Chapter 1: Winds of Change

Copyright ©2011 by Dawn Tevy

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

EAN ISBN-13: 978-0-615-60200-4
EAN ISBN-10: 0615602002

WARNING

Magic is real! Though it lies dormant in most humans, it is at your core. In order to read this book, you must awaken your magic. Be warned, once awakened you will never see the world the same. If you are prepared to discover what your soul seeks read the following spell.

Spell of Awakening:

Seeing through the veil is what I desire,

to see the unseen will elevate me higher.

In search of what lies between reality and dreams,

I am no longer vulnerable to darkness and schemes.

With an open heart and a mind that is clear,

fall away illusions you’re not welcome here.

Remove the haziness brought forth over time;

I demand you return the magic that’s mine.

Legend and lore, truth or lies,

transport me back and open my eyes.

Congratulations, your awakening is underway. Angels & Warriors may now provide you passage; taking you back to a time and land, long since forgotten, yet where it all began.


 

Chapter 1

Winds of Change

“Things do not change; we change.”

~Henry David Thoreau

 

The sun shone brightly in Pathrow, white clouds dotting the pale blue afternoon sky. Vinard escorted Lady Tynae and Enessa into town on their daily outing. Enessa, an older yet spry woman, was Tynae’s Lady-in-waiting. Vinard, a dedicated and accomplished soldier, was Lady Tynae’s personal guard. Tynae traveled nowhere without her two companions, whom she had personally chosen.

Vinard loved his job and took his charge seriously, despite the occasional goading he received from fellow soldiers.

“You’re just a glorified babysitter, not a soldier!” they’d taunt.

“And you’re envious,” was all he’d say. Vinard never felt the need to explain or defend his position to anyone. It was a well-known fact that every soldier in Montronvarr, young and old, had at some point put in for Vinard’s post.

Vinard was honored to have been granted such an esteemed post and privileged to have the assignment all to himself. Had King Yurgon insisted on having things his way, Tynae would have been accompanied by twenty soldiers at all times. Vinard understood that Tynae was more than just the king’s only child or future Queen of Montronvarr. She was their nation’s future.

A stunning woman, Lady Tynae was considered the ultimate prize, sought by every royal suitor near and far. In the prime of her life, Tynae was a gorgeous and petite brunette. Her cat-like gray eyes always seemed to sparkle, her full crimson lips were usually turned up in an enchanting smile, and her long dark hair was typically pulled back in an elaborate display.

Vinard recalled the day he had become Tynae’s personal guard. It had been some years prior when Vinard was still Sir Gwillim’s protégé.

Gwillim was the commander-in-chief of Montronvarr’s army, and as such, answered only to the King. Because of this, Vinard spent a great deal of time in the presence of King Yurgon.  Though mature in years, the King was as fit as any of his finest soldiers. Vinard found debates between the intimidating King and his dainty daughter somewhat amusing.

“Why do I need to travel with any guards at all, Father?” Tynae started one such deliberation.

“Tynae, we’ve been through this a million and one times. I will not permit you to travel outside the gates of Darvah without a personal escort.” Yurgon’s voice elevated slightly. “Just look at what happened last week when you snuck out.” The King jutted a finger towards Tynae’s wrist.

Tynae huffed, “I told you, Father, I fell. Guards or not, I still would have fallen. It was an accident! They do happen. Besides, I am seventeen years old.”

“Nevertheless…”

“Father, please. You know as well as I that there is no-one in all of Montronvarr that would ever harm me, much less right here in our capital. The people of Pathrow would protect me—never hurt me.” At that point, she turned to the guard and said, “Tell my father, Vinard.”

Tynae’s prompting stunned Vinard. Did she really just bring me into a debate between her and the king?

“Vinard, I respect your opinion,” the King said. “What say you on this matter?”

Collecting himself, Vinard took a deep breath, inclining his head. “I agree with Lady Tynae, Majesty. I cannot imagine anyone ever wanting to harm her. That being said, I do not feel that she should travel alone.”

Vinard ignored the black look Tynae shot him and continued. “As much faith as I have in our people, Sire, many travelers come to our lands from foreign nations and I can say not what their intentions are. I, however,” Vinard glanced briefly at Tynae, “cannot believe that anyone would be imprudent or irrational enough to come to our country, conspiring to deliberately harm or abduct the princess.”

Tynae grinned faintly.

“If someone were foolish enough to attempt such an act, it would be their last.” Vinard’s statement left no room for the king to question his conviction.

Giving a subtle nod, the king then turned to Gwillim, “Your Lordship, what say you?”

