"Blue Embers" (ASOF Book 2) Excerpt


KILLIAN VALENTYNE

. . .

I cocked my head, my breath lodged in my throat when I realized how attractive hearing her speak the Draak language was. My blood quivered in my veins and part of me could have listened to her speak it for hours. Intelligent was barely the thing to describe Persephone when I heard those old words roll off her tongue. She smiled a bit, as if she knew she’d impressed me, and opened the front cover of the leather journal to peek inside. I watched her, every move she made more intriguing now.


Persephone ran her fingers gently over the aged pages. Over the faded ink that covered them, studying the writing closely. Each time she turned a page, she did it as if she was handling an ancient artifact. In a way, she was. Draak viewed old things differently. They were just things. Sentimental sometimes, yes, but still just things. To Persephone, it was a piece of a past she wanted to understand.


“What?” she asked, her eyes still on the journal for a moment before she looked at me.


I smirked at her, studying her in the soft light of my work space. She was fair skinned. More so in the blue tint from the computer screens. Each moment I was with her, I was in danger of stepping past a line I swore I’d never cross again. I couldn’t help it. Persephone was pulling me in, whether she knew it or not.


I stood from my chair and slowly walked toward her, keeping my gaze on her eyes up until the moment I was barely a hand’s length away. She stood her ground, that air of confidence still present despite her emotional state, as I looked down at the pages of the journal. The page she was on was an old passage. One from my younger years. The writing was an elegant, vertical arrangement of graceful lines, all connected, similar to cursive.


“Miev erash dae esh milan torien tava eina mor,” I read softly.


“What does that mean?” Persephone asked, her hand lying on the opposite side of the book.


“I was talking about the ocean,” I explained, pointing at particular words as I spoke. “Erash dae means large water. Miev is lavender or light purple. The waters on Kumir looked purple because of the plant life that grew in the shallows.”


“It sounds beautiful.”


“It was. Torien is angry. The water must have been rough that day.”


“It’s like poetry.”


I glanced at her, captivated by her curiosity as she leaned over the pages, studying each bend in the writing.


“The entire language was poetry,” I said to her. “Kumirian had a way of making even the worst things sound beautiful.”


“So coming here must have been a pretty big shock. Humans tend to make beautiful things ugly,” she said in a half-joking tone.


“Humans have a narrow sight of the world. Something that some of us find interesting. It makes you focused.”


“I don’t. Humans are too simple to be interesting. Now, at least. I’ve studied ancient civilizations and there was so much more to learn from them. Today, we’re all just scrambling to be on top of an imaginary tower.”


“Is it imaginary?”


“It’s not ours, that’s for sure. Draak own the tower and you’re on top of it. You always will be.”


I sighed, my eyes wandering to the black bullet. “Things might change soon.”


“How?”


“Zephyre have destroyed us before. They could do it again.”


“No,” Persephone shook her head. “I didn’t obsess over Draak my whole life just to hear you talk like that.”


“Obsession is a strong concept.”


“Well, things changed in the past year, but I mean it. There was a time that your kind was all I thought about.” She turned, leaning back against the tall table. “As a kid, being saved by one of you developed some strong opinions about your race. As I got older, life got more grim and I slowed down, but it doesn’t change the fact that Draak inspired the current course of my life. I even worshiped you at one point. I joined one of those stupid temples. I was young,” she shrugged, rolling her eyes. “I learned better when I grew up. I’ve met some perfect assholes of your species.”


“We’re abundant among my kind,” I grinned.


“You’re not an asshole,” Persephone clarified, her eyes gliding toward me. She held my gaze for a moment, the oceany tint in her irises pale against the monitor lighting. “You’re a guy who doesn’t know where he’s going anymore.”


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