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       Warcry, p.1

           Elizabeth Vaughan

  You have gotten this book from Public Library Donated by Semi

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page









































  “Warprize is possibly the best romantic fantasy I have ever read. I loved the sequel . . . I can’t wait for number three. Continue please to enthrall me with your storytelling.”

  —Anne McCaffrey, New York Times bestselling author

  “Vaughan’s brawny barbarian romance re-creates the delicious feeling of adventure and the thrill of exploring mysterious cultures created by Robert E. Howard in his Conan books and makes for a satisfying escapist read with its enjoyable romance between a plucky, near-naked heroine and a truly heroic hero.”


  “The most entertaining book I’ve read all year.”

  —All About Romance

  “Warprize is simply mesmerizing. The story is told flawlessly . . . Keir is a breathtaking hero; you will never look at a warlord the same way again.”

  —ParaNormal Romance

  “Ms. Vaughan has written a wonderful fantasy . . . The story is well written and fast paced . . . Run to the bookstore and pick up this debut novel . . . You won’t be disappointed by the touching relationship that grows between the Warlord and his warprize.”

  —A Romance Review


  “A superb climax to an excellent saga . . . Romance and fantasy readers will appreciate this terrific trio as Elizabeth Vaughan provides a fabulous finish to a superior story.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “An outstanding conclusion to an inventive and riveting trilogy with a passionate, powerful love story at its core.”

  —The Romance Reader

  “A top-notch series, well written and enjoyable.”

  —Curled Up With a Good Book


  “A moving continuation of the wonderful Warprize. Bravo.”

  —Jo Beverley

  “Readers will be delighted . . . Unusual and thoroughly enjoyable.”




  “Fans will relish this strong romantic quest fantasy.”

  —Genre Go Round Reviews

  “Riveting . . . The plot moves at a nice clip, and the ending is a masterstroke . . . Destiny’s Star is a terrific story.”

  —The Romance Reader

  “Bethral and Ezren are marvelous characters to spend time with . . . [Vaughan] has a gift for bringing cultures and dialogue to life, and I very much look forward to more.”

  —All About Romance

  “Vaughan’s writing is rich and provocative. Her descriptions [are] gorgeous, watching Bethral and Ezren fall in love . . . was perfect . . . I didn’t want the story to end.”

  —Smexy Books



  “An engrossing story which will keep readers enthralled. The characters are interesting and appealing . . . Ms. Vaughan has crafted an interesting world where myths and reality blur. Filled with magic, gods and goddesses, and heroic deeds, the reader will never want to put this book down.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “There’s tension, turmoil, and adventure on every page. The characters—main and side alike—are interesting and enjoyable. The sex is fun, and the romance is undeniably sweet.”

  —Errant Dreams Reviews

  “Vaughan world-builds with a depth and clarity that allows you to immerse yourself in the world of the hero and heroine . . . If you are looking for a book with colorful world-building, solid characters, and sound storytelling, this one might be just what you’re looking for.”

  —All About Romance

  “A riveting and thoroughly enjoyable story.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  “Fans will appreciate the clever twist that Elizabeth Vaughan writes in White Star, as the latest return to her Warlands saga is a welcome entry in one of the best romantic fantasies of the last few years.”

  —Alternative Worlds



  “Dagger-Star is the perfect blend of fantasy and romance . . . A really enjoyable read.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “An excellent romantic fantasy . . . Readers will enjoy Elizabeth Vaughan’s superb, clever return to the desolate Warlands.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “Elizabeth Vaughan pens a story of love and adventure . . . You feel yourself being sucked into the adventure and don’t want to put the book down.”

  —Manic Readers

  “In a return to the world of the Warlands trilogy, Elizabeth Vaughan successfully creates a new set of characters and a new story . . . A very satisfying read.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  Berkley Sensation Books by Elizabeth Vaughan







  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.


  A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author

  PRINTING HISTORY Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / May 2011

  Copyright © 2011 by Elizabeth Vaughan.

