Authors: Rachel Rossano
Tags: #romance, #christian, #romance fantasy, #medieval, #christian romance, #christian fantasy, #medieval adventure, #medieval love, #medieval fantasy romance, #medieval christian fiction
Book Two of the Theodoric Saga
Written by Rachel Rossano
Published by Rachel Rossano
Copyright 2014 Rachel Rossano
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This novel is a work of fiction. Though actual locations may be
mentioned, they are used in a fictitious manner and the events and
occurrences were invented in the mind and imagination of the
author. Similarities of characters to any person, past, present, or
future, are coincidental.
Cover by An Author’s Art (©2014 Laura Miller)
Formatting by Rossano Designs
The Theodoric Saga
Book One -
The Crown of Anavrea
Book Two -
The King of Anavrea
Book Three -
The Reward of Anavrea
Also written by Rachel Rossano
Duty (First Novel of Rhynan)
Wren: A Romany Epistle Novel
The Crown of Anavrea (Book One of the
The Mercenary’s Marriage
Word and Deed
Also Coming Soon
Honor (Second novel of Rhynan)
The Making of a Man (A Rhynan Anthology)
Ireic Theodoric, King of Anavrea, couldn’t keep
his eyes from the garishly patterned floor in the King of
Sardmara’s main audience chamber. His gaze kept wandering back to
it in morbid fascination. Gold, orange, and gray tiles marched
across the expansive floor. Clashing with the scarlet drapes and
the teal upholstery, the squares set his teeth on edge. Sardmara’s
king must be color blind. It was the only possible explanation. He
would ask Trahern’s opinion tomorrow when he arrived for the
“Trid the eighth, of the house of Parnan, King
of Sardmara,” a herald announced. The double doors opposite the
throne opened wide. A dark-haired man strode through them with a
slender woman on his arm. Rich robes, expensive jewels, and
cosmetics couldn’t disguise the fact the King of Sardmara was a man
who enjoyed his food too much. Corpulent to the edge of obesity
with a face permanently flushed from excessive wine, he moved
toward his throne at a snail’s pace.
“Welcome, my brother king.” Trid nodded his
condescension as he passed. “My wife, Keyrain.” He jutted his
double chin in the direction of the woman on his arm. “Now to
business. You brought the modified treaty, I assume.” He dragged
his wife toward the pair of thrones before she could manage more
than a wan smile.
Ireic felt for her. To be married to such a man
must be difficult. His stomach tightened. He hoped the daughter
took after her mother, not her father.
“We have it right here, your majesty.” Councilor
Kline stepped forward. As spokesman for the council and one of the
three council members in the Anavrean royal party, he kept track of
the treaty and did most of the negotiating.
“Read it again.” Trid levered himself into his
throne. His queen perched on the edge of her backless seat, tense
as a deer ready to flee.
“A treaty of military alliance between the
sovereign nations of Sardmara and Anavrea...”
Kline’s voice droned on, reading the precise
language agreed upon after months of debate, arguing, and petty
squabbles. That was just on the Anavrean side of the negotiations.
Upon the presentation of the contract to the king, Trid had
grunted, clarified three items, and agreed to sign.
“As a show of good faith, Ireic Theodoric, King
of Anavrea, agrees to take to wife as co-regent and life partner,
Trid Parnan’s daughter, the Princess Lirth Yra Parnan.”
The Queen Keyrain stirred.
King Trid thrust himself to his feet. “Where do
“But, sire, three pages still remain to be
Trid waved away the objection as though it were
a gnat. “I have heard enough. Come, my brother, let us ally
ourselves. Where is my pen?”
Footmen carried a table from the far wall.
Inkwells and ornamental pens gilded with silver images of the
Sardmaran goddess Yaren lay on a matching platter. One of the
goddess’ three arms held the nib of the pen.
Trid signed first, with an inky flourish more T
than any other letter. Ireic set his practiced signature below with
a small measure of relief.
Anavrea was now safe from Braulyn, their eastern
neighbor. Braulyn would think thrice before attacking with Sardmara
as Anavrea’s ally on their opposite border.
The representative Anavrean council members
signed after Ireic as witnesses. As Councilor Kline lifted his pen
from his name, Ireic spoke the burden on his thoughts.
“I wish to meet my bride.”
He had kept his mouth closed. The country’s fate
was of greater importance, but now it was time to assess his future
“She could not attend us here. I sent word to
have her made ready for you, but I haven’t received a
“Where are her quarters so that I might arrange
“She will arrive any day now.”
Suspicion tightened Ireic’s chest. “She isn’t in
Trid signaled a servant before extending a hand
toward his wife. She resumed her place at his side, but tension
pulled at her face before she turned it from Ireic’s view.
“Lirth has been living at our northern estate
for the past few years. She doesn’t enjoy court life and I indulge
her wishes. What can one do? She is the only daughter I have.” He
stroked his wife’s hand, but the pressure of his touch didn’t
appear to comfort her.
