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Ishtar’s Legacy Series Bundle

Ishtar’s Legacy Series Bundle

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Can a living weapon win a king's heart?

After four years preparing to become a living weapon, Iltani is ready to face anything or anyone as long as it isn’t the king of the gryphons—her childhood friend and biggest crush. Around him, she’s a tongue-tied dolt. 

But King Ditanu isn’t having any of that and summons her to his quarters to entertain him.

But she is a guard, not some noble lady of court. She doesn't have the first clue how to entertain a king.

 

“Our food grows cold,” King Ditanu said and gestured her over to where the servants had set out food next to the hearthstones of the fire.

Pillows and blankets were artfully arranged, allowing the diners to sit or recline, whichever they preferred.

Iltani swallowed hard as she took in the intimacy of the meal.

Maybe he normally had meals like this with his friends and advisors?

Ditanu knelt and poured two goblets of spiced wine and then selected a few choice bits of meat, cheese, and fruits. He then held the plate out toward her.

Iltani froze and stared at the offering.

He sighed and gave it a little wiggle without looking at her.

Court etiquette aside—as a king just did not serve others—Iltani found everything about the situation awkward.

Was it some kind of test?

“Iltani,” Ditanu sighed out her name. “Just take the plate. I have another rule you probably are not aware of. When I am in my personal chambers, I am not a king. I am just myself and can do whatever I want. You’ll get used to it.”

She took the plate. “Yes, my king.”

“Ditanu.” He drew his name out slowly as if he suspected she may have forgotten it.

“Yes, Ditanu.” Formal tones still edged her words.

He braced one arm behind him and tilted back his upper body in an exaggerated way to look up at her. “Fine. Don’t dispense with the formalities. But Iltani, if you don’t sit down, you’re going to give your king a terrible kink in his neck.”

She dropped to her knees so quickly, she bumped one of the plates of fruit and nearly sent it flying. With exaggerated care, she edged the dish a bit closer to the fire. 

Ditanu was sipping from his wine again, but she could still see the corners of his mouth turned up in a smile.

Well, she supposed, she was entertaining the king after a fashion.

 

If you like slow burn Fantasy Romances with Spice, don't miss this great bundle.

Main Tropes in this eBook bundle:.

  • Sinfully sexy gryphon kings
  • Court Intrigue
  • Warrior-women
  • Sumerian Mythology
  • Friends-to-lovers
  • Royalty
  • Sexy Shifters
  • Fated Mates
  • Slow-burn romance

 

This Bundle Contains:

 

  • Ishtar's Blade
  • The Blade's Beginning
  • Blade's Honor
  • Blade's Destiny
  • The Blade's Shadow
  • First Queen of the Gryphons

 

Synopsis

Synopsis for Ishtar's Blade

The court of the gryphon king has ever been a dangerous and seductive place where Ishtar’s blessing is both the hot breath of passion and the cold kiss of steel.

Yet as the childhood companion of King Ditanu, Iltani never doubted her place in either his kingdom or his heart. Then duty called her away to complete her training.

Now, a woman grown and a sword-maiden to the goddess Ishtar, Iltani returns and takes up her sacred destiny to protect the royal line. But so much has changed.

Ditanu most of all.

The youth she knew is gone. A stoic, untouchable king now sits the throne.

Does anything of their once deep bond survive?

Iltani must swiftly find her place in a court where cunning governors plot treason, trusted advisors orchestrate deceptions, and noblewomen seek to beguile King Ditanu using methods both fair and foul.

But the greatest threat of all is no mortal adversary. Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld, desires to make Ditanu her consort and seize his kingdom for her own.

Ishtar's Blade is a fantasy romance loosely based on ancient Sumerian and Akkadian mythology. It's book 1 of the Ishtar's Legacy series.

Ishtar's Legacy Reading Order:
Ishtar's Blade
A Blade's Beginning (short story)
Blade's Honor
Blade's Destiny
The Blade's Shadow
First Queen of the Gryphons
King of the Anunnaki (Forthcoming)

First Chapter

Ishtar's Blade: Sample Chapter

They passed through the outer courtyard and finally reached the great bronze throne room doors, which were thrown wide as if in invitation.

