The Surprises of Love and Romance
Note: I’ll be releasing a new book called The Romance of Eowain on 5 July 2016. It’s the continuing story of Hedge King in Winter! Lord Eowain, now Hedge King of Droma, must woo the Lady Eithne to agree to their arranged marriage. At the same time, his ruthless cousin, Tnúthgal destabilizes the kingdom and betrays everything Eowain holds dear. Below is an excerpt from the first scene.
The Romance of Eowain:
Scene 1: Eithne Comes to Droma
Father grumbled through the rain. “I made a promise to the priestess once. She was a wild ban-drymyn hermit-sister of the mountain woods then. She told me I was to save your hand from marriage until the appointed time, but that you’d always hold your ancient right of choice. Whatever fate the ban-drymyn sister saw in you as a child, I don’t know, but that was the geas, the obligation that came with you into this world. I had to do what was right, by the Gods.”
“But I barely know the man, Father.”
“You had the chance to meet with him.”
“For a mere ten-day, Father. For three days of which, I was a hostage to this Cael the Viper fellow.”
“He rescued you himself, amid a number of great troubles in his kingdom. The coelbreni and the drymyn favor him. He wrote you those letters, I know you favor those.” He shrugged. “He seems a likely enough lad.”
Beneath her cloak, the Lady Eithne of Dolgallu clutched the stained and crumpled packet of correspondence. Within were vellum sheets, marked with black coelbren runes on leathery white calfskin. She thought of the last one she’d received.
Spring must truly be here, for the first great caravan of the year has arrived today from the south. They fly the flags of a great Narician trading family, and come with goods from Sasana, Aukriath, Thradamír, Picari, and many other foreign lands besides.
Her horse stumbled over another rock in the rutted trail. Her hands went to the pommel to steady herself.
The steed recovered and settled once more into a less kidney-punching rhythm.
Not for the first time, she thought of home. She’d never seen such an event, a great caravan of Foreigners from distant lands. Her tiny village at the foot of the snow-capped mountain of Ydrys was remote, isolated.
Can it be seen from here?
She craned her neck to look east, but the trees were too thick. She couldn’t even catch a glimpse of its snowy heights.
And what’s my future to be, Great Ydrys? She turned forward again in the saddle and pursed her lips.
The mountain Ydrys had a fell reputation, it was true. But it was known that Ydrys the Giant watched the course of the stars and the Wanderers of the Night from his seat upon its summit. Her people still called upon his name as a great astrologer and diviner of old.
What it’s always been, I conjure. She knew it wasn’t her fate to remain among her secluded mountain people. She’d always known. But blessed by the Ancestors with good crops despite the rough highland countryside, her people were a tough, grim folk. Eithne missed them fiercely.
She clutched at the epistles beneath her cloak.
Three months ago, she hadn’t even known of the existence of this Lord Eowain of the Donnghaile, now hedge-king of the Droma tribe.
That was when the first messengers began to arrive, seeking out marriage opportunities for then-Lord Eowain, the worthy candidate for a small tribal kingship.
She’d since visited briefly with him in person. Her family, some of his family, and the Drymyn Order of priests and priestesses favored their union. Most recently, they’d exchanged correspondence.
Which brings me to the matter of our own betrothal. My aunt is certain it will be all for the good, bringing an end to the feud between our families. My brother—indeed, all of us—look forward to the peace on our borders when we have the Cailech tribe wedged between the hammer and anvil of our two tribes. And my Lord-Drymyn seems to think our marriage is ordained by his wooden coelbreni and fated by the gods (though to what purpose, I cannot imagine).
Yet what of you? When you departed here, you had still not yet agreed to our betrothal, and so my aunt, my brother, and my minister urge me to woo you now in letters and know your mind on the matter.
But who will teach a soldier the words that would recommend his suit to a gentle heart like yours?
The staccato drum on the hood of her cloak kept her close company. The last three days, rain. Today, light but persistent, which was improvement over the previous day.
Eithne ventured to draw back her hood for a look about. We must be getting close now, she thought. The rolling hills rose from the river valley, thick with bare-branched trees that showed the first green of breaking buds and little else.
The trail took a torturous route through a defile but rose more gradually than some of the land about them. A rill of water tinkled as it ran nearby.
She wondered, Could I not have found love at home? It didn’t matter, she knew. She’d tried. But it seemed each time she might have found love and happiness, she’d been reminded of her fate.
She had an ancient right as a young woman to refuse any suitor arranged by her family. It was a right given by the Gods to free-women everywhere, command of themselves and the dignity of their own bodies. And everyone and her mother, all her life, had sworn she wouldn’t be denied her freedom of choice.
That didn’t stop her family from presenting—or denying her—to eligible suitors.
She’d been held close all her life by Father. Bedraggled with rain and clearly miserable, Father nevertheless kept a stern watch on the woodlands. And her.
She thought even if they had not left on this journey dressed like masterless warriors, their several days on the trail would certainly have made him look the part. Water ran down the ill-used round steel helm in rivulets and dripped from the nose guard. His featureless wool cloak proclaimed nothing of his origins and loyalties. Unshaven, he looked as if he hadn’t known a bath for above a month.
Father grumbled. “Eithne, you must agree to this marriage.”
“No matter how much the men of Dolgallu talk of women’s choice in the matter of marriage, you have left me with little, Father.” She crumpled the missives in her fist, under her cloak and away from the rain.
Discovery comes with dedication
We all want to “just know” what we’re supposed to do with our lives, for our purpose to be spelled out, but that’s not how life works. As Lord Eowain and Lady Eithne discover, one has to do the work, but one also has to pay attention to the lessons life is teaching.
I used to think romance was something you discovered, but now I know it’s something that’s been there all along.
Recently, I completed a project about the surprises of love and romance. My experience in finding this work wasn’t what I thought it would be.
In this book, you’re going to find an exciting action-adventure fantasy romance that searches for pieces of wisdom from some of the smartest people I know, all surrounding this question: “How do we handle the surprises of love and romance?”
My hope is that as you read it, you take away some important points about what it means to find meaningful romance in this world. The process of finding this work surprised me. Maybe the same will be true for you, too.
What’s something about love and romance that’s surprised you?
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