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Authors: Eressë

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Gay, #Fantasy

By Chance Met

By Chance Met

Chronicles of Ylandre, Book Three

Eressë

(c) 2011

By Chance Met

Chronicles of Ylandre, Book Three

Eressë

Published 2011

ISBN 978-1-59578-867-2

Published by Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, 10509

Sedgegrass Dr, Indianapolis, Indiana 46235. Copyright © 2011, Eressë . All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.

Manufactured in the United States of America

Liquid Silver Books

http://LSbooks.com

Email:

[email protected]

Editor

Devin Govaere

Cover Artist

Anne Cain

This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.

Blurb

A chance meeting heralds the convergence of two heretofore wildly divergent fates.

From the moment he laid eyes on the handsome Lord of Ilmaren, Naeth Orosse fell head over heels in infatuation with him. And after that first meeting in the middle of a tavern brawl in the dual-gendered realm of Ylandre, Reijir Arthanna did not forget the orphaned youth who came to his aid unasked. When fate brings them together anew, Reijir becomes Naeth’s guardian, which proves both blessing and bane when their mutual attraction is guilelessly nursed by one and distrustfully downplayed by the other.

Between attempting to ignore Naeth’s artless overtures and suppressing feelings he had long disavowed, Reijir has his hands full. But more than a title and duty were forced on this enigmatic cousin of Ylandre’s king. A less than benevolent past has left its imprint on Reijir who is as known for his cynical outlook on life as he is for his exotic features and proficiency between the sheets. Convincing him to risk his heart in love is a battle more experienced Deira than Naeth have waged and invariably lost.

Publisher’s Note

There are glossaries of terms, characters and places at the end of the book.

Prologue

Imposition

Ylandre, in the 2986th year of the Common Age

“I’m sorry you must pay so high a price, brother.”

The newly named heir apparent of Ilmaren half turned from the window and the view of the spacious courtyard fronting the great Arthanna manse. Reijir looked at Keiran questioningly, raven eyebrows rising.

“Why apologize for a deed you didn’t commit?” he asked.

Keiran shrugged. “Because
Aba
never will.”

Reijir snorted and shook his head. He looked out the window again, his studied indifference belying the welter of confused emotions Keiran could sense underlying his calm. The older Arthanna son stifled a sigh.

Veres almighty, Reijir had just attained the age of consent and was still five years short of his majority. He’d only started to live—really live—and all of a sudden their sire had yanked the figurative rug from under him and ensured a lifetime of unrelenting duty and service to their fief and its people.

Keiran waited several heartbeats before continuing. “You’ll suffer more for this than I,” he said.

Rejjir glanced back at him, frowning. “Will I? You know
Aba
intends to contract you before summer’s end. Is being forced into an unwanted union no hardship for you, Kei?”

“It’s a hardship for anyone, but I’ve expected it all my life,” Keiran pointed out.

“You haven’t. And even less are you ready to be stripped of what you do want.”

“What do you mean?”

Keiran took a deep breath before speaking. “
Aba
never approved of Darion. He’s barely tolerated your affair with him as it is. Think you he’ll stay his hand now that you’ll succeed him?”

That made Reijir turn around to face him, his eyes widening with consternation.

“What could he possibly do to take Darion away from me?”

“That I can’t say,” Keiran said. “But he spoke with Darion yestereve after he informed me that he intended to name you heir.”

Reijir stared at him. “How do you know?”

“Right after we talked, he ordered his steed readied. I wondered why—he rarely goes riding nowadays. So I told Ruomi to go after him. He followed
Aba
to Balas, Rei. To Darion’s house.”

“And only this morn did he bother to tell me of his decision.” Reijir’s eyes suddenly flashed with angry fire. “Deity’s blood! How I long for the day when we shall both be truly free of
Aba
and his tiresome interference in our lives!”

Keiran bit his lip then murmured, “I’ll be free of him. But I fear you won’t. Not completely. He made sure of that when he bypassed me in your favor.” He smiled sadly at his brother. “You’ll always have to choose between duty and happiness for the one will not always come with the other.”

Reijir’s mouth tightened. “Perhaps. But at least I shall be the one to make those

choices, not he.” He looked out the window, gazing in the direction of Balas, one of the villages that nestled among the low hills to the north of Ilmaren’s capital of Althia. “But now I think I had best pay Darion a visit.” He turned eyes darkened with apprehension on Keiran. “What did
Aba
do, I wonder?”

“Likely he attempted to persuade Darion to end your affair. What other reason could there be for that visit?”

“Likely you’re right. And if he succeeded…” Reijir drew a deep breath. “What then will I do?”

At times like this, Keiran was reminded of just how innocent his brother still was despite the yearlong liaison that had introduced him to love and only lately initiated him into the word of carnal pleasure. He reached for Reijir’s shoulder and gripped it.

“You’ll do what you’ve always done, Rei. Pick yourself up and move on.”

“If I can.”

Grim-faced, Reijir turned away and strode out of the study. Keiran gazed after him with a heavy heart. Many minutes later, he looked out the window and saw his brother walk out to the courtyard below where a groom had a steed ready for him. Reijir looked composed as he almost always did, but Keiran was not deceived by that calm façade. He watched Reijir mount the sleek beast and ride out of the keep.

