard, the swordsman wielding three feet of razor-sharp, copper-clad steel, told Jamys Durand. “One step more and you’ll not be.”

Murmured wagers swept round the loose circle of half-naked onlookers as their watchful eyes shifted from the massive brute waiting inside the warriors’ circle to Jamys, who stood just outside the perimeter.

Beyond the sprawling compound of Baucent, nightfall had drawn its deep amethyst cloak across the mountains; its gilded edges had narrowed the glittering gold of sunset to a silken fringe of tangerine. November had sharpened the wind from crisp to cutting, and turned to diamond density every drop of moisture touched by its wintry breath. Ten thousand acres of evergreens stood guard among the bare, leafless branches and trunks of kin that the long, dark months had already sent to sleep.

Jamys kept his back turned against the modernized version of a medieval mansion. Tonight he could not retreat to the safety of his father’s house.

The mortal architect who had been commissioned to design the mountain fortress of Baucent had never understood the need for the broad, walled space at the back of the main house, or why the owner had vetoed any landscaping for it. The human had not been told that the space would be called the lists, or that it would serve as the training area for the stronghold’s garrison of warriors. To the architect, it had been merely a football-field-size rectangle of packed dirt.

“Don’t hurt the boy, Tien,” one of the guards called out from his watch post above the lists. “The master will have your head.”

Being goaded about his adolescent appearance never aggravated Jamys; as an immortal Darkyn he had lived with his youthful form for more than seven centuries. He had gone to his mortal grave before he had matured, and since rising to walk the night, he had never aged another day. He would forever look like a boy of seventeen.

It did not, however, make him a boy.

He ignored the voices as he measured his opponent’s readiness. Tien’s scent, as sharp and clean as lemongrass, enveloped the air around him. Although he had threatened to spoil Jamys’s face, Tien had dug in his heels and held his wrist ready to turn his weapon to a specific thrusting angle; he would attack first with a jab to the upper arm. Jamys had watched all the men practicing, and knew Tien favored disabling to disarm an opponent. That practice made him the boldest and most effective member of the garrison’s front line.

That knowledge provided Jamys with a distinct advantage. Because he trained alone or with his father, the men of the garrison had never seen him spar or fight.

“Challenge night is for the warriors of the
jardin
, not coddled whelps. Is this not so, men?” Although he spoke to the crowd, Tien never took his eyes off Jamys. “Did not your sire inform you of this? Or are you as deaf as you are dumb?”

The casual insult effectively rendered silent the men surrounding the circle. All of them knew that torture at the hands of their enemies had deprived Jamys of his ability to speak and, for a time, his mind. He had not realized they still believed him mute, however.

No wonder Tien employed his own tongue so freely; he assumed Jamys couldn’t respond in kind—or repeat his insults to their master.

Jamys could speak now, but despite long hours of solitary practice he still could not speak quickly or with any ease. It was simpler to remain silent and use his ability to speak through the mortal servants of the keep to convey his wishes. After tonight he would have to rethink that.

“Lord Jamys,” Coyan, the garrison captain, spoke in a gentle tone. “If you will return tomorrow sunset, I will be glad to practice with you.”

“Our lord shall never give you leave to breathe hard on him, Coy.” Tien made an impatient sound. “Go back to the house, whelp. You have wasted enough of my night.”

The scent of sandalwood shed by Jamys’s own skin quickly overwhelmed the lemon-scented air inside the ring. For the object of his desires he could bear any amount of insolence or derision. Being reminded of the weight of his father’s love, however, was almost enough to provoke him to recklessness.

Almost enough.

Jamys stepped over the line, turning on the toe of his boot and arching away from the dark metal blade that punched through the air his right arm no longer occupied. As Tien swung round to follow through, Jamys switched his grip on his sword from right to left, using the flat of the blade to deliver a heavy blow to the back of the bigger man’s broad shoulder.