Only the two colossal stone lamassu statues standing silent guard on either side of the door suggested something other than welcome. From within their mighty shells, with their winged bulls bodies and human heads, their spirits thick with ancient knowing and magic looked out at her, taking her measure, judging her.

After a moment of scrutiny, both guards seemed satisfied with what they found and returned to their slumber.

Ah. The small circle who knew she was Ishtar’s chosen had just grown a little bigger. However, her secret was still safe. The city’s stone guardians communicated only with their king.

And possibly Ishtar’s Blade, Iltani realized.

Not yet back half a day and she was already finding gaps in her training. Possibly some knowledge had been lost to time. It had been over five hundred years since one of Ishtar’s Blades had last walked the earth.

Were the gaps intentional or accidental through plain ignorance?

“Burrukan, welcome.” The voice was familiar and emerged from the shadows to the right of the throne room doors. “And you’ve brought our Little Shadow home at last. The king will be pleased.”

Etum, a King’s Shadow only a few years older than Ditanu, stepped from his place by the door and clasped a hand to Burrukan’s shoulder in welcome before turning to Iltani and giving her a hug.

Growing up, Ditanu didn’t have many companions, but both Etum and his twin, Eluti, were Shadows, and only ten years older than Ditanu. The king viewed them as friends while Iltani viewed the twins more like older brothers.

“Etum!” Smiling, she returned his embrace. “It gladdens my heart to see you. Your brother, he is here, too?”

“Never far,” Eluti answered as he tossed back the hood of his gray cloak, appearing as if out of nowhere. The cloak’s magic hummed along her senses a moment more before its spells went dormant. He shoved his brother aside for a hug of his own. “We were just on our way to start our shift when we heard of your arrival and guessed Burrukan would soon bring you here.” He glanced over his shoulder and through the open throne room doors.

Iltani followed his gaze. Both guards wore human forms which meant King Ditanu was currently in human form as well. The guards always echoed their ruler’s current form or risked not being able to follow him into the air.

She would have preferred Ditanu in his gryphon form for this first meeting. At least, it might act as a visual reminder to her of how impossible her love for him was.

The twins might have said more if Burrukan hadn’t grabbed each of them by a shoulder and steered them through the bronze throne room doors. Once inside, he gave each a shove in the opposite direction and continued into the throne room.

As Iltani followed, taking in the forgotten grandeur of the vast room, her own appearance seemed twice as shoddy in comparison. Her brown hair was wild and windblown, not even in proper braids, merely tied at the nape of her neck.

Salt spray from the ocean voyage had left a whitish discoloration on her otherwise dark training vest and leather pants—both comfortable and well worn, not something one would wear before their king.

And, oh yes. Yesterday’s shirt.

Most definitely not something one wore before their king.

Why hadn’t she thought of that before now?

Oh, right. She’d bolted from her bed and ran for the dock in a fit of excitement even a six-week-old jackal pup would be hard pressed to match.

Why hadn’t Burrukan allowed her to settle in before she was presented to the king?

Oh, Great Goddess, there was only one reason for the hurry. Burrukan hadn’t yet informed King Ditanu that she was returned from New Asurr, and he wanted to inform the king in person before he could hear about it from other sources.

She tugged at her worn vest, smoothed a hand down her pants and slid a despairing glance at the twins’ attire.

They were both dressed in elegant robes made from some of the finest fabrics the looms of New Sumer produced for the royal court.
Their weapons and the harnesses strapped around their hips were superb quality, and each had a bow made of polished dark wood slung around one shoulder and a quiver full of arrows at their backs. Sensible sandals encased their feet and laced up over their calves. They each saluted her with their spears as if acknowledging her dilemma, but also regarded her with silent amusement.

Oh yes, she truly was home at last—and soon to be the butt of the twins’ jokes.

What would palace life be like without the twins finding brotherly amusement at her expense?

But at this moment, she didn’t have time to dwell on the problem because Burrukan had stopped his headlong flight across the vast floor to scowl over his shoulder at her. His one long-suffering look saying ‘why are you still over there?’

Iltani rushed to catch up. She managed to match pace with him just as he was approaching a smaller alcove, shrouded by potted plants.

