An Orc crime Lord. A healer caught in a territory war. A soulbond that forces her from hiding.
In hiding from a powerful Fae Lord, when an Orc warrior crashes through my front gate, my disguise is blown to hells and the loathed Fae soulbond triggers. I want him, will submit to him, whether I like it or not.
But despite being one of Seanna City’s Three crime bosses, Lord Cythro has honor. He swears to protect me—if I obey.
He’s controlling, possessive, and determined to keep me safe even if it means keeping me captive.
But my enemy circles, and secrets from my past rise up and threaten the peaceful life I’ve built.
It’s time to step out of the shadows.
Even if that means exchanging freedom for an Orc Lord’s chains.
ORC LORD is a low angst, post-apocalyptic monster fantasy romance with medium-high steam, a kinda cinnamon roll hero, and found family for readers who enjoy instalove fated mates romance with a touch of adventure.
Book 3 in the Immortal Sorting series. It can be read as a standalone, but includes characters from previous books.
Rain lashes my skin as I step into the courtyard of my home, a blade clutched in my hand—for all the good it will do. The ward protecting my home, family, and business from the more unsavory elements of this Seanna City neighborhood flickers in time to the gaslamps posted outside the boundaries of my family’s property.
“North,” Leislah says sharply, my younger sister’s voice coming from where she perches on the roof of our three story brownstone. “At least a dozen.”
There’s always some activity this time of night—the occasional footsteps or clop of horse hooves or the creaking of a carriage—but now I hear other things in the night.
Shouts and groans coming closer, the bright clash of metal on metal.
“Go back inside,” I tell the female who exits the house behind me.
My mother ignores me as she comes to my side, her hand on her heavily swollen belly. On the roof, Leislah hisses at someone, Sydnee probably. She wants to fight, which shocks no one, but she’s still a child.
I glance at Eslana, my mouth thin and my brows pinched. “There’s nothing you can do here.”
In Fae terms, she isn’t much older than me—a paltry century; we’re practically sisters. She began breeding young, and I’m the second eldest of my mother’s wealth of daughters.
“You’re no warrior either,” she says, “and no high level mage. If the ward breaks, what can you do?”
None of us are warriors or mages, despite the knife in my hand and the magic pooling in my center. I have enough tutelage and skill to protect myself and my sisters from common rogues and footpads, but like my mother and many Aeddannari females descended from the dreadnought survivors, I’m a healer. All of my power, all of my talent and energy tied up in that one thing.
That weakness stings as we wait behind the physical barrier of our stone wall and the magical barrier of our ward, listening to the fight come closer.
I whirl, grabbing my mother’s upper arm, all but shoving her towards the front door. “They’re right outside our gates. Secure the girls.” I wish Honoria was here. We’re so close in age we might as well be twins, but she made her choice and we all abide by it.
Eslana follows my instruction this time. I have that last minute of warning before my ward breaks.
I double over, gasping at the backlash, the punch of deliberate power bursting through the magical protections and tearing them down as if they are no stronger than a set of kitchen curtains.
My personal glamour dissolves around me, the magic that powers it eaten in the backlash of my ward breaking. My sisters’ glamours will have broken as well; now we’re all vulnerable.
The gates burst open and I have a chaotic few seconds to assess the situation. Orcs and Fae fill my courtyard and I retreat to my front door, barring it with my back, my blade ready though my jaw is clenched to keep my teeth from clattering. The backlash is painful, a tremble running through my limbs.
No one’s noticed me yet.
They fight, the Aeddannari and the Uthilsen. I don’t think this is an attack on my family; the fighters aren’t interested in me at all. On either side they’re too well-armed, too well-dressed, and too well-fed to be common thugs. Besides, in this territory ruled by Lord Cythro OakHorde, there are no armed Orcs who don’t serve him.
Who are the Fae? Coho or Pike Street? Either is a disaster if they notice me now; I’m frantically attempting to raise my glamour but it’s like trying to light a soaked match in the middle of a rainstorm.
Gripping my weapon, my gaze flits between combatants when a massive Orc warrior steps through the narrow hole where my gate once stood.
Hells. He has to be over six and a half feet, towering over the other Orcs, and none of them are small.
He moves with surprising grace despite his formidable size. I freeze, my heat pounding in my mouth in instinctive dread. Aeddannari Fae males are tall, lithe, and strong, but Uthilsen Orcs are battering rams, brutal in battle.
