Race: Na’Chi (half demon, half human hybrid)
Background: Varian was one of the first Na’Chi children, other than Annika, saved by human slave Hesia. The elderly healer discovered him scrounging for food in a pile of rubbish. After a failed attempt to live among the human slaves and Na’Reish in the Gannec fortress (with eyes that change color with their emotions, discovery led to the death of one of their own), Varian and the other Na’Chi resorted to hiding and living in the forest surrounding the fortress. Living outside they fine tuned their scouting and ambush techniques and managed to remain hidden.
Varian became leader of the Na’Chi at a young age. With Hesia’s guidance and influence, he kept them safe.
When Annika and Kalan escaped the Gannec fortress (in VENGEANCE BORN), Varian followed them and led the Na’Chi into human territory, in the hope of bringing Hesia’s dream to fruition – to establish an alliance with the humans and find a new home.
Skills: All Na’Chi possess Na’Reish strength and heightened senses. As a Na’Chi scout Varian is able to tap into his Na’Reish half in a heartbeat and during battle becomes as strong and fast as a full-blooded Na’Reish. Some call this ability a Gift from the Lady (the deity humans and some Na’Chi believe in).
For Varian, having such a Gift is a double-edged sword – it helps him protect his people but the kicker is the risk he takes every time he goes into battle. Letting his Na’Reish side loose leaves him open to battle-rush, an insatiable hunger to take a life, the thrill of the kill. That addiction could one day overwhelm him and turn him into a mindless beast who is unable to tell friend from foe. And having spent most of his life honing and using his Gift, he’s finding it harder and harder to control that side of him.
- Varian shares a close friendship with Lisella, one of the Na’Chi females who sees past his scar and fearsome reputation.
- During a fight with a Na’Reish demon, Varian ended up with a scar on his right cheek, from eye to jaw line.
- He considers Zaune, one of the younger Na’Chi scouts, one of his friends as the youth reminds him of himself at a younger age.
- He prefers the company of the Na’Chi children as they accept him for who he is.
- He professes no faith in the Lady as he believes she abandoned the Na’Chi to their suffering at the hands of the Na’Reish.
- The beads in his hair signify certain events in his life.
- Varian greatest fear is succumbing to battle rush and being unable to control the beast inside him.
Set-up: With the alliance between the humans and Na’Chi still in its infancy, human rebels unhappy with the situation attack the Na’Chi village and kill some of their people. Rystin, one of the scouts, challenges Varian for leadership, believing that Varian’s weak decisions have endangered their people. Varian knows the Na’Chi won’t survive without the alliance and, as much as he doesn’t want to fight his friend, to save his people he accepts the challenge.
“No weapons.” Varian pulled his blade from its sheath and threw it to the edge of the circle, watching to make sure Rystin complied before stripping his shirt from his body. “Hand to hand only.”
He’d barely flung it aside when Rystin launched himself across the distance separating them. The scout’s arms closed around his waist. Varian went with the momentum, falling backward. His back slammed into the ground. Dirt and debris dug into him as Rystin swung his fist.
Varian blocked the first blow but others made it through. Two to his chest, a couple to his ribs, even one to his jaw. All bruising but his adrenaline-charged system eliminated the pain. For now.
He wound a leg around Rystin’s waist, twisted, and threw the younger man onto his back. More blows were exchanged as he tried to pin him. A fist hit close to Varian’s kidney. A spike of agony lanced through his lower back. He grunted and jerked back. Releasing Rystin, he rolled to his feet.
The scout did the same, mirroring his wide- legged stance, circling with him. “You’re holding back, Varian. I wonder why?” His lips twisted, more of a sneer than a smile. “We’re not in training now.”
No, they weren’t.
Rystin’s eyes turned the color of congealed blood, the only warning given before he charged. Opening his arms wide, Varian barely braced himself in time. Skin met skin in a sharp slap. Fuelled by his full Na’Chi strength, Rystin locked his arms in the small of his back and squeezed.
“You’re going to have to let go if you want to defeat me.” Rystin’s growled taunt was close to his ear, so low and distorted it was barely human. “But if you do, the humans will see what we’re really capable of, won’t they?”
A leg wrapped around his and swept his feet out from under him. With no way to roll or lessen the impact of the fall, Varian took the full force of it. His ribs flared in agony and he fought to breathe.
“Not allowing your Na’Chi half to rise is a weakness!”
Half a dozen bone- cracking punches pummeled his face. The iron scent of blood filled Varian’s nostrils; the metallic taste of it coated his tongue.
“When I kill you, our people will have a leader capable of making the right decisions.”
Another strike caught Varian’s jaw. His vision blurred. Rystin was right. He was going to have to let his Na’Reish half consume him.
Everything inside him railed at the idea, but what other choice did he have? They were too equally matched.
Varian heaved, all his frustration, all his anger, all his fear for what he had to do poured through him as his body arched. Reaching deep, he tapped the dark half of his soul, the part of him he wished didn’t exist, and gave it permission to rise. Like a predator sensing freedom, it surged, and the darkness that came with it erupted into his veins, charging him with more adrenaline, greater strength, and cold intent.
Rystin’s gaze widened as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing a moment before his hold loosened. With a throat- shredding roar, Varian grasped handfuls of Rystin’s shirt and threw his whole weight to one side, forcing the warrior off balance, sending them both into a dizzying roll across the ground in a bid for dominance.
At the edge of his vision, he was aware of people scrambling to get out of their way. Unwilling to hurt a bystander, he fl ung himself clear. Rystin scrambled as quickly to his feet as he did, and they resumed grappling with one another.
A fast block allowed him to catch Rystin’s arms. The hot scent of sweat and faltering resolve filled his nostrils. The predator inside him savored the weakness. Between one blink and the next, redness tinged his vision. After so many years, he knew Rystin’s every move, every skill, every strength and flaw.
