Lyrael’s Sacrifice

The rights to this story have reverted! I’ll be republishing it at some point in the future, possibly with a new story set in this fantasy world. It was originally included in Ellora’s Cave, Seasons of Seduction I anthology.

Lyrael’s blonde hair and blue eyes mark her as Azzura, one those raised to be given to the Djinn. When she dreams of a panther that shifts into a bird before changing into a serpent, she knows she will be the next Azzura sacrificed.

Whether she lives or dies will depend on her courage, her determination. And her trust in Asrafil, the Djinn prince who introduces her to carnal pleasure and will name her the wife of his heart, his flesh, his spirit—if she passes the tests necessary to enter the city of the Djinn.

Read an Excerpt

Even in times of famine and drought, when the rains didn’t come and the tribe members died along the long-horned cattle and the goats and the camels, when the desert swept in and reclaimed the land at the base of the forbidden mountains—even in those times, the girl children of the Azzura clan were offered food and water first.

They were protected and guarded, watched over as they grew to womanhood. Their skin was kept smooth and free of hair except for eyebrows and eyelashes above sky-blue eyes, except for the golden tresses which flowed like silken sunshine to below their knees and even to their ankles.

The last few years had been good and the tribe had prospered. Now the time had come to take the jewelry and hides and livestock to the far mountains and to the sea beyond. But in order to gain the wealth offered by those distant cities and ports, to use the riches to attract husbands and wives so new blood would be added, the tribe had to trek across the desert. They would need to avoid the Djinn, the spirits who hated all mankind, who killed with shifting sand and violent sandstorms. Who could sometimes be distracted, appeased by a gift—by the sacrifice of one of the Azzura.

The tent village was broken down in preparation for the trip. The camels loaded, save for a single camel and a single structure where seven women waited.

The tribal elders gathered around a fire under a sky containing both the setting sun and rising moon. Their deeply tanned faces were wrinkled, somber, their fingers gnarled by age and hard work.

They passed a cup made from an ancient skull, drank the bitter, dark brew it contained and felt the liquid burn through them. When the cup was empty, they danced as the younger men pounded on drums made of animal hides stretched across frames of bone. They danced until they were lightheaded, until they felt the god’s presence. Only then did the drums cease and the eldest of them pick up the carved pieces of wood and cast them into the fire. His voice lifted in praise to the god for interceding when six of the tokens disappeared in hungry flame while the seventh lay smoldering on a bed of ash. It was a clear sign telling them which of the Azzura was to be offered to the Djinn so the rest of the tribe might travel through the desert safely.

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Read the Reviews

“Now, this story is the one that gave this reviewer shivers. Beautifully told, Jory Strong puts a lot of emotion into her characters. Lyrael’s fear and courage show through in this author’s excellent writing. Asrafil’s determination, hope and love reach out to the reader. The sex scenes are very sensual as Asrafil leads Lyrael down an erotic path. This story was the best!”

— Valerie, Love Romances!

“Jory Strong draws readers into this story with an intense plot that entices you to learn more about why the Azzura fear the Djinn and what exactly being ‘sacrificed’ entails. Lyrael and Asrafil are fascinating characters who are very different yet turn out to be perfect for each other.”

— Christine Dionne, Romance Junkies

“This had a strong storyline and great characters that will pull the reader into the Djinn world. Lyrael is a brave and intelligent heroine. Asrafil is her perfect match. They are terrific together with moments of extreme tenderness as well as some very highly sexual scenes.”

— Susan, Love Romances!

“Jory Strong closes the anthology with a bang. An intriguing tale that speaks of trust, honor, and courage, LYRAEL’S SACRIFICE is one more reason that Ms. Strong is on my autobuy list. Both Lyrael and Asrafil are extremely well crafted characters that are outlined in very few pages.”

— Serena, Fallen Angel Reviews

“LYRAEL’S SACRIFICE is a nicely written story with fully developed characters and a strong storyline that will pull the reader into their world.”

— Susan Tam, The Road to Romance

“Jory Strong takes readers on an adventure into the unknown with Lyrael and Asrafil. Strength and pleasure will be the ultimate goals if Lyrael can complete the three tasks. This tale sizzles with a fiery and passionate romance.”

— Sarah, A Romance Review

“LYRAEL’S SACRIFICE is an intense and emotional story. Both Lyrael and Asrafil are strong characters, and mix well together. It was a joy to watch them meet, explore each other and fall in love.”

— Amelia, Joyfully Reviewed

“This is one of the best compilations of wildly romantic stories that I have ever read. No two stories are the same, as they span the genres from historical to contemporary, from futuristic to paranormal.”

— Mahaira Fatima, Just Erotic Romance Reviews

“LYRAEL’S SACRIFICE is another fascinating tale from the talented Jory Strong. Full of fantasy, I was enthralled by the story from the very beginning. This is a very sensual tale with characters who just go together so well.”

— Tara Renee, Two Lips Reviews

“Full of magic and mysticism, this short story is both intriguing and entertaining.”

— Lori Ann, RRT Erotic

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