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Authors: Jason K. Lewis

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Phoenix Rising

BOOK: Phoenix Rising
7.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Title Page




Map of Adarna

Chapter One - Martius

Chapter Two - Conlan

Chapter Three - Martius

Chapter Four - Conlan

Chapter Five - Conlan

Chapter Six - Metrotis

Chapter Seven - Ellasand

Chapter Eight - Martius

Chapter Nine - Wulf

Authors afterword






Jason K.

Copyright © 2014 by Jason K. Lewis

The rights of Jason K. Lewis to be identified as the author of this work have been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved.

This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in reviews or articles.

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locations or organisations is entirely coincidental.

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Published by Oldhaven Publishing

United Kingdom

For my beautiful wife and son. Who else?

We see many who are struggling against

adversity who are happy, and more although

abounding in wealth, who are wretched.



Admit to weakness, if not always to others,

then always to yourself. This is true strength.

Felix Martius


What fate the man who conquers all?

What fate the man who cannot fall?

For no one, truly, can escape death’s pall.

Xandar the Great


THE HEAVY OAK DOORS slammed shut. They muffled the sounds of the massed citizens in Empire Square but they could not mask the shame that burned in Martius’s heart.

He walked, shoulders back, head held high, as befitted the primus general, but inside he squirmed at the thought of what he had just witnessed and the terrible consequences it might have for the future of the Empire.

The Twelfth legion was no more, and the blame rested with him alone.

You should have stopped it
You could have stopped it
. His subconscious railed against him. It was not true though. He could never have stopped it, and a small part of him at least knew the truth of it – that path was too dangerous.


Why not? There were many in the Empire that would support him. There were many who would positively encourage it. But it was not the Felix way. His house had ever been loyal to the Emperor; his soul knew no other option.

The soul had won in the end, or perhaps he believed his own teachings too much.

To be a good leader, one must know when to follow

They were his own words, drilled into every candidate at the academy. The legions were a great power in the Empire, but their function was to serve.

The alternative was a military coup and dictatorship, and every particle of Martius’s being denied that path.

The massed death of the Twelfth legion – their appalling decimation – would mar the history of the Empire for eternity. Nevertheless, it would also send a message to the army. Emperor Mucinas Ravenas was their master; and when they disappointed their master, they would pay a heavy price.

“This is not how it should be.” He said the words aloud, yet he had not intended to. They felt right though, as they spilled from his mouth. They felt like release. “It should not have happened.”

“There’s nothing you could have done about it, lad,” Turbis said quietly, forgetting as he often did, perhaps, that Martius was a grown man.

Martius looked at his old mentor.
Never reply in anger
, he reminded himself. Turbis, in his own way, was surely trying to help. “It doesn’t make it any easier.” He clenched his jaw shut to ensure he did not say something he might regret.

“I know that, Martius, I know that.” Turbis laid the stump of his arm on Martius’s shoulder. The tip of the hook hovered dangerously close to his eye. “This is not the place to discuss it, eh?” Turbis whispered so that only Martius could hear.

Their footsteps echoed down the corridor, like legions marching to a dull and hollow beat.

He slowed his pace. There was plenty of time to reach the council chamber. The Emperor could wait. Besides, Turbis was right. It would not do to be overheard.

They gradually fell behind the group ahead, the so-called great and good of the Empire, who had just stood and watched as the men who had defended them from annihilation were put to death.

Eventually, when he was certain that they would not be overheard, Martius vented his anger. “They didn’t need to die, damn it!” He waved his arm towards the retreating backs of the officers and politicians ahead. “I said it in the council chamber this morning and I’ll say it again.”

“No you won’t. You can’t.” Turbis stared at him, eyes gleaming with anger or regret. “It is done. I’ve heard you say it yourself a thousand times. What’s the analogy you use? Something to do with ‘catch the king’, can’t bloody remember –”

Martius shook his head. “You have to play the long game.”
You have to wait until your opponent overextends himself before you can catch his king. Before you can win the game.

He breathed deep, filling his lungs with the cool, perfumed air of the palace corridor. Turbis was right; it would not do to test the patience of the Emperor any further. This morning he had come close to the line and it had been clear in the eyes of Mucinas Ravenas – bright as they were with malice and glee – that this challenge to the Emperor’s authority would not be quickly forgotten.

“Anyway, doesn’t matter.” Turbis waved his hook dismissively. “Never liked the bloody game anyway. The point is you need to be careful, eh?” He put his good hand on Martius’s shoulder and brought him to a stop, fixing him with eyes that had, despite the ravages of gluttony and the gods knew what else that his body had endured, never lost their strength, their iron core. “Eh?” He shook Martius’s shoulder gently.