The duke nodded, “I concur with Vinard, Majesty. No-one would dare touch a hair on Her Highness’ lovely head knowing they would inevitably have to face your wrath. Still, I too do not think it wise for Lady Tynae to roam about unaccompanied.”

Tynae’s expression hardened.

With a firm nod King Yurgon walked over to his chair. Taking his seat, the king stroked his beard lightly, silently deliberating.

“You may personally choose two companions,” he said at last, “one male and one female. They will be with you at all times when you are outside the gates of Darvah.”

Tynae bit her lip. “Yes, Father, thank you.” Grinning, Tynae bounced on her toes, “I choose Vinard.”

Me? This caught Vinard completely by surprise. Vinard looked from Sir Gwillim, to the king then locked eyes with Tynae who was positively beaming. Shaking his head slightly, Vinard couldn’t help but grin.

“Wise choice, Daughter, though I do not know that Gwillim will let Vinard go quite so easily. His training has scarcely begun.”

The king turned to Gwillim who considered the request for several long moments. Finally, the commander said, “he may serve as Lady Tynae’s personal guard, but he will continue his training with me as well.”

Taking a deep breath the king studied his daughter carefully. “I appreciate the bond of friendship you and Vinard share, Tynae. After all, the two of you were practically raised together. But I want it understood, while Vinard is on duty, he is your guard first, and your friend second. Can you do this?”

Tynae did not hesitate, “Of course, Father.”

The king looked to Vinard, who nodded.

“It is done then.”

“Thank you!” Tynae enthusiastically rushed to Vinard’s side.

Walking over to the pair, the king looked from one to the other, his gaze settling upon Vinard. “Remember my words, with her at all times when she is beyond the castle.”

“Yes, Majesty. Rest assured, I shall never leave her side once we step outside the gates of Darvah…”

That was seventeen years ago. Where has the time gone? Vinard glanced at Tynae walking beside him. So much is different, yet so little has changed. I would not trade a single one of these outings for anything.

Entering the outskirts of town, the trio was greeted by vibrantly colored buildings lining either side of the dirt street they walked along. Glancing around, Tynae smiled.

Here we go, Vinard thought with a snicker.

“What?” Tynae asked.

Vinard stifled another chuckle. “Nothing,” he answered innocently.

Tynae blushed. “What? I didn’t say it.”

“Perhaps, but you were thinking it.” Vinard never missed an opportunity to have a little fun with Tynae.

“So I’m easily amused, arrest me. Besides…”

“They look like children painted them. We know,” Enessa and Vinard said in unison.

Tynae laughed. “Well, they do.”

“Yes, My Lady,” Vinard acknowledged with a bow. “If you’ve said it once, you’ve said it a hundred times.” Putting his hand on his hip, Vinard raised his voice a few octaves pretending to be Tynae. “‘Every time I walk down these streets, I can’t help but imagine children with brightly colored paints, painting the buildings the way only children could. Laughing, splashing bright colors about, and having nothing but fun.’”

Tynae laughed at his impersonation. “Well done, but admit it; there is no other town in all of Montronvarr as vibrant as Pathrow. They’re all extraordinarily bland compared to here.”

“Pathrow is an incredibly beautiful place,” Enessa agreed.

“There!” Tynae said triumphantly. Grinning, she shot Vinard a sideways glance. He was smiling from ear to ear. “What now?”

Vinard shook his head, “Nothing. You’re simply delightful. You are no longer a child by any means, yet you still see things with such innocence. You find beauty in things most others overlook.” He took a step closer as they walked. “But as innocent as you may appear, I know better,” he winked. “I’d never cross you.”

Enessa grinned. “Who would possibly be that foolish?”

Tynae rolled her eyes, “Come on, you two make it seem as if I could level an entire nation with a single look.”

Vinard’s brow rose, “Couldn’t you?”

Tynae shook her head seriously. “No, I could not.”

Smiling, Vinard let it go. He watched Tynae for two heartbeats as they walked on. Does she really think I haven’t noticed? I know to everyone else she appears to be perfectly content, but I can see so much more behind those beautiful eyes of hers. Vinard sighed. For months now, there’s been a sadness I’ve never seen before.

It was only a matter of moments before the citizens of Pathrow realized Tynae was in town.

Rari, the blacksmith, looked up from the red-hot horse shoe he was pounding. “Good afternoon, My Lady,” he shouted over the reverberating clangs of his hammer.

Tynae waved, “Good day, Rari.”

Making his way to the rubbish pile, Maz the butcher caught sight of Tynae. “Lovely to see you, Princess,” he bellowed in a baritone voice.

