Immortal Fire (The Red Winter Trilogy Book 3) by Annette Marie

  “You realize you’re mine now, don’t you?” he growled. “I am keeping you. Forever.”

  Her heart fluttered, her own loneliness gone without a trace, her uncertainty drowned beneath love, her fear of her future replaced by excitement. Delirious happiness swelled inside her, so intense she thought she might burst. He was here. He was alive. He was with her, and they had forever together. Forever.

  She didn’t belong in the human world, in the kami world, or in the yokai world. But she belonged with Inari, and that was all she needed. Her place was with him, and his was with her.

  His hand slid into her hair and his teeth caught her bottom lip, sharp canines almost breaking her skin as though asserting his claim on her. A tiny squeak escaped her as his irresistible strength held her prisoner.

  His lips drifted across her cheek to her ear. “Scared?” he breathed.

  She closed her eyes blissfully as his mouth slid down to her throat. “Terrified.”

  For a moment, he went still. Then he raised his head and his lips curved in a crooked, mischievous, familiar grin that melted her heart and warmed the deepest corners of her soul.

  “That, little miko, was a lie.”

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  Pronunciation Guide

  Emi – eh-mee

  Yumei – yoo-may

  Yokai – yoh-kigh

  Tengu – ten-goo

  Shiro – shee-roh

  Susano – soo-sah-noh

  Kunitsukami – koo-nee-tsoo-kah-mee

  Miko – mee-koh

  Kitsune – kee-tsoo-nay

  Izanami – ee-zah-nah-mee

  Kami – kah-mee

  Tsuchi – tsoo-chee

  Amatsukami – ah-mah-tsoo-kah-mee

  Sarutahiko – sah-roo-tah-hee-koh

  Tsukiyomi – tsoo-kee-yoh-mee

  Kamigakari – kah-mee-gah-kah-ree

  Amaterasu – ah-mah-teh-rah-soo

  Onenju – oh-nen-joo

  Ki – kee

  Inari – ee-nah-ree

  Kaori – kah-oh-ree

  Daitengu – digh-ten-goo

  Shijin – shee-jeen

  Byakko – byahk-koh

  Kanashibari – kah-nah-shee-bah-ree

  Izanagi – ee-zah-nah-ghee

  Saburo – sah-boo-roh

  Ofuda – oh-foo-dah

  Sohei – soh-hay

  Uzume – oo-zoo-may

  Ishida – ee-shee-dah

  Nuboko – noo-boh-koh

  Shion – shee-ohn

  Kannushi – kahn-noo-shee

  Katsuo – kah-tsoo-oh

  Nanako – nah-nah-koh

  Genbu – gen-boo

  Suzaku – soo-zah-koo

  Zenki – zen-kee


  Ajisai (ah-jee-sigh) – An inn that is run and patronized by yokai. It can only be accessed by entering Tsuchi.

  Akemi (ah-keh-mee) – A bakeneko yokai that Emi encounters at Ajisai Inn.

  Amaterasu (ah-mah-teh-rah-soo) – The Amatsukami of the Wind, sister of Tsukiyomi.

  Amatsukami (ah-mah-tsoo-kah-mee) – The four most powerful kami who rule Takamahara, the heavenly realm. They consist of Izanagi of the Sky, Izanami of the Earth, Amaterasu of the Wind, and Tsukiyomi of the Water.

  Ame-no-Nuboko (ah-may no noo-boh-koh) – An ancient, powerful spear used to navigate the Bridge to Heaven. Its name means “jeweled spear of the heavens.”

  Ayakashi (ah-yah-kah-shee) – A type of yokai visible to humans as small, glowing lights near water.

  Bakeneko (bah-kay-nay-koh) – A type of cat yokai.

  Byakko (byahk-koh) – A powerful tiger yokai with elemental wind magic, bearing the title of Shijin of Wind.

  Daitengu (digh-ten-goo) – A title belonging to powerful crow and raven yokai that are generals under the Tengu’s command.

  Dango (dan-goh) – A type of sweet dumpling made from rice flour, typically served on a skewer. Link: A plate of dango.

