Good day lovely readers! Thank you for joining me. I am M.D. Grimm and I am here to promote my newest release, “Jade: First and Last.” This is the latest entry in The Stones of Power, and the structure became a quest story, much the same as the first book in the series. I kept making it worse for my guys as they searched for the jade stone of power. And I had a bit too much fun doing so. I only have four books left before I wrap things up for Lord Morgorth and Aishe, and I am both excited and saddened. They’ve been with me for a decade, and it will be an end of an era when I let them go. If you like magic, surly, anti-hero mages (wizards), their loyal, long-suffering mates, and a fun setting with quirky supporting characters, this series might be for you!
Enjoy this exclusive excerpt!
I stared in fascination as Morgorth’s skin rippled and the air around him shimmered. He’d confirmed how agonizing the change was, and I gritted my teeth at the sounds of breaking bones and snapping tendons. His proportions shrank, his skin erupted in feathers, and his face grew a beak. His low moan turned into a ruckus caw.
A long moment later a large black bird stood on the floor, ruffling his feathers, and clicking his beak. He flapped his wings and cocked his head, familiarizing himself with his new form.
I knelt in front of him and slipped the small cord over his head. The thumbnail-size crystal lay against his chest. “You are beautiful.”
He let out a soft sound, almost a coo, and flapped his wings hard, gaining lift. I stood and he fluttered over to land on my shoulder.
“Are you ready?”
He nipped at my hair.
I hid him under my cloak as we snuck out. Once outside, I drew up my hood, since Morgorth advised against using the same disguise potion as yesterday. He didn’t want to make me sick. I stepped around the corner once outside, and Morgorth took flight, wheeling a bit unsteadily through the air. I watched for a moment, anxious before following him on foot. The city was far busier in the early afternoon. Everyone moved with a purpose and rarely made eye contact or even greeted each other. I didn’t sense unfriendliness, more unease and a bit of fear.
As I followed Morgorth down a few side streets we’d tried the other night, I noticed the graffiti on the walls and spots of vandalism. I hadn’t spotted them in the dark. The words were in the local dialect, but I could understand the meaning well enough. Calls for revolution or for someone to depose the king.
I got a bit distracted, trying to decipher a few of the words and graphic pictures, and wondering if the current state of the city, and the kingdom as a whole, could have an impact on the thief’s actions. A group of children, none at puberty yet, ran past me, screaming and hollering in manic glee. I flinched at the noise but found myself smiling. Even in this devastated city, the perseverance of children couldn’t be dampened. But their ragged clothing, dirty faces, and bare feet, concerned me. They were far too skinny, and their body odor lingered in their wake.
“What’s all this noise?” an old man bellowed as he stuck his head out of his door. “You get out of here, you little maggots! None of us wants to hear you carrying on.”
The kids jeered and called him names, making the old man red in the face.
I was moving forward before I knew it, hoping to stop an altercation. But then the swooping of wings, and the brush of feathers against my hood brought me back to our mission. Morgorth cawed as he soared higher. I gritted my teeth against the instinctive urge to interfere. But the kids had already run away, and the old man turned his attention to me.
He glared. “What you looking at, you davish?”
I stiffened, the insult burning. “Nothing.”
He snorted. “Get back to your own country and out of our city, tree whore. We don’t want your kind here.”
I gaped as he shut the door.
Did he just…? Was that a derogatory name for dialen? Had to be. And how dare he call me a davish! The nerve of accusing a perfect stranger of rutting with animals. The old man’s vitriol staggered me. He hated me for even existing in his presence. It appeared that generations of war turned some bitter and hateful, and irrationally bigoted.
How had he known I was a dialen, though? My hood was still in place, and the cloak was big enough to cover my clothing. Could it be my bow? Perhaps. It wasn’t the same shape and style as the bows of the city.
I sighed and tried to shake it off as I turned and followed Morgorth again. The encounter shook me despite my best efforts. The despair permeating the city was even worse in the daytime when I could see the faces of the citizens and the resignation in their eyes.
