The Wyndmaster's Son [Wyndmaster Series Book 2]
Click on image to enlarge.
by Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Description: The plot her best friend thought up was downright diabolical, but as reluctant as Princess Lanelle was to put it in motion, she could see the merits of it when the alternative was to wed the man her father had chosen for her. The end, she thought, would justify the means and everyone could go happily about their business. Unfortunately, she discovered she'd reckoned without the temper and ruthlessness of her 'chosen' one. Rating: carnal-adult situations, bondage/forced seduction
eBook Publisher: New Concepts Publishing, 2007 2007
eBookwise Release Date: November 2007
58 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [287 KB]
Reading time: 191-267 min.
The enraged shout reverberated through the fortress, bounced off the thick stone walls and echoed down the long, winding corridors to send servants and warriors alike scampering for safety.
"Now, Your Grace..." the Minister of Information began in a calming, rational voice.
"Don't Your Grace me, Wilfred!"
The second shout was louder than the first.
Three warriors stood with Lord Wilfred Mattingly, their hands on the hilts of their very serviceable swords. Accustomed to the wrath of their liege lord, they stared straight ahead, allowing Lord Wilfred to soothe the Prince if it was at all possible.
"How long have they been holding him?" Prince Thiessen Allen, Duke of Northumberton, Laird of Dragonmoor asked between his teeth, striving for composure.
"We're not sure, Your Grace, but it seems he has been missing from Zykanthos for nigh on two weeks," Lord Wilfred replied.
"And someone is just now getting around to letting me know my addle-headed brother went missing?"
One of the three warriors put up a hand to clear his throat, garnering his liege lord's attention.
"What, Vargas?" Thiessen snapped.
"Morgan is hardly ever at Vista del Mar, Your Grace," Captain Vargas DuMond told the Prince. "The little bastard flits around wherever it pleases him with no one to tell him yeah or nay."
Thiessen narrowed his eyes at the man who was old enough to be his grandfather, a man who had served with his father, King Sierran, and who had now been assigned to the regency fortress at Windemere where Thiessen ruled. To Thiessen's way of thinking, the old warrior and his companions had been put out to pasture, placed where the King thought they could do no harm and live out the remaining years of their lives in relative comfort.
"Are you condemning me for not keeping a closer eye and firmer rein on Morgan, Vargas?" the Prince growled.
"If the boot fits," Vargas said, his emerald eyes as bright as those of a man half his age. "Your father warned you about Morgan."
Sighing savagely, Thiessen began pacing the cold stone floors. When the second of the two warriors started to speak, the Prince held up a hand to stay his words. "I'm thinking," he told the warrior.
MacDougal exchanged a look with Vargas then rolled his eyes. The two men were about the same age while the third warrior and younger brother to Vargas, Seth DuMond, continued to stare straight ahead of him. Though Seth was in his early sixties both Vargas and Mac considered him a youngster and rarely asked for his counsel.
Furious that once again his half-brother had caused him trouble, Thiessen glared at the grout lines in the stone floor and silently cursed Morgan Summerall. From the time they'd met as boys, neither had cared for the other and Morgan had shown nothing but disdain for the royal side of his family. He thought back on the day they had been introduced.... * * * *
"His mother is a nun at St. Carolus Convent," Thiessen's mother explained as the carriage rolled along the road leading to Haverton Hall.
"A nun?" Thiessen asked, eyes wide. "But Mama, how can that be?"
"It's a long story and one you're not quite old enough to hear as yet," his mother, Queen Celeste, replied. "Let it suffice to say that Lady Beatrice bore a son by your father and that son is your half-brother, Lord Morgan Summerall."
Thiessen frowned. "Why isn't his name Allen, Mama?"
"Because that is his mother's name, dearling."
"Oh." Thiessen thought about that for a moment. "So he's not royal like me?"
Queen Celeste gave him a warning look. "What did we discuss about thinking of yourself in that light, Thie?"
He shrugged. "I meant he's not of the royal house of Justonia."
"Well, not technically, no, although he is the son of its King." * * * *
It had been hate at first sight when the two ten year old boys met. Only a few days separated them in age with Morgan being the elder but from the way he acted, he made Thiessen feel much the younger.
"I'm a bastard," Morgan had proclaimed. "And I'm don't have to take shit from you, you little fop!"
"Morgan!" Lord Edward Gillespie, Earl of Haverton, had hissed, reaching out to box the boy's ear. "What did I tell you? You show respect for Prince Thiessen."
"Prince my hairy ass! He ain't nothing to me!" Morgan had snarled. "I'm my mother's son and not just his father's by-blow!"
Thinking back upon learning that their father had been forced into validating a Joining to Lady Beatrice Summerall just so he could be given title to her late husband's estate at Patterly--land Sierran Morgan's father desperately wanted to extend the family's estate at Argonne--Thiessen had never considered Morgan to be a by-blow. After all, his half-brother had been conceived from that single union and the impregnation had occurred when Lady Beatrice was legally married to Sierran. It was only later that the Joining had been annulled by King Edmond and Thiessen's parents were married.
