...Ryann’s eyes snapped open again. Had she dozed off? The dim light of morning had penetrated the forest canopy, and she could clearly see the body of the beast lying dead in front of her. A marwulf. She had never seen a marwulf before, but she had heard stories of them. Her sword was sticking out of the creature’s neck. She had been fortunate.
Ryann leaned forward and retrieved her sword, wiping its blade on the grass before putting it back in her baldric. What had she done? She had killed an animal of the wild. Was this to be her new life? Already, in the few short moons since she had left Walthern Castle, she had killed and injured several people. In all the time she had lived in Walthern, under the protection of her mother, she had never seen this many deaths. She was becoming a monster. “I’m sorry, mother,” she mumbled. “I don’t know what has become of me.”
Ryann reached out a hand to touch the marwulf’s huge body. Its fur was soft to her touch. “Forgive me, marwulf. I didn’t intend to harm you.” Her thoughts were cut short by the sound of another howling bark in the distance. Pulling herself to her feet, she leaned against the trunk of the tree and looked around. She couldn’t see anything. The howling came again. Ryann scrambled to her right, pulling her sword free. Perhaps the marwulf’s mate had come looking for him, or for her. Ryann’s eyes sought out the source of the noise, but she could see nothing. Perhaps the marwulf had gone somewhere else. Then she realized the other marwulf would be able to track the dead marwulf she was standing next to. Standing next to. Of course. She had to move. Turning away from the direction the noise was coming from, she took a few cautious steps. Then a few more. Finally, she took cover behind another tree and paused to take a breath.
The howling came once more. Ryann stopped. This wasn’t the noise of a marwulf. It sounded almost like a dog. It was more of a bark. A yap, even. Of course, it was a pup. Perhaps a marwulf cub. What had she done? Had she killed a pup’s mother?Ryann turned back from the tree she was hiding behind, and walked toward where the dead marwulf was lying. Standing over the body was a small marwulf-cub, barely bigger than a large cat. The cub looked up at Ryann, baring its teeth, and growled...
Title: Ryann's Brother
Genre: YA Fantasy
Length: 84,000 words
Synopsis: Ryann gained her freedom from slavery by winning a wager with the son of her owning lord. Now she is setting out to find her long lost brother who is rumored to live in the country of her birth. But Bramwel Cala, the ruthless and barbaric son of her ex-lord and master, wants his revenge.
A deathly plague is also devastating the land, and there are many people who would as soon have Ryann killed as help her on her quest. In a land of lords and tax-collectors, potion-makers and sclavas, will the young and innocent Ryann survive to fulfill the destiny she was born to?