Turbis still had some muscle left beneath the layers of fat, that much was clear from the strength of his grip.

“Don’t worry, old man.” Martius smiled to take the sting out of his words. “I won’t do anything stupid.”

“Make sure you don’t, Martius. Think about Ella and the children... Make sure you don’t.” Turbis grunted and released his grip. “Now, let’s see what the little Emperor has to say for himself, eh?”

“You may enter.” The skinny young servant sniffed disdainfully as he ushered them into the council chamber, apparently careless of the fact he spoke to two of the most powerful men in the Empire.

Martius fumed.
Another imperial lackey
. His stomach ached with the sickening certainty of his own responsibility in it all. A small part of him counselled logic, urging him to place the blame where it truly lay – with the Emperor – but the image of his legionary brothers lying lifeless on the stones of Empire Square forbade any denial.

The expression on Praetorus Kourtes’s face as he had watched the sickening spectacle painted a picture of the Empire for Martius, and it was a ruinous image that he could not erase. Kourtes had appeared to enjoy the blatant horror of the decimation, and Martius wanted nothing more than to wipe the smirk from the nobleman’s face.

There were many men now who considered themselves untouchable as part of the Emperor’s increasingly fetid inner circle.

The old Emperor – father to the current sovereign – had always encouraged challenge around him, ruling the Empire as the first amongst equals, adhering to the traditions laid down centuries ago by the great Xandar himself… At least that was how it had felt to Martius all those years ago.

He wondered if Turbis – silent now, perhaps lost in his own thoughts – would share the same recollection. Turbis, after all, had been the old Emperor’s favourite at court. Back then, Turbis had been vibrant and energetic, always willing to trade jokes with others, quick to anger but also to forgive. The court had seemed like a bastion of enlightenment shining in the vast dark of the world, as the old emperor and his subjects worked to improve the lot of the citizen and the slave alike, and re-order the Empire after generations of excess and neglect.

Martius himself had thrived in the tolerant and progressive atmosphere that pervaded the court at the time, and his meteoric rise really began there. First, as proctor to Turbis, Martius had been educated in life at court and imperial politics.

Then five years later, he had returned from a rotation in the Legions that saw him rise to become the youngest Legion father in recorded history. In addition, having just published his treatise on increasing the efficiency of the army, Martius was hailed on his return by the old emperor as a force for progress, and his changes were adopted wholeheartedly across the army.

He had been privileged to enjoy the sponsorship of the great General Antius Turbis and the grace of the old emperor. The introduction of stricter training regimes and standardised equipment and tactics had helped the Empire to regain all of its former glory, and to stand again as the preeminent force in the world.

Where did it all go wrong?
Martius wondered. The old systems for governing the army and the Empire had made it wane and weaken. The corruption and debauchery at court had almost extinguished the light of civilisation. Now it seemed like those old traditions were being revived. The doom of the Empire was, perhaps, already written.

. Martius shuddered at the thought of it.

The barbaric practice was banned by him, under his ‘Martian’ reforms. Many had poured scorn on his ideas of tolerance and rehabilitation but with the support of the old emperor, along with Turbis and a few others, they had been implemented. Martius had empowered the common legionary soldiers to vote their leaders into position. What better way to choose a good leader than to ask the rest of the troops who they thought would be best at keeping them alive? At every level from sub-branch leader to Legion father, every leader was elected by a majority of their troops. He was proud of this meritocratic approach, but he knew that it had generated a lot of bad feeling amongst the upper classes, who had traditionally supplied the officer corps.

The inherited power of the upper classes was pure idiocy. If a soldier wished to progress as a leader of men, that soldier now knew that if he completed officer training at the academy, he would be eligible to stand for election in the legion. Only after serving as a legionary for at least a year would he be allowed to stand, and even then he was unlikely to be voted in until he was much more experienced.

Looking up from his reverie, Martius was surprised to find they had already approached the familiar semi-circular table that flared around the imperial throne, which was itself raised on a small dais in the centre so that the Emperor could survey his subjects from a respectable – but by no means imposing – height.

The council chamber was full. Many senators were in attendance, along with members of the extended royal family.
Come to see the show,
thought Martius. Some – the most senior – were seated, but the rest were forced to stand, peering over others as they craned to get a view of their emperor.

BOOK: Phoenix Rising
7.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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