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Lorien [Faxinor Chronicles Book 2] [MultiFormat]
eBook by Michelle Levigne

eBook Category: Fantasy/Romance Dream Realm Award Winner, EPIC eBook Award Winner
eBook Description: Lorien vows to do whatever it takes to serve Reshor and protect her pregnant sister, Andrixine, the Sword Bearer. Even if it means making a loveless political marriage. She learns that the game of politics and courtly manners is a harsher duty than swordplay and battle. Then Ambassador Lord Arand of Eretia comes to Reshor to make politically astute marriages to protect his kingdom against Sendorland. He has been ordered to win Lorien for his queen's grandson. Arand and Lorien discover they have much in common and their resolve to put duty ahead of their own dreams soon becomes a torment. Arand has a gift for healing and music, but has denied both for the sake of following family tradition and serving the throne as an ambassador. When enemies inside Reshor conspire with Sendorland to steal first Lorien's brothers and then Andrixine's newborn sons, Lorien and Arand find themselves in the middle of danger, but exactly the right place to avert total disaster. They wonder if all their sacrifices mean anything when they are both so miserable. Doesn't Yomnian want his servants to be happy?

eBook Publisher: Hard Shell Word Factory, Published: 2005
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2005


28 Reader Ratings:
Great Good OK Poor


"What a fascinating story. Ms. Levigne has developed her alternate world with care, precision and love. This book is not graphic in nature, but it shows the love that families can have for each other, and the lengths to which honorable people will go to protect those whom they love, and their countries. I think that Ms. Levigne has written a wonderful story in an alternate world. My impression is that she plans to set additional stories in that world. I would be eager to read them. I hope that you receive as much pleasure from reading Lorien as did I. Rating of 9"--Masha, Romance Designs

"Michelle Levigne does well mixing together fantasy and adventure ... If you're an avid reader of fantasy stories, Lorien is worthwhile reading."--Julie Kornhausl, Romance Reader at Heart

"Many recognizable themes play out in this book betrayal, intrigue, romance. When I began to read Faxinor Chronicles 2: Lorien I thought it was going to be like a thousand other fantasy novels I'd read. But about a quarter of the way through, the book took off, throwing a curve I did not see coming. It was filled with likeable, three dimensional characters. I didn't really get a feel for the setting, but that did not detract from the overall experience of the book. The POV shifts were handled well, and there was never a point where I didn't know who was thinking or what was going on. Adventure, love and a satisfying ending made me want to read this book to the very end in just a few sittings. A good read. 4 1/2 beacons"--Risseybug, LightHouse Literary Reviews


Chapter One

"THIS IS IT," Andrixine whispered.

"I'm scared." Lorien tried to smile, tried to force a laugh, but the sound caught in her throat. "I wish I had taken warrior training, like you."

"If you were a warrior, you'd be riding with me to Snowy Mount, not to Cereston to serve in the court."

"You have a different battle to fight, Lori," Kalsan said, riding up to join the sisters. "Yomnian gave you the gifts to be Sword's Voice just at the time we need you most."

They sat their horses where the Bantilli Trail met the King's Highway. Andrixine, Kalsan, most of Jultar's Oathbound and half the Sword Sisters from the Faxinor Chapter House would ride west, to Snowy Mount. Lorien would ride east with Brenden and Marfil as her bodyguards and Cynden, a Faxinor maidservant, to attend her.

The official story was that Andrixine was making the scholar's retreat her winter headquarters, to patrol the mountains dividing Reshor from Sendorland. The truth: she would use the seclusion and isolation of winter in the mountains to hide her pregnancy from the world. When the news spread that the Sword Bearer was pregnant, Reshor's enemies would rejoice and attack, and Reshor's allies would panic. Andrixine's family and counselors believed the timing was perfect and could only have come from Yomnian's hand. She would give birth in the spring and be ready for duty before their enemies could muster to attack.

Lorien, the quintessential lady, with her sense for fashion and fascination with politics, would go to Cereston and distract the court and Reshor's nobles. She wore the title of Sword's Voice to speak with her sister's authority and represent her before all the nobles and ambassadors in Reshor's capital. Her job was to make sure no one would suspect Andrixine's pregnancy until after the child was born.

The gap between Lorien and her older sister had never felt wider than it did today with a chill wind blowing across the rolling plain. The first crimson streaks of sunset painted the west with warmth and brilliant life, while rumbling, slate-colored clouds cast shadows to the east. Andrixine sat her horse easily with the wind tugging the hood of her cloak down, ruffling her shoulder-length brown hair. The silver and blue cord binding her warrior braids seemed to glow with the same light that touched the Spirit Sword when it gave her visions.