  Fujimoto Hideyoshi (foo-jee-moh-toh hee-day-yoh-shee) – The kannushi of the Shirayuri Shrine. Note: In Japanese, the family name precedes the given name.

  Genbu (gen-boo) – A powerful yokai with elemental ice magic, bearing the title of Shijin of Cold.

  Guji (goo-jee) – A title belonging to the highest-ranking shrine priest who leads the kannushi of his shrine and all subsidiary shrines of his kami. Link: A kannushi in his traditional uniform.

  Hakama (hah-kah-mah) – A traditional Japanese garment resembling loose, pleated trousers. Men’s hakama are tied at the hips, while women’s hakama are tied high around the waist. Link: A miko in her uniform of white kimono and red hakama.

  Hana (hah-nah) – A miko in training at the Shion Shrine (deceased).

  Haori (hah-oh-ree) – A traditional Japanese garment similar to a jacket that resembles a hip- or thigh-length kimono worn open in the front.

  Inari (ee-nah-ree) – The Kunitsukami of the Fire.

  Ishida (ee-shee-dah) – The Guji of the Shion Shrine and leader of all Amaterasu shrines.

  Izanagi (ee-zah-nah-ghee) – The Amatsukami of the Sky and ultimate ruler of the kami, brother of Izanami.

  Izanami (ee-zah-nah-mee) – The Amatsukami of the Earth, sister of Izanagi.

  Jorogumo (joh-roh-goo-moh) – A powerful spider yokai, also known as the Devourer of Souls, who commands the tsuchigumo and whose venomous bite can incapacitate any yokai.

  Kami (kah-mee) – Spiritual beings who originate from Takamahara, the heavenly realm, and visit the earthly realm through the use of kamigakari.

  Kamigakari (kah-mee-gah-kah-ree) – Meaning literally “kami possession,” a kamigakari is a human who hosts a kami’s spirit within their body. Depending on the circumstances, a kamigakari can be a volunteer or a victim of forced possession.

  Kanashibari (kah-nah-shee-bah-ree) – A spirit yokai, also known as a dream weaver, with the appearance of a small, ghostly child.

  Kannushi (kan-noo-shee) – A priest who runs and maintains a shrine, leads worship of the shrine’s kami, and manages and/or performs in festivals, ceremonies, and other shrine events. Link: A kannushi in his traditional uniform.

  Kaori (kah-oh-ree) – A bakeneko yokai that Emi encounters at Ajisai Inn.

  Kappa (kap-pah) – An imp-like yokai found in and around rivers and ponds that is known for luring humans into the water and drowning them.

  Karasu (kah-rah-soo) – A type of crow yokai that serves the Tengu.

  Katana (kah-tah-nah) – A traditional Japanese sword with a curved, slender, single-edged blade. Link: A katana.

  Katsuo (kah-tsoo-oh) – A sohei assigned to protect Emi.

  Ki (kee) – Meaning “spiritual energy or life force,” ki is the internal power used by kami and yokai, and, to a lesser extent, humans.

  Kigiku (kee-ghee-koo) – A city located 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Kiroibara and the Shirayuri Shrine.

  Kimono (kee-moh-noh) – A traditional Japanese garment resembling a robe with long, wide sleeves. Kimono are wrapped around the body and tied with an obi. Link: A formal women’s kimono. Link: A miko in her uniform of white kimono and red hakama.

  Kimura Emi (kee-moo-rah eh-mee) – The current kamigakari of Amaterasu. Note: In Japanese, the family name precedes the given name.

  Kiroibara (kee-roh-ee-bah-rah) – A small town located 0.5
miles (1 km) south of the Shirayuri Shrine.

  Kitsune (kee-tsoo-nay) – A type of fox yokai. The older and more powerful a kitsune is, the more tails it will have, up to a maximum of nine.

  Kitsunebi (kee-tsoo-nay-bee) – Orbs of foxfire used by kitsune.

  Kodama (koh-dah-mah) – A type of tree sprite yokai that inhabits most forests and is known for being very timid but powerful in large numbers.

  Kosode (koh-soh-day) – A traditional Japanese garment similar to a kimono but for more casual wear, with shorter sleeves and varying lengths.