A table laden with food and flanked by comfortable benches took up a good portion of the area.

She stumbled to a halt as Burrukan executed an elegant bow. The benches were occupied she realized belatedly. A woman sitting on the other side of the table looked up and offered Burrukan a smile and then graced Iltani with a surprisingly honest grin.

On the near side of the table, mere feet from where Iltani stood, a broad-shouldered man sat with his back to them. Due to the sultry heat of the day, he was bare-chested.

Her eyes roved over his back, taking in the familiar old training scars. Three of which she’d accidentally given him when they were younger. They’d been mock fighting in the forest during a bout of hand-to-hand combat.

It had been an impromptu fight started by Ditanu, and they hadn’t checked the area first. She’d managed to flip him on his back, and he’d landed just off the path, where he’d skidded down a small slope. The rocky terrain had proven far less forgiving than the sands of the practice ring.

Healers had spent half a morning picking bits of gravel, twigs, and other debris from Ditanu’s back while Iltani had gripped his hand and offered apologies. He’d only laughed and said it was his fault for starting the fight.
The scars were familiar, but in contrast, the rest of him had changed. He’d filled out…nicely. She watched with purely female interest as his muscles bunched and flexed under his skin as he turned to glance over his shoulder. As the familiar angles of his face came into profile, Iltani belatedly dipped, half falling into a deep bow even as her cheeks burned with embarrassment at almost being caught staring.

“Burrukan, welcome,” the woman said. “I see you have returned Ditanu’s Little Shadow.”

Iltani was slowly straightening from her bow, seriously thinking of hanging back while Burrukan made introductions when her gaze landed on a pair of sandal-clad feet directly in front of her. Slowly, she followed the ankles on up to powerful calves and then up a bit more to the hem of a richly embroidered robe. Her eyes tracked to the side.

The bench where the king had sat seconds ago was empty. Heart pounding in her chest, she studied the fine quality linen. She followed the stylish cut higher up to where it hugged powerful thighs and a trim waist. She got as far as a thick belt made out of hammered gold links. It reminded her of fish scales the size of her thumbnail.

“Iltani?” Ditanu said, “Great Gods look how you’ve filled out.”

At the sound of his voice, she jerked her gaze up to look in his face.

The youth she’d known was gone. In his place, a stranger with far sterner features looked back at her. The hard line of his clean-shaven jaw, high, well-defined cheekbones and strong brow that hooded his eyes all added to the harder look of a king.

Only the slight softening of firm lips and a bounty of dark lashes ringing his hawk-like gaze softened the king standing before her enough that she could still see hints of the boy she’d grown up with.

She couldn’t get her mind to formulate a thought or her mouth to string together words. Instead, she just stood there and stared at her king like a dolt.

With a second, hoarser ‘Iltani,’ she was swept up in powerful arms and pressed into that hard chest. It was Ditanu’s voice, alternately whispering her name and laughing in almost tearful emotion.

The feel of his warm body, the sound of his heart, the scent of his skin, it was all too much for Iltani’s starved senses. Snaking her arms around his waist, she clung to him in a fierce hug. Then she merely stood, absorbing everything about him in detail, more than happy to stand there for half an eternity if he would allow it.

His arms tightened around her, pulling her closer. Just when she thought he was going to smother her, he loosened his hold and held her out at arm’s length to study her.

“Gods.” Ditanu’s rich voice had steadied a touch. It no longer shook with emotion, but his face was still full of wonder at seeing her again. “My Little Shadow, you can’t imagine how much I’ve missed you.”

His voice. She just wanted to close her eyes and listen to its familiar cadence. It was a touch deeper in tone but still sounded like the Ditanu she remembered.

Requiring a bit more willpower than she wished to admit, she snapped her mouth closed and schooled her expression into what she hoped was polite attentiveness as she fought for something intelligent to say.

When her mind stayed stubbornly blank for ten whole beats of her heart, she dodged the awkwardness by retreating into another deep bow.

Coward, her internal voice scolded, and she couldn’t debate the issue. She’d taken the coward’s way out after Ditanu’s strong showing of affection.

