A captured lord. A dying knight. And a heroine who refuses to abandon either.
Seventeen-year-old mage apprentice Rielle accompanies her master on a mission to save a lord from a town under mercenary control. But mercenaries aren't the only newcomers to town.
"Winter Wren" is a 7,000-word fantasy adventure short story, a prequel to the romantic epic-fantasy series Blade & Rose.
Viscounty of Signy, Emaurria
South Gate Forest
Only three hundred mercenaries, and the mission would be over.
Rielle puffed warm breath in the frigid air as she removed her gloves, then rubbed her sweaty palms on her coat. Here, among the dense, snow-capped white pines reaching for the stars, she and her master, Leigh, had gone unseen.
But soon it would begin. The mission that would determine whether she could test for Journeyman and finally accept her own missions. She tingled all over with nervous anticipation.
Crag Company mercenaries manned posts in frosted watchtowers along the walls in the castle town of Signy. The viscount had hired the Crag to protect the town from bandits, but they’d gone rogue, taken over, and now demanded a substantial fee from the king. If they didn’t get it, they couldn’t “assure” the safety of the viscount or the townspeople.READ MORE
The opportunistic blackguards. She grumbled under her breath.
“Do you know why you’re here today?” Leigh asked, his articulate voice smooth and melodious, always confident with an intelligence he never lacked. She loved listening to him talk.
“Saving a viscount?”
A heavier sigh.
“Testing how long it takes for frostbite to set in?” She blew warm breath onto her hands. “I would sing for a cup of tea.”
He raised a brow—and a corner of his mouth. “Ma chère, you’re here to show me your understanding of ‘Save one, save many.’ Do that, and you’ll get your commendation to test for Journeyman.”
Save one, save many. Leigh loved to tout that one . . . the Divinity’s justification for serving kings and nobles—those who could afford their fee—and not peasants and beggars. A saved king could implement policies to save thousands. A saved beggar couldn’t.
Here, the Crag held the townspeople hostage, but Leigh wasn’t here for them. He was here for the viscount. And, by extension, so was she, regardless of her thoughts on the matter. Orders were orders.
She drew in a lengthy cold breath. “Of course. ‘Save one, save many.’ My favorite. No worries there, promise.”
“Good.” He narrowed his eyes in a lingering look that made her shiver—or maybe that was the cold—and then looked away to the watchtowers.
One of the Crag panned a spyglass just past her.COLLAPSE