Today we are featuring
and her book
THE CURSE OF GREMDON
The Curse of Gremdon
By Ciara Knight
In a world where marriage is forbidden, sex is only granted to male warriors, and the outer realm is full of murderous creatures, Arianna fights to protect the life of her only living relative, her brother.
Tardon, an elite warrior, is granted anything he desires by the Elders, but finds little joy in the voluptuous women presented to him. Born for the bloodlust found only in battle, complicated emotions emerge when he discovers his equal in the alluring warrior, Arianna.
Charged by the Elders with saving the castle from attack, Tardon and Arianna risk the curse when they traverse the vast outer realm to retrieve serum from the Tree of Life. If successful, the Elders have promised Tardon the right to marry and Arianna the cure for her brother's death fever. Will their love carry them through or will the discovery of a great deception be their ultimate demise?
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1Fg8B_du8U
HERE IS A SHORT EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK:
Three guards pinned Tardon to the floor. He clawed at the damp stone but with so little space in the dungeon hall he could not free himself.
Tardon’s heart nearly burst from his chest at the sound of Arianna’s voice. Ten men wouldn’t be enough to keep him away.
A guard lashed him with his whip but Tardon continued to fight.
“Restrain yourself or the whip will be taken to Arianna’s cell.” The man in the Elder’s cape stepped in the direction he had heard Arianna’s voice.
Tardon’s back stiffened with concern. Yes, the whip stung and caused him to stumble, but the thought of it touching Arianna’s soft skin brought him to his knees. “I will obey.”
Screams rang from a nearby room and he instinctively tensed. Staring at the wall, he wondered what sort of torture occurred on the other side. And if, perhaps, a similar fate awaited him. Or Arianna
One of the guards cracked the whip in the air to regain Tardon’s undivided attention. “He is being punished for unspeakable crimes, so have no pity for the wailing of a madman when he brought it upon himself.”
He stopped fighting and allowed the guards, each holding one of his arms, to pull him down the hall.
“I am Saldor, an Elder advisor. On my honor, I assure you, there is no reason for you to worry. She will confess, and you will be free to return to your prior status.”
Tardon shouldered the guards in each of their ribs, sending both into the stone walls. Dirt and dust grew thick in the air.
Even if he had been chained like a beast he still could have snapped their worthless necks. Fire erupted inside him as he stood, his nose almost touching the man who had threatened Arianna, yet Saldor did not flinch.
The guards hit him from behind and he fell to his knees again. Heavy walls closed in on him. Iron cuffs snapped around his wrists.
“I see this does not please you. Every warrior wishes to maintain his status. You would risk your honor for mere pleasure?”
Tardon’s blood boiled. “She is not pleasure granted by the Elders—”
“You are right. She was a warrior that bewitched you.”
He shook off the swirling in his head and tried to stand, but the guards kept him on his knees.
“No magic,” Tardon said. “I am to blame for what the Elders thought they witnessed—”
“Thought? They found her almost naked in your chamber, yet you speak of no pleasure?” Saldor motioned for the guards to drag Tardon into a cell.
They dropped him on his side and the door clanked shut. He rose to his feet, smacking his head on a wooden beam. Still, he charged the iron bars and pressed his throbbing head against the cool metal.
Saldor still watched him, his lined face unreadable. “The Elders will not accept your explanation—”
“We are innocent.”
“You are not innocent.”
Tardon’s mind raced at Saldor’s accusations. He had done nothing to betray the laws he fought to protect. Yes, he had come close to breaking the law, but he had not committed the act. “You make false accusations about a warrior. You could be put to death for such lies. I have broken no laws!”
“You still profess your innocence?” Saldor’s brows lowered.
“Here is the Elder’s proof.” Saldor summoned a guard; he took a large object from the man then tossed it at Tardon’s feet.
Tardon swallowed, staring in horror at the old book he’d hidden so carefully all these seasons.
The book, his grandfather’s book, the book of dreams, rested on the dirty ground as proof he had betrayed the Elders. Tardon fell to his knees and stroked the fading cover. The Elders would never listen to the truth now.
“Tell them I forced her.” He could barely choke the words out. He quivered inside at the notion of harming Arianna. Still, a confession would release her from a place no woman should find herself. If she stayed in the dungeon, it wouldn’t be long before one of the guards disobeyed and forced themselves on her. He swallowed down the rise of bile and impending doom. At least destroying his honor to save her life would allow him to die with purpose.
“You seal not only your own fate, but all of your family with a confession of such disgrace.”
“I have no family.” Arianna’s delicate features played in his mind. “I confess, I—”
Saldor clutched the hilt of his sword and studied Tardon for a moment. “The Elders will never allow this. People of the castle will demand the woman be put to death and the true male warrior returned to his calling.”
