Renee Wyvern fought her way to join the ranks of the Wolf, the only order of all female knights in Hedlund. She's determined to demonstrate her skills at the annual tourney and win honor for herself and her order. First, however, she needs to escort Hedlund's princess back home. She’s not prepared for the attraction that strikes her.
Princess Adelaide is tired of hiding. She's been forced into the convent for the past five years, and now she must let herself be sold off in marriage to ensure the continued peace. But her heart is captured by the dashing knight who guards her unexpectedly perilous journey. Maybe it’s time for her to start acting like a princess and take what she wants.
They are kept apart by honor and duty. Can love somehow win the day?
(originally published in the To The Victor anthology by Less Than Three Press)
Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Lesbian
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Bodyguard/Guardian Angel, Class Differences
Word Count: 20000
Languages Available: English
The sight of the pale yellow walls of the Monastery of the Golden Swan filled Renee with dread. The idea of being trapped inside and unable to leave once sworn made her shiver and her horse, Fleetfoot, reacted to her movement by speeding up the rocky path. She eased him with a gentle pat, her reliable warhorse, as sensitive to her moods as ever.
"What kind of woman shuts herself up in there? What is it about Elrica that inspires such devotion?"
Fleetfoot, being a horse, did not answer.
No, Renee much preferred her service to Isaura. Now there was a goddess who understood freedom. Her order of Knights roamed kingdoms, their loyalty only to the order and any service it had contracted out. Thus Renee had come here to escort some noblewoman to the capital for the great midsummer tourney. Renee's own squire and armor had been sent ahead, since she planned on making a damn good showing. She had her rankings to protect.READ MORE
The path ended before a great iron gate with the swan crest of Elrica decorating the center. The metal looked startlingly new, despite its age. The monastery was one of the relics of the old days, when magic was plentiful. No gate built now would last so long without a hint of rust.
"Hello the house," she called, not seeing anyone in the gate tower attached to the curtain wall.
A face appeared in the open window, belonging to a very young nun wearing a novice's veil. "Who comes?"
"Knight Renee Wyvern in the service of Isaura in the order of the Wolf." She gave the title she'd earned, not the one she'd been born with. Though she loved her family, she was proud of her own accomplishments. "I am answering an invitation from your abbess."
She had barely finished speaking when the girl nodded. There was the sound of gears grinding, and the great iron gates parted. Renee trotted inside the courtyard, taking its measure. There was a stable to the right, and she handed off Fleetfoot to the groom who came running to meet her. Renee didn't know if she should throw the girl a coin or not. Those in the service of Elrica eschewed all forms of wealth.
The main building had a row of archways, and a young woman emerged out of the largest, crossing the courtyard. "Knight Wyvern?" Her pale cheeks appeared pink with the exertion. She had clear amber-colored eyes and full, pink lips. A white wimple and veil covered her hair, ears, and neck, leaving Renee wondering about the color of her hair.
Renee bowed, stirred by such loveliness. "At your service, my lady."
"Welcome. The abbess bids me to escort you inside. I assure you that your horse will be well taken care of. Linea loves animals."
The groom, apparently. Renee nodded. "Thank you." She might as well ask. "Should I have tipped the girl?"
The little nun―who had still not given her name―chuckled. "If you feel so moved, give a donation before the statue of Elrica."
Said statue stood in the middle of the courtyard, surrounded by a low brick wall. Earth filled the area beneath the statue's feet, and it appeared that flowers had sprung from her step. They'd chosen to depict Elrica in the flower of her youth, which surprised Renee a bit. She was used to seeing Elrica the Queen or Elrica the Mother. Not this Maiden.
Renee placed a coin in the box set up for that purpose. They must get many pilgrims here―the Monastery of the Golden Swan was well known throughout the land for their devotion. She bowed her head and murmured a prayer.
"You honor Elrica?" The nun seemed surprised that Renee knew the proper words to say.
"She might not be my goddess, lady, but I honor all of the twelve." It would be foolish not to. You never could tell when you might meet a goddess on the road. Magic might be gone, but the gods still lived.
"You're not what I pictured a Knight of the Wolf to be."
Renee grinned. "We don't always wear plate armor. That would be terribly heavy on a long journey. It also makes it darn difficult to take a piss." She winked.
The laughter that spilled out of the nun made Renee's heart soar. Oh, so nice to hear that cheerful sound and to deal with a nun who wasn't a stick in the mud like the ones her father had hired to tutor her as a child. Renee had gotten the switch more often than not―she was never the type of girl to sit and listen to lessons, not when she could be out swinging among the tree branches with her brothers.
"Please do not repeat that in front of the abbess." The nun covered her mouth and looked like she was putting herself back together. After a moment, she did look quite serious and the flush had disappeared from her cheeks. Renee found herself missing it.COLLAPSE