The DragonRunes Cycle is a fantasy fiction series by Trista Wilde Contact Trista Wilde: Click For Email Address  
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A small sliver of moon peeked out from behind the edge of a dark cloud. In spite of a strong headwind, Cardiff’s new packet steamer, the Lutine, was making good time toward her home port. The winds were driving the threat of a sudden autumn squall off to the north, leaving the ship a clear path through the choppy surf. Earlier, the warm southern winds had brought many passengers to the upper deck to enjoy the turbulent beauty of the copper sky, but the night had cooled considerably since then. Most had now retired to avail themselves of the excellent entertainment provided in the expansive ballroom on the lower deck.

     Beams of silver moonlight played gently over the cheek of a silent young woman who seemed immune to the chill. In contradiction to custom, she had freed her long blonde hair from its prison of tight braids. She was enjoying the way the wind tugged at her tresses. The stiff breeze lifted her generous mane into a stream of golden waves as she stood near the ship’s bow. It had been a long time since she had been this beautiful and she was in no hurry to bring the night to its inevitable conclusion.

     Tonight she was Erhin, the comeliest of the sixteen Vestal Virgins sent to Cardiff to witness the upcoming DragonSinger Competition. She had wanted to be Erhin from the moment she’d seen the lovely youth tending Vesta’s sacred hearth fire on one of Zetland’s frigid islands. The girl’s every motion possessed an unintentional grace that might melt the hardest man’s heart. That Erhin had sworn an oath of chastity to devote herself to Vesta’s service only frustrated men further, adding to her natural allure.

     But she had been Erhin for nearly a week now, and soon Erhin’s body would recognize that its original inhabitant was irredeemably missing. She’d kept a thin thread of Erhin alive for as long as she could, but today the girl’s soul had finally passed on. Now that she was completely gone, it wouldn’t take long for Erhin’s body to begin to show signs of wear.

     She didn’t exactly regret Erhin’s passing, however. Maintaining another’s soul required a certain amount of effort and it distracted the ancient shade from completely immersing herself in the moment. Now, finally free of its insipid original owner, the shade would be able to fully abandon her new body to the pleasures of the night.


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