- Rolf's Quest: Medieval Encounters #1
A wizard, a curse, a fated love...
When Rolf finally discovers the woman who can end the curse that has plagued his family for centuries, she is already betrothed. Time is running out for the royal wizard of King Henry II. If he cannot find true love without the use of sorcery, the magic will die for future generations.
Melissa is intrigued by the mystical, handsome man who haunts her by night and tempts her by day. His bizarre tale of Merlin, enchantments, and finding genuine love has her questioning his sanity and her heart.
From the moment Melissa stepped from his dreams and into his arms, Rolf knew she was his destiny. Now, he will battle against time, a powerful duke, and call on the gods to save her.
Caledonia Forest, Scotland Autumn, 1139
The ancient limbs of the Rowan groaned as a strong wind tunneled through the Forbidden Forest. “By the gods, Vivien, if I get out of here you will pay,” Merlin raged, his long, white beard trembling with fury. A flutter of leaves danced and spiraled, falling between the gnarled roots that pushed through the dense carpet of sticks and bark.
The raspy voice echoed and bounced off the thick trunks of the trees as if to mimic the sorcerer’s threat. Vivien was nowhere near the legendary forest, and the old man only ranted at an innocent squirrel resting on a sturdy branch. The centuries had slowly chipped away at his patience, replaced by a grim determination to overcome the curse she’d placed upon him.READ MORE
The snap of a branch caught Merlin’s attention. He stilled at the sound of horses. “Where have you been? Do you no longer find it necessary to heed my summons?” His voice cracked, and the wind again picked up, blowing around bits of debris and restricting his view.
Two shadowy figures emerged from the gloomy interior of the forest. A taller man on a large stallion dwarfed the boy who sat on a smaller pony. They came to a stop before him, the horses’ nervous prance crunching the dead leaves under their hooves. The man dismounted, his mail chinking softly as his feet hit the ground. “Baron Giles Arbrec at your service, my lord.”
“Why does it take so long to answer my call?” The wizard spoke softly but the tone was deadly. “Do you no longer fear my wrath?”
“Merlin, I have come as commanded.” He knelt before the tree, head bowed, broad shoulders rippling under his hauberk as he bowed his head. “It is the boy’s tenth name day. I proudly present my first–born and only son, Rolf Arbrec.” The baron looked over his shoulder. “Dismount boy. Come pay homage to Merlin.”
The youngster’s wide, amber eyes looked to either side then back at his elder as he joined him. “Father, there is no one here. You are talking to a tree.”
A haze appeared in the center of the trunk then transformed into a face. Merlin gazed at the boy and felt a small crack in what was once his heart.
“Are you…” Rolf put his shoulders back and his chin up. He cleared his throat and asked again in a clear voice, “Are you the mighty wizard of legend?”
The snowy whiskers rippled with the rusty sound of his chuckle. “Indeed I am. And pleased to hear that my feats are still spoken of after such a long absence.”
“Kneel, Rolf, and show your respect.” The baron slapped his son on the chest with the back of his hand.
“He is a fine–looking lad.” Merlin studied the frightened boy who tried so desperately to hide his fear. “Leave him. We have much to teach him and little time to do it.”
“I cannot abandon him here in the Caledonia Forest,” exclaimed Baron Arbrec, rising to his feet and waving a fist in the air. “He is all I have left.
Calmness blanketed the sorcerer for the first time in centuries. This boy was the one. He could see it in the intensity of his gaze and the determined set of his jaw. “What else would you have me do, Arbrec? He is our last hope. This Rowan is dying and me along with it. If the curse is not broken before the last bloom of this tree, we are all doomed for eternity.”
“Curse? Upon our family or upon you?” Curiosity replaced Rolf’s fear.
Good sign. “You are my family, boy. I am saddened this responsibility must fall on such young shoulders, but you will be my champion. It will be your name the folk will one day whisper.”
“But I am to blame for this tragedy. Why must my only son suffer the consequences?”
The wizard gave a long, tired sigh. “In truth, I am at fault, and many generations have paid for my sins. You came so close to ending this, Giles. If you had only married his mother… But even a battle-hardened soldier of great valor has his fears.”
The excitement in the boy’s eyes faded as the ground shook with the old man’s disappointment. Another gust of wind sent more leaves tumbling to the ground. The boy steadied himself with both hands in the dirt but raised his head to Merlin. “I am at your command.”
“Stand, my son, and bid your father farewell.” The baron’s hands shook as he removed a chain from his neck and placed it over Rolf’s dark head. A plum-colored stone flashed with strands of brilliant violet as it landed gently on the narrow chest.
“Wear this amulet at all times. It will keep you safe.” Arbrec nodded toward the image in the tree. “He will protect you until you have completed your task. Forgive me for my failure.” He gripped the slender boy in a fierce hug.
When their eyes met, Merlin felt Arbrec’s agony like a stone in his gut. “You may visit each solstice and see how he fares. I am not a monster.”
Arbrec nodded. “I will regret my mistake for the rest of my days. Watch over him. He is my life.” Pushing his son away firmly, he turned his back and walked to his horse. The boy wiped his tear-stained cheeks with the back of his dirty hands but stood his ground and did not run after his father.
Damn you again, Vivien. Rolf will find genuine love, without the use of trickery, and she will return that tenderness. Then your day of reckoning will arrive.
Merlin watched as the boy silently waved to the retreating figure, a shadow fading into the darkness of the forest. His features softened and kindness shown in the faded eyes. “You have great courage and strength, Rolf. I will teach you things beyond your imagination. We shall help each other, you will see.”COLLAPSE
*Fire & Ice and Rebecca Finalist*
"Author Aubrey Wynne brings a swashbuckling epic story of family, love and betrayal to life in "Rolf's Quest". The structure of the story is done well -- it is long on action and moves at breakneck speed. The plot is perfectly paced, with characters that will pull the reader right into the action. They are likable and readers will root for Rolf and Melissa throughout their struggles. The strength of their bond will keep readers glued to their seat right until the very last page. Hold onto your helmet, readers, and grab a shield -- Rolf is just around the corner." - InD'tale magazine
"This was a surprisingly smooth read that I flew through in practically one sitting. I loved how easily I was immersed in this medieval world filled with royalty, knights, wizards, and villains. The magical element was interesting and I liked the way Merlin's story was woven into this book. The plot sucked me in and I thoroughly enjoyed following Rolf's journey.
In closing... A story with pretty much everything a fantasy romance fan can want. 4.5 stars" - Romance Reviews
"Romance, destiny, family values & betrayal all played parts in this intriguing novel that had me turning each page in anticipation." - The BookTweeter