The Angel and the Prince – Laurel O’Donnell

Romance Novel Cover for The Angel and the Prince

The Angel and the Prince by Laurel O’Donnell

“This extraordinary tale offers non-stop action, unforgettable characters and a sensuous romance, the likes of which ballads are written.  This romance will capture your heart and your imagination.”
– Rendezvous Magazine


In this exciting medieval romance, the French lady knight known as the Angel of Death wages a battle of wills and desires against her dreaded enemy — the English warrior known as the Prince of Darkness.

Ryen De Bouriez is a French warrior, dedicated to protecting her country against the hated English. In place of glittering ball gowns, she wears shining armor. Instead of practicing the gentler arts, she wields a sword. Those who whisper her name in fear and awe call her the Angel of Death.

Bryce Princeton is the Prince of Darkness, an English knight sent by his king to find and destroy their most hated adversary — the Angel of Death. Little does he know that his enemy is no man at all, but a beautiful woman who will challenge his heart and honor at every turn.

Forced to choose between love and honor, the Angel and the Prince wage a battle of wills that challenges everything they have ever believed in.

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France, 1410

The choir of voices ascended to the far corners of the cathedral, where sculptured angels listened with somber faces to the Latin words.  Shining white marble pillars spiraled down to the steps of the great altar.  At the top stair stood King Charles VI.  Behind him stood eight small boys dressed in immaculate white robes, each holding a red velvet pillow with golden tassels at each corner.  Upon every silky velvet pillow there rested a resplendent sword.  Above and behind the boys, golden statues of saints stretched out their cold arms in welcome and forgiveness with unseeing eyes.

The king shifted his regal stance, his gaze locked on the tall wooden doors at the back of the church.  He knew eight young men waited anxiously outside, their breath tight in their chests, their palms slick with nervous sweat.  Each one would enter as a squire filled with a boy’s apprehension, and each one would leave as a knight of the realm filled with a warrior’s pride.

One of the banners caught his eye.  It was for Ryen De Bouriez, the third son of Baron Jean Claude De Bouriez.  King Charles scanned the mass of people before him until they came to rest on two men – the elder De Bouriez brothers.  They were tall, even by knightly standards.  Lucien was fair; his honeyed hair, blue eyes, and boyish looks were rumored to have cost more than one maiden her virtue.  Andre was dark, with chestnut eyes and a heart of gold.  Both were skilled warriors, and this pleased the king, for he knew Ryen would make an excellent addition to his troops.  He studied the brothers closely.  They shifted from foot to foot nervously; even Andre, who was usually so calm, seemed unsettled.  The king frowned.  Perhaps the two giants were uncomfortable with the civil surroundings and were eager to be out of the church.  King Charles sympathized.  The De Bouriezes were, after all, known for their prowess in battle, not their sociability.

The king glanced over row upon row of nobles in their elegant satins and velvets.  The Countess of Burgundy was there.  Not far from her, the flamboyant golden caul headdress of the Duchess of Orleans caught his eye.  Slowly, his brow creased into a frown as he finished surveying the attending nobility.  Where was Ryen’s father?

The choir of voices that had filled the chamber suddenly ended, their last echoes resonating throughout the cathedral until they slipped away into nothingness.

Glancing toward the trumpeters awaiting his signal in the balcony, King Charles nodded.  When they put the long golden horns to their lips, the triumphant music began.  All eyes turned to the heavy oak doors at the back of the church as they slowly creaked open.

Eight squires advanced down the long carpeted aisle, one behind the other.

Sunlight streamed in from the stained glass windows, reflecting brilliantly off the shining silver-and-gold plate mail of the approaching men.  King Charles squinted as a ray of light shone in his eyes.  He tried to be a fair man, judging all men equally, but he found himself anxious to see Ryen De Bouriez, around whom so much controversy swirled.  The first time his name had reached the king’s ears, it was with the capture of Castle Picardy, the feat that had earned him his knighthood.  King Charles had heard the same story three times, and with each telling Ryen’s achievements had seemed to grow until they were of Herculean proportions.  Since then, the name Ryen De Bouriez had arisen time and time again in casual conversation.  The man’s strategic maneuvers were ingenious.