Tynae inclined her head. “Poor fella,” she said as they passed, “he still can’t hear a thing.”

Vinard let out a hardy laugh. “Poor fella? Lucky fella is more like it. Lucky he’s still in one piece. Did you see the damage his latest experiment did? Blew a hole the size of an ox clean through his barn.”

Tynae laughed. “You’re right; it is rather amazing he still has all his limbs intact.”

Meena, Dr. Balint’s wife and town herbalist, stood on the porch of her pale pink shop. She was chatting with Tergar, the local shop keeper, who waved to Tynae. Spotting the princess, Meena waved too. “Join us for dinner this afternoon, Lady Tynae?”

Smiling, Tynae waved back. “Not today, Meena, thank you. Will you be joining us at the masque this eve?”

“Wouldn’t miss it, My Lady,” Meena said brightly before returning her attention to Tergar.

Children playfully chased each other through the streets, their laughter floating through the town. Seeing Tynae, a group of them ran excitedly over to her. Knowing what was coming, Vinard and Enessa stepped aside.

“My Lady, My Lady, Hi!”

“Your Highness, good day to you.”

“Greetings, Princess.”

“Hello, Majesty.”

Tynae beamed, hugging each of the children.

“How do you do, Princess Tynae.”

“Lady Tynae, hello.”

Watching Tynae with the children, Enessa smiled brightly. “She’s going to make a fine mother someday.”

Vinard grinned. “That she will, Enessa.”

Enessa studied Vinard as he watched Tynae. “Have you ever thought of courting her?”

Every single day… Shaking his head, Vinard’s grin evaporated. “Me? No.” The answer came so naturally, it almost sounded believable.

Enessa grinned, giving Vinard an inquisitive look. “Well I just hope she settles down soon. Prince Kaleal seems to be a promising suitor.”

Sure, if you like tall, dark, and pompous.

“Do you not agree?” Enessa asked.

NO I DO NOT AGREE! I think he is a horse’s arse! Vinard shrugged, “Never really given it much thought. I suppose he’s all right.”Watching Tynae, Vinard’s smile returned. He gestured with a nod for Enessa to look.

Standing behind the other children a little girl called, “Princess.”

“Aww,” Enessa cooed, “Tynae can’t hear her over the others.”

Squeezing her way between everyone the tiny girl got close to Tynae and tried again, “Princess.”

Tynae still didn’t hear, but must have felt the sharp tug on the front of her dress. Looking down, the princess saw a young girl beaming up at her. The child was no more than five or six years old. She had a sweet, cherub-like smile, bright blue eyes, round pink cheeks sprinkled with freckles, and a button nose.

Tynae’s smile grew even brighter. “Hello, Desta.”

The little girl shyly hunched her tiny shoulders, “Hello, Princess.”

“I’m so glad to see you’re feeling better, sweetheart.”

Desta nodded her head enthusiastically. “I feel very well, My Lady. Mama says you sent your doctor to our house and that you’re the reason why I’m all better.”

Tynae tapped the young girl’s nose affectionately. “I didn’t do a single thing. Doctor Balint and your mommy helped make you better.”

The little girl shook her head emphatically. “No, no, no,” she insisted looking up at Tynae with resolve. “Mama said if it wasn’t for you, I might not be here.” Desta reached deep into the pocket on the front of her dress, pulling out a small bouquet of yellow dandelions, clumps of dirt still dangling from the roots. Proudly, she presented her gift to Tynae. “So I brought you these.”

Putting her hand over her mouth, Tynae suppressed a giggle. “Thank you, dear one, they are quite lovely.” Tynae knelt down, hugging Desta warmly.

Tucking her cheek bashfully into her shoulder, Desta rocked back and forth. “You’re welcome, Princess.” Lovingly, she pecked Tynae on the cheek then ran over to her mother, who stood across the way.

“Thank you,” her mother mouthed silently, bowing her head.

Smiling graciously, Tynae returned the gesture.

Standing up, Tynae tucked Desta’s bouquet carefully into her own pocket.

After saying good-bye to all the children, Tynae re-joined Vinard and Enessa. The threesome continued through town.

It seemed as if everyone was out this day.

“It just doesn’t get any better than this!” Tynae said cheerfully. “The endless trees…the fresh sea air…and most of all the wonderful people.” Tynae gestured to her right. “Look at Kari, sitting over there on the bench kissing and loving her beautiful baby.” Tynae motioned to the left. “And look there, at the Galbraiths walking hand in hand down the street. They’ve been together forever. They must be in what, their seventies by now? They still look positively smitten with one another.”

Tynae grinned, watching countless others busying themselves with their daily chores.

