Lord of the Abyss - By Nalini Singh

When I picked up the pen and ink that are the tools of the Royal Chronicler, I took an oath to record only the truth. Now my old bones ache with the knowledge that the truth I must put down is one I wish I could erase. But it cannot be. I know no one will read these archives now, but still the history must be written. The past must be known. And so I must begin.

For many years the Blood Sorcerer cast covetous eyes on the kingdom of Elden, a proud, ancient land overflowing with riches and power, its long-lived people watched over by the good king Aelfric and his wise queen, Alvina. Though strong as rulers, they were not brutal, and Elden's people flourished under their guiding hand.

So did their children.

Nicolai, the oldest and some say the one with the darkest heart.

Dayn, second-born and with eyes that saw everything.

Breena, gentle of spirit and much loved by mother, father and brothers all.

And Micah, the youngest, his heart that of an innocent. Born long after his siblings, he was but a babe of five when the blackest shadows engulfed Elden, on the dawn following a night of celebration to acknowledge that milestone. But the singing and dancing had long grown quiet, the castle yet dark with sleep, when the Blood Sorcerer appeared at the gates - accompanied by monsters such as were unseen in all the kingdoms.

Perhaps they had once been spiders, but now they were horrific creatures with razor-sharp blades on their furred legs and a taste for human flesh, their eyes roiling red. They were accompanied by men turned into hulking beasts with fists akin to steel mallets, and tiny scurrying insects that dug into the soil and turned it to poison.

Hands drenched with the life force of those he had murdered, the Blood Sorcerer's power was an immense thing, bloated and malignant. It seemed nothing could defeat him, but the king and queen would not surrender their people to such darkness, though the Blood Sorcerer taunted them with promises of a quick death.

King Aelfric's strength was a profound force and he wounded the sorcerer with a terrible blow, but fed by the putrid evil of his malevolent power, the enemy would not die. Again and again the Blood Sorcerer attacked, until the king started to bleed from his very eyes.

The queen, weak herself from battling the creatures the sorcerer had brought with him, saw the king begin to fall under the onslaught of evil, and knew the battle was lost. Using the last of their strength, for their spirits were one, she sacrificed her life to do a great magic, one that has never since been repeated and may never be known.

There is a lineage of blood that ties mother to child, a lineage that can never be broken. And it is this lineage the queen used to cast her children away from Elden, to safety, so they could one day return and reclaim their stolen birthright.

It was a mother's last loving gift, yet the Blood Sorcerer boasts even now that Queen Alvina failed, that he twisted her magic at the end so that instead of finding safe harbor, the heirs of Elden fell into death. There is no one left alive to contradict him. - From the Royal Chronicles of Elden, on the third day of the Reign of the Blood Sorcerer.
Chapter 1

He was the most beautiful monster she had ever seen.

It was the first thought Liliana had as she lay weak and drained across the black marble of the floor, her face reflected in its polished surface. As she watched, the one they called the Lord of the Black Castle rose from his ebony throne at the head of the room and walked down the ten steps with a lazy grace that spoke of power, strength...and death.

Trying desperately to close her hand into a fist, she attempted to push herself up onto her knees, unwilling to meet him at such a disadvantage. But her body was debilitated beyond bearing by the blood she had spilled to make the crossing, her wrists spotted with it, though her magic had sealed the wounds. Her father would've sacrificed another without a thought to the life he took, would call her a fool for using her own blood.

"Weak." He had spit the judgment at her more than once. "I took a beautiful witch to wife and got a hatchet-faced mewling brat in return."

Sensing the vibration of the