“I will confess in front of all the inhabitants. Take me now. No reason to prolong my fate or Arianna’s suffering.”
Saldor stroked his chin. “I will take this to the Elders if you answer a question for me.”
“Do you love her?” Saldor’s words hung in the air for a long, breathless moment.
“Love is forbidden.” Tardon shifted his weight between his knees.
“No, sex and marriage with a female warrior are forbidden. That is all the written law states.”
Tardon’s mind reeled, wondering what possible tricks this man played, but nothing fit. Saldor spoke the truth.
“Yes, I love her.” Tardon cleared his throat and spoke with pride. “Yes, I love her, and if that is a crime it will be one more reason to throw me to the fires and spare the true warrior, Arianna.”
“Not when she loves you, too.” Saldor turned and walked up the steps to the castle, suddenly leaving Tardon to his writhing emotions.
The man spoke falsehoods. Arianna knew nothing of love or marriage. She’d only caught a glimpse of his book, and her parents died seasons ago when she was still a child. He dragged his fingers through his matted hair, trying to steady his mind. Chain links clanked as he sat on the hard floor, resting his arms on his lap. Dirt and dry blood covered his hands, the same hands that had caressed every inch of Arianna’s body mere hours before.
Light from the low morning sun seeped through the bar-covered hole at the top of the cell wall. Merchants’ slippered feet brushed the pavement outside, scurrying to open their shops.
Head hung low, he closed his eyes to better envision Arianna’s soft, auburn hair. He remembered the smell of mint mixed with warrior blood and sweat, and he longed to have her in his arms again. She was like no other, a fierce competitor with a gentle touch. Maybe the fires would be the only way to keep Arianna safe from him. Never had he wanted someone before with such intensity. Just to taste her lips one more time…
Boots thudded against the stairs, and Saldor appeared in front of his cell. “The Elders have spoken. A public trial and the people will decide.”
*Tardon choked down his grief. To stand as a criminal before the people he once protected was the only way to save Arianna. The people worshiped him, maybe even more than the Elders did.
Saldor narrowed his gaze. “I have assured the Elders that you will not make a spectacle. You will come without incident or Arianna will suffer the consequences.”
Tardon pushed from the floor. Once out of the cell, he straightened and stretched the stiffness from his back. Maybe death would bring peace. As he shuffled to the courtyard above he knew the transition to the next life would be painful, but the afterlife did not frighten him.
They exited the tunnels and, even with the overcast skies, he still shielded his eyes from the sun, the brightness a stark contrast to the darkness of the dungeon.
Voices echoed down the cobblestone path that led to center court. When he reached the opening, all the inhabitants of the kingdom’s eyes were on him.
Many chanted his name. A dirty-faced woman tried to touch him.
“Burn the woman!”
“She’s a witch!”
Hatred spread faster than death fever through the crowd. How quickly the people betrayed a woman who had protected their families from evil beyond the walls.
Shouts continued from the nameless, faceless crowd. Guards guided Tardon through the mass of people and he stepped onto the center block where most sentences were carried out. He opened his mouth and the crowd fell silent in respect. As he stood there, needing to speak, burning to speak, no words flowed.
The inhabitants of the castle looked at him, waiting for his declaration of Arianna’s magical seduction. Arianna needs you. With a cough, he cleared his throat and raised his chin. “I speak to you today to clarify events, to answer the charges against myself and my fellow warrior, Arianna.”
“Send her to the fires!”
“She must burn!”
Tardon raised his bound hands to quiet the crowd, and he noticed fellow warriors lining the back wall. They stood with hard, blank stares as well-trained warriors should. His biceps strained as he pulled at the chains between his wrists. “I pray you, listen to my words. Arianna is a warrior and possesses no skills as a witch.”
“He lies,” a man’s voice carried from deep within the crowd.
“She still has him under her spell,” a woman shrieked.
“No! It was not Arianna who betrayed the Elders’ laws, but me.”
A hushed mumbling overtook the peasants, shopkeepers, and warriors. The ones Tardon had protected now stood in judgment over him.
“I…I confess to forcing myself on the innocent warrior Arianna.” Tardon choked on her name. The chains rattled but he steadied his shaking hands despite his longing to end this farce. Never had he witnessed so many faces contort in disgust at him. He’d been a person that others desired and idolized. Now he stood as a traitor to his people and a monstrous enemy to women.
Tardon sucked a welcome breath into his stale lungs. It worked. They believed him, Arianna would be spared.
“Burn them both!”
“Yes, burn them both! Neither is innocent.”