As the men shouted and Tien staggered, Jamys moved in behind him, forcing him to spin again while still unsteady. That provided Jamys the opportunity to kick the sword from Tien’s hand and hook his leg to knock him on his ass. He poised the tip of his own sword against the bigger man’s septum.

All the voices, movements, and sounds within the lists went as still as Tien himself.

Jamys regarded him. “Pretty nose.”

Some of the men uttered low chuckles. Tien’s eyes widened, and he swallowed before he said, “I like it.”

“Then concede, you idiot,” Coyan advised him, “before you lose that, too.”

Jamys held the blade for another long moment before he lowered it and offered his free hand to Tien.

The warrior seized Jamys’s slim hand with his huge paw and touched his brow to the knuckles. “The circle is yours, Lord Durand.”

“Jamys.” He pulled Tien to his feet and returned his blade to him before he scanned the grinning faces around them. “Next.”

Clashing steel, shuffling boots, and grunts of effort filled the next several hours, and after the sky had gone black and the final challenger had conceded his bout, Jamys stood alone in the circle.

Coyan stepped up to the line, but he didn’t cross it. “My men are drilled every night. They are not permitted leave nor rest until they have satisfied me that they are able and ready to defend our lord and this household. On this I have prided myself. Now you step into our midst, wreak absolute havoc, and defeat my finest. I wager you have been watching us from the house for some time.”

Jamys inclined his head.

“You are your father’s son, my lord.” He offered one of his rare smiles before he performed a deep bow of respect. “And the night is yours. What would you have of us?”

Jamys knew well the garrison’s tradition of awarding a boon to the last warrior left standing. It was the primary reason he had come to the circle.

“He doesn’t want my nose,” Tien joked, and then winced as Coyan cuffed the back of his head. “Well, he doesn’t.”

“I would train with you,” Jamys said, taking care with each word. “For battle, and command.”

“Aye, my lord. We can prepare you for battle, aye.” Coyan’s eyes shifted toward the house. “But command is the realm of the master.”

“Glad I am to hear it.” A massive form separated from a shadowed corner, and the warriors made way as Thierry Durand walked toward them. Flickering light from the burning torches traced the scowl that made harsh his strong, handsome features, and glittered in the black slits of his eyes. Before he reached the ring, the power he shed, which smelled like a field of gardenias being burned, blotted out every other scent in the air.

Jamys remained in the circle until his father took Coyan’s place. Only when Thierry folded his arms did he step outside and bow. “Good evening, Father.”

“Is that what it is?” The suzerain inspected the ducked heads of his garrison. “I am of a rather different opinion.”

Tien stepped forward. “The boy came to the circle tonight well prepared, Master. His arm is fair magic. He bested me in the space of ten heartbeats.”

“I counted five,” another brave soul muttered.

Thierry, who towered over all the men of the garrison, divested Tien of his sword in less than a blink. “Copper on steel.”

Coyan shuffled his feet. “We fight with only the weapons that can harm us, my lord.”

“Indeed.” The suzerain eyed Tien. “And if you had thrust careless, Etienne, and cut off my son’s magical arm? The boy is not a warrior.”

“He fights like one,” Tien had the nerve to say.

“Is this so?” Thierry looked ready to kill the swordsman. “Had you prevailed, would you have sought boon from me for mutilating my only child? The Brethren never did.”

“No need,” Jamys said before Tien could answer. “They had it from my mother.”

The pain that replaced the anger in Thierry’s eyes proved too much for Jamys to bear; he strode to the armory to return his sword to the weapons master. From there he retreated to the house, avoiding the servants on his way to the curving staircase that led to his chambers in the north tower.

He didn’t notice the scent of ripe apples until he encountered the petite brunette sitting on the bottom step. She stood as he approached, and twisted her hands together.

“I tried to keep him occupied,” Jema Shaw told him. “But after three hours he figured it out.”

That his stepmother had guessed his intentions and tried to help him didn’t surprise Jamys; little escaped Jema’s shrewd gaze. She also carried the same unseen scars on her soul, thanks to her own greedy, murderous mother, so she understood what his father could not.

