*This is a completed series*
King Wolfric Eberhand battles the last nation to stand against his raging armies. With help from the deadly knight, Sir Erin Caldry, he hopes to conquer the land of Dothan once and for all. Using his wealth and power, he has formulated the perfect plan to finally take their rich land. What he doesn’t realize, is the youngest Dothan princess is currently a slave within his very own castle walls.
While out visiting the remote estate of a relative, Princess Bethany Kavadh is kidnapped by slavers. Bedraggled and weary, she finds herself sold into slavery. To her horror, she soon discovers that her new owner is none other than her family’s worst enemy, King Wolfric. To fight her rising despair and to keep what little sanity she possess, Princess Bethany begins to fight back, sabotaging the efficient running of the House and function of their Armies.
But what happens when they realize her true identity?
Will they ransom her for the wealth of her nation?
Will they keep her as a slave? Or will they inflict an even crueler punishment?
The only things for certain are: The war between two nations will escalate, and one young princess’s life shall forever be TORN.
Targeted Age Group:: 15 and up
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I hate to admit it, but I was reading a book and didn’t like how it turned out, so I wrote my own. The Dothan Chronicles went through a bagillion rewrites—okay maybe like two rewrites—and now it is very much its own story.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters are all a wealth of fantasy, just more proof my brain is demented.
Bethany squatted in the tiny cell. It wasn’t anything more than a small, stone box with a tiny drain, and an access point in the ceiling, which was securely fastened from the outside. The cell was too short for her to stand up, and too narrow to lie down. She shifted to a new position, trying to stretch out her cold, aching body in small segments without causing any further pain to the throbbing mark on her thigh.
Solitary confinement wasn’t enough for a runaway slave. She had been branded—discreetly of course. The wealthy didn’t like ugly slaves. Granted, she knew if she were caught running again, she would be branded on the neck. A third offense would mean her death.
She leaned her head back against the wall and flinched away from the cold stones pressing against her bare flesh. Bethany had lost track of the hours since she’d been placed in the cell, though she suspected it had been about two days. Twice she had received a cup of water and a leftover scrap of food.
The first had been maggot infested bread, which she refused to eat. The lump still sat in the far corner, as far away from her as she could place it. The second offering had been some charred meat, which she’d eaten mostly out of desperation. Bethany never said thank you when they dropped the food and lowered the cup of water. They didn’t expect her to, and she hadn’t been taught such manners. Then again, she hadn’t been born a slave, either.
No one was. Slaves were people who either had been unable to pay their debts, or unable to protect themselves from the dreaded slavers. Bethany was the latter. She tried not to think about her life before slavery, but it was difficult, nigh impossible. The two lives were so very different.
Bethany had been born the daughter of a king. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying not to remember the tall walls that surrounded her family’s keep, or the sprawling city encompassing it. The only thought that kept her calm was the knowledge that her home still existed, that her family continued to live. She knew because she’d often heard King Wolfric, the father of her new master, complaining about their continued defiance. Of course, he didn’t know she was the youngest daughter of his enemy, Middin, King of Tokë.
She had been returning from Garrul, near the border of her family’s shrinking land, when they were attacked. Her large caravan was traveling through the winding mountain pass. Bethany squeezed her eyes tighter, but the memory invaded her senses unbidden.
“Are you comfortable, my lady?” her lady-in-waiting, Nuala, asked.
Bethany nodded, keeping her thoughts to herself. She hated traveling through the steep mountains, even in spring, when the forest was alive with new growth and noisy birds. The jostle of the large wagon gave her a pounding headache and a rolling stomach. These were more than ample reason to not want to visit Uncle Lord Elias in Garrul. The fact that the old man was completely inept at entertaining a young woman was just salt in an open wound. He was gouty and lazy in general, but he was family and her father had insisted she make the visit. There had been peace between him and Wolfric for nearly two years, so there seemed little chance of an attack. Well, a lack of fighting, if not actual peace. Besides, her uncle was sickly and in need of encouragement—what better occupation for the youngest daughter of a king than lightening the heart of a war-weary man?
Finally, after a long and lonely month, Bethany was returning home.
The first hint of trouble came when the cumbersome wagon came to a stop. Such an event only happened at high noon or at the end of the day’s traveling; it took too much time and energy to get the six enormous horses moving again. The men often rode ahead to clear fallen branches from the road or lay gravel on muddier portions, and sometimes the forerunners would even turn aside other travelers, forcing them to wait until her caravan had passed. Of course, seeing the wagon of a princess was a form of entertainment to the lowly bystanders. Occasionally, Bethany would even condescend to waive at them from the small window.
