Rising Sun

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Title: Rising Sun
Series: Elven Kingdoms #1
Release Date: May 14, 2024

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant introduces a wickedly seductive new series with a ruthless, jaded elf and a bewitching human hiding a powerful secret—unlikely soulmates whose passion will test the boundaries of life and death.

Nothing could make Yasmin return to Shaldorn, the place of nightmares. But when she’s caught stealing, she’s given an ultimatum: take Ravi over the Dangerous Peaks to the stronghold or face imprisonment.

She has no choice but to agree, though she intends to escape the elf as soon as she reaches the mountains. Yet, as they battle nature itself, the two enemies find common ground—and an all-consuming passion.

Can they prevail in their dangerous heist, or be torn apart by a betrayal?

Also in this series:


Ravi glanced at the sign above the tavern that read Twilight. It was an upscale establishment in the Geggin Square district of Rannora. He stepped inside and was promptly enveloped by a sexy ballad coming from a Star Elf swaying her hips seductively on the stage as she held everyone in thrall. Ravi took in the crowded business with one glance. His gaze swung to the left, and he nodded once to the stocky Wood Elf drying a glass behind the bar. The bartender returned the gesture. It was the only indication Ravi would get that all was well. And it was the only one he needed.

The elf’s singing drowned out the sound of his bootheels striking the floor. He weaved through the tables toward a side door where another elf stood to make sure no one entered who wasn’t supposed to. As Ravi approached, the guard let him through. The minute the door shut behind him, the sounds of the tavern dimmed and faded as Ravi continued down the narrow hallway. He didn’t bother with any of the rooms on either side of him. His gaze was locked on the one at the end of the hall.

He surreptitiously adjusted the sleeves of his leather jacket as he reached his destination. Ravi paused for a moment to prepare himself before knocking once. The door swung open immediately. He briefly looked at the muscled elf in front of him before his gaze slid to the tall, slender occupant who waited within.

“About time,” Durga stated, a brown brow raised, showing her impatience.

Ravi didn’t bother to state that he was early. Durga had her way of doing things, and the people she allowed to stick around were the ones who learned to roll with her particular method.
He walked to her, noting the navy dress that showed off her coppery skin, signaling her as a Wood Elf. Intelligent, cunning hazel eyes studied him. Her brown locks were always pulled away from her face with nary a hair out of place. The only thing that changed was the placement of the bun. Tonight, it rested at her nape.

“I take my summons to mean you have an assignment for me.” Ravi had just finished another mission but was never good at sitting idle. Durga knew that. It was in everyone’s best interests to keep him busy. It didn’t hurt that he had never failed Durga or the Defense Intelligence Agency in his many years of service.

She eyed him. “I do.”

Ravi studied his mentor more carefully. Stress lines bracketed her mouth. She kept clenching and unclenching her hands at her sides. Wherever she was about to send him, it would be dangerous. “Tell me.”

Durga cast a look at the other elf in the room. He quietly slipped out, leaving just the two of them. Only then did her shoulders sag, letting him see how anxious she was. “Do you remember when that dragon crossed our border?”

As if he could forget. It was all anyone had talked about for days. Some took it as a good sign, while others felt it meant their world was about to end. Ravi bowed his head. “Aye. Then it wasn’t a rumor?”

“Rumor?” Durga snorted a laugh and shook her head. “It was no rumor. A dragon did cross into Shecrish, but it wasn’t just any dragon. It was a Dragon King.”

“The Dragon King?”

“Nay. A King. There are many of them.”

Ravi walked to the right to lean a shoulder against the wall as he digested that bit of information. “What did this King want?”

“To track down the thing that’s been killing others. The one we can’t see.”

“We can communicate with dragons?”

“A Dragon King can shift from his true form to that of a human.”

Ravi blinked in surprise. “Shite.” All the years of sharing a border with the dragons, and one decided to seek them out. “Did he track the thing down?”

“Sadly, nay. Kendrick—that’s the King’s name—did make a few allies, however.”

Ravi crossed his arms over his chest. “That means he also made enemies.”