I lifted the crystal to my lips. “We have to do something about this war, Morgorth. After we find the jade, we have to… I don’t know. This place, it… we have to help if we can.”
He gave two clicks.
The afternoon wore on, and I witnessed a half dozen thefts, and it sickened me to turn away. But when I spotted three men harassing a woman, I couldn’t stand by. They had her backed into the end of an alley and were tugging at her arms, her clothes. I didn’t want the attention of the patrols or soldiers, so I kept my arrows and sword sheathed and used my bow as a club instead.
“Hey, you should leave her alone if you know what’s good for you!”
They all turned to me. I kept my hood up, bow at the ready.
“Who are you?” one of them asked, the one gripping her arm.
“And if you know what’s good for you, you won’t interfere,” another said.
The two speakers were rather scrawny, underfed, and their clothes were more patches than fabric. The third was a wide, short stump of a man who scowled and said nothing.
“Please help me!” the woman said, struggling against the first man’s hold.
“I won’t offer another warning,” I said, wondering where in the underworld the patrols were.
“Neither will we. Ander!”
The stump of a man charged me.
I braced and lifted my bow.
The Stones of Power 1-9 are available for purchase at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. I have a newsletter that I send out monthly with all the goodies you can expect in the future. That’s the best way to find out about my current and future projects.
I’m currently working on the next Shifter Chronicles book, as well as the first book in a duology concerning two sisters and their love lives with dragons and wolves.
More information on my catalog can be found at my website.
I hope you stay safe and healthy, and may dragons guard your dreams,
M.D. Grimm has a new MM fantasy book out, Stones of Power book 9 – Jade: First and Last.
Morgorth and Aishe must contend with a deadly threat that could spell disaster for their world.
Payshthas were the first of the Mother’s intelligent children. It is rare for true friendship to form between them and another species—which makes Morgorth’s bond with Enfernlo unique. And it is due to their friendship that Morgorth doesn’t hesitate to answer Enfernlo’s plea for help.
A thief has stolen something vital from Enfernlo’s colony—a stone of power.
Their hunt for the stone leads them to a war torn kingdom, and Aishe can hardly stomach what he sees. The devastation urges him to assist however he can, no matter the risk. Meanwhile, Morgorth is faced with reminders of the monster he used to be, and contemplates how far he’s come, and yet how far he still has to go. And when his estranged mentor joins them on their search, Morgorth is forced to confront his resentment and sense of betrayal, and use Master Ulezander as a tool to save the payshthas.
Forced into a deadly quest where trust is in short supply, and faced with challengers for the stone, Morgorth must put his faith in those he loves and in himself… and become a champion not just of the Mother but for Karishian itself.
Warnings: magic violence, dragon violence, war-torn country
About the Series:
Lord Morgorth is a dark mage on the planet Karishian. His peers consider him a villain, but there is more to him than they choose to understand. Cursed by a dark destiny and tormented by painful memories of the past, Morgorth struggles to find his place in the world. Far from innocent, Morgorth has teetered between embracing his destiny and fighting against it his entire life. A decision that is made easier when Aishe comes into his life.
Aishe is a creature of the forest, a warrior and healer. He has the moral compass that Morgorth needs, and Morgorth gives Aishe the companionship he craves. Together, they forge ahead, weathering the storms and fighting the enemies fate puts into their paths.
However, their greatest enemy is not a living being, but gemstones infused with deadly power. They are addictive, seductive, and completely treacherous. Morgorth hates them and is determined to find and imprison all of them. But he soon realizes they are keys to a greater power. He learns his destiny is not all he thought it was. And an even greater enemy stirs in the darkness.
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Morgorth snarled a word, and his magick speed shot him like an arrow into the tunnels. I followed in his wake, focusing on the eight gVattaren who were running away. The hard sand didn’t hinder us, and I caught up with their shorter strides. I shot two in the neck before those remaining reeled around and attacked. They cursed and squealed as their blades blinded me when the sun broke the horizon. I dropped my bow and grabbed my short sword.