The initiates climbed the stairs to the great altar and bowed before the king, then stepped aside to form a row before their lord.  As the squire preceding De Bouriez bowed, King Charles tried not to seem obvious as he peered over the top of the man’s head to get a glimpse of Ryen.  Finally, like a curtain being drawn, the squire stepped aside and Ryen De Bouriez was revealed to King Charles.  The initiate still wore his helmet.  All traces of astonishment disappeared as anger descended over the king.  It was disrespectful for anyone to wear a helmet in the house of God.  The young man’s headgear covered most of his face except for his eyes.  King Charles could see the striking blueness of them; they shimmered in the shadows of his helmet like a great cloudless sky.  His gaze raked the young man again.  He is very small indeed, the king thought.  I cannot believe the great Baron De Bouriez squired this runt.  Perhaps De Bouriez is absent because he is embarrassed by his son’s size.

Under his scrutiny, the king saw Ryen’s deep blue eyes fill with pride, and something else.  Before he could discern what that strange spark was, Ryen fell to one knee, bowing his head in reverence.

Somewhat pacified, King Charles commanded quietly, “Remove your helmet, Ryen,” and turned to retrieve a ceremonial sword cushioned upon a pillow of velvet.  As he reverently removed the sword, the king heard rustling and the clang of armor behind him and knew Ryen was removing his helmet.

Suddenly, a collective gasp spread through the crowd like the wind whistling through a field of wheat.

King Charles whirled at the sound.  His eyes grew wide and he gaped as the reason for the young man’s diminutive stature became quite apparent.  The “man” was not a man at all!

He was a she!

Why, she could be no more than fifteen!  Amazement rocked him like a blow to his stomach, leaving him breathless and stunned.  The girl’s soft dark hair cascaded in waves over the metal shoulder plates.  Her nose was a delicate sculpture of perfection, her lips full.  Her chin was strong, with a slight cleft etched into it.  Beauty shimmered beneath her childlike features.  She had the innocent face of a cherub…an angel.  King Charles stared for a long moment.

The king knew now what that look in her sapphire eyes had been: defiance.  It accented her features with determination.

The king turned to glance at her brothers.  Andre had suddenly found interest in a piece of imaginary lint on his spotless white velvet tunic, and Lucien was studying the painted angels on the stained glass windows.  King Charles’s lips thinned and his gaze returned to Ryen.

A girl!  How had she been able to keep this secret? he wondered.

King Charles stared in shock.  No wonder Baron De Bouriez is not here, he thought.  He gripped the sword tightly until his knuckles hurt with the effort.  He knew he should not knight her, that she should be punished for her audacity, but her deeds surpassed the defiance that her stubborn raised little chin represented.  He wanted her in his army, needed her strategic skills.  These were desperate times.

He lifted the sword in a sweeping gesture and saw her body stiffen, as if expecting a blow.  He brought the sword down, lightly touching the tip of the blade to each of her shoulders in the customary colee, finishing with, “Rise, Sir Ryen De Bouriez.”

The young girl slowly and unsteadily rose to her feet.  Her large eyes were wide, ringed with happiness; her rosy lips were parted in disbelief.

King Charles bent close to her and laid his hand on her shoulder.  “Ryen, the road before you will be laced with hardship.  Be a true knight, and courageous in the face of your enemies.  Be brave and upright.  And remember that you spring from a bloodline that has always been strong.”

“I shall,” Ryen said earnestly, her expression solemn.

The king held out the sword to her.  Ryen carefully took the gleaming blade in her bare palms and pressed her lips to it before accepting it from King Charles’s hands.  She studied the sword for a quick moment; a flash of pride lighting up her soft features, then slid it into the scabbard at her waist.