“Unfortunately. Made worse by the fact that he fell in love with one of our most distinguished Asavori Rangers, and she returned with him to his land.”

He stilled. “Tell me she went willingly.”

“She did.”

“And you believe whatever source told you?”

Durga cut him a sharp look. “Three different sources shared the information.”

That did make it difficult to dismiss. “I take it you want me to bring her home.”

“Nay.” Durga shook her head as she walked a few paces from him and swung around, her deep blue skirts swirling around her ankles. “Kendrick came to us in peace. He worked with Esha to—”

“Esha?” Ravi repeated as he jerked from the wall, his arms falling to his sides. “Are you telling me it was Esha who left with him?”

“I am.”

Ravi ran a hand over his face. Asavori Rangers were revered by both elves and humans in Shecrish. The Rangers were the first sent into any battle and usually the only ones needed. Esha was known by all. Ravi had met her a few times when his missions brought him near the Rangers’ encampment in Flamefall.

“As I was saying,” Durga continued, “Esha willingly worked with Kendrick. They tracked the thing slaying our people. In return, someone sent a nightwraith after them.”

Ravi shook his head in surprise. Once the enormous creature had your scent, there was no escaping it. “They survived?”

“Kendrick is a Dragon King with magic that exceeds anything the elves have. He and Esha fought it in the forest. My people saw the entire battle.”

Which meant Tarron, her cousin and the leader of the Wood Elves, had been one of those who’d passed on the information to Durga. That was one source. Ravi wondered who the others were.

“It seems Kendrick’s arrival stirred things up in the Conclave,” Durga continued. “There is reason to believe that someone on the Conclave sent the nightwraith after him.”

For a long while, some had been calling for a reform in their governing Conclave, but it failed each time. Maybe now was the time to tackle that. “Tell me you know who is responsible. That crime needs to be dealt with immediately.”

“It is being sorted out.”

“By whom?” he demanded.

Her hazel eyes narrowed slightly. “I was going to give you that assignment, but another has taken precedence.”

Ravi waited, knowing that no amount of pushing would get her to give up the information faster. Durga revealed things in her own time. For someone known for her impatience, she didn’t have a problem making others wait. But he was already trying to imagine what could be more important than discovering who’d tried to kill a Dragon King.

Durga gathered her hands at her waist and drew in a deep breath. “I received intel earlier about a group intending to push us into war with the dragons by tossing an explosive device across the border. You need to stop that before it happens.”

“Gladly. Where am I going?”

She hesitated. “That’s the catch.”

“You want me on this because you know I can get around anything. Nothing has stopped me before.”

“I want you on this because you’re the best agent we have, but there is a first time for everything.”

“What aren’t you telling me?”

“The location is deep within the Dangerous Peaks.”

The only elves who dared to go anywhere near the snow-topped peaks to the east were the Mountain Elves who called them home. They were the finest weapons crafters, but they were suspicious of outsiders. Gaining their help would be difficult, though not impossible.

“You know how reclusive the Mountain Elves are. I’ll need some time to find them and gain their trust,” he began.

Durga shook her head. “I wish it were that easy. There is no time to get help from our mountain kin. You have to get to the Shaldorn stronghold immediately.”

“I’ve never heard of it.”

“That is by design. Few know of it.”

He frowned as he took a step toward her. “But you know of this place?”

“We’ve had our sights on it, aye. Getting in is another matter.”

“I can get in.”

“You can’t.” She went on before he could argue. “Shaldorn is a place where the vilest in Shecrish go to do despicable things. From what I’ve learned, they have anything someone who walks in their circles could wish for.”

Ravi shrugged. “I’ll get in. There’s always a way.”

“There are two entrances, actually. Both are heavily guarded. It is a fortress, Ravi. The walls are too high to climb and watched from every angle. Only those with an invitation are allowed within.”

“Then make sure I’m invited.”

Her knuckles whitened as she gripped her hands tightly for a heartbeat. “We tried.”

That meant someone had died. Ravi wanted to ask who but doubted Durga would impart that information. “So, how do I get in?”