Bethany was just about to send one of her three maids out to see what the delay was when she heard shouts, followed by a piercing cry of pain. The clanking of swords and yelling of men quickly followed. Bethany shrank into the fur lined bench. The other women in the wagon followed her example. All, but one. Her lady-in-waiting, Nuala, jumped to the tiny window and tweaked the thick drape aside to peer out. She quickly ducked back as something thudded into the wagon, jostling the heavy wooden frame. Nuala’s eyes had grown in fright, but she kept her wits about her while Bethany quivered in her seat.
Nuala yanked the fur covering from the floor to reveal the tiny trap door. “You have to run,” she ordered, staring at the princess.
Bethany understood the words, but couldn’t grasp their meaning. Fear deadened her limbs and slowed her mind to a crawl. More out of shock than obedience, she moved towards her lady-in-waiting and the small opening in the floor, which permitted the sounds of battle to fill their plush sanctuary.
“Where do I go?” she wailed, as though the other women would have some hidden insight.
“Anywhere! Just run and hide. And don’t come back until you know the battle is over,” Nuala said before unceremoniously pushing the princess through the trap door. Bethany didn’t fight her, though she barked her shins against the axel and smacked her forehead on the opening. Before she could respond, Nuala closed the hatch and locked it. For a fleeting moment, Bethany wondered if Nuala had sent the princess into the forest to save those still in the wagon. Would they spare the women if they didn’t find royalty? It didn’t make sense. Then again, the entire attack didn’t make sense.
Bethany didn’t wait to figure it out. She inched her way to the edge of the wagon closest to the lining forest, glanced in both directions to be sure no one was too close, and bolted for the surrounding trees. Three steps from the wagon she found herself dancing around a frantic horse’s backend. Thankfully, the rider didn’t notice her, his whole attention on his frantic mount. Just a few feet from the nearest tree, her soft leather slippers sank into the deep mud and disappeared. Bethany hesitated, wanting to stop to dig them free from the mire, but the screech of an injured horse sent her flying.
She tottered up the incline and into the forest. The trees were close together where large slabs of granite didn’t interrupt their growth. Some even twisted around the protruding rocks, determined to grow despite nature’s obstruction. The rocks and pine needles defaced her feet as she scrambled through the forest. She stumbled a few times, adding new bruises to her legs and hands while the branches reached out, clutching at her dress and hair.
A few minutes into her headlong run, she vaulted over a rock, right into a river. The water was slow, but icy cold. Her long gown quickly grew so heavy she could barely keep her head above water as she paddled towards the other side. At the opposite edge, she dragged herself out, using the thick branches of wild berry bushes to keep herself from slipping back into the water. The banks were covered in spring mud, and by the time she reached solid ground, Bethany’s elegant, green dress was caked in black sludge. She almost wanted to jump back into the river to cleanse herself, but a gust of wind reminded her just how cold the water was. Another dip in the river would only make her colder; besides, she’d just have to climb through the mud again.
For the first time, Bethany stopped to take stock of her surroundings. She stood next to a wide river that came from a short waterfall a half dozen yards away. Enormous fir trees grew in splotches around the river. The ground was covered with last winter’s pine needles that pricked her bare feet. Through a clearing, she thought she spotted a road. Had she doubled back on herself or was this a different road? She wasn’t even sure which direction she’d run. As the princess forced herself to think about it, she had a sneaking suspicion that she’d run in the general direction of King Wolfric’s lands.
Bethany shivered, wrapping her arms around her chest in an effort to conserve body heat. She belatedly realized that her plush cloak had been torn off at some point. She reached up and touched her head; the simple ring of gold had fallen off, too. Bethany wanted to go back and search for it, but that would require another dunking in the river. Not really worth it, she realized as she considered her predicament. Another guest of wind set her teeth to rattling. From the distant clearing she heard men’s voices and horse’s hooves.
Bethany forced herself to move and find some cover. The only thing she could find was a large bush, much closer to the road than wisdom promoted. Other than that one dead bush, every other piece of ground cover was too thin or small to hide her entire body. In retrospect, Bethany had one moment of wisdom that day; following a sudden instinct, she pulled her small, gold signet ring from her pinky and slipped it into her mouth, hoping she wouldn’t swallow it in her fright.
“What’s that?” a man’s voice called out.
Thinking she’d been discovered, Bethany stepped out from her bush. “P-please, h-help m-m-me,” she asked, her teeth clattering together and making it difficult to speak. She felt the ring pressed between her gums and her cheek.
The man smiled, showing the many gaps in his teeth. Bethany glanced at the rest of his caravan and realized just what a mistake she had made. Trailing behind the smiling man was a row of men and women connected by a rope twined around their necks.
She had just asked for help from a slaver.
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