Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Romantic scene from fantasy novel Judgment Rising for Valentine's Day

My fantasy novels have many characters and that means romantic relationships do arise, especially when people have to go to war and face death. In Judgment Rising, the third novel of The Rys Chronicles, the teenage girl Lydea enters the Wilderness with her mother and brother who are seeking the healing magic of the rys. She meets Tytido a warrior of the Hirqua Tribe who won wealth and glory in the war against Onja.

Tytido assisted Lydea onto her horse. She was not dressed for riding, and he enjoyed how her skirt pulled up past her knees when she sat in the saddle. Her delicate leg wear represented a feminine treasure next to the smooth saddle leather. The sight of her silk stockings from some fancy shop in distant Atrophane rewarded him with an unexpected rush of confident excitement.
Instead of taking the High Road around the south rim, as when people normally traveled to Elendra, Tytido headed up the north loop of the road. This route was little traveled and turf still spread over the ancient stones of the road. In places, erosion had dragged the hills over the road, and they had to ride over the rough ground. Despite the centuries of neglect, the original surface that had been carved from the land remained for the most part, and the ghostly outline of the road wound up the mountainside.
“Is it safe to be out here?” Lydea asked after the settlement receded from view and only empty wilds surrounded her. “I have been told about the fen, the fentha—”
 “Fenthakrabi,” Tytido said. “Do you not think that you are safe with me?”
“Well,” she hesitated, trying to be generous. “I heard that the beast can kill many men at once.”
Becoming more serious, Tytido conceded that they were very dangerous. “But it is a forest creature. One has never been seen on the High Road.”
“Then, I shall insist that we not go into the forest,” Lydea said.
“No, we will not,” Tytido agreed. “I would not go into the forest without some warriors. It is a wild place, even to us.” Tytido then related his smaller excursion into the forest on his way to Elendra in which he had seen a fenthakrabi fight a mother bear.
“Oh, I think Vetanium is enough of the Wilderness for me,” Lydea said.
Her comment bothered Tytido and he quickly tried to alter her opinion. “Nufal is a beautiful place, and once a great rys civilization occupied this valley. Humans lived here as well. Come, just a little farther and you will see.”
They had been riding around the mountain to the north of Vetanium, gradually gaining elevation, and Tytido knew they would soon reach a point that overlooked the valley.
Tytido hurried up the road and Lydea urged her horse to follow. She gasped when her horse faltered, and he immediately looked back with concern. The horse was fine, but Lydea had been frightened when it stumbled.
Straightening herself, she patted the horse’s neck. A little embarrassed, she said, “I do not ride as well as you. I am really a city girl.”
Despite her claims of urban ineptitude, Tytido admired her perseverance. In his eyes, she did not look foreign to the land. Her hazel eyes matched the sun-dried plains that unfolded in the vista behind her.
“You came across the Wilderness, Lydea. I am sure you can handle one short trip up a road,” Tytido encouraged.
“You know, Tytido, calling this a road takes some imagination,” she commented.
“In Nufal, this counts as quite a good road,” he insisted.
They ascended a steep switchback and emerged on a ledge. Lydea exclaimed with delight as she saw the panoramic view. Below her, a dense forest filled the oval valley. Mountains ringed the forest like proud family members gathered around a newborn’s crib. Lesser peaks attended the broad snow-capped mountains that dominated the hazy distances to the north, east, and south. But the massive ruins rising from the forest impressed Lydea the most. She had not guessed that the Tabren Mountains concealed the architecture of such an advanced society. The temple jutting from the canopy was higher than the largest building in Cros, and, for the first time, the mysteries of the Wilderness truly excited Lydea. Atrophane was not the greatest realm that had ever been.
Tytido dismounted and held her horse’s bridle while she got down.
“It is amazing,” she breathed, and Tytido was delighted to see the wonder in her eyes.
Walking her to the edge of the road, he said, “The city you see in the forest has by far the largest ruins, but there are ruined cities all the way around the valley, like Vetanium. This road connects them all.” He swept his hand in a circle to indicate the locations of the other cities.
