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A War For Love

A War For Love

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With the Tri-Gard in their grasp and magic returned to the land, Trystan should rejoice in the hope it has brought. 

Instead, he finds himself watching his sister let the power consume her. He watches Davion struggle with memories wrought by that same power, twisted and confusing.

And he knows, nothing good comes from magic. 

Main Tropes

  • Forbidden Romance
  • Opposites Attract
  • War
  • Fade to Black
  • Magic
  • Warrior Princess


Some evil isn’t meant to end. 

War is inevitable, its outcome unpredictable. 

With the Tri-Gard in their grasp and magic returned to the land, Trystan should rejoice in the hope it has brought. 

Instead, he finds himself watching his sister let the power consume her. He watches Davion struggle with memories wrought by that same power, twisted and confusing.

And he knows, nothing good comes from magic. 

The Dark King has brought his army across the border, gathering magic as they move, and Trystan must march to meet them with his army of farmers and merchants. An army that has not yet learned how to control their new power. 

This time, it looks like they’ve lost the war before spilling the first drop of blood. 

But the first rule of magic is that it shouldn’t be underestimated, because sometimes, it can have a life of its own.


They were coming.

The only thing louder than the horse’s hooves beating into the packed dirt of the forest path was the pounding of Trystan’s heart as he ran. A branch whipped him in the face, sending a sting of pain across his cheek. But he didn’t slow.

He veered off the path where the horses could no longer follow him and ducked behind the mossy base of a tree, colliding with someone as he came to a stop.

His hands flew out, and he gripped his sister’s shoulders, hauling her to the pine-covered ground where they hid from the men on horseback.

“Dammit, Ri.” He rolled off her as soon as their pursuers were gone. “I told you to stay with the others.”

She set her jaw and jumped to her feet. “Since when do I obey you?”

Never. That was the answer. She’d never listened to him.

He shook his head and ran a trembling hand through his sweat-soaked hair. “You could have been seen.”

“So could you.”

He let out an irritated breath, turning to walk back into the woods with its canopy of red and gold leaves. He’d left the rest of the group hidden off the main path, Ri included. He should have known she wouldn’t listen, but that did little to ease his annoyance. They were so close to home now, but if they were caught, it would have all been for nothing.

Rissa’s shoulders dropped. “I was worried about you. It’s getting dark and you’ve been gone a while.”

He couldn’t fight with his sister any longer, so he swung an arm over her shoulder. “That was the third group of Isenore soldiers we’ve seen in these woods. We can’t be more than half a day’s ride from the palace. They’ve grown bold.”

“We’ll be safe behind the palace walls by tomorrow.”

“Safe.” Safety was an illusion. With Calis sitting across the border and Eisner still roaming the mountains, there was no such thing as safe in Dreach-Sciene.

“Stop,” Rissa hissed.

Trystan froze, afraid even one crunch of the leaves underneath his feet would give them away. “They’re coming back.” He looked down at his sister’s empty hands. “You followed me and didn’t bring your bow?”

“I wasn’t thinking about anything other than getting away without Davi seeing me.”

“Next time,” he said. “Think.” He released her. “Come on.” He took off, only glancing back once to make sure his sister followed behind. “You’re prepared to use your magic?”

His sister hadn’t seemed to need training in magic. She knew instinctively what to do, unlike him, but it still wasn’t the first mode of protection that came to her mind.

“Yeah,” she whispered.

The horses neared and the shouts from their riders grew louder. “Halt!” one ordered. “You are under arrest.”

Trystan swerved and jumped over a fallen tree. His eyes flicked back over his shoulder, but Rissa wasn’t there.

“Trystan,” she yelled.

He reeled around and charged back the way he’d come. Four men on horseback surrounded Rissa. Trystan reached for his sword, but there was no need for his protection.

Rissa dropped to the ground and set her hands upon it. Color rose in her cheeks and a breeze blew her brilliant red hair away from her face. None of the soldiers moved in as she stood and spun, a flash of white light ripping from her hands. It struck each of them, stunning them and sending them flying from their horses.

Trystan’s lips quirked up. The magic didn’t touch the horses. That was his sister.

“Stop,” another voice entered the fray as the rest of their group appeared, pulling up at the sight of Rissa. Eyes flicked from her to the unconscious men until finally finding Trystan.

A young man jumped from his horse and tore his helmet off, throwing it to the ground in haste. He dropped to one knee. “Your Majesty.”

Trystan released a breath. “Thank the earth.” He laughed as he rubbed his forehead. “Wren.”

Rissa lowered her hands, her eyes scanning the green fabric stretched across their chests. “You’re wearing Isenore colors.” She shook her head and turned away from the men she’d hit with her power.

Wren stood quickly. “Yes, Princess. The woods of Aldorwood have been plagued by bands of Isenore soldiers. It isn’t safe for travelers in Dreach-Sciene. These men have been terrorizing the villages at the edge of the forest. Our task is to hunt them.” He rubbed the chest of his uniform. “No matter what we have to do to get it done.”