It had not taken long until the two boys were scuffling in the dirt, pummeling each other with blows that it took grown men to put a stop to, physically jerking the combatants apart. Black eyes, split lips, bruised cheeks and egos had been the outcome that had necessitated a second carriage following the Queen's as Morgan was taken to the harbor to board the ship sailing for his new home in Emardia.
It had been to the palace at Dullwitch where Morgan had been brought but it was soon apparent the boy could not be around his younger brother without trouble brewing so Morgan had been sent to his father's estate at Vista del Mar on the island of Zykanthos and it was there he grew up, later to become laird of that beautiful hillside mansion. Now twenty-five years later, the two men were virtual strangers, having seen one another no more than a dozen times in the intervening years. The last time they'd seen one another was when they were in their mid twenties and had attended the state funeral of the man who had adopted their father and made Sierran his heir, King Edmond of Emardia.
Running a hand through his thick brown hair, the Prince finally halted and turned to give the trio of warriors a tired look. "What do you suggest I do, Vargas?" Thiessen asked the elderly warrior.
"We can have a team of men assembled in two hours if you're of a mind to have me go after the little bastard, Your Grace," Vargas answered. "If it was me, I'd leave him to rot in Ambergast, myself, but I don't imagine your father would be too happy about it."
Thiessen put up his hand to nibble on his thumbnail, a habit he'd had since childhood whenever his mind was in turmoil. "Does he know?"
Vargas shook his head. "Not yet, but he'll find out soon enough."
"There's no love lost between him and Morgan," Thiessen commented and glanced at Mac whose snort was loud in the still room.
"That was the Lady Beatrice's doing," Mac reminded his liege lord. "She started right off the bat poisoning Summerall's mind, feeble as it is."
The Justonian prince smiled slightly. "He's not known for his mental acuity, is he?"
"No, Your Grace," Mac responded.
Thiessen looked at Seth. "What do you think?"
Seth took a deep breath. "We're not at war with Solaria and I'd just as soon keep it that way. I've no idea why the King would order Summerall taken unless it is as leverage."
"What kind of leverage would that be?" Vargas asked his brother.
When Seth didn't answer, the others turned their gazes to MacDougal. The warrior hailed from that mountainous region.
"Don't look at me," Mac said. "I haven't been home since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I've no idea what King Robert was thinking or if he had a hand in the abduction at all. It's well known his men often act before clearing things with him."
"I can't see any advantage for them to take Morgan," Thiessen said.
"Ransom maybe?" Lord Wilfred asked. "Solarians are a thieving, larcenous bunch." He gave Mac a short nod. "Present company excluded, of course."
"Of course," Mac agreed.
"Could be," Thiessen acknowledged. "But if that's the case, why haven't they sent us a ransom demand?"
"They could have sent it to the King," Lord Wilfred replied.
"Possible but not likely," Vargas said. "Dullwitch is farther away. We're right down the coast from the sneaking bastards."
"You're sure he's being held at Ambergast?" Thiessen queried.
"In chains in the dungeon if my spy got the right of it," Vargas answered. "Where he could stay if it was my decision to make."
"The keep is the winter home of the royal family, is it not?" Thiessen asked.
"It is but the King and his new Queen are in residence at the palace in Rexford. As far as I know Princes Malcolm and Guilford are still at the war college in Danvers and the young Princess is in boarding school near Cunnolian."
"Then who the hell is holding Morgan at Ambergast?" Thiessen demanded.
"Some of King Robert's more enterprising warriors is my guess," Vargas replied.
"Well, assemble your team of men, Captain, and let's go spoil their fucking weekend," the Prince said with clenched jaw.
Vargas blinked. "You're coming with us?"
"I'm of a mind to slap my blade across the rump of whoever instigated this mess and, if truth be told, I wouldn't mind seeing Morgan languishing in a filthy cell," Thiessen told his men.
It had been a while since Thiessen had been out with his troops and though he had trained at the prestigious Citadel of Emardia and been bestowed the illustrious designation of WyndMaster, he had yet to join in any campaign. With his country at peace, there had been no enemies with whom to fight. He was his father's personal champion but had done nothing as yet to earn the title.
Vargas and Mac frowned at their liege lord's words but both knew him to be an excellent warrior even if he had yet to shed an opponent's blood on a field of battle. They knew he was a skilled swordsman and possessed a level head though his temper left a lot to be desired. Each had added to their Prince's training and felt him to be accomplished if not experienced. Neither saw any reason to deny his going with them even if they had the authority to do so.
"Is this wise?" Seth asked as he watched the young Prince walking quickly from the room, calling a servant to ready his weapons for him.
"I guess we'll find out," Vargas replied.
"He's physically fit," Mac said. "In better shape than the three of us, that's a certainty."
"Aye, but my gut tells me we're doing the wrong thing here," Seth stated. "I'd just as soon leave him behind."
Vargas grunted. "And you think he'd simply stay 'cause we told him to?"
"No, but.... "Seth cocked a shoulder. "Mayhap things will turn out all right."
"They'd better or Sierran will have our hides," Vargas declared.
"No," Mac said emphatically. "Celeste will!"