Eagerly, she began to scan the valley and he continued, “We know of five ruined cities, not including the forest city. There is Vetanium and the second settlement of Elendra. To the south, on the prairie, is an old town, and far back in the mountains is what we call the Secret City.” Remembering the chilling scream from the canyon, he added his belief that Tempet and Alloi had come from the Secret City.
Pointing to the north rim, he continued, “And there, almost directly overlooking the forest city, is the fifth ruin.”
“I think I see something,” Lydea said. “Some broken walls maybe.”
“I know it does not look like much at this distance,” Tytido apologized, wishing that a grand, shining city lorded over the valley. Stepping close behind Lydea, he put a hand on her shoulder. “That is where my settlement will be. All the surrounding lands will be my estates. I plan to build a new city and call it Lydeaem.” He punctuated his statement by kissing her neck and sliding his other hand around her hip and down into the crease above her thigh.
Lydea inhaled sharply and looked over her shoulder, drawn by his browsing lips. Tytido felt her tense in his arms, but it was a good tension created by the sudden injection of affection. As her head turned, he switched from nuzzling her ear to kissing her cheek. Quickly, he arrived at her lips, turned her body, and embraced her fully.
Their kiss deepened, and mutual desires flared, swiftly increasing in intensity. Lydea wrangled with temptation as pleasure enticed her body toward freedom. The power of her feelings startled her and she attempted to retreat. Pulling away from Tytido, she tried to locate her rational mind. Even as she groped for control, the lingering energy of his touches and kisses beckoned her to return.
Tytido resisted his urge to simply pull her back to his hungry lips. He believed that she wanted him, but he accepted that he had to let her reach that conclusion for herself. Her virginal uncertainty was endearing to him as well, and he relished how much his advances had flustered her.
With the breeze cooling her wet lips, Lydea avoided eye contact and said, “Why do you want to name your settlement Lydeaem?”
Tytido said, “That is how to use your language to name the city after you, right?”
“Yes, it is correct, but, but why?” Lydea asked again although she could guess at his reasons.
“Because I want you to come live there with me—as my wife,” he answered.
“Wife?” she repeated sharply and took a step back.
Her reaction wounded him and revived hurt feelings from a previous attempt to marry. Before the war with Onja, he had been betrothed to a woman from his tribe. As was typical among the Hirqua, it had been an arranged match, but he had looked forward to his marriage after winning wealth and glory in the war. But when his betrothed had learned of his intention to move to the Wilderness, she had refused to marry him. Her family had agreed with her, and Tytido had been obligated to accept the refund of his brideprice. He had left his homeland as a single and humiliated man.
That rejection had burned deeply into his pride, but time had healed the pain. Eventually, he was glad that the Hirqua woman was not with him.
“I know the Wilderness can be a difficult place for a woman to live,” he said, attempting to reason with her fears. “But we can live better than I do now. I will have a big house built for you, and you can have as many servants as you want.” He restrained himself from moving closer to her in his excitement. “Lydea, you will be a noblewoman, ruling class. I am wealthy. I offer you life at the top of society.”
Lydea blinked hard. The strong breeze tugged strands of her golden hair in conflicting directions.
“Tytido,” she murmured. Searching for words, she studied the man whose kind attention made him more attractive with each passing day. Confronted by his passions and desire for commitment all at once, she could not think straight. Only desire and fear stimulated her mind. Tytido stood before her, a handsome strong man. Any woman could potentially find him appealing. He had charmed her as he struggled through his shyness, but she had noticed the intensity that lurked inside him. As he sparred that morning, she had seen him strike with fierce speed. He was a warrior, a killer. Alone on the mountainside, he could make her do anything. 

Judgment Rising picks up the epic begun in the first two books of The Rys Chronicles, but readers can jump in at this point in the saga too. Judgment Rising introduces a new story line and some new characters. 

Learn more about The Rys Chronicles or get Judgment Rising here:

Brave Luck Books
Barnes & Noble