“With the help of someone who has been inside. It has taken me all day, but I’ve found them.”

“What makes you think they’ll return to the fortress?”

“I’ll make sure they do.” She motioned for him to follow. “We don’t have long to get this mission underway. We should get there in time to see the individual brought to us.”

Ravi followed her out of the room. The moment she reached the hall, two guards moved in front of her and another two behind him. No one spoke as they entered a stairway that took them outside. The four guards split up to stay hidden while Ravi remained just behind Durga. Only a fool would attempt to attack her.

“Ah. There,” Durga said and pointed.

Ravi followed her finger. He spotted three undercover operatives, then scanned the faces of those milling about the shops set up on the street. Finally, he saw the human. She was a waifish thing of average height with black hair in a thick braid that reached the middle of her back. She walked with the steps of one ready to bolt at a moment’s notice, her gaze moving about as if she expected someone to shout that she didn’t belong. She stood out amid all the finery in her worn black overcoat that had been mended so many times he couldn’t believe it still held together, a black shirt with mismatched buttons, and pants with a hole in the knee. The strap across her chest connected to a bag. Her boots were old but well cared for.

The human sidled closer to a female Sun Elf deep in conversation with another. Before the human could pick the elf’s pocket, Durga motioned with her hand. When she did, the operatives closed in around the woman. Ravi watched as she attempted to cradle her bag against her chest when the operatives grabbed her, but they yanked it away.

The moment she lost the pack, she lashed out with everything she had. Instead of quickly and quietly getting her off the street, there was a commotion as everyone turned to look at the trio of elves attempting to subdue the human. The female never screamed or spoke but fought as if her life was on the line. In a way, it was.

“This way,” Durga murmured before turning and retracing her steps.

They didn’t return to the room. Instead, Ravi followed her down a flight of stairs that led underground—fitting since everything the DIA did was in the shadows. It was a clandestine operation that few beyond the Conclave knew existed. The Rangers might be called in a fight, but the Conclave turned to the DIA before things escalated.

Ravi heard the scuffle before he saw it. The human female was so thin a breeze could blow her over, but she was quick. His fellow agents had her arms, but her legs and feet were free, and she used them efficiently. One of the men grabbed her hair and wrenched her head back. That didn’t quell her. If anything, the human redoubled her efforts, managing to kick one of the men between his legs. That earned her a body slam against the wall just as yellow magic filled a Sun Elf’s palm as he readied to unleash it on her.

Durga cleared her throat. All three men seemed to remember they had an audience. They suppressed their need to lash out, but their anger was palpable. Humans didn’t have magic, so it made things worse for one to hurt an elf—worse, a female being detained. Their two cultures had always lived together, but the elves outnumbered humans twenty to one. Add in the fact that humans were magicless, and there was always simmering contention.

The trio took the female into a room and shoved her into a chair so hard that it tipped backward. She jerked forward, just barely managing to keep from falling over. The front legs of the chair banged against the floor as the human lifted her face and glared at the handlers.

Ravi and Durga stood outside in the hall, watching her through glass crafted with elven magic that appeared to be a picture within the room. It allowed Ravi to get a look at the woman. She sat up straight and settled as if she had come for a social visit.

He supposed she was pretty for a human—oval face with full lips and a stubborn chin. Midnight brows arched over eyes a deep blue that reminded him of the ocean. Her size belied her strength, but those eyes told him she had experienced things others could only guess at. She stared at the agents straight on, which told him she wouldn’t cower easily.

It might be better if she did.

“Ready to meet your guide?” Durga asked.

Ravi’s gaze jerked to her. “You’re joking.”

“You know me better than that.”

He glanced back at the human. “She’s…she’s…”

“The only one who can get you inside.”

“How can you be sure?”

Durga’s gaze became icy. “If there was another way, I would’ve found it. The last thing I want is to bring an outsider—a human, at that—into this mission.”

“She doesn’t seem the type to be willing to help anyone.”

“She doesn’t have a choice.”

Ravi blew out a breath. “Fuck.”