It's time once more for Favorite Quote Friday! Dillon and Alyssa has been on my mind a lot since the Audie Awards announced A Sorceress of His Own is a Finalist. So for today's Favorite Quote Friday I thought I would share an excerpt of A Sorceress of His Own, the first book in my new series The Gift Ones. For those who are just hearing of the book for the first time, I'll preface the excerpt with a brief blurb. :-)
Feared and reviled as a sorceress, Alyssa must conceal her youth and the love she harbors for the fierce Earl of Westcott beneath umbral robes that lead him and his people to believe she is the same aged wisewoman who served his father. All is revealed, however, and passion soon flares when an enemy threatens Dillon's life and Alyssa sacrifices everything to save him.
Frustration beat at Dillon. Months had passed and the lord of Brimshire seemed no closer to surrender than he had been when the siege began.
“Do you think they are as well-fortified with provisions as Lord Edward would have us believe?” Sir Simon asked.
Several dead cows had been launched over the walls today. At first, Dillon and his men had feared they were diseased. ’Twas a common tactic in sieges.
But the cows had instead been meant to convey a simple message: Those besieging the castle would starve long before the inhabitants of the keep would. They had food aplenty inside the stout walls.
Dillon shook his head. “I know not . . . and have reached the end of my patience. Tomorrow we will begin constructing siege towers.” He had hoped to take the castle—one King Richard had granted him when Dillon had saved his life—without violence. Without death. Without destroying walls and structures he would then have to rebuild once Brimshire became his.
“Do you wish to send for the trebuchet?”
Ready to be done with it, Dillon nodded and started to speak.
A twig snapped in the forest.
Every man present leapt to his feet and drew his sword.
A small, black-robed figure stepped into the firelight, seeming to manifest directly from the darkness itself.
Several knights hastened to cross themselves.
Dillon motioned for all to stand down and waited for them to relax before the fire once more. Sheathing his own weapon, he crossed to the wisewoman’s side.
“My lord,” she greeted him in her raspy voice.
Dillon guided her away from his men. “What do you here, Wise One? ’Tis not safe.” How had she traveled such a distance? He saw none of his men with her. Had she come alone?
“My gifts told me you have need of my services,” she whispered.
He could remember a time in his youth when her voice had been stronger. But age had gradually weakened it, first cracking it then reducing it to this faint relic of its former self.
None knew the wisewoman’s true age. The more superstitious of his people, those who crossed themselves whenever she passed them, believed she possessed the powers of immortality and could claim centuries to her past. Others placed her age nigh that of the elders, who all swore she had served the Westcott lords for as long as the oldest amongst them had walked the earth. All Dillon knew with any certainty was that she had seen at least two-score and ten years, for she had advised his father throughout Dillon’s youth.
He recalled his intense curiosity as a boy. She had stood straighter then, had seemed taller, almost grandiose to a precocious child who would not see his final height of a few inches above six feet for many years. A floor-length black robe with long sleeves that fell beneath her fingertips and a cowl that shielded every feature and defied even the strongest gust of wind had been and still was her constant companion. As Dillon understood it, none had ever looked upon her unmasked. Not even his grandfather, beside whom the elders insisted she had first stood.
Since acquiring the title, Dillon had had little chance to speak with this mysterious woman who had served his family for so many years. He had spent most of his time quashing a cousin’s rebellion, then attempting to claim Brimshire. And, though he had known her peripherally all of his life, he had not yet decided how he felt about her coming to him as his advisor.
“All goes well here, Seer,” he told her. ’Twas not a lie. There had been no losses on his side. No sickness. As far as sieges went, this had been an uneventful one. “Tomorrow we will begin constructing siege towers—”
“Such will not be necessary.”
He stared at her, shocked that she had interrupted him. Everyone else feared him too much to risk the fury they all believed would erupt if they did so. “I know not—”
“Rest easy, my lord,” she whispered, interrupting him again. “Brimshire will be yours by sunrise.”
So saying, she backed away and let the forest swallow her.
Nonplussed, Dillon heard no sound of movement but knew without grabbing a torch and thrusting it forward that she was gone.
He turned to face his men.
Judging by their uneasy expressions, most had overheard.
“What do you suppose she meant by that?” Simon asked.
Dillon knew not and, retaking his place before the fire, decided to forgo sleep until she returned.
Hours later, as the sun rose and painted the land around them with a rosy dawn, a loud clanking sound disrupted the silence.
Dillon stood and faced the castle.
The drawbridge began to lower.
Waking his men with a single command, he mounted his destrier and drew his sword.
Squires fetched mounts. Knights climbed into saddles and drew weapons that glimmered in the strengthening sunlight.
The heavy outer portcullis slowly rose as Dillon and his men took up a position some distance from the end of the drawbridge.
A charged silence followed.
The inner portcullis rose.
All waited in tense anticipation for men to pour forth with a battle cry.
Minutes passed as bird song serenaded them.
Then a small black-robed figure emerged, face hidden by her cowl. Striding boldly across the drawbridge, she halted when she reached Dillon’s side. “As I said, my lord, siege towers will not be necessary. Brimshire is yours.”
Dillon stared down at her in astonishment as his men all crossed themselves in a flurry of motion.
She had accomplished in one night what a six-month siege had not.
Have a wonderful weekend!