“But?” Vinard interjected.

“But what?” Tynae asked innocently.

Vinard smirked, “come on now. I know you better than that, Tynae. You’ve had something on your mind for some time now.”

Tynae looked at Vinard curiously.

Vinard chuckled, “just because I don’t say something, doesn’t mean I don’t notice. But I’ve let it go long enough, time to confess.”

Tynae’s smile faded. “You know me too well.”

Vinard shrugged, “we’ve been friends since before either one of us can remember. What do you expect?” He considered Tynae thoughtfully. “Now, what’s been bothering you for all these months?” he asked tenderly, “and don’t tell me nothing, I won’t buy it.”

Tynae sighed. “I don’t know,” she shrugged. “It’s so perfect here, but lately…”

“Go on.”

“Well, it’s just that lately I’ve been wondering what else is out there. Is there someplace else I’m meant to be? I feel so alone at times. Something’s missing, Vinard, I can feel it.”

“Someone to share your life with, perhaps?” Enessa interjected smoothly.

Tynae and Vinard laughed. Enessa’s comment caught them completely by surprise.

“That was masterful,” Vinard commended.

“Yes it was,” Tynae smiled.

Enessa grinned, “I have my moments.”

“Always my father’s advocate, aren’t you?”

“I’m just suggesting…”

Tynae held up her hand. “I understand, Enessa, and I’m not opposed to marriage. I just want to choose the right man to spend the rest of my life with. You know that. But that’s not what’s missing. There’s more. I…”

Their conversation was interrupted by one of Tynae’s dearest friends. The stout, strawberry-blond woman stood in the doorway of Tynae’s favorite teashop. “Good day, My Lady,” the woman called. “Would you care for a spot of tea?”

Tynae smiled brightly, probably delighted with the opportunity to change the subject. “I would love some, Christa.”

Tynae and Enessa joined Reya, Prue, and Christa, three of Tynae’s closest friends, at their usual corner table on the flower-covered veranda. Vinard took his customary post, standing off to one side.

“Good afternoon, ladies.” Tynae took her seat. “Unusually lovely weather we’re having, wouldn’t you say?”

Christa smiled. “Yes, it is quite beautiful.”

“Good afternoon. Yes, I am rather enjoying all this gorgeous sunshine,” Reya agreed.

Prue’s interests clearly lied elsewhere. “Good afternoon, Vinard,” she greeted coyly.

Vinard bowed his head slightly. “Good afternoon, milady.”

“You may call me Prue, Vinard.”

“Prue,” Reya asserted with a nudge, “Tynae commented on how lovely the weather has been.”

“Oh,” Prue tore her attention from Vinard, “yes, I suppose it’s nice; but I can’t wait for winter to get here. I love the snow.”

Vinard grinned. Good old Prue, always the odd one out. Each of Tynae’s friends was charming in her own unique way, but Prue’s opinions always seemed to differ from the others. A few years younger than Tynae; Prue was quite striking with her pale complexion, light brown hair, and bright green eyes. Reya, on the other hand, was a blue-eyed blond, also known as the ‘oldest and boldest,’ a title Tynae had lovingly bestowed upon her. Then there was Christa, the seemingly quiet one of the bunch. Also, the only married one. Sipping their tea, the women discussed the upcoming masque.

Vinard found his privileged insight into the world of women quite enlightening.

“Tynae,” Reya began, “do tell, will Prince Kaleal be attending this evening’s events?” Her question bordered on being an accusation.

Let’s hope not, Vinard thought.

Tynae blushed guiltily, “Perhaps.”

Prue leaned forward, resting her cheek on her hand. “So,” she raised her brows, “are you seriously considering his proposal?”

Enessa glanced up at Vinard, whose uncomfortable fidget was noticed only by her. Giving him a consoling smile, Enessa quickly returned her attention to the conversation at hand.

“Possibly,” Tynae’s blush deepened.

Pressing her cup to her lips, Tynae took a long sip of tea then set the cup down. “I don’t know. I do like him…a lot,” Tynae sighed, “but I don’t know that I love him.”

Thank God.

Staring at her cup intently, Tynae ran her finger along the rim. “I only want to marry someone I’m truly in love with.” Tynae looked at her friends, “you know that.”

“We know.” Christa patted Tynae’s hand. “Do you believe he is interested in you, or your wealth and power?” Christa had never been one to dance around any subject.

Tynae shrugged. “That’s the question, isn’t it? I’m not quite sure. What do you think?”

“I think,” Reya interjected, “that you, of all people, have always known exactly what you want out of life and should settle for nothing less.” Smiling mischievously, Reya continued. “I also think Kal is the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. If you don’t want him, may I have him?”

