After saving his younger brother’s child, Daemon Shar is cursed by a witch and runs far from home, a stray who will seemingly never be anything more. But destiny is hard to outrun, even for a man who is now more cat than man beneath his robes and cowl. A chance battlefield meeting between he and Ehron, a foreign lord, gives him purpose amidst the darkness of his accursed life. Soon Daemon finds that his true nature cannot be corrupted no matter the form he inhabits.
As Ehron’s consul, Daemon plots and plans to shape his new lord's future so that he may leave it blessed when he runs away yet again. But he never counted on his soul hungering for Ehron’s brother Gareth or for his past to catch him by the tail at last.
They had been riding for days when they were finally rewarded with a view of Castle Iju. It was far worse than either of them could have ever imagined, both riders pulling their horses up hard, stopping on the crest of the first hill, awestruck and horrified at the same time.
“Guardians of Yuan defend us,” Ostyn Tan gasped as he stared out across the valley and took in the crimson-washed sky. He turned and looked at his friend and servant; wincing as he saw the visible pain and dread etched on the face of the only man he would willingly give his life for, Valian. Returning his gaze to the sight before him, he took a deep breath to steady himself. They had seen the smoke every day as they closed in on the site and had lied to themselves and prayed for a blessing, but now, seeing it, there was no question of enduring hope. All was lost.
From where they were, it looked as though the entire hill that the castle sat upon was burning. Every segment of the tower that they could see was engulfed in flames. Smoke rose in billowing clouds of debris and dust, and ash fell like black rain on the clashing armies. There would be no escape for the inhabitants of the besieged stronghold, and Valian shivered with fear even as he urged his mount forward, descending into the valley. They rode hard toward the inferno without hesitation, each knowing that they alone were the only hope for the child and his mother, for they were the only ones that had heard the order of execution given.
Valian chose a route that took him around the left side of what remained of the thick outer stone wall and into the first of…