Young Rennick left the city-state of Glas one fine day as the orphaned, sole nephew of a childless king. Mere hours later, he returned as the sole heir to the throne. The throne was, however, encased in ice. Renn's only clues to the reclamation of his kingdom lie in a riddle, tacked to the face of the engulfing glacier by the angry sorcerer who cast this spell:
What does it take to turn glacier to glass,
And glass into shards, and shards into ash?
What does it take to turn glacier to Glas?
Salvation there is beyond stream and sword—
Salvation through lady, salvation through whore,
Salvation through wings and through tongue and through tail,
Salvation that’s borne on two sets of scales.
And lie down with each on silk or on grass.
Give of your passion and give of your soul,
Then take one to your heart to banish the cold.
Princess Seramar is a headstrong and randy little royal. Unlike her sister, though, she doesn't have a stable of studs. Sera doesn't believe it's right to "keep" people. Her attitude abruptly changes when she meets a stunning man in a nearby valley known as the Cauldron of Keridwen -- a vagabond who turns out to be the Prince of Glacier Glas.
Renn's quest soon becomes Sera's quest as their intimacy grows. But powerful enchantment cannot easily be broken. Their efforts to unravel the riddle and return to Glas ultimately involve Sera's male-prostitute lover, her vindictive sister, her sister's studs, a sympathetic misfit, a magical change of identities . . . and, of course, dragons.
Sera chided herself for being so affected by that stranger, that man who called himself Renn. Had she sacrificed all judgment at the altar of lust? He could be stupid or shallow or simmering with criminal intent. He could be a faithless rogue who’d abandoned a loving wife and children. He could even be fleeing the hangman’s noose. She knew nothing whatsoever about him.
As she climbed into the wagon, Sera continued to flay herself until she was sure her foolishness had fallen away into the dirt.
"What are you talking about? You don’t want a stable! You’ve said so a hundred times!"
Reluctantly, they backed away.
Sera stopped him, then fired a warning look at the three of them. "Stay out of this. All of you." She turned to Renn. "If you will, sir, please come with me for a moment and I’ll try to explain."
He eyed her suspiciously. "Come with you where?"
Flustered, she made a sweeping arc with one arm. "Just over here or there or anywhere we can speak in private."After casting a sullen glance at the cadre of guards, he said, "Fine. Let’s go."
Ignoring her request that he remain silent, Renn again interrupted. "Take? Literally?"
Renn chuffed in disbelief. "I am definitely not one of those people."
"Because she would have utterly deprived you of your freedom. You would’ve been kept well, but you would’ve been kept nonetheless. Like a pampered prisoner. What’s more, Trelkiny doesn’t even visit her men. She has no interest in their prowess, because she has no interest in, in . . . matters of the flesh."
"That was truly a diplomat’s baggage of words," he said. "I believe you meant she doesn’t like to fuck."
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Copyright (c) 2008 K. Z. Snow
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