I am happy to welcome K.M. Weiland to Joy in the Journey. This prolific young author writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in the sand hills of western Nebraska. She is the author of A Man Called Outlaw and the recently released Behold the Dawn
She blogs at Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors and AuthorCulture
Synopsis of Behold the Dawn:
Marcus Annan, a journeyer famed for his prowess on the battlefield, thought he could keep the secrets of his past buried forever. But when a mysterious crippled monk demands Annan help him find justice for the transgressions of sixteen years ago, Annan is forced to leave the tourneys and join the Third Crusade.
Wounded in battle and hunted by enemies on every side, he rescues an English noblewoman from an infidel prison camp and flees to Constantinople. But, try as he might, he cannot elude the past. Amidst the pain and grief of a war he doesn’t even believe in, he is forced at last to face long-hidden secrets and sins and to bare his soul to the mercy of a God he thought he had abandoned years ago.
The sins of a bishop.
The vengeance of a monk.
The secrets of a knight.
Excerpt from Behold the Dawn
He ran a hand over the saddle, checking the Baptist’s flat-bladed sword where it lay snug in its fastenings on the near side. “Fetch the food purse.” She had kept it near her during the night, and he hadn’t asked for it. What he had told her about having nothing to fear from him would sink in better if he stayed away from her.
He gave the cinch a final check and tossed another glance at the sky. With blessings from both the weather and the saints, he and the lady could be in Orleans within the month—if the horse held out that long. He patted the courser’s shoulder. The horse blew through his nostrils and tossed his head. He was a far cry from the bay destrier Annan had lost outside Acre, but then the bay’s stamina probably wouldn’t compare with the courser’s on a trek of this sort.
Without looking at him, Mairead handed him the heavy leather purse. “The horse should have a name.” It was the first offhand comment she had offered since he had met her two nights ago.
“I don’t name my animals.”
He tightened the knot that would hold the purse to the saddlebow, then turned to where she stood fondling the courser’s dark head. Why indeed? The last animal he had named was the charger Lord William had gifted him with a few years before St. Dunstan’s. He had called the big stallion Caird. Since then, he had owned and lost countless beasts, some through the tourneys, some to pay his debts. Marek named them all, but Annan never paid him heed.
Mairead looked at him, and he straightened. “Animals without names are easier to watch die.” It was as good a reason as any.
“Oh.” Her mouth set in a firm line once more. “I see.”
She didn’t see, but he hadn’t expected her to. She had known the shelter of her father’s and then Lord William’s castles for too long; she couldn’t realize that the pain and the death that filled a man’s life were bearable only when kept at arm’s length.
She didn’t look at him until he had lifted her onto the pillion, and then her eyes met his only for a moment. But it was an unguarded moment. And in it, he sensed again a flash of pain—raw and burning—and he was reminded that perhaps Lady Mairead of Keaton was a woman who knew pain all too well.
He could guess at the cause. He could piece together the import of her fear and of Lord William’s words and of everything left unsaid in her own statements.
But, that too, like all the horses he had seen fall beneath him in battle or forfeited for melee ransom, was something he needed to leave unnamed, lest he open himself to the realization of what had been done to her. Were he ever to allow a crack to open in the mental barrier of sixteen years, that would be all the gateway his own pain and fear and anger would ever need.
He mounted, wincing at the groan of his old hip wound. Reining the horse around, he headed for the riverbank where the going would be smooth. Mairead did not brace herself with her arms around him as she had yestermorn during their escape from the prison camp.
He urged the horse into a trot to loosen its muscles. The courser stumbled, then righted itself, ears pointed ahead, hooves crunching in the pebbles.
Annan glanced to his left. By now, the stranger on the donkey should be too far away to hear them. He rubbed the horse’s rough mane with his knuckles. Let the horse hold out. It was as close to a prayer as he had come in a long time.
The lady didn’t speak until the campsite had almost disappeared around the river’s bend. “He deserves a name,” she said.
The breeze, cool and still heavy with the damp of night, slid across the thickening stubble of his cheek, whispered secrets in his ear, then blew past him to caress the countess’s long hair.
Lines knit themselves deep in his forehead. He touched the horse’s belly with his heel, and the animal leaned into a canter. “Then name him.”
Click here to see the book trailer.