Manuscript Status: Finished
Mentor: Hayley Stone
Mentee: Erin A. Tidwell
Category/Genre: Adult Fantasy
Word Count: 109,000
When the taboo spells that bind Hulgardt to serve the ruthless Duke of Temborough break, his newfound conscience prompts him to rescue the duke’s heir from her father’s deadly schemes—unaware that Edrienne has a few schemes of her own.
I arrived at Thasgar Manor near dusk, on horseback and alone.
The manor’s wrought iron gates stood open, crusted in snow, but I didn’t encounter anyone until I passed the nearest outbuildings. Even then it was only a stable boy hauling a rake who froze when he spotted me. His eyes jerked toward the house, no doubt torn between greeting the duke’s castellan and his duty to warn the widowed Lady Thasgar of my arrival. I waited until the boy finally came and took my horse, reaching the conclusion that he feared me more than wrath of his mistress.
Inside, a maidservant took my gloves and heavy fur-lined cloak with shaking hands. “Please sit, m’lord. I’ll fetch her ladyship.”
I frowned as I surveyed the manor, silent but for the groaning of floorboards as the maid scurried ahead. An estate like this should have had more servants to spend on maintenance, most of them ethnic Lsalfians, but instead, every door pushed aside dead leaves and a cold fireplace lay at the heart of the main hall. The state of the house gave weight to the duke’s suspicions that Fiona Thasgar was using her income to fund some faction against him.
As I was considering my options, Fiona Thasgar swept in. She was dressed in drab, layered wool, and her sharp blue eyes were the only color about her.
“What’s this about, Hulgardt?” she asked, shoulders stiff. “You’re early. I wasn’t expecting you for six weeks or longer.”
“I’ve come to fetch His Grace’s daughter.”