  All rights reserved.

/>   No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  eISBN : 978-1-101-51494-8


  Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  BERKLEY® SENSATION and the “B” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  To my editor, Anne Sowards


  Thanks have to go to the following: To Tom Redding, who knows the name of sharp pointy tools that split things. To Jacqueline Harris of Northcoast Soaps for her enthusiasm and skills. To Jennie Moening, she of the evil Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip, which has gotten me through so many deadlines. To Patricia Merritt, gentle muse. To Kandace Klumper, gentle muse with a critical eye. To Denise Lynn, gentle muse with a whip and a chair. To Mike Konwinski, who helped me with the sword. To Keith Flick, who did not help. (Hippoflys? Really?) To David Browder, Fred Barkman, Roberto Ledesma, and Brad Faggionato, because after all, it’s the camaraderie, not the abuse. To Betsy and Dan Candler, dearest friends, I am really sorry about the prune whip incident. To Jean Rabe, who pointed out the obvious to me. To my long-suffering copy editor, Kristin Ostby. To all my friends and family, who understand when I get a strange look in my eye, and reach for pen and paper. To the Maumee Valley RWA Chapter, for their wonderful support and encouragement. To my agents, Meg Davis and Merrilee Heifetz. Finally, to my wonderful writer’s group—Helen Kourous, Spencer Luster, Marc Tassin, and Robert Wenzlaff. I know I’ve forgotten someone; please forgive me if I have. And for all the efforts of so many people who help me, please know that any mistakes found in this book are mine and mine alone.



  He ignored the burn as his sword rang against the other. He was tired, yes, but to admit exhaustion was to admit defeat. To admit defeat was unthinkable.

  The grasses underfoot had been matted down during their struggle, and they were slippery. He backed away, feeling for surer footing, keeping his attention on the enemy.

  “Had enough, city-dweller?”

  The taunt meant nothing. What mattered was the location of his enemy’s blades. Sword in one hand, dagger in the other, both to be avoided. Heath tightened his grip on his own weapons and considered any weakness he could use to his advantage. He danced back again, forcing his opponent to follow him, gaining time.

  His foe gave him none, coming in at a rush. Heath braced, brought his sword up, blocking the first blade as he thrust the dagger at his foe’s ribs.

  And felt his enemy’s wooden blade crack against his own.

  “Damn,” Heath swore, stepping back. He took his practice weapons in one hand and ran the other hand through his sweat-soaked curls.

  “That’s better than the last time,” Rafe of the Wolf offered from where he sat in the grass, watching them. “A mutual kill, eh?”

  “I’d like to live to tell of it,” Heath said ruefully.

  Prest, his sparring partner, smiled, his teeth white in his dark face. “Good work.”

  That was high praise from Prest, who rarely used more than a handful of words in a day.

  Rafe sat up and offered Heath a waterskin. “You are improving, Heath of Xy. Since joining us, you have added to your skills.”

  “My thanks, Rafe,” Heath said. Before he left Xy for the Plains, he’d been part of the Castle Guard in Water’s Fall, a fighter of adequate skill.

  But the Plains demanded more.

  Heath hefted the skin and drank deeply. Rafe had filled it at a nearby stream just recently, and it was still cold.

  Prest stripped to the waist and started wiping himself down with a cloth. Heath glanced down the road behind them, but there was no sign of the others.

  “There’s time,” Rafe offered. “They aren’t moving fast.”

  Heath nodded and followed Prest’s example. He unbuckled his leather armor and stripped off his undertunic. The cool spring air felt good on his skin. The early afternoon sun wasn’t hot, but the days ahead promised to warm. They were advancing with the spring up the mountain valley that was the Kingdom of Xy. Although there were sun and new blossoms here, it was possible that there was still snow on the slate roofs of Water’s Fall.

