Join my mailing list and be the first to get the latest news
Sign up
Join my mailing list and be the first to get the latest news
Sign up

Blade of Night and Winter

Book 2:

Shadow and Ruin

More Details

Formats: Ebook, Paperback
Paperback ASIN: B0CXCZPWRJ
Ebook ASIN: B0CNKWK9FB
ISBN-13: 979-8883920256

About the Book

How far will they climb to unearth the truth?

After barely escaping from General Nox’s compound, Andromeda and Caden are in dire straits. The two unlikely allies, desperate to save their loved ones, journey to the chilly mountains of Nor for answers.

But their quest is fraught with obstacles.

A vengeful spirit offers them a mysterious blade, setting a ruthless hunter on their trail. A vicious disease is spreading across the land. On top of that, an ancient prophecy might just unleash chaos upon the world. Rumor has it that the Jester—some kind of powerful, otherworldly being—will rise soon.

Yikes.

As they climb, one thing is clear: If the cold doesn’t kill them, their enemies will...

 

And they’ve made some deadly enemies.

Prologue

 

When I’m finally in the Jester’s form, my entire body awakens. My mind feels fresh, new, filled with everything I’ve missed over the past two thousand years.

At first, I was worried that this girl would put up a fight, but she's merely a weak human. Her body feels frail as I take a step forward, then another. I can hear her mind screaming at me to stop controlling her movements, to stop crushing her soul, but I refuse to give that voice any more than a glimpse of my attention.

I own her now.

When I glimpse the snowy mountaintops ahead, I inhale a deep breath of cool, wintry air. This is something I enjoyed long ago. Freshly fallen snow and frost glittering beneath my boots. Snowflakes captured on my tongue like candy. It was so, so long ago, before I even called myself Empress.

But here I am, in all my pain and glory. And here I will stay. I vow with all my being to take back what is mine. My title, my throne, my Underworld. I vow to make the world right again.

Let the chaos begin.

 

Chapter 1: Caden

 

Running from the Eleahan patrol was never part of the plan.

I dash across one of the most packed markets I’ve ever seen, sidestep a woman carrying a basket of bread rolls, and narrowly miss the path of a wagon of fresh produce. The driver flings curses at me as I continue onward, my heart beating wildly.

“Hurry!” Andromeda yells.

She runs slightly ahead of me, her breaths heavy with exertion. Her dark hair is pulled back into a loose ponytail, strands flying out wildly as she sprints. I struggle to keep up with her. My back twinges with the effort of carrying our supplies, although I know Andromeda has just as many with her—plus Aria, the irritating changeling we saved in the forests of Tell before entering this country.

As if reading my thoughts, Aria pokes her head out of Andromeda’s bag. The sly changeling smirks and climbs around to see where we are. Her tiny form hangs off Andromeda’s shoulder as her horns flash a faint pink. She opens her mouth, revealing sharp fangs, and her lizard-like eyes twinkle with humor. Is she…laughing at me? On her scaled back, one word appears: Slowpoke.

And then she crawls back into the bag. I scoff. Since the moment Andromeda saved her from the forests, Aria has been bursting with insults and quips. Most of the time, it makes me want to smite the ancient creature. This time, I grit my teeth and push my legs to move faster.

A few weeks ago, I could've never imagined being a wanted fugitive in a foreign country. A few weeks ago, I was a bounty hunter in Folkway, tasked with hunting down criminals like Andromeda—Andi, the thief.

Now, I run alongside her.

The morning sun beats down on us as we turn a corner. A burly man up ahead pushes a cart stacked high with bales of hay. I try to halt my lightning-quick pace, but it’s too late. Andromeda barely misses getting hit, but I barrel straight into the man...and topple over every bale of hay in his cart. I glance back at the man, still running.

“Sorry!” I yell.

Right before I turn back, I glimpse the distinct navy-blue uniforms of Eleahan officers.

Damn, they’re close.

I can only feel some semblance of relief that the bales of hay will slow them down. The scent of spice and sugar hits my nose as we pass market stalls bustling with customers. Sweat runs down my back as we sprint. If only they spotted us at night—then, we might’ve blended into the shadows and slipped into an alleyway. Even with so many people, it’s difficult to escape the patrol.

Colorful fabrics hang on a line that stretches down the market path. Seeing a way out, I reach forward and tap Andromeda’s shoulder, then point to the fabrics. Her eyes flick to them briefly before she nods.