The women all giggled like schoolgirls.

Take him, please.

Christa chimed in, “I must admit those broad shoulders, dark hair, and hazel eyes are rather striking.”

Reya laughed, “Christa! You’re not supposed to notice other men, you’re married.”

“Maybe so, but I’m not dead! And I’m certainly not blind.”

Prue huffed. “Say what you want about Kal, but I think Vinard’s just as beautiful. He has broad shoulders, dark hair, and I prefer his blue eyes.”

Vinard froze. All eyes were on him. He had no idea what to do or where to look. This not only made his ‘top ten list’ of most embarrassing moments, it shot straight to number one.

Tynae stared at Vinard with the rest of the women. He could clearly see she was holding back a fit of laughter. She’s never going to let this one go. I’ll never hear the end of it.

With a wink, Tynae turned back to her friends. “I am willing to consider more with him.”

Everyone looked back at Vinard.

“Kal, with Kal,” Tynae chuckled.

Vinard relaxed, thankful for Tynae’s subtle deterrent. Although, with Prue around, he knew it was only a temporary respite at best.

“I will allow him to court me, but the problem with courting is that most people put on an act. At what point do you get to see the true person? Once you’re married?” Tynae shook her head. “I really hate games. If I can’t be myself when I’m around someone, I don’t want to be with that person. Take me as I am or be gone.”

Well said.

“Here, here,” Prue held her cup up.

“Here, here!” The women toasted Tynae’s declaration.

“You are so fortunate that your father does not believe in arranged marriages,” Reya said.

“Trust me, I know.” Tynae knocked twice on the wooden table. “I will never marry for land, nor will I marry for money or power. I would gladly live out all of my days in a straw hut with dirt floors, pulling a plow, with a man who truly loves me. Rather than live in the most lavish of castles with servants, endless land, and a man who is only with me for the convenience of my riches.” Tynae sipped her tea. “Lucky for me, my father sees things precisely as I do on this matter.”

Vinard recalled one such time when the king had said as much. “I cherish and respect you far too much, Tynae, to force such narrow-minded and selfish rituals upon you. There is no pressure, my darling. You will know when you have found the proper suitor. When such a time arises and you deem a gentleman worthy of your hand, you shall have my blessing.”

Finishing her tea, Tynae set her cup down. She glanced up at Vinard who pulled her chair out for her. “Well, ladies, if you will excuse me,” Tynae stood. “I have a rendezvous with a waterfall this afternoon. I will see all of you tonight.”

Reya smiled, “Cannot wait!”

“See you tonight,” Christa said with a wave.

“Good bye, Vinard.”

“Good day, milady,” Vinard replied politely, escorting Tynae and Enessa out of the teashop.

Once out of ear shot of the women, Vinard turned to Tynae, who was clearly struggling not to laugh.

“Not a word,” he grumbled.

Tynae slapped her hand over her mouth. “Nope,” she shook her head.

The three headed for the Forest of Nombin. To Vinard’s relief, there was no further discussion about Prue…although there was a muffled snicker or two.

Reaching the end of town Tynae saw old man Hern, the local rancher, coming out of his bright red barn. He was leading Zuri, his prize mare, to a paddock.

Waving, Tynae called out, “good afternoon, Mr. Hern. I have some free time. Would you like a hand shoveling out your stalls?”

Old man Hern waved back. “Good day, My Lady. No, not today, but thank you.”

Mr. Hern was the oldest living person in Pathrow. He was, as Tynae would say, “Ninety-four years young,” but didn’t look a minute over seventy. Not a single day went by that he wasn’t outside bailing hay, shoveling stalls, or chasing his great-great-grandchildren around the yard. Quite talented with swords as well, he had taught Tynae a thing or two.

The trio continued on their way.

Why does she insist on going to the forest every day? Vinard wondered as they walked. What is so great about a few oversized trees and a waterfall? She has all of that and more on the grounds of Darvah. Vinard glanced at Tynae who was smiling radiantly. But it does make her happy.

Tynae inhaled deeply as they got closer to the forest. I do so love the fresh smell of the wood.

Tynae’s pace quickened. I hope she’s here today.

“Tynae, what’s so fantastic about being in the forest?” Vinard asked.

Tynae chuckled. “I know you do not understand. For me, it’s the most amazing place I’ve ever been. It’s green, full of life, incredibly tranquil, but most of all, it’s freeing. When I’m in there, I can be myself. There are no onlookers, no courtiers, no need for ‘proper etiquette’, and certainly no need to bow or curtsy to those more superior to one’s self.” Tynae smiled at Vinard. “I can even belch as loud as a sailor and no-one would…”

Enessa stopped dead in her tracks, mouth agape. The appalled look on her face sent Vinard and Tynae into a fit of laughter.

