Hers to Command

By: Patricia Knight

Verdantia Series Book 1

Dedication

 

 

To DeAnn.

 

Some time ago, you encouraged a fledgling writer you didn’t know.

 

Thank you.

 
Acknowledgements

 

Writing is the product of rich interior life. Imagination fires the mind and fingers capture those elusive wisps of thought and transfer them to paper. But what feeds the fires of imagination? Well, it helps to start by being bat-sh*t crazy. But, in my case, it is an amazing group of authors and critique partners: my sweet “Em” and Travis, lovely Aliya and Stephanie and Kayla. And finally, to my long-suffering lover of many years who lets me sit at the keyboard typing while his dinner burns on the stove. Gotta love a man like that.

 

Thank you to Skylar Faith at TruenotDreams for the stunning covers and to Troll River Publications for, well, everything. You are beyond awesome.

 

 
Prologue

 

Isolated, far from the interstellar trade lanes, hundreds of light years from any civilized planet, Verdantia marooned them on her surface—then she spoke to them.

 

After decades searching the vast Hyperion Galaxy for a home, after the fierce elation of finding the perfect jewel of a planet, the Nuovo Terrans found themselves stranded on Verdantia. To their consternation, Verdantia interacted with them. The ability to connect with the planet’s sentience during sexual intercourse gifted a genetically select few with the ability to manipulate enormous energy. To the space-weary colonists settling her surface, the shocking discovery had been their salvation. The energies radiating from Verdantia’s vast underground diaman pipes disrupted technology, rendering it so unreliable as to be useless. The superstitious called it magick. The well-educated recognized a unique combination of electro-magnetism and harmonics guided by a primitive sentience. The green Eden of Verdantia was alive.

For centuries, descendants of the original, space-faring colonists studied to harness the enormous forces produced. Through arduous sexual sacraments known as the Greater and Lesser Rites, aristocratic magisters and magistras bearing specific genetic combinations enhanced many facets of every-day life from encouraging the growth of crops to heating homes.

Of foremost importance to the resource-rich, isolated planet, an impenetrable shield protecting the planet from off-world invasion was powered by the residents’ sexual energy. The protective wall flowed from soaring towers housing diamantorre, highly charged, crystalline constructs. These strategic stone towers dotted the planet in a grid, energized by the Great Rite.

Unknown to those in power,  certain irresponsible magisters, careless after five centuries of peace failed to perform the mentally and physically perilous Great Rite. This neglect drained the diamantorre to hazardously low levels and the protective beams in some areas of the planet flickered weakly making the nearby residents vulnerable.

In the High Enclave, the stone walled complex where docenti taught the high-level magicks, elite geneticists, the L’anziano, arranged the marriages between highborn houses, mandating advantageous matings of magickal bloodlines. The centuries of strict breeding by the L’anziano produced the thirty-two noble houses sitting in Verdantia’s House of Lords.

With the revelation of the potent aphrodisiac, cinnagin, the isolated planet's galactic status transformed from quaintly primitive to prized. A mere gram of cinnagin, the extract of a tree unique to the forests of Verdantia, would purchase an inter-stellar yacht on the pleasure planets of Telleria and Vxloncia. Verdantians considered cinnagin, used to violently escalate arousal in the ritual of the Great Rite, a sacred substance, never to be abused so profanely.

In a well-organized use of vicious, overwhelming force, the Haarb and their mercenary forces invaded Verdantia through gaps in the planet’s energy shield. For a rapacious race of scavengers, slavers and drug runners, Verdantia and her priceless cinnagin was an irresistible prize. Brutal torture revealed the secrets powering the diamantorre and the butchery of the aristocratic magisters and magistras began.

Vastly outnumbered, with a token military and insufficient magickal practitioners to protect the planet, the hapless Verdantians fell to the Haarb. The energy wall once protecting the entire planet shrank to that emitted by the sigil tower of Verdantia's besieged capital, Sylvan Mintoth. The Haarb sought to wipe the Verdantians from the face of their planet. With the fall of Sylvan Mintoth, the Verdantian’s annihilation would be complete.

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