  Kunitsukami (koo-nee-tsoo-kah-mee) – The four most powerful yokai who rule Tsuchi, the earthly spirit realm. They consist of Sarutahiko of the Mountain, Uzume of the Wood, Susano of the Storm, and Inari of the Fire.

  Kyubi no kitsune (kyoo-bee no kee-tsoo-nay) – A nine-tailed fox yokai, the most powerful form of the kitsune.

  Makoto no kokoro (mah-koh-toh noh koh-koh-roh) – Meaning “purity of heart,” it is a state of spiritual balance and purity that humans who worship kami strive to achieve.

  Marugata (mah-roo-gah-tah) – An exorcism circle created by drawing specific ritual symbols within a circle; they vary in complexity based on power and purpose.

  Miko (mee-koh) – A shrine maiden who assists the kannushi, performs in festivals, ceremonies, and other events, and carries out administrative duties. Link: A miko in her uniform of white kimono and red hakama.

  Minoru (mee-noh-roo) – A sohei assigned to protect Emi.

  Murakumo (moo-rah-koo-moh) – An abbreviated form of the name Ame-no-Murakumo, it is an ancient, powerful sword belonging to the Kunitsukami Susano. Its name means “the gathering clouds of the heavens.”

  Naginata (nah-ghee-nah-tah) – A traditional Japanese pole weapon consisting of a wooden or metal pole topped by a curved, single-edged blade. Link: A naginata.

  Naigu (nigh-goo) – A raven yokai who serves as a daitengu under the command of the Tengu.

  Nanako (nah-nah-koh) – A miko at the Shirayuri Shrine.

  Noriko (noh-ree-koh) – A bakeneko yokai that Emi encounters at Ajisai Inn.

  Nuboko (noo-boh-koh) – An abbreviated form of the name Ame-no-Nuboko.

  Obi (oh-bee) – A sash worn to tie kimono and kosode closed, varying in width and length depending on the outfit and gender of the wearer. Link: A woman wearing a formal kimono and obi.

  Ofuda (oh-foo-dah) – A talisman made of a rectangular strip of paper inscribed with an invocation.

  Okini (oh-kee-nee) – A term typically meaning “favorite” or “pet” that, when used by yokai, refers to a servant or thrall.

  Omamori (oh-mah-moh-ree) – A talisman of protection similar to an ofuda, worn around the neck in a small, flat silk or brocade bag.

  Onenju (oh-nen-joo) – Prayer beads, also called a prayer rosary. Link: A worshipper holding onenju.

  Oni (oh-nee) – A type of yokai resembling an ogre.

  Orochi (oh-roh-chee) – An eight-headed dragon yokai.

  Saburo (sah-boo-roh) – A female raven yokai who served as a daitengu under the command of the Tengu.

  Sabuten Islands (sah-boo-ten) – A group of small islands off the eastern coast.

  Sake (sah-kay) – Japanese rice wine.

  Sarutahiko (sah-roo-tah-hee-koh) – The Kunitsukami of the Mountain and ultimate ruler of the yokai, husband of Uzume.

  Seiryu (say-ryoo) – A powerful dragon yokai with elemental water magic, bearing the title of Shijin of Rain.

  Sekisho no seishin (say-kee-shoh noh say-sheen) – An incantation for creating a protective barrier, translating literally to “barrier of the spirit.”

  Shijin (shee-jeen) – A title belonging to four powerful yokai, consisting of Byakko, Genbu, Seiryu, and Suzako.

  Shikigami (shee-kee-gah-mee) – A spiritual or elemental entity formed from a kami’s ki through the use of a special ofuda, most often used for combat or defense.

  Shimenawa (shee-may-nah-wah) – A type of woven rope used for purification at a shrine.

  Shintai (sheen-tigh) – A physical object that can act as a temporary conduit for a kami’s power and spirit. Shrines have a shintai for their kami in the inner sanctuary.

  Shion Shrine (shee-ohn) – The largest shrine of Amaterasu and the seat of the Guji, located in the city of Shion.

  Shirayuri Shrine (shee-rah-yoo-ree) – A small Amaterasu shrine that serves the population of Kiroibara.

  Shiro (shee-roh) – A kitsune yokai.