“I don’t make a habit of it, Enessa,” Tynae said, knowing Enessa was absolutely beside herself at the mere thought of such behavior from a ‘Lady’.

“I should hope not. If I ever…”

“Don’t worry, Enessa. Even in the forest I am a ‘proper’ lady,” Tynae winked slyly at Vinard, who smiled back appreciatively.

When they reached the forest’s edge Tynae gathered up her long dress, tucking it neatly under the edge of her corset. This made it easier to maneuver through the heavily vegetated wood.

Kicking off her cumbersome shoes, Tynae set off, leaving her companions behind. “See you in a bit,” she said brightly.

“Remind me again why we let her go off alone,” Tynae heard Enessa ask Vinard.

“Because…” he began.

Tynae turned, “Because you love me!” she shouted, disappearing into the green depths of her wonderland.

Walking through the forest barefoot, following a trail beside the river, Tynae grinned as the cool moss-covered ground squished between her toes. The Forest of Nombin was laden with ancient trees, their broad trunks and thick roots cloaked in jade green. Vast branches seemed to almost touch the sky, creating a never-ending canopy.

Making her way toward her favorite haven, Tynae marveled at the transformation taking place right before her eyes. The entire forest was soaked in the rich colors of autumn. Deep shades of amethyst, bright ruby red, and glittering yellow topaz were sprinkled among the green and brown backdrop of the forest.

Multi-colored leaves dappling the moist forest floor danced slightly as a light wind blew.

Long blades of golden grass swayed in the gentle breeze and moss-speckled boulders added splashes of various green hues to Mother Nature’s masterpiece.

Inhaling the crisp, invigorating air, she sighed peacefully, “I love fall.”

Looking up, she smiled. Watching squirrel’s dash hurriedly to and fro with their busying activities was delightful. Collecting their bounty of nuts and berries, they prepared for the long winter. Everywhere Tynae looked, the forest surged with vitality. At last, she reached the waterfall of Ekantra. She’s back!

“Hello,”Tynae greeted.

Five magnificent wolves approached the princess. She greeted them with scratches on the chin and pats on the head. Walking over to her favorite hawthorn tree, now proudly wearing its autumn jewels of golden-orange leaves, Tynae sat down. The matriarch of the wolves was one of the biggest animals Tynae had ever seen. Dark gray in color—almost black—the wolf was positively majestic. Carrying a purple rose in its mouth, the animal approached Tynae.

The princess accepted the gift. “Thank you, Xantara. It’s exquisite, just like you.” Tynae breathed in the flower’s sweet fragrance. “Mmm, and it smells heavenly. I’ll wear it tonight. It will go perfect with my gown.”

It was the last day of the blood moon, and tonight’s grand ball was being held in Tynae’s honor, as it was every year. Because the princess was the honored guest, it would be a masque, her favorite. Tucking her precious gift carefully behind her ear, Tynae leaned back against the moss-cushioned trunk of the ancient hawthorn. Xantara lay beside Tynae, resting her head on the princess’ lap while the other wolves settled nearby.

“What odd companions we make, human and wolves,” Tynae said lightly. “I remember the first day we met like it was yesterday. I don’t know what I would have done had you not come along. That arse probably would have killed me, or knocked me over the head and dragged me back to his cave.” Tynae rubbed her wrist gently. I truly believed he was ‘the one’. She sighed.

“I’m just thankful you came along when you did, and I’m even happier you chose to stick around and have me as your friend.” The events of that fateful day replayed in Tynae’s mind. With a huff she patted the wolf’s head. “Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly thankful for that day, but I prefer to forget the circumstances which led us to each other all together.” Tynae quickly pushed all unpleasantness from her mind.

Scattered rays of golden sunlight broke through the canopy warming the cool air. Closing her eyes, Tynae soaked in the warmth. This is paradise. Lulled by the waterfall, Tynae nestled deeper into her moss cushion. Filling her lungs to capacity, she took in the divine aroma of the surrounding forest. The warm earthy scent of cedar trees, the sweet smell of the blue autumn clematis, and the aromatic rosemary all melded together with the refreshing mist from the waterfall. If only it could be captured.

“I’ve missed your company of late, Xantara.” Tynae scratched the wolf’s ear. “I hope you don’t leave again, at least not anytime soon. It’s far too lonely when you’re not around.” Tynae glanced at the other wolves. “Not that I don’t enjoy your company.” Tynae leaned close to Xantara. “It’s just different with you,” she whispered.