Queen Keyrain offered a strained smile. “My
daughter suffered a—” She winced in pain as her husband gripped her
hand hard. Swallowing, Keyrain forged onward. “Her health is
delicate. The northern air helps.”
What malady could improve in the harsh, barren
wilderness of the northern mountains? Ireic glanced at Kline and
the other councilors, but they stood off to the side discussing
something among themselves.
“Then I shall ride out to meet her.” After a
week of sedate travel and three weeks of court functions and
diplomatic meetings, Ireic ached for hard riding and fresh air.
“Send word that I will come and claim her. She does have suitable
traveling accouterments for the journey to Anavrea, I assume?”
“Of course.” Trid watched the shine of his
wife’s curls as he fingered them. “Are you hungry, my son?” His
eyes brightened as he looked up at Ireic. “You need to add fat to
that frame, boy. You present yourself like a common soldier. Look
how he stands, my love, all straight lines and pointy angles.
Hardly regal. Come.” Trid threw a heavy arm across Ireic’s
shoulder, forcing him to stoop to the elder man’s level. “My cook
will fill you out. You must partake of his honeyed peacock. So
succulent, so delicate, it melts before it reaches your
Pulling Ireic away toward the dining room, Trid
ignored all the attempts of the Anavrean councilors to catch his
The stone walls of the tower cooled Lirth’s
hands in spite of the unseasonable warmth of the past week. She
leaned her head against the rough stone. The surface chilled her
A distant clash of metal striking metal echoed
in the corridor and stairwell outside the thick oak door of her
room. The din grew closer, and she grasped at the calm she had felt
I knew this was coming someday, yet–
caught herself mid-thought. She should be thankful that she had not
lost hope. Frustration flared.
Why must patience be so
The unseen Kurios did not respond. Still, she
knew He was there and listening.
It isn’t that I am not thankful,
I know well enough Your intervention is the sole
reason I wasn’t killed. Only by Your grace am I isolated and not
Shortly after her abduction five summers before,
Baron Tor locked Lirth away in the cold tower room and forbade his
men from speaking to her. By the grace of the Kurios, the baron
chose not to execute her or hand her over to one of his men for
sport. Still, she cherished the hope of freedom.
The clanging below ceased. A death cry echoed
within the stone tower below her room.
The sound indicated someone would be seeking her
out soon. She paced the distance from the wall to her cot on the
opposite side of the room. Her heavy cloak tugged as it caught on
the corner of the single chair as she passed. She jerked the
material free with more force than necessary. The chair rocked on
On the other side of the door the wooden stairs
creaked and groaned. The victor climbed to claim his prize.
Lirth's hands shook. She missed the first time
when she reached for the small satchel that held her few worldly
belongings. Upon finding it, she moved back toward the chair in the
center of the room, fastening the pouch’s ties as she walked.
The door’s wooden bolt struck the floor outside
with a clatter.
Her fingers found and traced the worn lip along
the back of the chair, seeking the familiar scratches. She measured
her breaths by counting to two to keep the panic from overwhelming
The door uttered a grating squeal as it opened.
The dull thud of it striking the wall and rebounding echoed in the
I hope it hit him.
She drew back the thought. The Kurios would not
send someone to harm her.
What about those that sent the rescuer? Will
they hurt me?
“I have come for Princess Lirth.” A warm male
voice spoke above her head and about four feet in front of her.
“I am the one you seek.”
Lirth drew herself up and tilted her head
elegantly to one side. The smell of sweat came with the force of
“What is the name of the one who seeks me?”
The slight change in his breathing warned Lirth
of the man's astonishment before he spoke.
“They did not tell you?” Surprise lingered in
his question, along with a hint of uncertainty.
“I am told nothing.”
She heard his movement a moment before he
“What is your full name?” Warm fingers caught
her chin and gently forced her face to turn. Flinching at the
touch, Lirth closed her eyes and obeyed the man's verbal and
“My name is Lirth Yra Parnan. I am the only
daughter of Trid, King of Sardmara.”
Silence descended between them. The strange man
studied her. His grip on her face remained gentle but firm when she
pushed against it. After she tried unsuccessfully to move away a
second time, she submitted. She reached out with her senses to
examine him in return.
He smelled of battle: blood, and dirt. Beneath
these, though, she detected a waft of the soap he bathed with
recently. His hands were long and lean. Although he held her face
with determination, she doubted she would be tender or bruised
She guessed him to be about six feet tall, maybe
more. He must be fit, because his breathing though accelerated was
not rushed. Four flights of stairs stretched from the tower’s base
to her room.
Unfortunately, she was not able to guess at age
or features. She needed her own fingers and his permission for
When he finally spoke, his voice sounded calmer
and quieter. The tone was controlled so she could not read it.
“I am Ireic Iathan Theodoric, King of Anavrea.”
He paused. “Open your eyes, Lirth, and look at me.”