Today the author in the Spotlight is Tali Spencer. She's dropped by to talk about her book from Dreamspinner, The Prince of Winds.
Title: The Prince of Winds
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rimmon may be an eagle warrior, but he’s never known war, and he’s never known love—until his kingdom’s army is destroyed by Ekari, the demon of winds, and he is captured by Melkor, one of the Iron Horde that has been killing off the world's gods. Those gods have cursed Melkor and his brothers to be conquerors and never to be loved, but Melkor, hoping to overcome his fate, carries Rimmon off to his island. There, he heals Rimmon’s wounds and teaches him about sexual pleasure, earning the young warrior’s trust and fanning the flames of an attraction both men yearn to embrace. But the curses of vengeful gods are difficult to break, especially when Rimmon discovers Melkor is the demon who destroyed his home.
In the several minutes it took Melkor and Bodhan to reach the outcropping, the eagle flew out once more. By the time it returned, they had established a vantage point from which they could survey the shadowed recess the bird frequented. Closer scrutiny revealed the half-hidden but recognizable shape of a man’s torso and head.
With a snap of wings, the eagle returned again, landing upon one of the boulders. It dipped its head toward the man, placing the limp, dripping thing in its beak upon the face. They watched in amazement as a hand rose to grasp the wet cloth, which they now saw it to be, and squeezed it so a stream of drops fell.
“The creature’s bringing him water!” Bodhan whispered. He stared, fascinated, at the scene.
“An eagle warrior, perhaps injured.” Melkor made the logical leap. He had never heard of a raptor caring for a human, but some of the advance scouts had told tales of an uncanny bond between an Akeled warrior and his bird. To his friend he said, “The fishing boats just south of the camp—”
“Yes. I remember.” As ever, Bodhan grasped his direction.
“Go back, bring some men and any nets you can find.”
“Only if you promise not to attempt something foolish. Those birds are killers.”
“I know that. I won’t engage them. Just come back quickly.”
He watched Bodhan until his friend had made a clean break toward the river. Only then did his fingers relax about the stone he’d found. Throwing a stone at an eagle was not the soundest of plans, but he had only that and a dagger as weapons. Of course, he also had the wind. He held his gift upon his tongue, tucked against the edge of his teeth.
The eagle launched again, abruptly, this time with nothing in its beak. With powerful beats of its wings, it swiftly cleared the river, headed toward the wild flats where no soldiers roamed.
It’s gone to hunt, Melkor realized. Surely it would be gone long enough for him to get a better look. Staying low, he crept through the grasses to the boulders concealing the man. Mindful of the eagle and that the man he approached would be armed, he closed his fingers about the hilt of his dagger and stopped every few steps to look toward the sky.
Moving around a boulder baked hot by the sun, he looked into a hollow that afforded enough shade for a man. He saw a pale foot sandaled in sturdy brown leather, attached to a bare-skinned, scraped, and swollen leg. From ankle to knee, the flesh showed an ugly purple, the bone beneath it distorted. Broken, which explained why this Akel had not fled to a more promising location. Making sure to keep more than an arm’s length from his quarry, he stepped forward to see more.
The eagle warrior was young and covered with blood. Even filthy and battered, he was beautiful. Soft waves of short red-gold hair, weighted by dust, clung to creamy skin shadowed by bruises and days-old stubble. That amazing coloring only enhanced the way chestnut eyelashes fanned upon a bloodstained cheek favored by a straight nose and pale lips so perfectly formed they begged to be kissed. Melkor stood motionless in pure admiration, appreciating why his cock swelled with interest. He had a longstanding weakness for exotic beauties. Even half-dead ones, apparently. Slowly, he lowered himself to crouching. The youth still clasped the wet cloth in his left hand, holding tightly to what his eagle had brought. Tucked against his arm was a gauntlet of thick black leather with a wide cuff of red snakeskin stamped with a gold medallion, from which dangled a gilded, red leather tassel.
Suddenly, the young warrior’s hand snaked forth. A dagger flashed in his fist. Melkor, having anticipated the attack, caught his hand by the wrist and stared, utterly arrested, into eyes of glorious deep violet-blue laced with shots of gold. The boy even had beautiful brows, shaped like the wings of his eagle.
“You are mine,” he murmured, his cock instantly erect.
His captive’s breathing quickened, hard with fear.
“I will not hurt you,” Melkor assured him. He pried away the dagger and tossed it a short distance into the rocks as the Akel strove against him, wounded but strong. He was glad to hear voices and the sounds of disturbed stones below, his men arriving at a run.
The youth’s perfect lips parted over white, even teeth. “Ayet!” the young man hissed. Triumph gleamed in narrowed eyes.
A feral shriek split Melkor’s eardrums. He ducked as a furious ball of red feathers and extended golden talons bowled him over. Sharp agony raked his upraised arm and shoulder, tearing through the fabric of his robe, giving birth to fountains of wet heat. Blood flowed freely down his arm to bathe his ribs.
“Throw it!” Bodhan’s cry accompanied a fluttering whoosh and another scream from the eagle. The weight abruptly left Melkor’s body, followed by shouts from his men. Looking beneath his arms, held crossed over his head for protection, he saw three soldiers wrestling the netted, thrashing, and screaming bird.
Beside him, the young warrior yelled loudly and lurched toward something on the ground. One of Melkor’s men raised his sword.
“No!” Melkor cried. Sa’uffuuu! A wind leapt from the outcropping, catching the soldier’s garments and spinning him around. Diving at the Akel warrior, Melkor grabbed him about the waist and rolled him over, even in battle savoring the arching of that hard young body under his. Another soldier, coming to his aid, pinned the Akel’s legs.
A scream of raw pain broke from the captive’s throat just before he collapsed, fainting on the sun-hot stone.
Tali Spencer is fascinated by swords, mythology and everything ancient and magical. Thanks to a restless father, she grew up as a bit of a nomad and lived in more than a dozen U.S. states. Her vagabond youth lives on in a tendency to travel whenever she can. She’s not afraid of planes, horses, trains, or camels. Her preference is for ships, however, and few things clear her mind like a week or two at sea. On land, her favorite destinations are castles, museums and archeological sites. When not writing, she reads, experiments with food or takes long walks with her loving, if slightly neurotic, poodle.