Author's Note: I have removed the middle chapters of all of my stories due to plagiarism. If you would like to read this story, please go to my home page for a link to my blog.
It was a stormy night when the first Duke of Bryune was born. Dark thunderclouds swallowed the sky and rumbled the earth in a storm without sense or rhythm. Lightning split the darkness, and rain poured in steady sheets, forming muddy puddles throughout the open fields of The Wilds. The ancient, sometimes magical land was certainly not new to storms, and so this particular heavenly rage might not have been any more notable than the rest…except that the future Duke's mother happened to be outside in the middle of such a muddy field at the moment of his untimely birth.
The land called The Wilds existed to the north of the tame and rather faithless country of Meyjia. Its people were denounced as savages because of their tendency to run around naked and dance in the moonlight and worship trees. The land itself was deemed uninhabitable by the more 'cultured' Meyjians. Yet those who lived in The Wilds claimed that their devotion to nature lent them mystical powers, powers that made them superior to the ignorant people living beneath them.
Some said this was madness. Certainly nature was a force to be reckoned with, but worshipped?
Yet Roseli, a native of The Wilds, had always trusted nature over man. It was man who had failed her and man who had driven her half-mad with grief and anxiety.
Raped by a Meyjian official, abandoned by the man who would have been her lifemate, no man had ever shown her anything but heartache. To escape the torment of remaining in a land that scorned the half-Meyjian child she bore, Roseli had made the decision to flee in the late months of her pregnancy to the more lenient middle-north region of Meyjia.
And thus she found herself stranded in the middle of a field, only a day away from the border into the largely underpopulated middle-northern precinct. With his own mite-sized stubbornness, her baby was forcing his way out. She could hold back no longer.
With a hoarse cry of triumph, Roseli delivered a healthy baby boy, the cleansing rain washing away all signs of birth, her own warmth keeping him strong throughout the storm. Shortly after she reached the village of Ralnin, where she intended to start a small medicine shop utilizing her knowledge of herbs, she knew without a doubt that the boy had belonged to the lover who had abandoned her. Wolfe had been blessed with eyes of amber, whereas the man who stole what remained of her innocence had possessed eyes of the coldest blue.
Her baby's eyes had quickly faded from birth gray to a warm brown.
True to his heritage, Roak proved to be immovable as a mountain when his sight was fixed on something. After hearing the story of his father's abandonment and his subsequent birth, he decided that one day, he would find a way to exact revenge upon the Meyjian Officiate who had ruined his mother's life.
In the days before the great Dmond ascended to the throne, the land of Meyjia was governed by a smattering of Officiates, the managers of law, and Constables, the defenders of law. Legal documentation, the collection of taxes, and marriage documents were all handles by the Officiates. Pursuing those who broke the law and bringing them to justice was left to the Constables and their officers. With no one but a distant King to ensure that the Officiates and Constables operated with honor and integrity, chaos tended to reign supreme in most regions.
Dmond, however, was a man of radical change. Not only did he take a wife born in poverty, but he announced on the day of his coronation that his country would be divided into six provinces. Each province would have its own Guardian Duke, whose primary role would be to oversee the work of his Officiates and Constables. To ensure peace and prosperity above all else. One need not have been born into wealth to attain a position as Duke. Out of fondness for his wife, Lasga, he granted her the right to select three of the Dukes from those of her own class. This meant Roak could easily contend with Officiate Wellison, his mother's rapist and his mortal enemy, for the Dukedom of the northeastern province.
Not before he struck a mortal blow against the man he meant to destroy, however.
There were requirements for winning a Dukedom, although little was known at the time as to the origins of the strange demands. One had to be married, male, and for reasons of necessity, able to produce heirs. Although typically positions of power passed from father to son, this was only when the father successfully maintained his wealth. Still, Dmond insisted that the likelihood of children was an absolute necessity.
So Roak chose a wife—Wellison's oldest daughter. Four years his elder and terribly plain, the woman was her father's favorite because she was meek and pliable and accepted his abuse. Even knowing that he was consigning himself to a lifetime of boredom, Roak sought and wooed his prey. It was well known that Wellison never intended to allow his eldest to wed, and Roak quickly learned why.
Beneath the calm exterior of Isabel Wellison was a woman with passion. Beneath the hideous garb her father forced her to wear was a woman of greaty beauty, a woman willing to risk her very life to wed her father's enemy, if only to escape his clutches. Because her stepmother was jealous of Isabel, she was eager to assist by forging marriage documents with Wellison's signature so that they might wed. By the time Wellison learned of the plot, it was too late. The contract was signed, and Isabel's long-defended innocence was lost.
Enraged, Wellison vowed to have vengeance upon the man who had wrested away his beloved daughter. When he learned of Roak's intentions to petition the Queen for the very ducal position he hoped to attain, he did everything in his power to stop his enemy from reaching the capital city of Dmondia.
But Roak prevailed. A three-day journey by horseback became a week-long struggle to remain alive. Finally, he and his wife arrived safely in Dmondia.
Left with nothing but the truth, Roak told Queen Lasga his entire story, from his mother's rape to his plot to wreak revenge upon Wellison. It was no longer about vengeance, however. Isabel, now his dearest love, had taught him to find peace with the demons of his past. What mattered now was keeping a man like Wellison from controlling an entire province of people.
This was the argument he made to his Queen. And because she found him to be just and true, she granted him not only the Dukedom, but his vengeance as well.
On the day the King and Queen were to announce the identities of the six Guardian Dukes, Wellison stood amongst a crowd of his peers, crowing that he would soon rule above everyone but the King. For hadn't King Dmond himself hinted, on more than one occasion, that his favored Officiate would be perfect for the exalted role of Duke?
Thus it was a shocking revelation when Queen Lasga clearly announced before all that she was selecting the commoner Roak, son of Roseli, as the Duke of the northeastern province dubbed Bryune. Not only had she publicly taken the title away from Wellison, but she efficiently managed to include in her announcement the exact identity of the victor, his own daughter's husband, to the Officiate. Only after his initial shock passed did Lasga add that she was displacing Wellison, as rapists were no longer acceptable candidates for political positions.
After leaving his father-in-law destitute and ruined, Roak took his wife and his mother and relocated them to the far north of his lands. He had Wellison's grand mansion leveled and donated all of the building materials, furnishings, and windows to the local villages the villainous man had left impoverished. Then he built a castle of dreams on the border between Bryune and The Wilds, a home from which he could start anew and build his dynasty. Wolfe became the name of the Bryune Dukes, as it was an old custom in Meyjia for a man whose family attained wealth or power to adopt his father's name as his surname. In the olden times, it was a mark of new prosperity, although Roak eschewed the habit of adding a 'son' to the name, for the man who had sired him had never truly been a father to him.
Even six centuries could not diminish the strength of the Wolfe blood, which would always flow with stubborn pride. Through war and peace, death and disease, the Wolfes prospered. Unfortunately, the arrogance that had won Roak a wife and a Dukedom not only refused to become diluted but seemed only to thicken with each generation.
Never let it be said that a Wolfe backed down from a fight. Or had anything but the biggest head in Meyjia and The Wilds combined.
Thus begins the tale of Brendan Wolfe, whose big head toppled him right off of his horse…and into the hands of Fate.