Anthea Manikos was born in October 1174 in Sounion, on a rocky sterile plain on the southern most tip of the Attica peninsula in Greece. The only thing the land there is really good for is mining. Anthea’s father, Nikitas, owns several mines in the region chiefly Laurion, producing iron ore and silver. Nikitas is miserly and they live a very Spartan lifestyle.
Penelope, Anthea’s mother died when she was a child and Nikitas brought in the best nannies and teachers he could find to educate her and prepare her to be wed to a nobleman someday. This is the arrangement that brought Anthea to Italy, to Parthenope.
Pero de Alava first meets Anthea in a small chapel the night before her marriage to another. Anthea turns his head from the get. Despite his intoxication and her inexplicable grief shedding involving both tears and hair, Pero is drawn to her, proposing to wed her then and there.
Anthea is very religious, the orthodoxy of the eastern Byzantine Empire. Francis Whitehall, the Estate Steward of Capua, so swears that Anthea is the kindest human being he has ever met. He couldn’t imagine her ever thinking evil of others. She is nearly always smiling and helping others, her heightened awareness seemingly tapping into the quintessence of her surroundings.
Twenty-three, Anthea has been living in her own apartment at Capua for a year now. She was devastated by the miscarriage of the arranged marriage her father prepared for her. The city of Parthenope so disappointed her, she has sworn to never return to that city. She is just beginning to recover from the trauma of that event.
After announcing their engagement in August 1197, Pero swept Anthea off on a whirlwind tour of Spain and his holdings there. Anthea enjoyed most of the holiday, everything that is except the time she spent with Maria Alava, Pero’s saintly mother. It seemed the woman was testing her at every turn. Anthea is still not confident, even to this day, that Maria approves of her.
Despite that misgiving, Anthea continues to prepare for their wedding in a fortnight. She plans to make her own dress, several prototypes already fashioned in a backroom. She is involved in every detail of the event. It is to be her magnum opus.
The chief reluctance still haunting her, however, is Pero himself. Every since the caballero was expelled from a banquet thrown in his honor in Parthenope after an unexpected dust up with the powerful Fabbro family, Pero has been distant. His mind wanders and he seems all alone.
‘She started to think her affection for him was not inspiring enough to rouse him from his stupor and fully awake him from his worries.’ (Excerpt)
Anthea didn’t want to believe Pero was having a change of heart but his constant mindless wanderings into dark foreboding shadows worried her.
When Pero shows up at her door wearing his armor, Miriam sheathed at his side, she knows things are truly amiss and their world is about change. She is frightened and clings to him, rosary beads in hand. She tries her best to dissuade him from taking this reckless course he seems determined to walk.
For those who have not read the book, be sure to pick up your copy of THE CRYSTAL CRUX – BETRAYAL on Amazon, available in both Paperback and Kindle (soon in audio-book as well). When you get done reading this book, the first in the series, you will have only gone one days journey on a ten day hike. It promises to be a long and eventful ride. I hope you come along.