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Duty: a novel of Rhynan by Rachel Rossano @RachelRossano

Excerpt -

My dreams tormented me. I watched in growing horror as Tomas died time after time. By sword, crossbow, and knife, the methods grew ever more grotesque. Each time, I watched helplessly as the life flickered and died in his inky, black eyes. My heart screamed silently. I clung to his hand as it grew cold and limp. Then only the shell of his body was left. His spirit, soul, all that I truly liked about him slipped away. I was alone again.
Each dream ended the same way, with me kneeling over Tomas. I was alone and dry-eyed, unable to cry in the midst of a corpse-strewn battlefield, while Orwin’s disembodied voice demanded to know how it felt to watch him die. “Does it hurt?”
I woke to the sensation of drowning. I scrambled into the sitting position, gasping for air. My heart raced. Unshed tears burned my eyes and a hard lump blocked the back of my throat. Nerves raw with the grief, I gained my feet and stumbled for the door, narrowly missing Darnay’s out-flung hand on the floor above his head. In my efforts to keep my balance, I tumbled outside. The door swung closed behind me as I landed on my back in the snow.
Cold sluiced through the fabric of my tunic as the snow soaked to my skin. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to move. My breath came out in a rushing sob.
Oh, Kurios, have mercy!
My tears fell hot and fast, sobs ripping through me with frightening force.
Suddenly someone was there. Strong hands pulled me from the ground and arms pulled me close.
“Hush!” I recognized Jarvin’s voice.
Unable to fight to be free, I let him hold me. My heart wanted Tomas. Just to touch him. Reassure myself that he was still alive.
“Let it out. It helps at times.”
“No.” I fought for control. “No. I know the dream is wrong.”
“Dream?” He drew back, finding my face among my wild half-damp hair. “Whatever did you dream about?”
“Tomas.” My breath caught. I closed my eyes against the images, but it only made them return. I opened my eyes again. “Repeatedly dying on the battlefield.”
“They were only dreams.” Jarvin’s steady blue eyes studied mine as he held my shoulders between his palms.
“I know. But…”
“They were so real.” Understanding softened his stare. He dropped his hands and stepped back. “At times I dream of the battle when I gained this.” He smacked his damaged thigh. “The agony flares up so I swear the wound is ripped open and raw once again. But then dawn comes and the pain goes away.” He smiled wanly. “Give it time.”
I tried. Still the sense something terrible was going to happen and might have already occurred continued to press me. It urged my steps and hurried every movement. By noon, my impatience with our progress annoyed even Anise.
“Do you intend to burn our meal?” She pulled the spit from my hand. “You have it too close to the fire. Burned food will not get us there any quicker.” She propped the stick-speared rabbits a short distance from the fire and began rotating them slowly. “Now what is bothering you so?”
Duty to King
Tomas Dyrease, the newly made Earl of Irvaine and the village of Wisenvale, owes his good fortune to his king and the recent civil war. When his benefactor demands Tomas marry the cousin of a noble, he obeys. However, no one warned him that she wasn’t a typical noblewoman.
Duty to Others
Brielle Solarius struggles to keep her village from starvation under the new Lord Wisten, her cousin. The men rode off to war and never returned. The remaining women and children face a dire winter if they do not find a solution soon. When she learns her cousin sold her into marriage to save his life, she isn’t surprised. However, she is taken aback by Lord Irvaine’s unpolished ways. Was this man a noble or a foot soldier?
Duty to Each Other
Bound by the words of their vows, they face a rough future. They must forge a marriage while battling betrayal, accusations of treason, and villains from the past. Survival depends on their precarious trust in each other. Failure could mean death.
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Genre – Fantasy, Romance
Rating – G
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