King Charles leaned in close to whisper, “However, if you or your brothers ever pull a trick like this again, I will have your heads.”  He straightened to his full height and proclaimed, “Now.  Be thou a knight.”

Ryen bowed, giving King Charles her loyalty and her gratitude.  The king repeated the knighting seven more times, after which he stood back and watched as the men – and the woman – turned as one to face the congregation.  Ryen led the way down the aisle.  As she passed her awestruck brothers, the king watched Ryen shoot them a smug look of triumph.  Throwing her shoulders back, holding her chin high, Sir Ryen De Bouriez strolled confidently past the mass of whispering people.

Chapter One

England, 1414

The cheers from the gathered crowd sounded like a thunderous rain as the horses charged at each other, their hooves kicking up dirt from the grassy field.  The two knights, fully armored for this joust, bent low over the heads of their equally well-protected mounts, their brightly striped lances gripped firmly.  The white plume on the helmet of the challenger knight appeared defeated and submissive as it flattened under the rush of wind created by his speeding stallion.  The champion shifted his shield to the front of his body, where the challenger could see it – a snarling red wolf strikingly painted against a black background.  Through the slit in the challenger’s visor, the champion saw his opponent’s eyes widen in fear.  Seconds later, the champion’s lance struck the challenger’s chest, the wooden tip crunching as it hit the man’s breastplate, and lifted him cleanly from his horse, depositing him roughly on the ground.

The crowd sprang to its feet, wild with applause and shouts of joy.  The champion slowed his horse and turned, raising the visor of his helmet to reveal dark, impenetrable eyes.  These orbs watched patiently as his staggering opponent was helped to his feet by his squire.  Bryce Princeton waited for the defeated knight to stumble from the arena before he urged his horse around the field for his victory lap.

The peasants who lined the jousting field’s fence shouted his success.  “Prince!  Prince!”

The rush of power that surged through his veins at every joust, at every triumph, gave Bryce the feeling of invincibility.  He savored the taste like a favored wine, relished the shouts.  He had never known defeat, either in battle or in Tournament.

As he rode past the nobles’ stand, all the women batted their eyelashes at him and some bent over the wooden railing to dangle their favors before him.  He gladly accepted them – all of them.  But he returned most of their heated, lusty gazes with a cool disdain.  These pampered and powdered women brought only an occasional twinge of curiosity to his mind.  They were all too much alike to be of any real interest.  Some men cast him envious glances, while others seethed quietly.  Finally, Bryce came to a halt before King Henry’s chair.  He dismounted and bowed before his sovereign.

Henry grinned at him and stood.  The king was a tall and muscular man, his brown hair trimmed in a bowl cut.

The crowd quieted as Bryce approached the stand.  He slid his helmet from his head to reveal a thick mane of long black hair that fell to the middle of his shoulder blades.  It gleamed in the sunlight, wet with moisture.  His face was bronzed by the sun.  There was an inherent power in the set of his jaw, the sensual curve of his lips, his dark eyes.

“You have done well today, as always,” King Henry said loudly so all could hear.  “You are truly England’s champion.”

Huzzahs and gleeful shouts erupted into a deafening roar.

Henry bent toward Bryce.  “Come, walk with me, Bryce,” he commanded.

Bryce led his mount across the field and handed the reins to his waiting squire as a small boy ducked under the wooden fence that surrounded the field and dashed up to him.  Bryce smiled and ruffled the child’s dark hair as the boy exclaimed, “You were great!”  His eyes shone with excitement and admiration.  “I knew he wouldn’t defeat you.”

“You had doubts, Runt?” Bryce wondered, a mock frown drawing his lips into a pout.

“Never!” Runt exploded.

