Wales, 1673

The air whispered with psychic electricity. It was a sensation that could only be felt by a particular nonhuman sect or by humans with highly developed senses.

Ravyn Kontis was most definitely not human. He'd been born into the world of nocturnal predators who commanded the hidden magicks of the earth-who ruled its darker arts-and he had died as one of their toughest warriors...

By the hand of his own brother.

Now Ravyn walked the earth as something else. Something soulless. Something ferocious and even deadlier than what he'd been before. There was no heart left inside him. No pity or compassion. Nothing but a pain so deep, so profound, that it lacerated what little humanity he had until there was nothing left but a beast so feral that he knew it would never be tamed again.

Leaning his head back, he roared the cry of the angry beast that snarled inside him. The stench of death encircled him just as the blood of his enemies coated every inch of his human flesh. It dripped from his hair and his fingertips in slick rivulets that dappled the battle-trampled earth at his feet.

Still it wasn't enough to appease the rage that lived inside him.

Vengeance was a dish best served cold...

He'd foolishly expected it to ease some of the crippling grief that haunted him. It hadn't. It only left him even colder than the betrayal that had caused his death.

Ravyn winced as he saw Isabeau's beautiful face in his mind. Even though she'd been fully human, they had been chosen as mates. Thinking that she loved him, he'd trusted her with the secret of his world.

And how had she repaid him? She'd told the humans of his small clan of brethren and they had attacked the women and children while he and the men had been out on patrol.

No one had been left alive.

No one.

The males of his clan had returned to find the smoldering remains of their village... the scattered bodies of their children and women.

They had turned on him then, not that he blamed them. It was the only time in his life he hadn't fought back. At least not until his last breath had come.

As it had rattled in his chest, his fetid rage had taken root and grown into a monster, feeding the darkest part of his nonhuman being. His human soul had screamed out for vengeance against those who had destroyed his people. The anguished cry of both man and beast had echoed in the sacred temple of Artemis far away on Mount Olympus-so loud and demanding, it had summoned the goddess herself to him. And there in the faint light of the waning moon, he'd taken her bargain and sold his soul to her for the one chance to return the favor to Isabeau and her people.

They were dead now, by his hand... all of them. Just as he was. Just as his family had been.

It was over...

Ravyn laughed bitterly at that thought as he clenched his bloodied fists. No, it wasn't over. It was only beginning.