Those broad muscled shoulders work under his white dress shirt—odd attire for an Orc—and the hand wrapped around the handle of his ax is big enough he could crush a child’s skull with effort. Probably even mine.
I can’t let this male get his hands on me.
He snarls something, his voice a guttural roar, but I hear no real anger; I hear steel, command. When he swings an ax to engage a Fae who leaps towards him, I see death.
One of the girls shrieks, then the upstairs window slams shut. It draws attention; a Fae male breaks off from the fight and dashes towards me.
“Yedyah!” He uses the overly polite term for an unknown female Fae.
I brace for a fight.
“Yedyah,” he says again, his gaze sharp as he reaches towards me, “why are you here? Come, I’ll take you from this place.”
Take me from my home. Take me to his Lord, whoever his Lord is, who will find out I, my mother and sisters live under glamour as Human women, no male overseeing us.
I lift my blade in response before he can touch me. There’s no de-escalating the situation; he’s a Fae warrior, I’m a Fae female and in his mind any instruction he gives me I must obey.
“Yedyah?” His voice rises on a sharp, taken aback note.
“I won’t go with you. Leave my home.”
No Aeddannari female on this planet would dream of disobeying a direct instruction from an Aeddannari male. My mother says it wasn’t like that on our home planets or on the dreadnought, but hundreds of years of war plus the need to grow our numbers and maintain the power in our blood means the males turned on us, subjugated us, and control our wombs. The one or two times we tried to fight back, we failed.
Shock that I lifted a weapon against him crosses his face, and a moment later his expression flattens.
“If you choose to be an enemy, I will treat you like one.”
If I’m not obedient, he means, then I’m an enemy. But he’s a warrior and I’m not, and he’s going to win. The only question is if he intends to simply restrain me, or if he’s going to kill me for stepping out of my place.
He attacks, disarming me. Crying out, I stumble back as bright pain blooms in my mouth. His hand is around my arm.
“No!” I shout, struggling as he drags me. But I’m weaker, lesser trained, and I only have desperation on my side.
Across the courtyard, the Orc snaps his head in my direction. It’s not more than a second, but our gazes meet. His is cold, focused, but not cruel—not until his gaze flickers to my captor. He stills, blood dripping from his ax.
“Help me,” I say, more plea than command, trying to dig my heels into the rough stone of the courtyard as I’m dragged across. “Please.”
The warrior holding my arm shakes me and I stumble, tripping. The Orc walks towards us, and I understand for a moment why my people fear his on the battlefield; a predator stares at me. My stomach sinks; if I looked Human I could count on his protection. I’m Fae though, a natural enemy.
The door opens behind me and my mother shouts just as the whiz of an ax flies towards the Fae warrior, who throws me to the ground with a snarl and defends himself.
I roll to the side as light flares against the Fae warrior’s back. It has to be a charm because Mother can’t use healing magic while pregnant, much less defensive spells.
Flipping to my feet a second later, I grab the blade I dropped and shove her into the house, slamming the door closed.
The Orc male gives me a single, assessing look but doesn’t approach. “Guard the door. Don’t drop your weapon again.” He speaks with an upper caste City accent, but I don’t make the mistake of thinking he’s young.
He turns back to the main fight and he and his warriors make mincemeat of the remaining Aeddannari. In close quarters Orcs will always have the advantage. But some of the Fae flee.
Damn it. “They’re getting away!” I shout.
No doubt my people noticed both me and the death of my would be captor. They’ll report it to their Lord, and my home will be visited soon.
I need the Uthilsen to kill my people.
My. . .rescuer. . .turns and stalks towards me. “Where is the healer?”
He blocks my sight of the courtyard as he crowds me against my front door, not touching me but still close enough that it’s a deliberate threat.
There’s no where to go since I refuse to open the front door, and I crane my neck back to meet his gaze.
He’s tall, broad shouldered and heavily muscled like all Orc warriors but instead of the leather pants and boots, a cross sheath of weapons the only adornment on a scarred chest, this male is in. . .
Trousers, to match the tailored white shirt. The cut and fabric are both quality, and if his clothing isn’t odd enough, his hair is another clue.
It’s short, for an Orc. Unbeaded and unbraided, brushing above his shoulder blades, framing a face with a strong jaw and elegant cheekbones. His nose has been broken at least twice, and the hint of a beard adds roughness.