Keiran murmured a silent prayer, hoping against faint hope that fate had not conspired against Reijir and a chance at true happiness.

Chapter One

Fortuity

Rikara, in the 3006th year of the Common Age

Naeth tucked stray strands of umber-hued hair behind his ear as he quickly wiped a tabletop of spilled alcohol and food crumbs. He looked around, checking to see if there were other tables to clear and clean, before returning to the back room to wash used tankards, glasses and plates. He sighed when he saw the number of dishes piled up in the sink.

He supposed he should be grateful that Camrion had invested in a basic plumbing system for his tavern’s washing needs. Naeth could only imagine how it must be in other establishments dependent on the public spigots and deep wells outside. Not to mention the questionable state of the cleanliness of their glassware and dishes.

That was probably one good reason why the Vomare’s clientele was a hair’s breadth more genteel than those of its neighbors. That its proprietor also took pains to keep the lowest of the riff raff out of his establishment was another. Thus there were not as many frays on the premises on any given day, and Camrion had to eject rowdy patrons perhaps only once an evening four or five nights a week. That was quite a feat when compared to the multiple near destructive brawls that regularly occurred in other barrooms.

Nonetheless, the Vomare was the last locale in all Ylandre one might have expected to find young Naeth Orosse. For that matter, the seedy south district of Rikara was no place for gently bred youngsters of the gentry. Troublesome enough during the day, the district was downright perilous come nightfall for the naïve and unarmed.

Naeth became acutely aware each and every night that he did not belong in the district and should not have come here at all his first day in from the fief of Losshen. But an orphan of next to no means did not have much of a choice, and Naeth could only count himself most fortunate that nothing horrid had happened to him when he sought help from an old friend of his father’s.

“A fire!” Camrion had repeated with horror when Naeth recounted the circumstances of his entire family’s demise. “Merciful Veres. I hope they didn’t suffer too much. And you? How did you escape?”


“It was such a hot night, I went out to sleep on the porch,” Naeth mournfully explained. “Next I knew all the houses on the street were aflame. The fire spread so quickly, many of our neighbors were trapped in their homes.”

“Yes, this past summer was unusually hot,” Camrion agreed. “Everything would have been as dry as tinder, even the houses.” He sighed regretfully. “So, what about you?

Why did you come to me?”


Adda
oft talked about you,” Naeth answered. “He said you were one of his best friends and that you both made a promise that you would look after each other’s families in case you—well, in case.”

“We did promise,” Camrion admitted. He shook his head. “We were so young then.

As you can see, I’m just a simple tavern owner. What did Jiron wind up doing?”


Adda
taught at our town school.”

“Ah yes, he was always something of a scholar.” Camrion smiled reminiscently. “I did wonder how we ended up being friends.” He sighed again. “Well then, I suppose there’s always room for another helper. Mind you, it’ll be more than serving customers

and cleaning tables. You’ll have to help in the kitchen, too, and with the washing up as well.”

So here was Naeth, doing odd jobs at a Rikara tavern. It was not what his parents would have ever expected him to do. But then they had not expected to die so suddenly either, leaving their youngest son alone and without resources beyond an old friend from days gone by. And in any case, it was far more respectable work than toiling in a brothel for instance. Now if only Camrion’s mate Lemael were as sympathetic, but one could not have everything.

Naeth came out of the back room, carrying a tray of clean tankards. He arranged them on the shelves under the counter. A rush of fresh air and sounds from the street outside heralded the arrival of newcomers, and Naeth glanced at the tavern entrance. He stared at the party of Deira who strode into the Vomare, stripping off their gloves as they did.

Though hardly dressed for a formal night out, judging from the quality of their attire, they were countless cuts above the Vomare’s other patrons. And the way they carried themselves—such assurance came not from the mere knowledge of being of a higher class but from the actual daily experience of it. Naeth realized even without knowing their identities that these Deira were not ordinary well-born
enyra
or True Bloods, the de facto ruling class. They were bluebloods from the highest echelons of Ylandrin society.

His conclusion was borne out by the elliptical gold earrings they wore on their left ears, adorned either by sapphire, emerald or creamy milkstone.

He thought in passing of his suncrystal stud—emblem of his minority—hidden in the depths of his closet in the tiny attic room Camrion had provided him three floors up.

Camrion had advised Naeth not to reveal his social station. The earrings of the common folk, if they could afford them in the first place, bore no stones, gems being the exclusive domain of the aristocracy and gentry. Though Naeth’s parents had been lower caste
sedyra
or Half Bloods who’d worked to support their family, his sire’s antecedents had been respectable enough to merit him inclusion in the minor gentry.

Naeth watched the bluebloods take over a table, unmindful of the sidelong glances and curious gazes aimed at them. There were four of them, all arrestingly handsome, strong looking, sinuous of build and taller than the average Deira. Two were dark-haired, one was quite fair and the fourth had a head of bright red-brown tresses. Of the dark-haired pair, one bore a marked resemblance to the mahogany-haired Deir leading Naeth to suspect they were close kin. The other was of such striking countenance Naeth had to remind himself not to stare too closely at him.

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