Series: The Masked Captain Trilogy #1
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy
Word Count: 28130
Princess Rynn is tired of her father’s inaction. The kingdom’s military has fallen into disrepair after years of peace, but now wolf-men ravage the countryside at Scythia’s border, and the king is deaf to Rynn’s protests that he revitalize the army.
With no one else willing to rock the boat, Rynn leaves the castle under cover of darkness and dons a new identity--Aelgan Revine, military captain--and takes charge of the local military company. But will she be able to keep her true identity hidden under a mask, safe from both her men and her father, long enough to eradicate the lupine threat?
Rynn’s eyes flashed open and she threw off the covers as quietly as possible. Grabbing her dagger sheath and book from the bedside table on her way, she tiptoed to the door and leaned close enough to hear Kallum’s steady breathing on the other side. Not steady enough to indicate sleep, of course. Kallum took his job far too seriously for that.
Cold radiated through her feet and she stepped back onto the rug as she strapped her dagger on over her nightgown. She crossed the room to the window, left open before she went to bed. She swung herself over the sill, letting out a low hiss as she banged her knee on the stone. The vine that grew oh-so-conveniently all the way from the ground to her solar window provided an excellent ladder—as it had many nights previous. Upon reaching the ground, Rynn took a deep breath of crisp night air and smiled, twirling once between lying down several feed from the keep window and cracking open her book to read by moonlight. She sniffed the pages and momentarily enjoyed the aroma before settling in completely, trying to ignore the howls from the northern forest but unable to fully banish her annoyance
Halfway through the night, she fell asleep to the sound of cicadas.
Rynn woke when the sun began creeping above the far-distant mountains. The reddish light—and heat, with it—spread across her face as if peeling back a mask, and she sat up to face the mountains. She squinted as she admired the red and purple clouds that stretched across the sky like ribbons. After a moment, she collected her book and climbed back up to her room. Her morning-weak arms struggled to keep a strong hold on the vine, but they steadily strengthened and she climbed inside without mishap. She nearly hissed as her bare feet struck the cold stone floor, and danced onto the rug.
“Did you enjoy your clandestine meeting?”
Rynn’s head snapped up and she spotted the dark hair that peeked above the back of her chair. She should have noticed the fireplace was lit. “Clandestine meeting?” Rynn repeated, trying to regain control of the situation, and her heart rate. “I think you mean ‘clandestine reading’.”
“Was it worth putting your life in danger?” Kallum rose from the chair and faced Rynn with his arms crossed and a familiar glare on his face.