Sir Tanash, the greatest knight Tasora has ever known, has one quest -- to rescue his king’s only son. Fifteen years ago, Princy Liseny was kidnapped, and in the time since, Tasora has crumbled. By bringing the prince home, Tanash hopes to return the kingdom to its former glory.
As captive in a rival land, Liseny has spent most of his life locked away from the world, brought out as the ultimate prize while his real home is slowly destroyed. Escape is a godsend. So is Tanash, but neither is as simple as Liseny hopes. He has to learn to adjust in more ways than one. Though Tanash refuses to act on their mutual attraction, he does agree to help Liseny seek out an alliance to take back to Tasora.
What he doesn’t expect is to fall for the young prince along the way ...
At the foot of the bed, a young man clad in a muslin tunic and black breeches stood with his slim fingers curled around a small brass pot, poised to throw it at the slightest provocation. Piercing blue eyes gaped at Tanash, fringed in thick black lashes, made brighter by pale skin he doubted had ever seen much of the sun. His brown hair was shorn to his scalp, but the harshness was offset by the soft, pouty mouth, almost too feminine for someone whose sinewy biceps could be seen through his shirt. Never had Tanash seen such a striking creature, male or female. For a moment, he forgot why he was there.
“Who are you?”
The nervous query snapped him from his fugue, and he immediately dropped to a single knee and bowed his head. “Sir Tanash of Tasora, my liege. I mean only to return you to your father.”
“How --” His voice cracked, and he coughed once. “What is that horrific smell?”
Tanash had been surrounded by the stinkbuds for so long, he barely noticed how it continued to cling to his flesh. “I can explain later. Once we’re free of these walls. Here.” Reaching inside his tunic, he ripped away the badge he’d brought to prove his fealty and held it out in an upturned palm. “So you may see that I speak the truth. But we must be quick if we wish to gain some ground before they discover either of our absences. I swear, my liege, I will answer any question you might have once the threat is behind us.”
“You’re truly here to take me home?”
“Yes. Or die trying.”
At Liseny’s slight cry, Tanash glanced up to see him crumple to the edge of the bed, the pot falling forgotten from his hand. Tanash threw himself forward to catch it before it rang across the stone floor and alerted anyone nearby, realizing only after he rose again that he’d probably made more noise breaking in the door.
Liseny was oblivious to his efforts, his eyes liquid and unfocused.
“My liege,” Tanash said, but when Liseny didn’t respond, he dared to reach out, shake his shoulder, and tried, “Liseny. We must be quick.”
Liseny looked up at that. He was obviously unaccustomed to any signs of respect. Tanash made a mental note to be more liberal with the use of his proper name until Liseny came to better grips with his true station.
“Do you have a plan?” Liseny asked.
“I would never have come unprepared. Do you have a cloak? And another pair of shoes.”
“What about clothes? Food?”
“Unnecessary for now. Once we’re off the isle --”
“You have a boat?”
Tanash gritted his teeth to stem his mounting frustration. “Please. The sooner we leave --”
“Oh, yes, of course.”
As Liseny darted to a wardrobe in the corner, Tanash gathered as many small trinkets of value that he could find. He would never be able to sell them here, but back in Tasora, they could be melted down or used for whatever the king wished. Normally, he considered looting beneath him, but this was an entirely unique situation. Fifteen years ago, King Awryn had stolen Tasora’s most prized possession, leaving the kingdom in a disarray it never truly recovered from. A few baubles were scarcely worth the anguish he had wrought.
If Tanash had his way, the only real restitution would be Awryn’s head on a pike.
He finished to find Liseny regarding him with wide, solemn eyes. A dark cloak was draped over his shoulders, a bulky bag strapped to his waist, while in his hands, he held out a folded piece of thick wool.
“It’ll be too small, but it will help mask the smell,” Liseny said.
Tanash took it with a grateful nod. “Are you ready?”
He caught the delicate bob of Liseny’s throat as he swallowed. “I will follow you anywhere.”