No longer a revered Gold Warrior, Maen is a disgraced soldier, held in suspicion despite his role in winning the Queenship of Aza City for his Mistress, Seleste. Returned alive from his captivity by the rebel Exiles, his reward was to be cast out from his position, his brave loyalty dismissed. He remains an unwilling thrall to the new Queen while his heart mourns the memory of Dax, the young Bronzeman he helped escape from a sentence of death.
When Maen is put under the guard of the arrogant Gold Warrior Zander and given the thankless task of preparing a Royal History, they both join up with the lively scribe Kiel. The youngster's bold curiosity initiates a chain of events that will change their world and that of the City forever. Maen's own discoveries will cast a new and shocking light on the Royal history and stir revolution in both citizens and rebels. And he will finally return to the Exile camp to face the one thing that can make him choose desire over duty.
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Clare London - Fiction
Cover Art by Joanna H Krupa. Contact through the author.
This title contains ADULT scenes of m/m romance and erotica.
SEQUEL to The Gold Warrior.
I looked up towards the top of the Battle Horse – we were on the last platform before the dais. I saw Zander with his back to the last flight of steps leading to the top, in charge of our defense. His helmet bore a favor from the Queen-Elect herself, Seleste’s own scarf that fluttered raggedly but brightly in the sunshine. He was her best and favorite Gold Warrior, and he knew it. He fought so very fiercely, and in so tightly controlled a manner that it had concerned me in the past. He was very skilled and very aggressive, but I had been afraid that his lack of imagination would compromise him if he faced anything unfamiliar. I’d once reported it to my Mistress. Seleste had smiled at my concern and thanked me for it, and so I knew that she had no intention of doing anything about it. She liked Zander as he was, and would keep him so. He was often in her bed, and very proud of it.
I was often there, too, but less proud.
There was a cry to my left and a group of men passed me, knocking me further back against the metal struts of the wall. The final stages of the Battle meant that both attacking and defending forces met on this higher platform and there was a renewed energy to their conflict. I saw Edrius pushing forward with Linar and Raneld, other men I admired, cleaving through a cluster of Flora’s men. I saw the glint of sunlight on badges, the purple enameling of my Mistress’s Household and the dark green of her sister Flora’s. I heard cries of fury and grunts of pain. The hot air shimmered with the dust and the song of swords. I had many good Silvers in the battle, moving with confidence and purpose, and my heart swelled at the sight of them forging ahead. There was an unusual ferocity in their combat today, a strength and a wildness that had startled even me, who knew their capacity well. They fought as if possessed. But there was also a firm discipline to their attacks; they would win, I knew that without a doubt.
For a moment, I remembered the pride I’d felt as a newly promoted Gold Warrior in the Household of the Exchequer, when I’d been given my very first group of Silvers to train and lead. And Bronzemen too, the new, raw recruits who needed so much attention yet showed so much promise at the beginning of their lives of service. Each year, they arrived in the Household just out of their boyhood, scared and flushed with devotion to the Household, full of eagerness and strength and fierce naivete…
“Maen!” It was Zander’s voice, loud and urgent, ringing out over the sounds of battle. I didn’t need his warning, though it was well judged. A soldier from Flora’s Guard had broken away from the throng and approached me from behind. I don’t know how I heard him over the clamor but the hairs rose on the back of my neck and I knew he was there, even before he’d had time to swing his sword. I spun around and struck, my aim blind but true.
The soldier was a Gold Warrior and one whom I recognized – maybe I had seen him at a domestic tournament, or on the Royal Household training ground where Mistress Flora would prepare her Guard for traveling elsewhere in the City. Wherever and whenever it was, I knew enough of his style to anticipate his defense. I thrust straight through it, the force of my strike spinning his body back and the glinting edge of my blade slicing smoothly through the flesh of his upper arm. He cried out; blood welled suddenly and richly from the wound, and his sword fell to the ground.
Edrius and Raneld were on him immediately, one with a sword to his throat, the other forcing him down to his knees, blade to his badge.
I did nothing more than nod to them, pleased with the result. I started to turn around to find out where I was needed next.
The sudden sound from the crowd startled me, because it was extraordinary: people rose from their seats in blocks and their voices seemed to swell tenfold. It was a cry of relief and delight and magnificent triumph. For a moment, I was confused, and then I realized that they could see the whole Horse, whereas I had been restricted to the north face alone. There were a few of Flora’s soldiers still standing, but now they dropped to their knees and bowed their heads, acknowledging our victory. Zander leapt up to the top of the Horse and raised his sword high: the Guard around him followed with a loud cheer.
“Seleste!” came the cry, and I heard it reverberate around the Arena. “Hail to the Queen! Hail to Mistress Seleste!”
Edrius turned to face me, his face pale and sweat-streaked but glowing with delight. “Flora’s finished! She’s surrendered, too. We’ve won!”
“The Mistress has won,” I answered, but there was no anger to my automatic rebuke, I was smiling along with him. “Let’s get our men back down to the ground.”