The Falcon of Imenotash
by Holly Bargo
The emperor of the Harudin Empire needs an heir and cannot produce one of his own body. He orders the most worthy of his worthless sisters to wed and produce an heir. That sister, Aridis, chooses Edan and offers him a promotion from captain of the palace guard of Imenotash to king. He accepts his queen's proposal. Their mutual respect evolves into attraction and--dared they admit it--love.
Displeased by his sister's choice and unable to dissolve the newlyweds' union, the emperor summons them to the capital city. Humiliation and degradation follow. The peasant-born warrior and the concubine's daughter have little opportunity to restore their honor and dignity, but they're keeping secrets from the emperor that may prove his doom.
A grunt of pain, followed by a metallic hiss, awakened Edan instantly. His sword pulled free of its scabbard and whistled through the air as he launched himself at the two intruders trying to subdue his lady’s guard. Although the men attempted to remain quiet, inevitably their fighting knocked over a small vase on the cupboard against the wall. Exploding pottery shards and the sounds of a struggle not entirely suppressed woke Aridis.
Sitting up, she blinked and quickly realized the situation. She scrambled off the bed and scuttled to the bedroom door. Flinging it open, she cried out, “To me!”
Four of her guard answered immediately, followed by six more who woke from their rest, weapons ready to hand. Since the quiet had been broken, the men called to each other.
“Surround her!” Edan snapped as he drove the point of his sword into one of the intruders.
Four of his soldiers immediately set Aridis in their center. A cry in the dark and then a wet gurgle announced the second intruder’s death.
Edan wiped his sword on the dead man’s clothes and commanded, “Ready the horses. We leave now.” Turning toward the four men who surrounded his queen, he said, “Pull on your cloak, my lady. We cannot delay.”
She shook her head, eyes wide. “We cannot leave like this.” Edan approached and two of the soldiers stepped aside for him. Looking down into the dark gleam of her eyes, he said, “Their bodies will give sufficient reason for our hasty departure.”
“This will surely offend the emperor.”
Edan’s teeth gleamed in the darkness. “He failed to assure your safety. I shall not.”
This fantasy romance novella contains mature content not suitable for readers under 18 years old.
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Nominated for the 2018 Readers Choice Awards contest by TCK Publishing!
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