The Duke and the Dryad – Book 2: Earth
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Duke Odwolfe of Manterra is known to his friends as Wolfe, and to his enemies as Duke the Destroyer. When his prized bull goes missing, he sets out to find it. But instead of returning with it, he returns with the odd girl named Rae-Nyst who is an elemental of the earth, better known as a dryad.
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Excerpt from The Duke and the Dryad:
Wolfe could hear his men approaching from behind. The circle of druid priests looked over to him, but his eyes fastened on the odd girl standing over the bull with the bloodied axe in her hand.
“This is a sacred circle,” called out the man behind the girl whom he figured was in charge. “You and your men are not allowed in here and neither are your weapons.”
His men dismounted and ran to join him.
“I find that amusing since you’ve just used a weapon to slaughter my prized bull -which, by the way, you’ve also stolen from me.”
“We did not steal it,” said the man. “Rae-Nyst brought it to us at our request.”
“Who is Rae-Nyst?” he asked.
“I am.” The girl with the axe stepped forward, firelight from his torch lighting up her clear green eyes, reminding him of the plants of the forest.
She was dressed not in plain white robes, but rather a colorful long gown of green trimmed with pink. Long scalloped sleeves hung well past her knuckles. Her hands were covered with green fabric, her fingers emerging from underneath, giving her the essence of royalty – perhaps even a queen.
Her hair was long and oaken in hue with the front died some exotic pink by berries or roots he guessed. Her head was crowned with mistletoe and ivy. Flowers of various colors were interwoven throughout. And the oddest thing about the girl was the painting on her skin. Pink and green flowers, berries, and fauna, traveled up the left side of her face and arched over one eye. And now that he looked at her closer, he realized he was mistaken. For believe it or not, there was something even odder about her yet. ’Twas her ears. He couldn’t see clearly in the dark, and they were partially hidden beneath her headpiece, but he was sure they were slightly pointed at the tips, giving her an otherworldly appearance.
“You!” he ground out, feeling the anger inside him growing with each drop of blood that dripped from the axe in her hand onto the ground at her feet. He hated Druidism and this did naught to quench the fires that burned within him. “You stole my bull and killed it and now you will all pay. I should kill each and every one of you in exchange for the death of my bull.” His own words shocked him, and he felt his warrior father’s blood pumping furiously through his veins.
He raised his sword and motioned for his men to come closer. He moved forward into the inner circle, and immediately the druids all knelt – but not in homage or fear of him. Instead, their attention was on the odd girl they’d called Rae-Nyst.
“Guardian of the forest and of all nature, come to our aid and protect us from the blades of the soldiers,” cried out the chief druid.
Wolfe was confused, as they seemed to be talking to the odd girl, instead of one of their pagan gods.
Before he had a chance to tell his men to do anything, the girl named Rae-Nyst dropped the hatchet and raised her hands in the air. She closed her eyes and threw her head back to let the full moon bathe her face.
Wolfe hesitated, mesmerized by her exotic beauty. The moonlight illuminated her skin, her delicate features taking on a sense of power and strength. He felt so awed by the girl that he didn’t know what was happening until he heard the shouts of his men and also felt something winding around his ankle. He looked down to see vines of the forest creeping along the ground and wrapping around each of his men, tightening and bringing them to their knees. The vines moved upwards, wrapping around their hands and bodies next, so they couldn’t move. He took his sword and severed the vine, but two more sprung from the cut end instead.