Heart of Hythea
Volume One of Song of the Arkafina
How would it feel if you lost everything – your home, your family; even your best friend? Katkin du Chesne knows all too well, but by age eighteen, she has rebuilt her shattered life and found a new home at the Infirmarie in Isle St. Valery, with the healing Sisters of the Unity of Lalluna. She is convinced she will stay there forever – until the day she meets an injured Cuirassier, Captain Tomas de Vigny, in the forest known as St. Valery’s Acre. The Captain is rude, to be sure, but Katkin is drawn to him by his obvious suffering. She wants to help, as a proper healer should, and though he mocks her attempts, she will save him from drowning in icy Lake Mistmere, with the unexpected aid of the Goddess Lalluna. Lalluna has her own reasons for intervening—she believes Katkin is the human woman that the Amaranthine are seeking, the one who will aid them in their fight against the evil Angellus.
Thus begins the synopsis for Heart of Hythea, the first book in the Song of the Arkafina cycle. It is a ripping yarn full of romance and adventure, with a strong female protagonist who isn’t always sweetness and light. Katkin’s struggles form the backbone of Hythea and the three books that follow. She must make many heartbreaking choices–between her lovers, her calling and her children while (of course) trying to save her home and the universe from destruction.
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Paperback available from Bladud Books.
Katkin did not bother to hurry now she had the wounded man in her charge. Reasoning he could very well be her patient once they arrived, she decided to try and find out more about him. She wondered how to bring up the subject of his injured leg and strange behavior on the cliff edge. Not wanting him to feel ill at ease, she decided to take an indirect route.
“You said you were on your way to visit the Infirmarie? Do you intend to take the healing waters there?”
“Unfortunately that is so. I do not wish it, but my superiors have ordered me to. I would rather stay at the front than be fussed over by a coterie of goddess‑worshiping harpies.” His bitterness surprised and offended Katkin. She stared up at him with burning cheeks.
“So am I a ‘goddess worshiping harpy’ as well? After all, I am a Juvenie, and I have made my Prime Vows. You speak of something of which you obviously know nothing, Captain. We have a fine history of cures among those who believe in the healing powers of Lalluna.”
He replied arrogantly, “Take no offence. I know more than you think. You are naïve and I would hardly expect you to understand. When you are older, as I am, you will have no time for such fairy tales.”
Katkin snorted in derision — she felt sure he could not be more than a few years older than she. She felt her temper rising so she decided to change the subject. “Captain, will you tell me of the wound that has caused you to be in such a distressing situation? If it is not too private a matter, I mean?” She knew, as a Juvenie, she should not be asking such questions of a patient.
“It is, as you say, a private matter, yet I feel I owe you some explanation for my strange behavior back there on the bluff. What did you think when you saw me throw these damned crutches over the cliff? Did you think I intended to follow them myself?” He looked at her questioningly, and Katkin nodded her head, realizing to her chagrin he had seen through her act from the very beginning.
“How do you know what I saw? You had your back turned.”
He looked at her with a raised eyebrow and answered wryly, “I am a professional soldier, Miss. I would not have been promoted to the rank of Captain without some rudimentary ability to know when I am being crept up on. Also, your quite priceless expression gave you away.” At this he smiled mockingly, but his face did lose its pained expression for a brief moment.