Tynae stayed with her friends for a time, enjoying the solitude and tranquility only Mother Nature could provide. Eventually, she peered up at the sky. The murkiness of twilight had begun submerging Nombin into the shadows of night several hours ahead of schedule.

“That’s odd,” Tynae said, causing Xantara to lift her head. “The weather is a bit off.” Tynae looked at her friend. “I think it best if I head back to Darvah. Besides, I have a masque to get ready for.” Standing up, Tynae stretched before reaching down and patting each of the wolves. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Looking around, Tynae locked eyes with Xantara, who had moved off to one side. The sorrowful look in the wolf’s eyes was almost painful.

Tynae’s brows knitted together, “Aww, please do not look so dejected, Xantara.” Tynae walked over to the wolf, scratching her chin. “I’ll be back tomorrow, I promise.”

Making her way out of the darkening forest, Tynae noticed Xantara following her and stopped.

“What are you doing? You’ve never followed me before.”

Staring up at Tynae, the wolf didn’t move.

Tynae shrugged. “As you wish, I’m always grateful for your company for as long as I may have it.”

Continuing out of the wood, Xantara remained at Tynae’s side.

Hearing leaves crunch, Enessa turned, finally. “I think I hear her.”

The moment Tynae came into view Enessa’s eyes grew wide. The site of the huge wolf beside the princess was paralyzing. Enessa found it impossible to speak.

Tynae had told them about Xantara and her pack numerous times, which is why they allowed her to go into the forest without them. But they had never seen any of the enormous wolves…until now.

Trembling, Enessa stepped closer to Vinard, who had his hand firmly poised on the hilt of his sword. “Relax, Enessa,” he mumbled. “Tynae, who’s your friend?”

What? Stunned, Enessa looked at Vinard. Who’s your friend?! How can he ask that so casually?

“I’m sorry, where are my manners? Enessa, Vinard, this is Xantara, the matriarch of the wolves I told you about.”

Unsure what to do, Enessa looked to Vinard. Following his lead, she inclined her head slightly to the wolf. Enessa couldn’t be positive, but she was fairly certain Xantara returned the gesture.

It didn’t seem that Tynae was paying attention to any of this. Squinting, she looked westward toward the Havagran mountain range.

Enessa turned in that direction. Seeing a thick wall of black thunderheads making their way toward Pathrow, Enessa found her tongue. “Um, Tynae, we should be off,” she said nervously. “This weather is rather unusual. The king will be concerned for your safety.”

“It is rather odd, isn’t it?” Tynae said un-tucking her dress, “My shoes please.”

Not wanting to get any closer to the wolf then she absolutely had to, Enessa stretched as far as she could. Handing Tynae her shoes, Enessa could not conceal her trembling hands.

“Thank you.”

Attired properly, Tynae looked down, patting Xantara, “Appears the season’s first rain is arriving a bit early this year.”

Watching Tynae interact with the massive beast made Enessa’s heart race, but didn’t seem to faze Vinard in the slightest.

Kneeling down, Tynae gently cradled Xantara’s muzzle in her hands. “I promise, I will see you tomorrow. Now please, return to your family.” Tynae glanced at the sky. “Find some shelter. It looks like we’re in for a nasty storm.” Leaning forward, Tynae kissed her furry companion’s nose and gave her a tight hug around her thick neck.

Standing up Tynae’s rose fell from behind her ear. “Oops,” Tynae picked it up quickly. “I would hate to lose this. Thank you again, Xantara.” Tynae stroked the wolf one last time. “Bye.”

The trio set off for home.

Sniffing her flower, Tynae looked back at Xantara. Enessa turned as well and saw the wolf had remained at the forest’s edge.

“Tomorrow, I’ll see you then,” Tynae called out.

Nearing a bend in the road, Tynae looked over her shoulder once more, as did Enessa. The wolf was fading into the forest.

“That was unusual,” Tynae commented. “She’s never behaved in such a manner before. Although, I am pleased you were finally able to meet her.”

“Was a pleasure,” Vinard said.

Enessa just nodded. I could have gone an entire lifetime without meeting that beast and that would have been perfectly fine by me. For her own peace of mind, Enessa looked back one last time. She needed to know for certain thatthe wolf was actually gone. She had never much cared for animals, much less those large enoughto maim and kill you in a matter of seconds.

The three quickly made their way back through the cold and darkening city.

“What are you smiling about?” Vinard asked suspiciously.

Enessa turned. Tynae was beaming. Is there anything that man doesn’t notice?