“Yedyah,” he says, voice a deep, sharp rumble, “where is the healer?” He’s scanning the courtyard for a Human woman.
Fear partially seals my lips. He threw the ax to save me. . .maybe. Or maybe my shout drew attention to the foe.
He must see it on my face. He closes his eyes a second and when he open them again, the predator is gone.
“I won’t hurt you,” he says, voice gentler, taking a step back. “My warrior is bleeding out and won’t make it to my house.”
I lower the blade clutched in my hand, realizing he made no move to take it from me. I’m no fool, and I know who this male must be.
“Lord OakHorde. I’m the healer.”
His gaze sharpens as he scans my face. “The healer is a Human female.”
“I am the healer.” I repeat it slowly, because he must know that I can’t lie to him. “This is my home, and has been for the last thirty years. I will treat your kin. Our tithe is current,” I add, mostly to remind him that my family pays well for the privilege of operating our business in his territory.
His eyes narrow, gaze traveling down to pause on the blade. “You are the healer.”
My temper sparks, though I keep my voice even. We’re straying close to sounding ridiculous. “That’s what I said.”
Fae cannot lie. We’re cursed, or at least I consider it a curse. Along with my entire bloodline, the pointed ears and moon touched skin that mark me as what I am.
Enslaved. Chains I can’t break because they’re built into my DNA. It’s not the worst thing about being a Fae female.
The front door opens again and my stubborn mother is at my back, her hand on my shoulder. I strangle the words I want to say. His gaze grazes her before returning to me; I haven’t looked away. I can’t.
“Lord OakHorde,” she says, her lilting voice as sweet as honey, with just enough authority to ping the instincts of males from a matriarchal culture used to obeying females. “Please bring your injured. We will tend to life threatening injuries first. Refreshments?”
OakHorde turns away and gives orders to his warriors, hoisting one of the injured before he follows behind me when I lead them around the side of the house to the entrance of our apothecary which hosts a small infirmary. My ears prick at the sound of several pairs of footsteps, some with a cadence indicating injuries. They don’t complain, these Orcs.
We escort them into the infirmary. He walks at my back, almost on my heels and I can’t resist glancing over my shoulder at him. Our gazes meet for a second, tangling, then we’re inside and I gesture to OakHorde to lay his male on the scrubbed down work table.
He complies, glancing around. Shelves of herbs, supplies, tinctures and what not line the walls, the scents mingling into a ubiquitous herbal aroma. There is a locked cabinet his gaze lingers on, but it only contains our poisons. The place is neat and clean, a cot tucked in the corner for naps or patients who need to rest before returning home.
“Lay him down. Wash your hands.”
“You need a bigger table,” OakHorde says, a note of humor in his calm voice.
I busy myself with cutting away the male’s pants. “We don’t get many Uthilsen. Some.”
We’re not a true infirmary but we treat emergency injuries and other ailments for those in the neighborhood who can’t afford a real doctor.
I glance at OakHorde, who watches my mother retrieve supplies, her professional eye skimming the four who trickle into the workroom. She begins a triage as I treat the male beneath me; his injuries are life threatening. OakHorde shifts next to me and I freeze briefly from instinct.
“I said I won’t hurt you,” he says, voice still a quiet rumble. I wonder if he’s learned to speak so gently because of his size. “As you say, this apothecary has been in my territory for at least three decades. I’d like to know how you’ve remained undetected by your people.”
“I’m a healer, not a killer. I won’t hurt your male. There’s no need to threaten me.”
I speak through teeth gritted with effort; my magic is barely beginning to recover from the backlash. I can use it, but it’s like punching a fresh bruise over and over while bleeding out.
“Which you didn’t know until five minutes ago. Now be quiet.” I can’t work with him expecting me to respond to his questions. I can barely work with him at my back, towering over me.
He nods and steps back—a little—giving me more room. As I work, I listen. My mother, after triaging and doing what she can with the use of hands and skill, arranges for tea and snacks. Her sweet, soothing voice fills the room and I let her work, knowing full well what she’s doing. Uthilsen males are subservient to their females, but they’re also protective. There’s significant species dislike between Orcs and Fae, but the two of us are healers and female, and we’ve lived peaceably in his territory, paid his tithe. We may be able to salvage the situation.
I may be able to talk OakHorde into letting us stay and into keeping our identity a secret, if by some miracle the Aeddannari who fled don’t reveal us.