We duck beneath a bright red square of fabric, letting it shield us. We’re now in a narrow alleyway, hidden from the bustle of the market.

Hands on my knees, I catch my breath. Andromeda leans against the brick wall, wiping the sweat from her brow.

“Good call,” Andromeda says. “There are too many officers.”

I nod, fighting dizziness. “Let’s get out of here.”

We walk out of the alleyway. Exhaustion rips through my body with full force. My back and legs ache with fury, begging me to collapse. Outside of Eleah’s main markets, the world is quiet. The streets here are paved with whispers of history and architecture, rather than the intensity of industry. It’s calm and collected. Still, we keep our heads low and our hoods up as we walk.

From what I’ve seen of Eleah so far, most of the activity occurs near the border and General Nox’s compound. The compound…where I got beat to a pulp by Nox. Andromeda and I barely made it out thanks to Aria’s help. I shudder just thinking about the violence in Nox’s eyes. If not for Aria, our fates would’ve been sealed.

The only problem now is, thanks to our escape from the compound, Nox has sent every single patrol in Eleah on our trail. The minute we broke into his office and Andromeda stole his valuable records, we became the top priority for his men.

Travelling farther west in this country leads to smaller villages and peaceful fields that have been wildly abandoned by their owners, left to grow and flourish into beautiful and chaotic cocoons of life. Here on the cobbled stone streets, the trees at our sides beckon us with a gentle greeting, softly showering us in their bright orange, red, and brown leaves.

This is the sign that a harsh and frozen winter is coming for us. And Andromeda and I are two fools, heading for the mountains of Nor where it’s coldest. But this is our only chance. I need to know what General Nox wants with my brother—

“There they are!”

The shout takes me back to myself. Andromeda spins around.

"Crap," she mutters.

I glance back for a moment, but she grabs me by the wrist and pulls me forward. Right before she does, though, I catch a glimpse of several men in navy blue uniforms.

I put my all into running away from them, following Andromeda’s lead, but our small break has made me hyperaware of just how much my limbs hurt. The sound of our boots hitting the stone beneath us is echoed by the soldiers’ clomping.

Clomp, clomp, clomp.

They begin to close the distance between us. Ahead, I see another potential escape—another alleyway, but this one is connected to the side of a sweet shop. It’s less narrow and designed as a pathway of sorts, so hopefully, there will be some sort of entrance to the shop within the alleyway. If we can slip in fast enough, we might just have a chance to get rid of the Eleahan guard.

Clomp, clomp, clomp.

But before we even reach the alleyway, another flash of blue uniforms appears in front of us. From behind and ahead, our potential routes are blocked. Andromeda veers to the left, away from the alleyway. I want to protest, but her instincts are right—we’ll never make it. We’re not fast enough.

So instead, our footsteps carry us deeper into Eleah. I risk a quick glance behind me. The soldiers behind us are growing closer. They’re no longer spots of navy blue in the distance, but close enough for me to see the golden glint of their buttons. The stone pathway in front of me fades to dirt. This is unexplored territory for myself and Andromeda, leaving us at a significant disadvantage.

That becomes clear when we follow the bend in the dirt road and stop short in front of a wall of tents cordoned off by meters of thick rope. Some are orange, others are brown, and some are decked out in a myriad of beautiful colors, weaved together with care. I'm not too worried about the lovely designs, though—not with the Eleahan guard on our tail.

Andromeda curses and steps over the rope. She tries to squeeze past one of the tents, ducking and weaving through the canvas. Maybe this is a good thing, I wonder as I do the same. Maybe they'll leave us alone now. Wishful thinking, of course, because now we're tangled in canvas and...feathers? It would be simple for the Eleahan patrol to catch up to us here.

But as the soldiers near us, they slow. Then stop.

They don't enter this area, even as our pace significantly slows. Relief and hope flood my system, followed instantly by confusion. Why does the patrol look almost afraid? What could be so scary about a group of tents?

And that's when something warm closes around my wrist.

What Readers Are Saying

The Series

Flower of Song and Silver

Book 0.5

Quest of Shadow and Ruin

Book 1

Blade of Night and Winter

Book 2

Curse of Blood and Fortune

Book 3
Copyright © 2024 Kris Ruhler. All Rights Reserved Some affiliate links in use
menuchevron-downcross-circlechevron-left-circlechevron-right-circle