Prince Arn has a destiny-an ancient throne-but he’s not waiting for fate to deliver when he can act now, before his enemies organize against him. The healer Aerid longs for her barely remembered homeland. Marked out by her gift and her unusual looks, she insists she is no witch.
The swordsman Naed hopes to honorably defend his uncle’s holding, but he harbors a secret fascination for the exotic healer. Prince Arn’s campaign against Aerid’s homeland throws them into a triangle of forbidden love, betrayal, and heartbreak. Only when they realize love is blood-kin to friendship, and neither is possible without risk, can they forge a new alliance and restore a kingdom.
Aerid could not recall how she came to be in the Great Hall, or how water and bandages materialized on trestle tables there. Naed sat slumped against the wall while Yormoc tugged off his tunic and armor. Blood painted Naed’s arm, but she could see the wound was only a finger in length.
“Get me up, fool, or ‘tis your hide I’ll line my chair with!” Her master Dranoel sat up, took in the guards at the door, and his ashen face paled further.
Yormoc examined the cloth he had been holding to his gashed jaw. “They haven’t killed us yet. ‘Tis like they don’t mean to.”
Dranoel visibly fought for control. “Mayhap the bastard Prince has some honor, then.”
“Some honor!” Aerid sputtered. Did no one but she understand what they faced? “Belike they’ll be keeping us for their sport, killing us one by one to feed their savage appetites. These be Tolemaks we speak of, and what be they if not barbarians and their master a Prince of savages!”
Dranoel blanched at her words. Yormoc froze. Even Naed’s head came up. But not a man of them stared at her.
Cold dread filled Aerid. She whirled.
In the doorway stood a scarlet-cloaked figure so tall his ebony hair brushed the cross-beam, so lean Aerid sensed nothing but bone and muscle and will, a will so strong it emanated from the deep-set, stone-gray eyes. High cheekbones gave his face a noble, arrogant look. The curve of his lips mocked her. The scar cutting across the left side of his face from behind the eyebrow to the corner of the chin mocked nothing.
“Pray, go on.” The Prince of Val-Feyridge planted his boot on a bench and rested a hand on the upraised knee. “Or have you lost your nerve?”