Wren nodded to one of his men. “Check the injured.”

“They aren’t dead.” Rissa bit her lip. “Only knocked out.”

“I’d ask how you have mastered control of your magic, Princess, but it’s the Tenelach, isn’t it?” Wren asked.

Rissa nodded.

“We need to get the others.” Trystan walked forward. “I’d like to return to the palace as soon as possible. Wren, come with us. Have your men load up the injured and be ready to leave when we return.”

Wren jerked his head toward one of his men in silent order before following the king and princess.

There was a beat of silence before Wren spoke again. “I didn’t imagine you’d actually do it, your Majesty. Bring us back to magic.”

“Thank you for your faith.” Trystan pressed his lips together. They’d all had the same notion at some point in their journey. And they’d all been wrong.

A heavy hand landed on Trystan’s shoulder and he looked sideways at Wren. As the prince and then now king, he wasn’t used to this level of familiarity from anyone besides Davi. He didn’t brush him off.

Wren stopped moving and forced Trystan to stand still. “Thank you, your Majesty. You’ll be hearing that a lot, but I had to say it. And you, Princess.”

Davi’s words entered Trystan’s mind as they had each night on their trek home. Wren shouldn’t be thanking him. He’d done exactly as Calis wanted. He’d opened Dreach-Sciene to a magical war they probably had no chance of winning.

They reached the spot among the vibrant trees where they’d left the others and Davi ran toward them, stopping directly in front of Rissa.

Neither of them spoke. They’d struggled to say much of anything to each other lately. But their eyes held everything they couldn’t say. Rissa’s shone with defiance and Davi’s darkened with anger.

Davi tore his gaze away and turned to Trystan. “What happened? You left to make sure the path was clear and didn’t return.” He scanned Wren from floppy curls to dirty boots. “And you return with an Isenore man?”

“Davion, this is Wren.” Trystan gestured to the man beside him. “He’s… well, I guess he is an Isenore man.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “But he’s a part of my guard. His mother is one of the few loyal nobles in Isenore.”

“Davion.” Wren pursed his lips, contemplating the name. “Aren’t you the guy they’re all saying is dead?”

Davi grunted and turned away. “I’ll prepare the horses.”

Once he was gone, Trystan turned to Wren. “Long story.”

“Not so long.” Rissa’s eyes followed Davi. “He died. Was brought back to life by his evil king father who erased all his memories. Then he tried to kill us. Brood. Brood. Brood. Here we are.” She turned a harsh glare on Wren. “Any other questions?”

She turned on her heel and left to join Alixa on the other side of the group. Wren released a chuckle as he watched her stomp off. “Tough crowd.”

“She’s been through a lot.”

“It looks like you all have.”

“You have no idea.”

* * *

Davi’s eyes roamed the high walls before him. The palace of Dreach-Sciene hadn’t changed at all, yet it was a foreign place to him. The last time he’d been there was before they set out for Sona.

He closed his eyes and sucked in a breath, willing the other images to disappear. The ones he knew were false, implanted to turn him against the place that had been his home. Chains. Prisons. He swore he could still feel the sting of fists beating into him during his captivity.

Trystan’s fists.

No. It never happened.

“Davion.” Ramsey nudged his horse up beside Davi. “I know this must be hard.”

“You know nothing.” Davi couldn’t keep the resentment he felt for the man out of his voice.

“What Calis forced me to do to you was horrible. I didn’t just steal your memories, I changed them. You still feel it, don’t you? The anger. The hatred.”

“The only person who deserves my anger is you.”

“You’re right. But there’s a difference between someone deserving it and receiving it. Just remember, Dreach-Sciene was not your prison. They are not the ones who kept you prisoner.”

“I wasn’t a…” What was he going to do? Defend his father? Defend Dreach-Dhoun?

“Prisoner?” Ramsey finished for him. “There are more ways to hold a person than with chains and cages. Love can be a trap. He’s your father. And a part of you still sees the Renaulds as the ones who kept you from him.”

“Stop speaking as if you know me.”

“You forget, young man, I have been in your mind. The only person who knows you better than yourself is me.”

Davi opened his mouth to refute that, but Trystan rode up, a frown marring his face.

“A hero’s return, can you believe that?” His fingers clenched around the reins. “Wren and the others in the palace want me to return as if I’ve just saved Dreach-Sciene.”

“To them, you have.” Lonara shielded her eyes against the bright morning sun. They’d ridden through the night and the palace was just beginning to wake.

Wren came galloping back toward them from the gate, a grin stretched across his face. “We’re all set. They’re preparing.” As he spoke, a bell rang throughout the palace, piercing the air with its shrill song.

Alixa groaned. “I want a hot bath and a soft bed.”

“The people need this.” Avery straightened in her saddle. “They need to see their king. To thank him.”

“Then can we sleep?” Alixa rubbed her eyes. “For a fortnight?”

“Sounds good to me.” Ramsey yawned.