Bryce couldn’t help but smile at the pride and boundless love that emanated from those large, inquisitive blue eyes.  Then he noticed the dirt that dusted Runt’s small hands as the boy reached for his helmet.  Bryce quickly surveyed the boy’s brown cotton tunic, noticing with mild annoyance that it was spotted with mud.  He ran a finger along one of Runt’s cheeks, leaving a trail of clean skin through the dirt.  “You should bathe,” Bryce offered, showing him the smudge that stained his fingertip.

The boy groaned and shuffled his feet.  “I hate bathing,” he mumbled.

Bryce sympathized with him.  As a youth he had hated to bathe.  It took up too much of his time and there were more important matters to attend to…such as imitating the knights.  “A knight cannot meet the king with dirt on his face,” Bryce told him.

Runt nodded grudgingly.  “All right.”

Bryce’s dark eyes searched the dais for his king.  He found the platform empty and followed the path of rich blues and satiny golds of the court until he spotted the king heading for the streets that led into the town.  As Bryce turned to leave, he heard Runt say, “I hope to be as great a knight as you.”

Bryce paused, turning back to the boy.  Runt gazed up at him in wonder; his big blue eyes round with admiration.  “You will,” Bryce promised, before moving toward the dais.  A procession of fashionably dressed lords and ladies followed the king, as always, and Bryce was hard pressed to catch up with him with the weight of his plate armor impeding his movement.  In his hurry, he almost stepped on a duke’s long green cloak.  The duchess accompanying the duke turned a shy smile to Bryce, a wisp of her pleated coiffure at the very top of her head flapping with each step.  Bryce bowed slightly and rushed by her.  At a fast walk, he managed to reach King Henry as he stopped to speak with a man selling apple cider.

“The cider is wonderful in the village.  No matter how hard they try, my servants can never duplicate it,” King Henry told Bryce, lifting a goblet of it to his lips.

Bryce nodded absently.  He glanced at the nobles trailing the king like well-trained falcons, vying for his attention.  Bryce did not miss the contemptuous stares many of the nobles cast his way.  He despised them and their pretentious ways.  If they sought attention, they should act – take a castle, contribute finances to the impending war.  Instead, they hoped to win the king’s favor with their beautiful clothing and their pretty faces and witty words.  It was to Bryce’s credit that Henry chose to speak with him and not one of the fanciful dressers.  The king was not a fool.

“I have been told it is a secret of the Rosa family,” the Earl of March said.  He wore a golden houppelande that flowed to the ground and was embroidered with flowers.  The edges of his long sleeves were cut in the shape of leaves and trimmed with jewels.  He was the most prettily dressed of all the nobles.

“Yes, well…”  The king waved a hand, dismissing the matter and the earl, and turned to continue down the dusty street.  The sun was hot, the ground parched.  The dust rose in little whirlwinds on the road before them.

Bryce walked at King Henry’s side, towering above most of the lords; even the king was dwarfed by his size.  In plate mail, Bryce Princeton was an enviable vision.

“There are far too many ears in the streets, don’t you agree, Bryce?” King Henry wondered.

“Aye,” Bryce answered, and followed as the king cut through the village to the countryside.

The Earl of March tried vainly to keep up.  He was panting hard when he produced a lace handkerchief and patted his forehead with it.  “It is a hot day, isn’t it, my liege?” he called.

King Henry cast him a sour glance.  “March, go see to the countess.  I believe she is having as hard a time keeping up as you.”

Bryce’s gaze shifted to the countess.  She had swooned into a man’s arms and was being eased to the ground.  Most of the court had lagged behind by now, and it was quite apparent to Bryce that the king wished to speak with him in private.  He wondered if the earl was truly so oblivious.

But the earl simply bowed, saying, “As you wish.”

King Henry continued into the grasslands of the countryside.  Bryce followed, thinking it was becoming much too hot to be wandering through the countryside in sixty-six pounds of plate mail.

“How are things for you, Bryce?” King Henry asked, taking a sip of cider.