Tynae chuckled. “I was just thinking about what the girls said earlier, about Prince Kaleal.”

Enessa glanced at Vinard, unable to read his expression.

“So it is that you fancy him?” Vinard teased.

Blushing, Tynae looked at the ground, “Maybe.”

“Maybe?”

“A little,” Tynae confessed. “Do you think Béo will show up tonight?”

“Admirable change of subject,” Vinard praised.

Tynae bit her lip. “That was good, right?”

“Exceedingly.” Vinard let the subject drop.

Taken aback by the mention of Béo, Enessa looked at Tynae. “What on earth made you think of Béo?” she asked, breathing easy for the first time since they had left the wood.

Tynae shrugged. “I don’t know, he just crossed my mind. It’s been forever since I’ve seen him.”

Vinard chuckled. “Well, isn’t that how the lad works? He just sort of shows up out of the blue.”

“Yes,” Tynae laughed. “That’s exactly how he works.” Her smile grew. “So I guess that means there’s a good chance he’ll show up tonight. He’s such a good friend, but doesn’t come around nearly enough. I do enjoy his company.”

Reaching the gates of Darvah, the first echoes of distant thunder rumbled. Tynae cast a wary glance skyward. “This weather is so curious.” Shivering, she wrapped her arms around herself and walked hurriedly.

“It’s a bit spooky if you ask me,” Enessa said.

“You read too many of those goblin and ghoooully books, Enessa,” Vinard teased, pretending his hands were claws.

Tynae and Vinard laughed.

“Well, you might consider putting down your sword every now and again and picking up a book. Try expanding your mind instead of your muscles!” Enessa retorted.

“You didn’t seem to mind my muscles or my sword back at the wood,” he said smugly.

“That…that was diff…”

“Enough,” Tynae laughed. “You two, I swear. Sometimes you’re worse than a couple of children.”

When they reached the door of Darvah, Daemyn, the royal family’s seneschal, opened it.

“Good evening, My Lady.” Daemyn bowed.

Tynae tipped her head slightly, “Daemyn.”

“Ladies, this is where I leave you.” Turning, Vinard departed.

“Bye, Vinard.”

“See you in a bit,” Tynae called.

“That you will,” he called back.

Stepping over the threshold, Tynae froze dead in her tracks. Turning, she looked out into the darkening city. Somewhere in the distance a lone wolf cried out, its howl reverberating through the frigid night air.

“Come, My Lady, we must get you ready,” Enessa insisted, wanting desperately to get out of the cold.

The wind whipped Tynae’s hair around her beautiful face as she looked out at the purple autumn twilight.

“Wait,” Tynae said, not taking her eyes away from the sky. “This is how I will remember the first day of my new life.”

“What?” Enessa tried to make sense of Tynae’s bizarre proclamation. “What are you on about?”

“I don’t know, Enessa. I just know my life is somehow going to change on thisnight. Something amazing is going to happen, I can feel it.”

Enessa could hear Tynae’s excitement.

Bright eyed, Tynae looked at Enessa. “Seriously, I can feel it! Can’t you?” Tynae looked at Enessa expectantly. “Come stand here next to me,” Tynae insisted.

Reluctantly, Enessa stepped into the doorway beside Tynae. She could feel it. There was something about this night. Enessa tried to commit the moment to memory. The sweet smell of the crisp autumn air, the echoing howl of the solitary wolf, the shimmering silver beams of the full moon that now rose high into the amethyst-tinted sky—and Lady Tynae. For the first time, Enessa saw the beautiful little girl she had taken care of for so many years as a grown-up woman.

Bright flashes of lightning streaked across the purple sky.

Turning to Enessa, Tynae smiled, “Let’s go.”

Even for her, this is unusual, Enessa thought. Her own emotions teetered somewhere between concern and elation. But perhaps there is something exceptional about this night.

Walking to her room Tynae laughed.

“What’s so amusing?”

“I’m ready,” Tynae said simply.

Enessa’s brow furrowed. “Ready for what exactly?”

Stopping, Tynae looked out a window. Boisterous thunder shook the glass panel while gusts of wind blew blinding sheets of rain upon it. The silvery light from the full moon, mixed with endless lightning strikes, lit up the remarkable purple sky. Nothing about this night felt normal. The bay of the lone wolf could still be heard in the distance, punctuating the imminent feeling in the air.

“Anything,” Tynae said confidently, continuing to gaze out the window. “Anything destiny has in store for me. Tonight is going to be amazing, Enessa,” turning, Tynae beamed, “you’ll see.”

  • Like what you just read? Be sure to read chapter 2, click HERE.
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