Lonara raised an eyebrow. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. Those who were too young or not born twenty years ago will have no knowledge of magic and how to use it. Some will be weak in power, but I suspect we’ll have a few who must be trained to use it to fight. We have no idea how long we will have to prepare before the eventual invasion from Dreach-Dhoun, not to mention whatever will come out of Isenore.”

Alixa sighed, but the rest sat in quiet resignation.

Lonara’s face softened. “But there will be time for a little rest.”

They waited for a signal from the gatehouse before lining up in front of the massive stone entryway. Iron gears ground together as the heavy gate lifted, revealing a courtyard packed with people.

A cheer rose into the air, reaching a crescendo as they led their horses into the enclosed square. Some waved their arms, others held flowers.

Davi hung back, letting Trystan and Rissa be the focus. What kind of reception would he receive? He had not only been presumed dead, but he was now known to be the son of their greatest enemy. He’d actively worked against Dreach-Sciene. 

The crowd parted. Trystan slid from his horse and the rest followed suit. A host of stable lads appeared to take the beasts.

“Your Majesty,” Lord Coille’s voice boomed as he pushed through bodies to stop in front of Trystan. He bowed and when he rose, a grin split his face.

“My lord.” Trystan clapped him on the shoulder. “It’s good to be home.”

“You did it, my king. Your father would be proud.”

Davi turned away at the mention of Marcus Renauld. The king his cousin had sworn to kill. The one she’d loved instead.

And he’d still ended up dead.

Maybe Ramsey was right. Love was a trap.

“Davion.” Lord Coille finally noticed him. “But…”

Davi shook the dark hair out of his eyes and faced him once again. “But I’m supposed to be dead?”

A hush fell over the crowd.

A hand slipped into Davi’s and squeezed as Rissa appeared at his side.

“It’s a miracle.” Lady Destan’s soft voice rose above the murmuring of others nearby.

Davi flicked his eyes toward her. She covered her mouth with her hand to stifle a gasp.

“Not a miracle.” Bitterness tinged his words. “Magic.” He slipped his hand out of Rissa’s grasp and shouldered his way through the stunned throng.

Magic had given him a lot. It brought him back to life, but all he could focus on as he ran up the steps into the palace was how much it had taken from him. He walked the halls as flashes of a different life hit him.

His breaths came heavy as he tried to forget. His feet took him to his old room without his mind telling them to. Proof he’d had a good life here. The room was as he’d left it. He’d never wanted for anything while in the Renauld household.

So why did he feel like he’d had none of it?

He sat on the corner of his bed and hung his head. Why did the false memories still control him? If Ramsey had given him the memories, why couldn’t he take them away? He dug his fingers into his hair and pulled while his other hand smacked against the side of his head.

Again, he hit himself.

“You think you can beat them out?” Ramsey asked.

Davi jerked his head up to find the Tri-Gard member leaning in the doorway. Something sparked in his mind. “You. You can do it. Take them. Everything you implanted before, all the memories, they’re still here.”

Ramsey held his hands in front of his chest. “No. Not going to happen.”

“Why not? It’s bad enough I’m the dark king’s son. I don’t need to be questioning my own loyalty.”

“Davion.” Ramsey walked farther into the room. “Journeying into someone’s mind is dangerous.”

“You did it before.”

“At the orders of someone who didn’t care if I scrambled your brains.”

Davi met his gaze. “Please.”

“Even if there weren’t the dangers, I can’t. I don’t have my crystal anymore.”

Davi’s chin dropped to his chest, and a breath rattled out of him. “Oh.” He barely remembered the ceremony that returned the magic to Dreach-Sciene because he’d been preoccupied fighting Trystan. But he vaguely recalled the crystals exploding into dust seconds before magic entered the earth.

It was hopeless.

“Davion, I’m not going to lie to you.”

“That would be a first.”

Ramsey narrowed his eyes. “Listen, boy. You belong here, not with your father. My grandchildren need you. It will not be easy. These memories may be false, but to you they’re very real. No one can change that but you. You have been freed from your father’s control. What happens next is up to you. You’re a smart man.” He tapped the side of Davi’s head. “Fight it. Fight your own mind. For them. For yourself.”

Ramsey turned. “Lord Coille has graciously scheduled the welcome home feast for tomorrow. I’m off to find a bed.”

When he was gone, Davi kicked off his boots, removed his traveling cloak, and laid back. He tossed and turned for what felt like ages before finally succumbing to his exhaustion. As dreams overtook him, he saw two boys running through the palace side by side with matching grins. A soldier came for them, catching the scrawny dark-haired one around the waist. The grin turn to a look of fear as he was carted away and thrown into a cell where he would be a prisoner for many years.

Davi bolted up, his eyes snapping open. Sweat dotted across his brow and he wiped it away before leaning back again. “Not real. Not real.” He repeated the words to himself until his breathing returned to normal.  

Ramsey was right. He had to fight it.

Dreach-Sciene was his home and it would become so once again.

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