“I could talk to him,” she offered.

He shook his head, pausing to kiss her cheek before he climbed the stairs.

The top two floors of the tower had been designed as living space independent of the main house, and provided all the physical comforts as well as a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. Jamys had gradually rid his rooms of most of the furnishings to create more open space. During the day he took his rest on the low, simple bed that occupied the lower floor, where custom electric shutters lowered to seal sunlight from the room.

The top floor served as his private retreat, the one place in the stronghold where he felt completely at ease. Here he had installed a compact computer array and entertainment center, although lately he had been interested only in researching those areas of America that had not yet been assigned to a lord paramount as official
jardin
territories. With all the refugees fleeing from Europe to the States, the land available had begun to dwindle rapidly. In less than a year there would be only deserts and wastelands left unclaimed.

The rapid dispersal of the territories still open to rule was not the only obstacle Jamys had to overcome. Michael Cyprien, the seigneur who ruled over North America, decided all matters of suzerainty.

The Durands owed everything to Cyprien, who had provided them with sanctuary after they had been freed from the Brethren’s torture chambers. His
sygkenis
, Dr. Alexandra Keller, had used her healing skills to repair their broken bodies. And while both Thierry and Jamys had been out of their minds with grief and rage, Cyprien had not exercised his right to end their misery, but had instead gone to great lengths to bring them both back to sanity.

Throughout their mortal and immortal lives Cyprien and Thierry had been as close as brothers; even during the worst of times that affection had never wavered. If Thierry asked Cyprien to deny Jamys the chance to rule his own
jardin
, Michael would not hesitate to do so.

The south-facing window gave Jamys a direct view of the lists, which were now empty, and the line of mountains that lay against the horizon like great storm clouds fallen to earth.

Beyond the mountains lay seven territories, six occupied by the finest of Cyprien’s lords paramount. The seventh and most southern belonged to Lucan, once master assassin to High Lord Richard Tremayne, formerly Cyprien’s bitterest adversary, and still one of the deadliest Kyn lords in the world.

Lucan commanded a garrison of highly trained, utterly lethal warriors as well as a small army of clever and resourceful human servants, and lived with his
sygkenis
, Samantha Brown, a homicide detective and one of the handful of modern females who had survived the transition from mortal to Darkyn. Yet each night only one among his household occupied Jamys’s thoughts.

Christian.

He closed the shutters as her name resonated through his bones.

It was no mystery to him that he needed a woman, and there were certainly enough at hand to be had. As long as he was careful with them, he could use any mortal female within his father’s household for blood or pleasure or both. Nearly every one of the unattached women servants had made it clear they would not object to his attentions.

An ample supply for an impossible demand, for while he appreciated the warmth and generosity offered, none of them were the girl he wanted.

Jamys went to the computer, where he pulled up the file he had begun compiling a year ago.

He knew some facts about Chris Lang. The mortal female had been born in Fort Lauderdale in 1990, and was now twenty-one years old. After her mother’s death six years past, she had been made a ward of the state and placed in foster care. She had escaped it four months later and disappeared, resurfacing three years later when she had sublet an apartment next to Samantha Brown’s.

A year after that, Chris officially took employ as assistant manager of Infusion, a Goth nightclub that served as the public facade of Lucan’s stronghold. Unofficially she served as Samantha Brown’s personal assistant. She did not belong to a
tresoran
family, but she was trusted as much as one of the mortal allies who for generations had provided loyal, unwavering service to the Kyn.

After Thierry sent him to Lucan three years ago to recover from his final surgery, Jamys had spent a few precious days in Chris’s company. At one point during his stay he had been implicated in the murders of several humans, and from the beginning only Chris had refused to believe him responsible.

You think you don’t need help, fine. But I’m the only person who knows for real that you’re innocent.

While Samantha and even Lucan had viewed Jamys with suspicion, Chris had instead allied herself with him, following and then rescuing him when he was attacked by one of the real murderer’s revenants. To help heal his wounds, she had even fed him her own blood.

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