by Charity Santiago
Lady of Toryn Trilogy, Book One
For the last three years, eighteen-year-old Ashlyn Li has been running from her destiny. A free-spirited ninja, Ashlyn would rather loot an abandoned city or challenge a fiend to battle than assume leadership of Toryn, her father’s kingdom. However, when a series of attacks reunites Ashlyn with the friends who helped her save the sun three years ago, she discovers that her kingdom is at war and her father has presumed her dead.
Suddenly Ashlyn is faced with not only fulfilling her birthright, but also making sense of her feelings towards two very different men- Drake Lockhart, the enigmatic vampire who captured her heart three years ago, and Vargo, the charismatic assassin who was once Ashlyn’s sworn enemy.
Will Ashlyn ascend the pagoda and become Lady of Toryn?
Clutching the reins in one hand, Ashlyn moved her other hand inside her cloak, drawing a small bo shuriken from the pouch on her belt. She preferred her sword or her larger hira shuriken, but both were strapped to her back, beneath her cloak, and there was no way to reach for them inconspicuously.
The thunder rumbled around her, and Ashlyn held her breath, waiting for the next flash of lightning. When it came, she saw with some alarm that her attackers were even closer than she expected- mere strides away.
Her heart pounding, Ashlyn flung the first shuriken at one of the three figures in front of her, and was reaching back into her pouch for another before the first reached its mark. As she spurred Suki, the first shuriken landed with a distinct thunk, and the man cried out. Suki leaped forward, colliding with a second attacker, and Ashlyn threw the second bo shuriken before pulling a knife from its sheath on her thigh. She crouched low over Suki’s neck and stabbed blindly in the darkness, aiming for whatever she could get, but the knife sliced only air.
One of her assailants caught hold of Ashlyn’s cloak, yanking backwards and nearly choking her. At that same moment, Suki whinnied in fear and reared up, and Ashlyn realized that there would be no outrunning this attack.
Kicking her feet out of the stirrups, she vaulted backwards, executing a flip before landing on the slippery grass. Ashlyn spun furiously, collecting her cloak in one hand to drag her attacker closer. She could barely make out his silhouette, black on black in the thick onslaught of rain. She dropped to one knee, quickly unlatching the throat clasp on her cloak to free herself, and stabbed the man in the leg. He went down.
With the cloak gone, Ashlyn yanked the hira shuriken off her back, barely getting a chance to wrap her fingers around the weapon before she was tackled from behind. She hit the ground hard, slipping and sliding on the wet grass. There was a sharp stab of pain in her right side, and she gasped, her cry cut short as her assailant hooked an arm around her throat.
Suddenly fire flared up around her, flames billowing and hissing in the rain, and Ashlyn panicked, realizing that her opponents were equipped with stanes.
Ignoring the agonizing pain in her side, she rolled over onto her back and struggled furiously to loosen her attacker’s grip around her neck, but he only clung more fiercely. Ashlyn’s eyes began to water. She shifted her grip on the shuriken and brought it down behind her, stabbing the man with the pronged spikes of the weapon as he lay between her and the ground.
He cried out and released her immediately. Ashlyn leaped to her feet, whirling and slicing down at his throat before ducking underneath a punch from another black-clad figure. She danced backwards and drew her sword, sheathing the shuriken on her back in the same smooth movement. There was a crackling behind her, the telltale sounds of a fire stane sputtering to life, and Ashlyn tensed, mentally cataloguing her collection of stanes and trying to figure out how best to retaliate. She turned, throwing up an arm as she prepared to cast a spell to defend herself.
What she saw stopped her cold.
Drake Lockhart stood before her, his long coat skimming the grass. His eyes flashed red in the semi-darkness, the reflection of the firelight dancing wildly in their crimson depths.
About the Author
In February 2011, Charity Santiago’s 7-month-old son was admitted to the hospital with severe respiratory issues. While Charity stayed at his bedside, she kept them both entertained by downloading several books on her new Kindle and reading them out loud. It was during this time that Charity learned about Kindle’s self-publishing program, and realized that she had an opportunity to share her writings with the world.
Charity is a native of southeastern Arizona, and a writer since childhood. She wrote her first manuscript, Guinea Pig Code, at age nine. When she’s not writing books, Charity spends her time reading on her Kindle, wrangling children, watching Sylvester Stallone movies and pursuing a degree in Education.
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