Meredyth’s future was set. She would marry Halford, not that she was madly in love with him, but he was the most amiable and respectful of the men who had courted her. But that prospect shattered within a matter of days. Halford goes missing, her father is killed, and she is summoned by Lord Wulfgar to be his next wife. The only way to avoid such a fate is to flee with one of his henchman who claims he can keep her out of Wulfgar’s hands. But he turns out to be none other than Wulfgar’s chief assassin, Brandan the Butcher. Then she learns he killed Halford, and she becomes consumed with revenge.
What is it about Meredyth that would cause Brandan to aid her and even risk death when he knows she could only loathe him for the part he had played in the upheaval of her life?
Appearance. Yes, first impressions count. When Brandan first encounters Meredyth, he is enamored of her green eyes, which could be soft as moss or glinting as a forest on fire. Her chestnut hair, which she wears in a braid draped over her shoulder, gleams in the sunlight. Hers is a winsome and radiant beauty.
Personality. From the very beginning, she reveals herself to be independent and strong-willed. She is quick-witted and not easily taken in. But these traits turn her into an implacable enemy. Her playful sense of humor becomes biting sarcasm, and her ill opinion of him seems set in stone. He comes to wonder what happened to the appealing, spirited woman he first met.
Skills and abilities. When he unexpectedly comes upon Meredyth, she adroitly nocks an arrow and aims it at him. He soon learns that she is a proficient archer, a skill he comes to view as both a threat and an asset. She rides her horse with the grace and ease of an expert horsewoman. She proves adept at picking up the skills necessary for fleeing through the wilderness, and his survival becomes dependent on her knowledge of treating wounds.
Principle she lives by. It is apparent to Brandan that she treats others with respect, no matter their station in life. That is, until it comes to him.
Their similar circumstances. Meredyth is as bereft of family as he is. Her mother died when she was young, he killed her fiancé, and another of Wulfgar’s henchmen killed her father. Except for her cousin Selwyn, who may or may not help her, she has no one to turn to. But how far is Brandan willing to go to protect her when she could never have any regard for him?
A word about her name. Meredyth, also spelled Meredith, is of Welsh origin, and an early spelling was Meredudd, the “dd” in Welsh pronounced as “th.” The Welsh pronunciation would accent the last syllable, and the vowel of first syllable almost disappears when the name is spoken quickly. It would sound something like “Mir-rheh-dith.” It was originally a man’s name as it meant lord or possibly splendid or great lord.
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