Lorien thought Andrixine looked warm and comfortable and eager to press on to face danger and duty. Muffled and nearly smothered in a long, thick traveling dress and a cloak, Lorien shivered and feared the tiniest gust would knock her off the sidesaddle. Would she be warmer if she adopted trousers and rode astride like her sister? She wished she could crop her golden curls short for easier handling. She wished she had taken up swordcraft. She wished her archery were better, so she could opt to join the Sword Sisters' flank of archers. But she couldn't. Her skills lay in heraldry, court language and politics, in knowing the proper form of address and curtsey for each rank, the latest dances and ballads, and in knowing how to discern truth from scandal in the gossip trickling across the country. Or so she hoped. Studying the events of their country after the fact might not be the adequate preparation everyone assured her it was.

A warbling from overhead turned into a trilling sound, and two shadows descended from the sky to land on Lorien's shoulders. She sighed and exchanged grimaces with Andrixine—just as two more shadows landed on her sister's shoulders. They had sat still long enough that their chaldo had decided to come down to roost.

Chaldo were messenger birds, used by King Rafnar, the Sword Sisters, and bands of Oathbound warriors for communication. The birds were a special breed, raised by holy renunciates in the Macani Range on the southwestern mountain border of Reshor. Smaller than pigeons, they had white belly feathers and gray-blue coloring on their backs. They were raptors, with claws and cruel beaks, a lilting song, three times the endurance of eagles and twice the speed of carrier pigeons. Legend said they came to Holy Nereena in a vision. Fledglings imprinted on specific people and were able to find them anywhere.

Andrixine had used chaldo all summer to communicate with her sub-commanders and with the king. In the last four weeks since learning of her pregnancy, she had trained her chaldo to bond with Lorien, so the sisters would have fast, reliable, utterly secure communication. As Sword's Voice, Lorien needed the ability to communicate with her sister quickly, with no chance of a messenger being attacked or their messages read by unfriendly eyes or even replaced with lies.

If necessary, the chaldo would protect her. Lorien tried not to think of that eventuality. She had another day of riding to reach Cereston, and, so far, no one but the king knew she was coming. What were the chances someone would attack her on the way to Cereston? Two Oathbound warriors protected her, and she would live in the Sword Sister Chapter House in Cereston. She would be perfectly safe.

So why did she feel increasingly sick to her stomach with every hour she drew closer to the capital?

"I think this is our clue to leave," Andrixine said. She shrugged, and the two chaldo lifted into the air with soft flutters of their wings. Lorien's chaldo followed suit. She held out her arms and reached across the gap between their horses. "Don't hate me, Lori," she whispered as the sisters hugged, "but I'm glad it's you and not me facing those fancy-dressed farmers and snake-minded poets."

"Hate you?" Lorien sputtered, feeling better already. "If not for you, I'd never see the coast, much less be invited to the palace. Unless I married someone's heir-son and had to be presented in court."

"Think about breaking hearts and dazzling those idiots who don't know which end of a sword to use," Kalsan offered. "We're depending on you to confuse everyone until the baby is riding his own horse."

Andrixine groaned and rolled her eyes, but the smile she shared with her husband sent a pointed twist of envy through Lorien's heart. When would she find someone who could make her laugh, who seemed to know what she was thinking, who watched her with such adoration, and whom she could adore? She envied her sister, even with all the problems awaiting her. Lorien thought she had prepared herself to make a politically astute marriage and be satisfied with that, instead of the soul-binding love her parents and sister had found. Why couldn't she hold onto that resolve? Was there something deeply flawed within her?

"See if you can smooth Lord Treyfas's feathers," Andrixine said.

"He should be smoothing yours," Lorien retorted. "The nerve of him, insulting you just because you wore trousers into the palace, and then calling Kalsan a simpering toady because he attended you. And then getting angry when he found out who you were, as if you set a trap to force him to embarrass himself!"

"Those in the wrong are more likely to create noise and fuss and claim injury than those they wronged." Andrixine shrugged. "Don't ask me why that is, I don't understand it myself. Ask Brother Klee. Remember, always go to him, or Commander Caleen. They'll watch out for you as if you were their own blood. Queen Sandia is looking forward to making you the darling of the court. She's ordered dozens of dresses, and she's planning a massive welcoming festival for you."

"And we'd better get going," Kalsan interrupted, as the chaldo came in again to perch.

The sisters hugged again, and Lorien reluctantly released her sister and stayed still when the majority of their traveling party turned west down the King's Highway. She waved and held back her tears until the chill wind brought great droplets of rain and Andrixine's band had dwindled to a small dark spot on the plain.

"It'll be all right, Lori," Brenden said. The Oathbound warrior winked at her and swatted her horse's neck, to get the silver-gray mare to turn and start walking. His green eyes glimmered in his dusky face, and the scarlet cords in his warrior braids glimmered in the deepening twilight of the oncoming storm.

Copyright © 2005 Michelle L. Levigne.


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