  This wasn’t how he’d planned to return to his homeland. They’d left the Plains weeks ago, traveling slow. He was grateful. He wasn’t sure what his welcome would be since his abrupt departure last fall.

  “More than just your weapon skills have improved,” Rafe continued. “You have strengthened your—” The rest was gibberish.

  “Say again?” Heath asked. He’d learned the language of the Plains one painful word at a time. He was fairly fluent, but sometimes words escaped him.

  Rafe laughed, and looked at Prest.

  “Muscles.” Prest pointed to his own body, where his stomach showed the ripple of power beneath his black skin.

  Another thing that was different about the people of the Plains: Because they raided from every kingdom, their people were of every color imaginable. Black, brown, yellow, or even paler than Heath’s own people. Different indeed.

  Rafe was a smaller man, thin and quick, with fair skin, black hair, and brown eyes. His face always seemed to be lit with a smile.

  Prest was tall, a big man of black skin, eyes, and hair. He’d had long braids, but he had shaved his head after an epic hunt on the Plains. The hair was growing back now, but it was still trimmed short and close to his skull. Two very different men, yet both of the same tribe.

  “Your body has more strength, with more power behind each blow,” Rafe continued. “Now you will strike the killing blow first, yes?”

  Heath grunted. Standing watch at the castle hadn’t let him get fat, but the standards of the Plains warrior were much higher. To them, fighting and sparring were like breathing, something you did every day. Plains warriors were quick to take offense unless there had been an exchange of tokens, and insults were met with steel. He’d learned hard and fast.

  But a grunt seemed the only appropriate response. The Plains had other customs, sexual customs, far different from those of Xy. Everyone seemed to sleep with everyone else, and think nothing of it. He’d learned to gently refuse offers of sharing from both men and women, but it was still embarrassing as hell when a man . . . Not that Rafe had shown any interest, but he shared a tent with four women.

  Thankfully, one of their other customs was to stay as clean as possible, so he busied himself with the cloth and the waterskin.

  “I hope the Warlord decides to set up camp here,” Rafe said. “That pool we found looked inviting. We could all bathe tonight.”

  “Together,” Heath said, rolling his eyes mentally. That was another thing he’d had to get used to. These people had no modesty.

  “Of course, shy city-dweller.” Rafe gave him a glance and smirked. “But there is only one you would chase into the pool, eh?”

  Heath ignored the jab.

  Prest lifted his head. Heath followed his look.

  There on the road, just coming over a small rise, was a woman walking between two mounted guards. A very pregnant woman, dressed in white, walking slowly.

  Even at this distance, Heath could see Lara’s smile light up her face when she spotted them. He smiled in return. She was one of the reasons that he had left his family, his position, and his land.

  They’d been friends since childhood, laughing and running about the castle’s gardens for as long as Heath could remember. Mo
st people thought they were twins, since they’d both had brown curls and blue eyes.

  They’d never tired of the surprised look on people’s faces when they learned the truth.

  Heath was the son of Othur, Seneschal of the Castle of Water’s Fall, and Anna, the palace cook.

  Lara was Xylara, daughter of King Xyron, a Daughter of the Blood. And now, Queen of Xy, returning to give birth to the heir to the throne in the Castle of Water’s Fall.

  Lara raised a hand in greeting and looked back over her shoulder. Behind her rode Keir of the Cat and his warriors. Keir was the Warlord of the Plains, the feared Firelander who had invaded Xy, defeated its armies, and then claimed Xylara as his warprize. A man feared for his skill as warrior and warlord.

  Keir of the Cat, Warlord of the Plains, Overlord of Xy was scowling at his warprize.

  Xylara, Queen of Xy, Warprize of the Plains, was blithely ignoring him.

  “The Warlord looks none too pleased,” Rafe said, getting to his feet.

  Prest nodded and started to gather up his armor and weapons.

  Heath followed suit. “That’s not a surprise. Lara says that pregnant women need to walk once in a while. It’s not healthy for her to ride in Keir’s arms all day.”

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