Now I Rise (And I Darken Series, #2)

Now I Rise (And I Darken Series, #2)

Kiersten White


She had chosen to leave them as an act of strength.

Lada is a princess without a kingdom. Her bid to seize her rightful crown ended in disaster.

She would never return to them in weakness.

Radu sacrificed so much for his coveted position in his friend Mehmed’s court. But what he wants in return, Mehmed cannot give.

She had thought that the throne was hers for the taking.

Their individual ambitions will force the three to make tough choices: faith or love; family or friend; duty or desire …

She had thought that she would be enough.

Once the decision is made, there can be no going back.


For Christina, who will never have time to

read this book, but who gave me

the gift of time to write it


Draculesti Family, Wallachian Nobility

Vlad Dracul: Deceased vaivode of Wallachia, father of Lada and Radu, father of Mircea, husband of Vasilissa Vasilissa: Mother of Lada and Radu, princess of Moldavia Mircea: Deceased oldest son of Vlad Dracul and his first, deceased wife Lada: Daughter and second legitimate child of Vlad Dracul Radu: Son and third legitimate child of Vlad Dracul Vlad: Illegitimate son of Vlad Dracul with a mistress

Wallachian Court and Countryside Figures

Nurse: Oana, Mother of Bogdan, childhood caretaker of Lada and Radu Bogdan: Son of the nurse, childhood best friend of Lada Andrei: Boyar from rival Danesti family, son of the replacement prince Aron: Brother of Andrei

Danesti family: Rival family for the Wallachian throne Daciana: Peasant girl living under a Danesti boyar’s rule Toma Basarab: Boyar from Basarab family

Ottoman Court Figures

Murad: Deceased Ottoman sultan, father of Mehmed Halima: One of Murad’s wives, mother of murdered infant heir Ahmet Mara Brankovic: One of Murad’s wives, returned to Serbia Huma: Deceased mother of Mehmed and concubine of Murad Mehmed: The Ottoman sultan

Halil Vizier: Formerly Halil Pasha, an important advisor in the Ottoman courts whose loyalties are to Constantinople Salih: The second son of Halil Vizier, formerly a friend of Radu Kumal: Devout bey in Mehmed’s inner circles, brother of Nazira, brother-in-law and friend to Radu Nazira: Radu’s wife in name only, Kumal’s sister Fatima: Nazira’s maid in name only

Amal: A young servant who has aided Radu and Mehmed in the past Suleiman: The admiral of the Ottoman navy

Timur: An Ottoman citizen working for Mehmed

Tohin: An Ottoman citizen expert in gunpowder, mother of Timur Urbana of Transylvania: An expert in cannons and artillery

Lada Dracul’s Inner Military Circle

Matei: An experienced former Janissary, one of Lada’s oldest men Nicolae: Lada’s closest friend

Petru: Lada’s youngest soldier from the Janissary troop Stefan: Lada’s best spy

The Hungarian Court

John Hunyadi: Hungary’s most brilliant military commander, responsible for Vlad Dracul’s and Mircea’s deaths Matthias: John Hunyadi’s son, high up in court politics Elizabeth: The mother of the young king, Ladislas Posthumous Ladislas Posthumous: The ill young king

Ulrich: The king’s regent, advisor, and protector

Constantinople Court Figures

Constantine: The emperor of Constantinople

John: The heir of Constantinople, nephew of Constantine Manuel: John’s brother, nephew of Constantine

Coco: An important naval captain

Cyprian: An ambassador for the court, bastard nephew of Constantine Giustiniani: An Italian, Constantine’s most important military advisor Helen: A citizen of Constantinople, Coco’s mistress and Nazira’s friend


January 1453

HELL WAS A party.

At least, Radu was fairly certain that whatever hell there was would certainly resemble this party.

Music drifted like perfume on the air, enough to sweeten but not overwhelm. Groups of musicians were scattered across the island; they could be glimpsed among the hardy green that had survived the winter months. Though the main meal would come later, blue-clad servants floated through the crowds with food-laden trays shaped like lily pads. On either side of the island, the Tunca River flowed leisurely by.

Whatever else he had been, Murad—Mehmed’s dead father and Radu’s onetime benefactor—had not been one to skimp on luxury. The harem complex he built on the island had been out of use since his death, but it had not faded in glory. The tiles gleamed. The carved stones of the walls promised luxury and peace. The fountains tinkled in cheery companionship with the surrounding river.

Radu wandered between buildings painted like geometric gardens, pulled along as surely as the course of the river. He knew it was useless, knew that it would not make him feel better. But still he looked.

And there—next to the bathhouse. Radu was drawn to him like a leaf spun on the river current. Mehmed wore his now-constant deep-purple robes and a swirling golden turban. A jeweled chain fastened a cloak around his broad shoulders. Radu tried to remember Mehmed’s full lips parting in a smile, his eyebrows rising in mirth rather than mockery. The two young men, both having finally finished growing, were the same tall, lean height. But lately Radu felt small when Mehmed looked at him.

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