rathford (eleven Realms)
1. The Hunter
Although the grand-niece of the king and distantly in line for the throne, Jeanne Bertrand wants nothing to do with court life. After the death of her parents, she uses her magic and the ability to create a doppelganger in order to spend her time catching criminals as a masked vigilante known to the public as the Hunter. She meets an ancient magical being wandering the human realms in the form of a dog, who calls himself Luk, as well as a small band of misfits who aid her in her missions. Meanwhile, Tristan Riheld is a voluntas, one of the individuals with superhuman speed and natural magical powers, assigned by the Academy to be Jeanne’s protector and partner in the effort to advance both their political careers. What he at first believes to be a dream assignment turns out to be a nightmare as Jeanne pretends to be something of a half-wit in order to protect her identity and avoid being sucked into the ugly depths of power politics. So in a long shot attempt to gain favor at court, Tristan sets his sights on capturing the Hunter, who the upper class sees as a threat to the social structure.
Though the recent plot on the king’s life has been foiled, this victory is only temporary. No one knows that better than Jeanne Bertrand, grand-niece of Rathford’s elderly king. Though she pretends to be empty headed by day in order to avoid the political maneuvering concerning her connection to the throne, by night she uses her magic in her role as the Hunter, a vigilante protecting the capital from common criminals and corrupt officials alike. The only people who know of her identity are a small band of thieves, an ancient magical being named Luk and now Tristan Riheld, the voluntas possessing superhuman speed assigned to be her bodyguard. The already difficult task of identifying and finding evidence to incriminate the plotters who tried to kill the king is made increasingly difficult when, led by Master Mage Amaury Dupont, the upper classes turn against the Hunter and call for ‘him’ to be brought to justice. As police officers hunting for her flood the streets, Jeanne, Tristan and the others race to find the plotters before they are found out themselves.
Months after Jeanne Bertrand and her voluntas bodyguard Tristan saved her great uncle, the king, from a kidnapping and murder attempt, she has moved into the palace and been declared the heir to the throne. What might be something to celebrate for anyone else is a source of worry for her as she dreads both being in the public light of the upper classes and the crushing responsibility that will come with her future job. The pressure only builds when the ambassador from Verlen brings the twin princess and prince with her on a diplomatic trip. Although the twins turn out to be far more interesting than Jeanne feared, she can’t help but be slightly relieved when various troubles arise to distract her. For one thing, Marcus and Carine, who have started a school for the mages and voluntas ignored by the larger institutions, face repeated assassinations. For another, a vigilante group starts to act in the name of the Hunter, Jeanne’s officially dead alter ego, and engenders anger for their vicious practices. Meanwhile, one of Luk’s old enemies comes out of the woodwork and stirs up enough trouble to make even Jeanne wish things might calm down again.