Bryce shrugged his large shoulders slightly.  “Dark Castle is in capable hands.  The peasants are producing enough to support the lands.  I believe it will be a good year.”

Henry nodded.  “Good.”  He stopped walking and looked out over the fields that stretched before them.  The wild grass seemed to sigh as a breeze drifted through the long blades that reached to Bryce’s mid-calf.  “Then you are prepared to leave England at a moment’s notice?”

“Aye,” Bryce said anxiously.  He had been waiting months for the fleet of English ships to cast off for France.  “We leave soon, then?”

Henry gazed hard at Bryce.  “There is rumor of a plot against my life.  I fear that I may not get to France as soon as I would like.”

Bryce frowned, his body stiffening with suppressed anger.  “My lord, I offer my services to find out if these rumors are true.”

Henry smiled a weary grin.  “I have others who will be my ears and eyes.”

Bryce scowled, ready to object.

Henry continued, “No, Bryce, you are a fighter.  I need you in France.  I cannot leave England until this is resolved.”  He lifted the goblet to his lips again and continued walking.  Bryce followed.

“Have you heard anything of this French knight called the Angel of Death?” the king wondered.

Anxiety rippled through Bryce like a flag in a soft breeze.  Bryce had heard of his deeds, but he knew little of the man.  Still, the way the king had asked…it was as though he were being tested.  “I have heard the name.”

Henry turned to Bryce, his inquisitive eyes asking for details, his raised eyebrows encouraging more.

“He has taken and held land for the Armagnacs,” Bryce continued, and watched as a smile tugged the king’s lips before he averted his gaze.  Bryce’s brows drew together in confusion.  “He does well for his country,” he added, shifting uneasily.  He had somehow failed the test, and it annoyed him.

“Yes, he does, doesn’t he?” Henry chuckled.

“Is there more to know?”

“Much.”  Gradually, Henry’s smiled faded and he slowed his pace.  His words were thoughtful and full of woe as he spoke.  “The Angel of Death has caused more enemy deaths than any other French lord.  This knight is unlike any we have ever come across.”

“He is mortal.  Blood runs through his veins.  And that blood can be spilled.”

“According to rumor, this Angel of Death has ice for blood.”

“Pah.  Rumor is the gossip of cowards.”

“Yes.  I suppose it is – Prince of Darkness.”

Surprise rocked Bryce.  He knew he shouldn’t have been amazed that the king had heard the name, but he could not suppress the shock that flooded his body.  The rumors had traveled so fast….and so far!  The court.  It thrived on any kind of gossip.  “The peasants labeled me that,” he explained.

“Not without reason, I hear.”

“I am merciless only to our enemies, my lord.”

“And that is why you must be the one to go to France and find the Angel of Death.  There are ships waiting to take you and your army across the channel.”

“Do you wish to keep him for ransom?”

“I would prefer a ransom.  We can use the finances for the war.  But if you cannot take the knight captive, then take this angel’s life.  I will join you in France as soon as I can.”

“As you wish, sire.”  Bryce bowed slightly.

“Many men have fallen beneath the knight’s sword,” King Henry added.  “Be cautious.”

Bryce nodded and took a step away.

The king stayed him once again with his hand.  “I warn you, Bryce: do not underestimate the Angel of Death.”

King Henry watched Bryce Princeton stride away.  Perhaps he should have told him.  But if he knew the truth, Henry was sure he would underestimate their enemy by far too much.  Besides, the man needed a jolt to disturb that confident gait of his.  He only hoped Bryce would be able to kill this Angel of Death…when he found out she was a woman.

Chapter Two

East of Ypres, France, 1415

The clang of metal against metal rang out in the large clearing as the two swords met, the echoing melody of their clash spreading throughout the surrounding forest.