“Bring the woman out!” one voice rang loud. Then the words spread like fleas on a donkey, and the crowd chanted, “Burn them both! Burn them both!”
His gut twisted with grief. “No! I am to blame. Why do you not listen?” The chains clanked as he pushed toward the crowd.
Arianna appeared at the edge of the court in torn and dirty clothes, but at least they’d clothed her decently in a peasant dress. The Enforcer that had discovered them grabbed her now short hair and dragged her to the front. Tardon spotted raw, red swelling on her cheek and temple. Someone had struck her.
A desire to kill whoever had hurt her burned to the surface of his skin. Cracks sounded as he strained against the iron shackles. The guard next to him stepped back to summon reinforcements.
“Burn ’em both! Burn the warriors! They take our food and live like Gods while we starve!”
“More food fer us,” a tangle-haired woman called from below.
Tardon’s shoulder burned as he continued to fight against the shackles. “Warriors, take notice. These are the people we die protecting.”
Warriors stepped forward in defense against flying insults, but the Elders stood on the tower, motioning the fighters to remain at their positions. Tardon observed the other warriors’ disgust, but all he cared about was Arianna being pushed and shoved like a disobedient servant.
Arianna smiled at him as she stumbled up the wooden steps. No time for remorse at defying the Elders’ laws, the people called for blood, and they would both burn in the fires now.
Tardon shuffled to Arianna, knocking a guard out of the way.
Arianna lifted her bound wrists over him and let the chains fall down his back. “If we are to burn, let us give them a reason.” Her eyebrows rose, and a soft smile curved her lips before she opened them and pressed herself against him, her sweet mouth opening against his.
Screams of shock rang out from below, but Tardon ceased to worry about being branded a traitor and gave in to his passion, hoping it would follow him to the next life. The world spun and the screams diminished into a distant lull, while the sweet, berry taste of Arianna urged the passion inside him. Every hair on his body stood to attention. His hands roamed down her hips and squeezed them close to his. Their heartbeat became one pounding rhythm, echoing through their souls.
Hands wrapped around his bicep and throat to rip him away. Her chains pulled hair from his scalp as they raked across his head.
“Burn ’em, burn ’em now!” The chanting shattered his dream state as they were dragged from the town square to the inner fires.
He fought as they maneuvered the tiny cobblestone walkways, leaving a line of disabled guards in his wake. Warriors were ordered by the Elders to subdue him.
The group rounded the corner, bringing the wooden post of the Fire Pit into view. At least Arianna and I will die together. Warriors, his former friends, bound him to the wood.
“May the Elders forgive you in the next life.” The mumble came from his comrades while they removed his chains and tied his wrists together behind him.
Arianna’s soft hand found his and they interlaced their fingers.
An Apprentice shouted from the tower, “May this be a lesson to all who defy the Elders.”
Tardon’s pulse thudded and he squeezed his sweaty palm against Arianna’s. Fear threatened to take hold as he imagined Arianna suffering. Desperate, he addressed the crowd one last time. “She is innocent. Her blood will be on your hands if you do this.”
A guard approached with torch in hand and held it in the air, waiting for the Apprentice to give the order. Heat radiated from the orange flames dancing at the end of the stick.
Tardon held his breath, hoping the Elders would spare Arianna, but the Apprentice’s arm lowered and the guard stepped up to light the fire.
Smoke attacked Tardon’s lungs. Unable to shout his protests any longer, he tried to turn his head to see Arianna behind him. Even over the smoldering debris, he detected her unique scent. “I am sorry I brought this upon you. Die knowing this was not of your doing.” His lungs seized with a cough as the debris below the wood smoked, and his head dropped to his chest. “I failed you.”
The orange and yellow glow spread and crept out from below the wood. Arianna moaned from behind, and he stomped his feet rapidly to find relief from the burning.
His mind reeled, searching for a way to save her. As the flames grew and danced against the wood, he realized he was unable to save the most important person in his life.
Today, they would both die.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ciara Knight always had a passion for storytelling. At an early age, she wrote several short stories and poems, and in college she started work on her first novel. It wasn’t until late 2008 that she returned to her true passion of writing. Over the past few years she has penned five novels and joined several professional writing organizations to better her craft.
When not writing, she enjoys reading all types of fiction. Some great literary influences in her life include Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare, Francine Rivers and J K Rowling.
Ciara is happily married and enjoys family time. She has learned to embrace chaos, which is a requirement when raising three boys, and utilizes the insanity to create stories not of this world including, Fantasy, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, and Young Adult Dystopian.
Her first love, besides her family, reading, and writing, is travel. She’s backpacked through Europe, visited orphanages in China, and landed in a helicopter on a glacier in Alaska.