The Bride of War
Martin Gorman is Steward of Aachen, a mountain village locked in the past by a malevolent dragon who oversees everything they do, and demands a new Bride of the Winter Roses every few years. Martin's sense of duty and love for the current girl selected to 'wed' the dragon comes to a head, when the girl's father hires mercenaries to kill the dragon... and Martin with it. More
Life in the Order of the Widowed Dragon has never been easy. For countless centuries, a lone Steward has protected and served the people of Aachen, living amongst and yet apart from them, never knowing kinship, gratitude or love. Martin had accepted this long before he took up the mantle himself.
However, his late mentor failed to warn him that preserving the Pact between Aachen and the Dragon would break his heart. For it was his duty, every handful of years, to escort the Bride of Winter Roses up to the Tree of Souls, to be devoured before his eyes. Duty warred with his growing sense of injustice, but the conflict had become more personal for him; the last woman he took to be wed to the Dragon had quietly stolen his heart, and he has lived with remorse these past five years. And now, as if the Maker were mocking him, he finds himself falling once more, for Cassandra, the newly chosen Bride.
With only the aid of Cassandra and her companion Leanne, the younger sibling of his ghostly love, Maria, and Bishop Vavers, a man whose faith in a loving creator is flagging, Martin has less than three days to end the Dragon’s reign, unaware that the stakes are higher than mere star-crossed love or the fate of a forsaken mountain village. For the first time in over a millennium, the magic sustaining the Dragon and the Pact is in flux, as the cycle of sacrifice has come around to completion once more. If Martin can learn the Dragon’s weakness, Aachen can be spared another millennium of bloody tyranny. However, forces eldritch and political are moving to abolish the Pact prematurely, which could unleash a greater evil upon an unsuspecting world.