TITLE: For One Hundred Swords
GENRE: YA Romantic Fantasy
Unwillingly betrothed to the mountain-king for the sake of an alliance, Kimri doesn't expect to discover a man she could come to care for. But when her beloved brother is taken as a war hostage, the mountain-king refuses to pay the ransom and Kimri decides to pay the price herself, even at the cost of her impending marriage. She has no idea she's about to awaken sleeping dragons.
Her brother traded her for peace, a hundred swords, and ten thousand arrows. She didn't speak to him on the day the guards came to escort her through the mountain pass and to her new home; she was too furious with him.
"Kimri," he said, "won't you even give me a proper farewell?"
She patted her sorrel's neck and swung herself up into the saddle. They wouldn't need a farewell, she thought, if he hadn't given her away to the mountain-king like market goods. With her knees, she told her horse to move on.
Her brother stood squarely in the way. "I had no choice, you know," he said.
She spared him a disdainful glance. It was true that no one dared challenge Helsmont. The small mountain kingdom conducted its affairs as it saw fit, but in the past it had always done so quietly, involving no others. It had been her brother's messenger who had gone there first, asking what it would take for an alliance between their realms.
Kimri was, frankly, impressed she was worth such a price. But it was one thing for the mountain-king to offer it, and another for her brother to take it.
Dereth sighed and stroked the sorrel's face. "Just don't try to run away. Ride safely," he said, then stepped aside.
Her escort was waiting in the yard outside the stable: half a dozen guards in leathers, standing by their mountain-bred horses. Such a small band from anywhere else would have been an insult, but Helsmont guards were famed as the deadliest fighting force in five kingdoms. Her brother's warning had been unnecessary; she wasn't going to try to escape these men----and woman.