Ice Shards - By Yasmine Galenorn


I STARED AT THE PORTAL, WONDERING IF I really wanted to do this. I’d been running from this moment for almost six centuries. I’d been running from my memories for just as long. Now, even though I wasn’t sure how, I had to return to the place where my downfall had taken place—and right what went wrong.

If I can. If I am truly innocent. But what happens if I find out I did it? What happens if I find out that I really did kill Vikkommin and forever lock his soul within a shadow, to roam the northern lands, crazed like a wild, magical beast? What. . . what if I am the monster the temple Elders thought I might be?

Camille, Smoky, and Rozurial stood behind me, Camille’s hand on my shoulder. “All you have to do is say the word and we go through. Or turn back. It’s up to you, Iris. We’ll support whatever decision you make.”

I glanced up at the raven-haired beauty who made up onethird of the half-human, half-Fae D’Artigo sisters. She had dressed for the journey, eschewing her usual bustiers and chiffon skirts and stilettos for a warm, black split skirt and turtleneck, and a heavy cape slung around her shoulders. The cape was thick and resonated with magic, having been cut from the hide of the Black Unicorn himself. Camille carried a staff with her that I’d never before seen.

“Where did you get that?” I pointed to the intricately carved stave. The wood resonated as yew. The head was a polished knob of intricately wrought silver surrounding a crystal orb the size of my fist.

She smiled and ran her hand over the burled surface of the wood. “A gift. From Aeval. I still don’t know how to use it, but I thought I’d bring it along. It will make hiking easier, in any matter.”

“Enough said.” I didn’t have to ask any more. The Queen of Darkness was to be Camille’s new mistress, and it seemed she intended for her new acolyte to return in one piece.

Two men stood beside Camille—Smoky, one of Camille’s three husbands, and Rozurial, an incubus. Smoky’s hair coiled with a life of its own, surrounding him like a cloud of spun silver, and he stood more than two feet taller than me. Smoky was a dragon—half silver, half white, and pale as milk on a snowy morning. He’d come down from the Dragon Reaches high above the Northlands untold years ago, leaving his homeland to reside Earthside. Rozurial had dark curly hair, and he’d searched the Northlands from one side to the other, looking for the crazed vampire who had destroyed his family, the same one who had turned Camille’s sister Menolly. Rozurial knew the land like the back of his hand.

Smoky knelt beside me and took my hand, bringing it up to press gently to his forehead. “Lady Iris,” he said, his eyes whirling, a glacial pool of hoarfrost and ice. “We will do whatever we can to protect you on your journey. The Northlands are a dangerous place but you know this better than anyone. You are part of my wife’s extended family; therefore you are my sister. Whatever I can do to help, if it is within my power, I will do.”

My hand seemed so small in his—we Talon-haltijas were, like all types of sprites, tiny. I was barely a smidge over four feet tall, petite though sturdy. I gazed at his hand and then curled my fingers around his, squeezing them tight.

Rozurial joined him. “The only thing that can drag me back to the Northlands is to help a good friend. You’re one of the best. Even if you won’t date me.” He gave me a twinkling smile, but concern lurked behind the mask of humor.

I grinned at him. Roz would never change, and for that I loved him. “I won’t date you because I’m already dating Bruce. And you . . . you’re a heartbreaker.”

“Not my fault, just my nature,” he pleaded.

I turned to Camille, whose lips bowed in a gentle smile. She let out a long sigh. “If we’re going, we’d better get a move on. It will be freezing in Otherworld, and we need to portal jump to the Northlands before nightfall.”

I steeled myself.

You know it is time . . . The words tickled my thoughts, sliding over my doubts and fears like cool comfort on a hot summer night.

Yes, my Lady, I know . . . I cannot avoid this any longer. But