With my own snarl, I barreled into them. My blade sang as I swung at their arms and heads while also dodging and swerving as they tried to stick me with their knives. The six surrounded me, and while a few broke through my defenses and slashed at my legs, their blades glanced off my armored clothing. It didn’t take long for the gVattaren to realize they couldn’t puncture through the cloth to my flesh.
One sneaky fellow sliced the back of my uncovered hand while another threw a blade at my face. I ducked and hissed at the sting on my hand. I cut off their arm while slashing at the one who’d flung the knife.
“What do you hope to accomplish?” I asked, spitting mad. “Do you not see the payshtha over there? He can burn you to a crisp in an instant!”
“Then why hasn’t he?” one of them said, voice raspy and filled with dark amusement.
I turned to the mocker and found an opening to kick them in the head. They dropped like a stone and the other five hissed and snarled.
“I’m not done having fun yet,” I said.
I trusted Morgorth to recover whatever they’d thrown into the tunnel as I gradually moved them farther away from the Jesllan. The small group was vicious and quick, fueled by rage. I would have been bleeding from many shallow wounds if Morgorth hadn’t enchanted my clothing. But then they surged toward me all at once, and one leapt upon my back, trying to stab my face. I gripped their wrist and twisted sharply. With a snap and a scream, they fell off me, dropping the blade. Unfortunately, with their other hand, the stabber grabbed my wrist and used their weight to force me to drop my sword arm. Then they clung and bit my hand, turning the previous slice into torn and mangled flesh that gushed blood.
I screamed, unable to shake them off.
I dropped my sword.
Seizing the opportunity, the other four attempted to saw their way through my clothing. They clung like leeches, and their combined weight made it hard for me to move.
“Get off me!” I punched at their heads with my free hand and struggled to keep my face beyond their reach.
“Close your eyes!” Enfernlo bellowed.
I snapped them shut an instant before hot air slammed into my back and engulfed me. The gVattaren shrieked in agony as the five spasmed against me. Then all the weight vanished, and it was silent except for the roar of the wind. Then that, too, dissipated.
I swayed and fell to one knee, panting. When I opened my eyes, I grimaced. The streaks of ash against the crystallized sand told me it hadn’t been hot wind, but payshtha fire. He’d disintegrated the gVattaren, just as I’d warned them he’d do.
Payshthas, like mages, could control their fire and who it harmed. To some extent, at least. But while mages needed to retain the connection to their fire, payshthas could direct it even when the bond was severed.
I tucked my mangled hand to my chest and grabbed my sword with the other. It was no worse for the wear, much to my relief. I turned and jolted. Enfernlo stood just behind, towering over me, his teeth bared, his eyes glimmering dark with rage. His wings were unfurled to their full span, and his posture reminded me of a striking snake or diving bird.
I was grateful my bowels didn’t betray me.
I turned and Morgorth engulfed me in his arms.
“Careful,” I said, grunting.
He jerked back and swept his gaze over me before focusing on my hand. His mouth twisted and his magick flared. “I’m sorry. Right after I retrieved that bomb they threw in, another group leapt out of the sand and attacked.”
I cupped his cheek with my good hand and met his gaze. “I’m all right.”
“Show me your hand,” Enfernlo said.
He no longer looked about to attack, and I breathed easier as I held out my hand. A gentle stream of fire blew out of his mouth and landed on my wound. It seeped into the torn flesh, glowed yellow, and then vanished. The pain stopped, my hand as good as new.
“Thank you.” I touched his snout.
Then I turned to Morgorth and cupped his cheek again. “And thank you for the clothes.”
He grunted. He covered my hand on his cheek and kissed my palm.
M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!).
After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English, (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?) she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier. Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain, (or else what’s the point?) finding their soul mate in the process.
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