“Watch out for her parry!” a voice called, joining the reverberating tune as it reflected off the nearby trees.  Andre De Bouriez lounged on his side in the thick grass, his objective gaze scrutinizing the combatants as they swung their heavy broadswords.  He nodded with satisfaction as his sister, tiny compared with Lucien’s height and broad shoulders, easily deflected a thrust of her brother’s.  Andre chuckled low in his throat, his brown eyes twinkling merrily.  She was good.  She knew the limitations of her sword and her strength well; she was patient and observant.  This made her a very dangerous opponent despite her size.

Ryen finished an arc, the impact of the weapons jarring her arm.  She stepped back, panting.  A trickle of perspiration ran from her hairline down her cheek, sparkling in the sun like a diamond.  She brushed a strand of brown hair from her forehead with her free arm.

A perfect smile lit Lucien’s boyish face.  “Come, come.  You cannot tell me that you tire after so few exchanges!”

A cold grin stretched across her shapely lips.  “I tell you no such thing, Brother.  Only to guard your blind side.”  Ryen lunged and then feinted right.

Lucien caught the blow with some effort and countered with an arc overhead.

Ryen sidestepped the swing and Lucien’s blade crashed into the ground.  As he pulled it up, a clump of dirt came with it, impaled on the tip of his blade.

“You know she’s too quick for you, Lucien,” Andre called.

Ryen laughed at the dirt on Lucien’s sword.  “Don’t take your anger out on the ground, Lucien.  Your opponent stands before you, not below you.”

Lucien came after Ryen with two quick lunges.  She easily parried the blows and drove forward with an arc of her own, then retreated and stood staring at Lucien.

“Little sister, you’re growing up,” Lucien commented.

“Don’t goad her, Lucien,” Andre advised, too late.

Ryen suddenly charged her brother, hitting him in the stomach with her shoulder.  The impact knocked him onto his back.  Breathless, Lucien lay stunned for a moment.  Before he could recover, Ryen stepped on the wrist of his sword arm and placed the tip of her weapon to Lucien’s neck.  “Yield or die,” she stated.

“I yield to the Angel of Death!” Lucien hollered good-naturedly.

Ryen lifted her foot from his wrist and withdrew her sword.  She gently kicked his arm with her booted foot.  “I hate it when you call me ‘little sister’.”

Lucien sat up, rubbing his wrist.  “I won’t make that mistake again.”

Ryen stepped back, offering her brother a hand.  Lucien clasped it and she helped him to his feet.

“That was a good move,” Lucien commented.  “But a little reckless.”

“It beat you,” Ryen replied, bending to pick up a cloth from the lush grass.

“If I had raised my sword, you would have run right into it.”

“But you didn’t,” Ryen said, wiping the cloth smoothly over her blade.  “Don’t criticize my move just because it landed you on your buttocks.  You yielded.  I won.  There are no ‘ifs’.”

“She has a point,” Andre agreed, stepping up beside Ryen.  “She beat you and I’m afraid it grates on your nerves.”

“Nonsense!” Lucien exclaimed, brushing the grass from his yellow tunic.  “I simply –”

“Angel!” a tiny voice called from the forest, interrupting Lucien.

Ryen’s head shot up and she saw her page, Gavin, crashing through the bushes in his hurry to reach her.  His brown cotton smock caught on a branch, but he quickly yanked it free and continued toward her, gasping, “Angel!”

Ryen placed her hand on his shoulder.  “Take a breath, Gavin, and tell me what’s happened.”

“We…” he started, breathlessly.

“A deep breath,” Ryen urged.

Gavin drew in a long breath and blurted out, “We’ve caught an Englishman, m’lady!”

Ryen raised an anxious gaze to Andre before moving to retrace Gavin’s path.  She heard the heavy footfalls of her brothers as they followed her into their camp.  The scent of venison wafted to her on a light breeze and her stomach rumbled despite her anxiety.  She maneuvered through the sporadically placed tents like an expert, dodging a barking dog, stepping around two men who were absorbed in a game of chess.

