The Prince of Summer The Chronicles of Alcinia Book 5
by Miriam Newman Genre: Historical Fantasy Romance
Jossa of Havacia is an outcast--disinherited. But can a man born to be a warrior ever be anything less? From the snow-bound country of his birth to its island fortress and the mystical kingdom of Alcinia, Jossa’s destiny pursues him like the hand of fate in The Prince of Summer.
Men littered the Great Room. There was mud and blood everywhere, and anxious wives and children finding their husbands and fathers or, in some cases, learning that they never would.
The King and his men had found them and were in a ring that included Jossa and Sergius. A fortunate few had benches, but most sprawled on the floor except for the King, who was pacing.
“I told you to follow us,” Allam joked, “but we ended up following you.”
Sergius had fulfilled every expectation of him, clearing the path from the landing to the Keep single-handed except for Jossa, and Jossa could never tell anyone it was basically an accident. They had simply gotten separated from more experienced warriors who had gone ahead and then served as an inadvertent rear guard that became the front when enemies broke King Allam’s line. But the Alcinis needed another Sergius Magistri, and this one had kept Jossa alive. He put his head in his hand, bracing with his elbow on one knee, totally done in.
He felt Allam’s hand on his shoulder.
“Well done,” the King said. “Very well done indeed.”
Jossa had lost count of how many men he had killed, but it wasn’t heroism. They had been trying to kill him.
The King stopped circling, sinking to a knee beside him, speaking quietly.
“After the battle is just as hard, for some,” he said softly.
Jossa could only nod, tears in his eyes. He was not sure why he was crying. He seldom had, not even when Vanus had abandoned him. Very briefly, trying not to unman him in front of the others, the King pulled his head to his shoulder, with a hand in his wet hair. Jossa’s helmet lay discarded on the floor. “We are grateful to you. Alcinia never forgets.”
The Queen and her children were there. Jossa had seen them embracing him, but then they began moving among the men, helping to sort out the wounded, who were being taken to the Throne Room itself. There, surgeons and Holy Sisters tended them in the shadow of the throne. There would be many more tents hastily erected outside; they had many wounded, many dead, and the living needed shelter from the relentless rain. But Alcinia had survived.
“Will they come again, do you think?” Jossa finally asked Sergius.
“In time,” his friend replied. “But we have damaged them severely.”
“Aye,” an older Noble observed. “They went at Omana for two generations. The bastards are not easily discouraged.”
“We have something Omana did not,” another observed. “King Vanus.” He spared Jossa a glance, but he had a thing to say.
“Little as he may like us at times, the man’s a tactical genius. Omana rotted from within. He’s got us pulled together, three countries in an arc to the north, the Isle as a point, and Alcinia to the south, with nothing but open sea to the east. I do not think they can beat us.”
“Let us hope not,” another said, reaching for ale from a girl now circulating with tankards for the men. “Thank you, darling.”
The girl smiled at him. She was young and red-haired, a spritely little thing who put Jossa a bit in mind of Alesia, the bar maid. But this one was far better dressed. She looked like she might be a Noble’s daughter or family member who nonetheless brought comfort to the returning men like any common serving girl, heedless of her rank or theirs.
“Ale?” she asked Jossa, pausing. She carried a tray with multiple tankards, somehow managing not to spill any among the sea of bodies, so he nodded, standing to take it. It was still chaos in the Great Room and he did not want her spilling ale all over herself for her trouble.
“Thank you.” He lifted it from the tray, drinking deeply.
She smiled at him, eyes crinkling. They were the blue of the Alcinic Sea and she had a trim little figure.
“I am...” Jossa began introducing himself, but she laughed gently.
“Oh, we all know who you are. My name is Rosheen. Why don’t you find me, after? Once the men are attended, we will feast.”
She was uncommonly bold, if she was a Noble’s daughter. Usually, they were guarded like gold.
“Gladly,” he said.
She merely smiled, turning away, tray in hand.
Jossa could feel Sergius’s eyes on him. “What?” he asked.
His friend was grinning. “I get the accolades, you get the women.”
“Seems fair to me,” Jossa said. “I’m better looking.”
Fantasy poetry driven by myths and legends has been my passion for as long as I can remember. I was published in poetry before catching the romance writing bug. I bring that background to my writing along with a lifelong addiction to horses, an 18 year career in various areas of psychiatric social services and many trips to Ireland, where I nurture my muse. My published works range from contemporary fantasy romance to fantasy historical, futuristic, science fiction and historical romance. Currently I live in rural Pennsylvania with a “motley crew” of rescue animals. You can see my books at www.miriamnewman.com.