Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tasty Book Tours ~ The Guild of Assassins by Anna Kashina

Kara, an elite warrior from the Majat Guild, has escaped execution and achieved something that no Majat has ever managed – freedom from the Guild!

But the Black Diamond assassin Mai has been called back to face his punishment for sparing her life. Determined to join his fight or share his punishment, Kara finds herself falling for Mai.

Is their relationship – and the force that makes their union all-powerful – a tool to defeat the overpowering forces of the Kaddim armies, or a ploy sure to cause the downfall of the Majat?

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Prince Kythar Dorn narrowed his eyes watching the lonely rider approach the castle at a slow walk. The man’s dusty travel cloak and his plain gray lizard-beast mount made him inconspicuous enough to pass unnoticed. Yet, something about his muscular shape made Kyth’s skin creep as he watched the man come around the last bend in the road onto the wide stretch leading up to the gate. He glanced at Kara standing by his side and saw her neck tense as she, too, watched the stranger approach.
It must be the weapons, Kyth decided. Two sword hilts sticking out above the shoulders suggested that the man was not only highly skilled with blades, but could use both hands equally well. A crossbow adorned the man’s saddle next to a full quiver, and his cloak, folding away at the belt, revealed an array of throwing knives impressive enough to compare to those carried by the Majat of the Royal Pentade of the king’s personal bodyguards. In fact, only the top gem ranks of the Majat carried such a set of weapons. Could it be–?
Kyth threw another glance at Kara. Her posture was tense and graceful as she watched the man approach the castle gate. Her violet eyes glowed like precious amethysts in the setting of her chocolate-brown skin that seemed even darker in contrast to her pale golden hair. She wore it short, its soft waves resting against her cheeks. On top of her beauty, she looked no less deadly than the approaching rider, her own weapons in full view.
“Do you know him?” Kyth asked quietly.
She shook her head. “I haven’t seen him before, but I’m pretty sure he’s from the Majat Guild.”
Kyth turned to look down into the front castle courtyard, where the activity told him that the rider had been spotted and his arrival expected. The Kingsguard formed a line in front of the gate and the two Diamond Majat stationed at court, Raishan and Mai, stood behind them with impassive looks.
“You must stay out of sight, Kara,” Kyth said. “If he sees you –”
She nodded.
“Let’s get out of here,” Kyth urged.
“Give me your cloak. I want to see what happens.”
Kyth took off his cloak, its black and blue colors of the Royal House Dorn adorned with a crown on the left shoulder, and wrapped it around her. The movement brought them close, so that for a moment he inhaled her barely perceptible scent of wild flowers and sensed her warmth against him. His pulse quickened as he caught her brief smile. Then she flicked the hood over her face and receded into the shadows beside the tall protrusion of the castle wall. Together they watched events unravel in the courtyard below.
The newcomer rode through the gate and dismounted in a quick, fluid move that left no doubt of his Majat training. He stepped toward the greeting party so fast that his shape blurred. Seeing him next to the two Diamonds made Kyth wonder. Could he be –
A Diamond?
Kyth held his breath, watching the three men below exchange quiet words, too distant to hear. They each looked so different. Mai’s slender build, smooth skin and soft blond curls made him appear much too young for his high post as leader of the Royal Pentade – and far too good-looking to be trustworthy. Raishan with his short brown hair and regular face looked unremarkable next to him, his high rank identifiable only by his powerful grace and the ruthless glint in his slanted gray eyes. The new Majat was of a heavier build, his black clothes far less elegant than Mai’s. He had curly hair cut closely to the scalp and black eyes so large that they seemed painted, their whites shining with a pearl glow against his dark skin.
The newcomer exchanged brief words with the two Diamonds, then took out a folded parchment and handed it to Mai. There was a pause as the Pentade leader unrolled and read the letter, then another, brief one when he lowered it and looked at the messenger with unseeing eyes. Then Mai carefully folded the parchment, put it away into a pocket inside his shirt and strode out of the yard.
“He’s in trouble,” Kara whispered. “Because of me.”

Kyth bit his lip. It had been Mai’s decision to spare her life and face the consequences. Besides, Mai was one of the best warriors in the Majat Guild who was perfectly capable of taking care of himself. But he didn’t say any of this to Kara. She had been cast out of her Guild because of her decision to protect Kyth, and he knew that no matter how casual she tried to be about it, it hurt her deeper than he could ever imagine. There was nothing he could do to make it better. 

Meet Anna
Anna Kashina grew up in Russia and moved to the United States in 1994 after receiving her Ph.D. in cell biology from the Russian Academy of Sciences. She works as a biomedical researcher and combines career in science with her passion for writing. Anna's interests in ballroom dancing, world mythologies and folklore feed her high-level interest in martial arts of the Majat warriors. She is a recent medalist in the ForeWord Book of the Year and Independent Publishers Book Award contests.
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