Title: The Du Lac Chronicles
Author: Mary Anne Yarde
Genre: Young Adult Medieval Fiction
“It is dangerous to become attached to a du Lac. He will break your heart, and you will not recover.”
So prophesies a wizened healer to Annis, daughter of King Cerdic of Wessex. If there is truth in the old crone’s words, they come far too late for Annis, who defies father, king, and country to save the man she loves.
Alden du Lac, once king of Cerniw, has nothing. Betrayed by Cerdic, Alden’s kingdom lies in rubble, his fort razed to the ground and his brother Merton missing, presumably dead. He has only one possession left worth saving: his heart. And to the horror of his few remaining allies, he gives that to the daughter of his enemy. They see Annis, at best, as a bargaining chip to avoid war with her powerful father. At worst, they see a Saxon whore with her claws in a broken, wounded king.
Alden has one hope: When you war with one du Lac, you war with them all. His brother Budic, King of Brittany, could offer the deposed young king sanctuary—but whether he will offer the same courtesy to Annis is far less certain.
It was a poor meal, Alden thought as he broke off the meat and handed some to Annis. They would need something more filling than a small bird if they were to survive. He wondered if they dared try and find a village to stock up on supplies, not that they had any coins to buy anything with. It was a bad idea, really, for nobody liked beggars, and they would probably be hounded out of the village by pitchforks. Still, he had to think of something. He frowned as he chewed. Kent was an option. It was close and he was on good terms with the king. They would be safe in Kent and it wasn’t that far away. Yes, Kent. He had wanted to reach Cerniw, but Kent was a better option, especially if Cerdic’s men were raping the place, as Bors had suggested.
“We are heading for Kent,” Alden announced, his mind made up. It was a logical plan.
Annis lowered the meat she was about to put in her mouth and looked at him.
Alden popped some more meat into his mouth and chewed slowly.
“Kent?” Annis asked. To her, Kent was as far away as the moon. She had never stepped foot out of the lands that surrounded her father’s castle.
“I need to know what is going on. King Oeric has always been an ally and he has a good fleet of boats.”
“But you could be caught. My father will have placed men at the border. Surely he will guess you will head that way,” Annis argued.
“I was caught last time because I surrendered. I can promise you, I will not be caught again. And as for your father, he knows as well as I that there are several places I could go. I do not doubt that Kent has crossed his mind. But this time, I am looking for him, so the way I see it, I have the advantage.” He frowned. “Eat,” he ordered, popping some more of the meat into his mouth. “I will not have it said that I starved you.”
She brought the meat halfway to her mouth again and stopped. “How long will it take to get to Kent?”
“A day, maybe less, depending on the weather.”
“And if the weather isn’t kind?”
Alden laughed. “Forever the pessimist,” he mocked gently. “If the weather isn’t kind then I am guessing it will take longer.”
Annis blushed. “I know that,” she mumbled. “I’m sorry for being…” Her words faded into nothing as she sat and stared at the flames.
“For being what?” Alden queried.
“Oh nothing, forget I said anything. It was a stupid question and…”
“And?” he encouraged, noting her change of tone and the way she would not look at him.
“And I know I am not very good company and I slow you down, and if it wasn’t for me you would probably be in Kent by now.” He tried to interrupt, but she would not let him for she had too much to say. “I cannot cook to save my life. I have no idea how to look after myself. If anything happened to you, I would die within days. My father is a monster. My body feels like it has been trampled on by a herd of raging horses. I am dirty. I smell. And I hate my knees,” she huffed.
“Your knees?” Alden asked, bemused, for he had not expected such a torrent of words from her and being a mere man, he did not really understand her point.
“Never mind my knees. You are right. I am a pessimist. I learned very early on not to look forward to things, because then, I would not be disappointed if they did not happen. And I have had a great many disappointments. I hate my hair. I hate curls. I hate the fact that I am a Saxon. Sometimes I hate myself. And now I am rambling, and no doubt making a fool of myself. I am completely useless, am I not?”
“You lost me with the knee thing. Can you repeat the rest again?”
Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury–the fabled Isle of Avalon–was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.
At nineteen, Yarde married her childhood sweetheart and began a bachelor of arts in history at Cardiff University, only to have her studies interrupted by the arrival of her first child. She would later return to higher education, studying equine science at Warwickshire College. Horses and history remain two of her major passions.
Yarde keeps busy raising four children and helping run a successful family business. She has many skills but has never mastered cooking–so if you ever drop by, she (and her family) would appreciate some tasty treats or a meal out!