His heart pounded in his chest. Hauling Rystin around, he slid an arm around the scout’s neck. Muscles bunching, bulging, he applied pressure to his throat, stopping only when Rystin’s breath wheezed in through his mouth.
“No!” Rystin’s choked cry was furious. Adrenaline spiked with the hoarse sound.
Varian grunted as Rystin’s fingernails raked deep bloody furrows along his arm. Ignoring the stinging pain, he jabbed the back of Rystin’s thigh hard with his and took the warrior to his knees. Rystin grunted, his labored gasps rapid, frantic. He swung an elbow once, twice into his ribs. The force behind the blows was weaker.
The sour odor of fear filled Varian’s lungs, stroked his senses in a sinister caress. He leaned back farther, felt every muscle in Rystin’s body strain and stretch, heard the hitch in his breathing as the extra pressure tormented already overwhelmed nerves.
How easy would it be to break Rystin’s neck now and listen to the satisfying crunch of bone shattering? His blood rushed hard and hot through his veins. The redness in his vision brightened.
Varian blinked, a small part of him realizing just how close the beast within was to taking Rystin’s life. He struggled against the urge, searching his thoughts for a memory, one to remind him Rystin was a friend not prey. He found one, of a time when he’d taught the younger man how to track, but it was like wading through sucking mud to access it.
He wasn’t an animal.
Varian pressed his mouth close to Rystin’s ear. “Withdraw your challenge,” he hissed. “I’ll spare your life.”
Rystin issued a strangled denial, the fiery spiciness of his anger heavy in Varian’s nostrils. Blood pounded harder in his ears, and he viewed everything through a veil of red.
He challenged you! He knew the consequences! Kill him and be done with it!
Varian’s muscles ached as controlled the deadly impulse.
“The Na’Chi need you,” he growled. Sweat dripped from his brow into his eyes. He ignored the sting. “They need us both!”
“End it now. . . . Execute me. . . .” Rystin sucked in a rasping breath. ”Or give up . . . the leadership!”
His fingers pried at Varian’s forearm, continuing his bid for freedom.
Stubborn fool! Couldn’t he see past his fear? The futility of returning to live in Na’Reish territory?
Bitterness rising in his throat, Varian shifted his weight onto his back leg and grasped Rystin’s head. Several warriors’ braids caught among his fingers. The beaded ends bit into the palm of his hand. He’d threaded many of them into Rystin’s hair himself. All tokens of events in his life as a scout.
Protector of their people.
“You’re my brother, Rystin.” The tightness in his throat distorted his voice so much the words were barely more than hoarse syllables. “You always will be.”
He jerked the scout’s head at an angle.
Neck bones snapped.
Even as part of him howled in exultation, each sharp crack stabbed like a knife into his body. Rystin twitched once, and then collapsed in his arms, ominously lax.
The sound of shuddering breaths rasped in Varian’s ears. Harsh, rough, broken.
He closed his eyes, swamped by the sickening high of victory as it rushed through him. The iron tang of blood coated his tongue.
The warm weight of Rystin in his arms made him shudder.
He’d killed his brother.
Grief clawed at his heart and sucked the air from his lungs.
Rystin knew the consequences!
Ignoring the voice coming from the darkest corner of his mind, Varian replayed his every word and action, searching for something he could have done differently.
Rystin had deserved to die at the point of an enemy’s blade, his duty as a protector justified. Honored.
Not like this.
Kylie Griffin’s obsession with all things paranormal/fantasy started at an early age, when she used to imagine the jacaranda tree in her front yard was a spaceship used to defend the world from invading enemies. Writing stories seemed a natural extension to her childhood adventures.
Today, she’s a primary school teacher sharing her love for the written word with young children. In her spare time, she writes and reads all things paranormal.
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When Annika learns Kalan is a prisoner in her father’s dungeon, her dream of escape seems within reach. She agrees to free him in exchange for his protection once they reach human territory. Now, marked for death for helping him, Annika must learn to trust Kalan as they face not only the perilous journey to the border but enemies within the Council-and discover a shocking truth that could throw the human race into civil war…
There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not purebred is virtually powerless. Until a blind priestess lays claim to a half-breed warrior, body and soul…
Hunted and marked for death by Na’Reish demons for their half-blood heritage, the Na’Chi are searching for a new home—something an alliance offered by the human leader could provide. With both races divided by prejudice, when Light Blade rebels brutally attack the Na’Chi, the alliance seems doomed to fail.
Varian, leader of the Na’Chi, a hybrid race of gifted warriors, is cursed with the darker impulses of his demon heritage. Controlling the part of himself that craves the high of the battle is a struggle he’s afraid he’ll lose—until he meets Kymora Tayn, a priestess driven to serve her deity. While he’s unwilling to trust anyone outside his people, he finds himself drawn to Kymora’s strength and passionate nature, and discovers she has the power to calm the darkness inside him.
When the Na’Reish raid human territory for blood-slaves and kickstart a war, the key to the survival of both races—Na’Chi and human— is an alliance. However, when Kymora is kidnapped, pitting human against human, Varian realizes he must embrace his darker half, not only to save the alliance…but also the woman he loves.
There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not purebred is virtually powerless. Until a demon leader seeks to unify the races…
With the alliance of the humans and the half-blood Na’Chi forged, the demon Na’Reish prepare for war by seizing human blood-slaves. Captured during a rescue mission-gone-wrong, Light Blade warrior Arek Barial finds himself claimed by a Na’Reishi female who offers him an unexpected choice.
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But Arek isn’t about to blindly follow a demon—despite the intense attraction growing between them. And while hatred for the Na’Reish is all he has ever known, Arek must learn to trust Imhara, or risk the destruction of all three races…