Fireblood (Frostblood Saga #2)

Fireblood (Frostblood Saga #2)

Elly Blake



I CIRCLED THE FROSTBLOOD WARRIOR, my boots kicking up dust from the drought-dry earth. One little mistake, one little lapse in focus, would mean defeat.

His left fist twitched before his right came out with a cyclone of frost. But I knew all his favorite tricks, his feints and false moves. I twisted to the right, throwing a plume of fire from my palms.

My vision clouded. A sudden memory took me: my hands, red with fire, stretched toward the icy throne of Fors—the timeless symbol of Frostblood rule—its wicked, gleaming shards mocking my paltry fire. I couldn’t melt it. I couldn’t defeat the curse inside it.

But then another’s frost joined my fire, not extinguishing but creating a blinding blue flame that poured toward the throne, softening its edges, dulling the sharp points, making the ice weep in defeat. I could hear King Rasmus’s delighted laugh as the Minax broke free from the throne’s dying heart, as the shadow creature crept against my skin, seeking entry, promising the joy of a thousand sunbursts and the absence of pain or weakness ever, ever again.

I snapped back to the present, stumbling as an icy blast hit me in the chest. I rolled and regained my feet, but my sight remained foggy, the memory far too real. The skin near my ear where the Minax had marked me burned, and I cried out.


Hands cupped my shoulders. I had an urge to knock them away and run.

Arcus’s voice murmured, deep and even, designed to soothe but sharpened by a hint of distress. “Slow your breathing. It will pass.”

It’s not real it’s not real it’s not real.

My heart pummeled my ribs. My throat thickened. “I can’t breathe.”

Arcus’s hand moved to my sternum, pressing gently, his long fingers splayed against my neck. “Slow and steady. Everything is fine. I’m here. You’re safe.”

Gradually, the soft words and touch made their way past the fear. I blinked until the royal gardens came into focus and I smelled the perfume of roses and summersweet. Tapered yews stood sentinel around the wide clearing, and beyond that, taller leafy sycamore and birch trees bowed over the evergreens like gentlemen over the hands of ladies. The heat of the late-summer sunrise calmed me, along with the occasional rustle of leaves brushed by the hand of Cirrus, the west wind.

I turned my head and was ensnared by icy-blue eyes under a brow drawn tight in concern. Arcus’s skin had lost some color. I reached up and slid an unsteady palm along his cold cheek, smiling when he didn’t flinch as my fingertips touched his scars.

“Your episodes are growing more frequent,” he said.

I shrugged, the movement jostling his hand, which still rested over my collarbone, the heel of his palm against the upper curve of my breast. We both seemed to realize it at the same time. A flush scorched my cheeks. His lids fell, hiding his eyes as he moved the hand to my upper arm.

There were unspoken boundaries we hadn’t crossed yet, though I hadn’t decided if that was due to Arcus’s self-control or the fact that our moments alone were brief and often interrupted.

“Have you found out anything more about the curse?” he asked.

“Not yet.” Brother Thistle and I had spent many hours in the castle library combing through books on the Minax—the haunting, shadowy creature that Eurus, god of the east wind, had trapped in the frost throne. Eurus’s curse corrupted any ruler that held the throne, inciting war and tyranny, which fed the curse further. The more violence and death, the stronger it grew.

The Minax had found an easy target in Arcus’s younger brother, Rasmus, a young man who was too fearful and too angry to fight it. Under the influence of its silky promises and opium-like alleviation of pain and fear, King Rasmus had sent his soldiers to hunt and kill Firebloods, and most of my kind had been murdered in raids. The strongest were brought to the capital city, Forsia, where they’d died in the king’s arena. As far as I knew, I was the only Fireblood in the kingdom who’d survived, and with help from Brother Thistle and Arcus, I’d melted the throne. We’d assumed the curse would be destroyed as well.

We’d been wrong.

Now Brother Thistle and I were trying to find a way to stop my visions and stop the creature itself.

I absently rubbed the carelessly stitched line on my little finger. It itched when I was upset, a reminder of my time in the Frostblood arena, what I’d had to do to help Arcus take his rightful place as king. But with the Minax still out there, inhabiting other bodies and biding its time, I wondered if destroying the throne had done more harm than good.

Arcus watched me for a minute, then took my hand and drew me through a barely perceptible opening between evergreens and onto a winding path. “I want to show you something. Close your eyes.”

I let him lead me over what felt like flagstones and spongy pine needles until the path changed to gravel that crunched under our boots.

“All right. You can open them.”

He kept hold of my fingers as I opened my eyes to see plants, flowers, shrubs, and small trees surrounding us. “Everything is white,” I breathed, moving toward a planter bursting with alabaster-stemmed flowers, petals aglow with reflected sunlight. I reached out and my finger felt biting cold. “They’re made of ice!”

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