She slowed upon seeing Jacques Vignon, her advance scout, approaching.  “You found him?” she asked.

“Aye, m’lady,” Jacques replied.

It always unnerved Ryen to speak with Jacques, for while he was the best scout she had, looking into his face was like gazing into an emotionless abyss.  His eyes were black, so black that she could not discern the pupil from the iris.  Jacques had never done anything to earn her suspicion; on the contrary, he was a loyal fighter, as good at swordplay as he was at disappearing into the shadows, but there was something cold about him that set off every warning within Ryen.  He avoided the sun, so his skin remained white, almost as white as the porcelain doll her father had once given her sister.  His skill at infiltrating the English was what had earned him Ryen’s respect; his command of the English language surpassed even her own.  “Where?” she demanded.

“Northwest of here,” he answered.  “He said he was separated from his army.  Lost.”

Ryen moved past him, eager to see her enemy.  As she neared the prisoner tents, she noticed that, suspiciously, more than a few of her men were seated near one tent.  Each head was bent over their work, the men diligently sharpening weapons or polishing armor until it sparkled like a gem.  Ryen knew they were eagerly awaiting the outcome of the interrogation.  It had been almost two weeks since they had seen any battle, and they were eager to confront the English.

“What can I do, Angel?” Gavin wondered.

Ryen stopped and the boy ran up before her.  He was panting vigorously and Ryen knew he had run the entire way to keep up with them.  She smiled at him and patted his unruly hair before carefully handing her sword to him.  “Take this to my tent.  Then find Mel to look after it.”

Gavin’s brown eyes widened as he stared at the blade.  “Aye, m’lady,” he whispered reverently.  He gazed at it a moment longer before heading toward her tent at a slow, careful walk.

Ryen exchanged a grim look with Lucien before continuing.

Two guards stood outside the tent, looking more like stone gargoyles poised on the pillars of a church than like men.  They were clothed in chain mail, white tunics washing over the metal links that protected their bodies.

Ryen shoved the tent flap aside and entered.

The prisoner was tied to a large, planted stake, bound hand and foot.  Small in build, and dressed in a leather jerkin, the Englishman reminded Ryen more of a squire than a foot soldier.  His jaw was set with determination, his dark eyes cautious and distrustful.  He assessed Lucien and Andre with a swift glance and his lip curled.  When his gaze turned to Ryen, his eyes widened in surprise.

He was not dirty.  His cheeks were not sunken from lack of food, nor were his lips parched from lack of water.  “He is not lost,” she muttered.  She didn’t think the prisoner would understand her French words but murmured just in case.

“I agree,” Andre stated.

Ryen stepped toward the prisoner.

Lucien followed protectively and stood beside her.

“What lord do you serve?” Ryen asked the man in perfect English.

His brow furrowed in confusion and his gaze slowly traveled over her body appreciatively.  She straightened slightly as his insolent, laughing gaze locked with her eyes.

Lucien slapped the man’s impudent face and the blow twisted the man’s head to the side.  A silver chain around the prisoner’s neck glinted in the candlelight.

Ryen stepped forward and the man gazed down at her with defiant eyes as she peeled his jerkin aside.  There, hanging from the chain, was a medallion of a silver wolf enclosed in a circle.  Ryen stared at the pendant for a long moment.  Her teeth clenched slightly and her hand trembled with anger as she reached out, encircling the pendant with her fingers.  Its cold metal bit into her palm as if it were alive.

“He’s closer than we thought,” Lucien sneered at seeing the crest.

Ryen nodded.  “Much closer.”  She dropped the medallion to the man’s chest.  Her blue eyes lifted slowly to meet his gaze.  “Bring me the truth powder, Lucien,” Ryen said.  She watched recognition wash over the prisoner’s face, followed closely by fear and disbelief.

The Angel of Death,” he gasped.

“He will tell us where the English army is camped.  I will have the Prince of Darkness before tomorrow’s dawn.”


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