  Shukusei no tama (shoo-koo-say noh tah-mah) – An incantation for purifying ki, translating literally to “purge of the soul.”

  Sohei (soh-hay) – A type of warrior priest trained in martial and spiritual combat who acts as a shrine guardian and yokai exorcist.

  Sotei no shinketsu (so-tay noh sheen-keh-tsoo) – An incantation for immobilizing a foe, translating literally to “binding of the heart’s blood.”

  Susano (soo-sah-noh) – The Kunitsukami of the Storm.

  Suzako (soo-zah-koh) – A powerful yokai, resembling an eagle or phoenix, with elemental fire magic, bearing the title of Shijin of Fire.

  Tabi (tah-bee) – A style of traditional Japanese socks, typically ankle-high with the big toe separated from the other toes, that are worn with thonged footwear and sandals. Link: White tabi with zori sandals.

  Tagiri (tah-ghee-ree) – A female kami, vassal to the Amatsukami Amaterasu.

  Takamahara (tah-kah-mah-hah-rah) – The “high heavenly plain,” a realm inhabited by kami.

  Tamaki (tah-mah-kee) – A miko at the Shion Shrine.

  Taro (tah-roh) – A raven yokai who serves as a daitengu under the command of the Tengu.

  Tatami (tah-tah-mee) – A type of mat, typically made from rice straw, used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese rooms. Link: A room with tatami.

  Tayu (tah-yoo) – A prestigious and expensive courtesan. (Editor’s Note: Tayu is the highest rank of oiran, a type of entertainer and courtesan that predates geisha, who came to replace oiran as Japan’s foremost female entertainers in the late 1800s. Oiran, and especially tayu, were renowned for their beauty, education, and artistry, and an oiran’s fee for a single night could be as high as an entire year’s wages for a commoner.)

  Tengu (ten-goo) – A title belonging to the raven yokai Yumei, who is also known as the Lord of Crows and the Prince of Shadows.

  Torii (toh-ree) – A traditional gate that denotes the entrance to a shrine and the boundary between the mundane world and sacred land. They are typically made from wood or stone and are often painted red. Link: A small torii.

  Tsuchi (tsoo-chee) – The earthly spiritual realm inhabited by yokai, which overlaps and reflects Earth.

  Tsuchigumo (tsoo-chee-goo-moh) – A type of spider yokai that is feared for its venomous bite, which can incapacitate any yokai. Tsuchigumo exist only in Tsuchi, or where the realms of Tsuchi and Earth intermingle.

  Tsukiyomi (tsoo-kee-yoh-mee) – The Amatsukami of the Water, brother of Amaterasu.

  Uzume (oo-zoo-may) – The Kunitsukami of the Wood, wife of Sarutahiko.

  Wakizashi (wah-kee-zah-shee) – A traditional Japanese sword with a curved, slender, single-edged blade shorter than two feet in length. It is typically paired with a longer katana. Link: A katana (top) and a wakizashi (bottom).

  Yamachichi (yah-mah-chee-chee) – A type of monkey yokai that steals the breath of its victims.

  Yokai (yoh-kigh) – Spiritual beings who originate from Tsuchi, the earthly spirit realm, and are closely tied to nature. Yokai are sometimes considered a subset of kami and are often perceived as monsters or demons.

  Yomi (yoh-mee) – The realm of the dead into which human spirits pass after death.

  Yumei (yoo-may) – A raven yokai known as the Tengu, as well as the Lord of Crows and the Prince of Shadows.

  Zenki (zen-kee) – A male raven yokai who serves as a daitengu under the command of the Tengu.

  About the Author

  Annette Marie is the author of the Amazon best-selling YA urban f
antasy series Steel & Stone, which includes the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award nominee Yield the Night. Her first love is fantasy, a limitless realm of creativity where she can break all the boring rules of real life, but fast-paced urban fantasy, bold heroines, and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She proudly admits she has a thing for dragons, and her editor has politely inquired as to whether she intends to include them in every book.

  Annette lives in the frozen winter wasteland of northern Alberta, Canada (okay, it’s not quite that bad). She shares her life with her remarkably patient, comparatively sensible husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.

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