“My king,” she said, hoping a formal turn of phrase would cover her earlier social blunder. “I come before you as your loyal servant. Please take my humble gifts into your house and use them as you may.”

“Humble gifts?” King Ditanu chuckled, then added, “I doubt there is anything humble about your gifts, but even if you had no magic at all, you would still be welcome into my house for the rest of your days.”

A long-fingered hand settled on her shoulder, its weight and warmth the only things that seemed real at that moment.

She fought the urge to rub her cheek against the back of his hand.

Instead, she forced her gaze up to his deep brown eyes with their golden flecks and found all the warmth, humor, and love she remembered reflected back at her. Ditanu slung an arm around Iltani’s shoulders and dragged her toward the table laden with fruits, cheeses, and nuts where Burrukan already sat, deep in conversation with Ahassunu.

King Ditanu guided her over to the bench and then pushed her down when she would have balked. Before she could shift over, he settled next to her. He sat so close their thighs brushed when he reached for various items on the table.

She felt half intoxicated by Ditanu’s scent—that mellow sandalwood fragrance which was purely his own blended with the sweet spiciness all gryphons carried even when they were in human form.

Her heart very much wanted to convince her nothing had changed in the years she’d been away, that she was still the only one in Ditanu’s heart. Alas, no matter what her foolish heart wanted her to believe, her mind knew better.

In all their species’ long history, never once had Iltani read or heard a ballad mentioning a gryphon taking a lover who was not their fated mate. Even Ishtar respected that bond, for the most part. Only once had the Queen of the Heavens interfered.

That time, a gryphon queen had lost her consort before they had sired any young, so to save the royal line, Ishtar had that queen and her male blade perform the Sacred Marriage. That had been nearly three thousand years ago now, and the scroll she’d read hadn’t given much detail.

At first, Iltani had imagined it was only possible because of Tammuz and Ishtar’s passionate love, but then she’d got thinking. There must have already been a very strong and loving bond between that queen and her blade, for she hadn’t descended into the madness of grief at the loss of her consort.

She wouldn’t have felt lust for her blade, but she must have loved him enough to live for him, and Ishtar must have ensured they had a fertile union.

But she’d often wondered about that poor man.

Had he been in love with his queen, desperately looking forward to each year’s Sacred Marriage?

Or had he just seen it as his duty?

For his sake, she hoped it was only a duty and he had not been in love with his queen, for outside of the Sacred Marriage, those two could not have shared an intimate relationship. Iltani wouldn’t wish her own misery on another living being.

“Eat,” Ditanu said, shoving food before her and drawing her out of her glum thoughts. “If I know Burrukan at all—which I do—I’m sure he hasn’t given you time to eat yet.” He pressed a finger to her lips. “Don’t argue. Burrukan trained me. Well do I remember his demanding ways. And he still beats me into the sand every time we meet in the practice ring.”

Ditanu rotated one shoulder as if trying to ease a phantom pain while giving her one of his boyish smiles she remembered so well. The same one which often haunted her dreams.

Iltani felt her own lips curving in response. As she had done in her youth, she leaned closer to whisper in his ear. “Ha! You’re still a terrible liar.”

King Ditanu grabbed at his chest, pretending to be mortally wounded “A liar? Me? You wound your king with your words.”

She would have said more but glanced across the table and found both Burrukan and Consort Ahassunu watching them.

Betraying heat raced over her cheeks, and she glanced down at the food on the table. Spotting a tall glass of some drink, she picked it up and sipped at it. Lemon mixed with something a touch sweeter, but her mind was too preoccupied with Ditanu’s nearness to reason out what that other fruit might be.

Ditanu suddenly reached around behind her to snatch the stoneware cup on her other side. While he was pouring himself a new drink—faster, she noted, than a servant could come forward to do it for him—Iltani’s befuddled mind remembered Ditanu was dominant on his left side. The cup she just took a drink from had been his.

She’d just stolen the king’s drinking vessel.

Great Goddess Ishtar, please don’t let your humble servant embarrass herself further in the coming hours.
King Ditanu topped hers up.

Frozen in horror, Iltani could only gawk at her newly filled cup for a moment more before she managed to stammer out an apology.

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