Read Reign of Madness (Revised Edition) Online

Authors: Kel Kade

Tags: #Fantasy, #Ficion

Reign of Madness (Revised Edition)

BOOK: Reign of Madness (Revised Edition)
ads
 

 

King’s Dark Tidings

Book Two

Reign of Madness

 

By Kel Kade

 

This is a work of
fiction. All characters, places, and events in this novel are fictitious.
Opinions and beliefs expressed by the characters do not reflect the author’s opinions
and beliefs.

 

This book is
intended for adult readers. It contains graphic violence, creative language,
and sexual innuendo. This book does
not
contain explicit sexual content.

 

Text copyright © 2016 Kel Kade

All Rights Reserved

No part of this publication
may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
retrieval system.

 

Written and
Illustrated by Kel Kade

 

 

 

King’s Dark Tidings Series

Free the Darkness

Reign of Madness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgement

 

Thank
you to my family and my most patient and understanding daughter who have
encouraged and supported me throughout this writing process.

Map of Eastern Ashai

Map of the Souelian Sea

Prologue

King’s Dark Tidings

 

 

In the darkness with no ember, cold coals bear no flaming
tinder,

All the shadows man resemble, in the darkness wise men
tremble.

Prodigious foes made thee for pointless sake of prosaic power;

Visited upon thyself no vestige of vision by late night’s
hour;

In the stillness of normal eve, in longing for the night’s
reprieve,

In air and earth arise a faint and subtle shift – ‘tis
folly’s gift.

With tremulous breath, whisper faintly from thy spirit’s tower

“Woe
to me!” thy soul says – “Cometh nigh the Rez.”

 

Know not the source of sudden searching – terrorizing, inner
lurching,

Not of fallen feet on fitted floors or creaks and sways of
distant doors;

Know ye cometh darkness, ‘tis this oath of righteous reign’s
foul reaping,

In the silent stillness plead thy heart doth surcease salient
streaking.

But why within, the heated rush, when without, all’s well and
hush?

Be this mourning mists of magnanimous Maker? – the
soul’s taker?

Calls thy soul from madness, distant mind of fear-filled
keeping –

“Forsaken
am I!” thy mind says – “Cometh nigh the Rez.”

 

Whether merchant, sword, or money taker, son of lord or common
baker,

None escape when cursed with Knight, fall thee all by morning
light.

By thy virtue – desirous dissidence, drawn ye an
inexorable imperious ire;

Cleanse thy soul with steel or poison, drown in pool or blaze
in fire.

Never hear the slip of blade, never spy foul form or ghostly
shade,

Never taste the tincture’s tasteless tinge on tongue –
cook’s praises sung.

Nightly wakeful walking midst the walls and anxious dreams
turn dire –

“Maker,
save me!” thy prayer says, “Cometh nigh the Rez.”

 

Field of foe or Father’s breaker, never slip beyond the taker,

Gracious court and pristine ball, in Maker’s house and saintly
hall,

Bulwark’s burden, breadth of boundary, lock and bar and solid
door,

Talents of a warded wielder, whispered prayers from ancient
lore,

Wealth and title, promise paid, a sultry seduction, no hand is
stayed.

Never bar nor divert passage of thy regal call – await
thy fall!

Penance paid by blood, thy witness, righteous raven’s razing
soar –

“Gone
be thee!” thy voice says, “Cometh nigh the Rez.”

 

At the hour, on the morrow, not with certain sadness, woe, or
sorrow,

Prey ye never see him coming, never feel thy heart’s hard
thrumming.

May ye never mind the missive, forbidden song unsung in
writings –

In dark and devilish dirge, “Come I to thee with King’s Dark
Tidings,”

Fall to dream, thy breath deceased, dance with sylph, a soul
released,

But ‘twas day! – with bright and luminous halls –
no shadowed walls!

Knight of Shadows, ruler’s summons; ride thee swiftly, bear no
sightings –

“Kingdom
calls,” yon mark says – “Cometh nigh, the Rez.”

Chapter 1

The young travelers left General Marcum’s estate in a
mixture of excitement and apprehension. After an uninterrupted trek through the
city, they met up on the docks near the
Luna Mara
. Frisha’s cousins and
their entourage had yet to arrive. Captain Jimson was standing to one side
going over the paperwork with the dock master and ship’s captain. Frisha stood
huddled next to Tam, and both were staring at Rezkin who was tending to Pride
several yards away. He was dressed in the most ostentatious finery they had
ever seen on their companion. He wore a fine silk doublet in charcoal and
silver brocade over a silver silk shirt and dark charcoal breeches. About his waist
was a shiny, embossed black belt with a large silver buckle embedded with
several large emeralds and sapphires.

From his belt hung his two swords, whose scabbards were now
clamped within cages of silver filigree inset with a number of sapphires. Hanging
from each were dark blue silk tassels that swung as he strutted about in a
manner they had never seen from their friend. His high boots were made of
high-quality, soft, black leather. Rezkin’s hair was not pulled back into the
usual queue, but rather was plaited past his shoulders and tied with a silver
silk ribbon whose ends hung half way down the man’s back. Rezkin was a picture
of perfection if one were painting an idealized haughty noble.

Reaylin had only just arrived at the docks and was leaning
over Frisha and Tam’s shoulders as she asked, “What is Rez wearing and why is
he acting like that?”

Frisha shook her head and said, “I have no idea. He changed
after breakfast and told us to just go with it. I can’t imagine how he could
even afford all that, much less why he would want to.”

Reaylin’s eyes roved over the young warrior, and she said,
“It looks good on him, though.”

Releasing a wistful sigh, Frisha said, “It really does. He
looks so dashing. He’s exactly how I imagine the heroic prince would look as he
sweeps the princess off her feet.”

Tam laughed and commented, “I’m pretty sure you both said
the same thing when you saw him wearing nothing at all.”

Both girls’ faces flushed, and they simultaneously took to
pummeling Tam. Rezkin glanced over at the raucous group with a questioning lift
of his brow. The girls flushed again as they composed themselves. Just then,
two fine coaches drew up at the end of the dock. The second coach was
unoccupied but was filled to capacity with numerous bags and trunks. From the
first coach stepped Frisha’s cousins and their friend, Lord Brandt. Every one
of them was dressed just as grandly as Rezkin. All three men were wearing fancy
doublets and breeches with gaudy accessories, and their hair was plaited in the
same manner as Rezkin’s. Shiela fussed with her lavender gown that fell in
waves of layer upon layer of silks and laces. Her dark brown hair was pulled
over one shoulder and was curled and wound about itself within a fine lace
netting. She wore short, white lace gloves and grasped a parasol that matched
her gown, which she immediately opened upon stepping out of the coach.

Several servants had been crammed atop the coaches with the
drivers. Two of the male servants were directing the deckhands to the luggage
while another assisted a petite, timid woman in a drab servant’s smock to the
ground. The tiny woman promptly began patting down Shiela’s gown, ensuring no
wrinkles could be seen.

Once the four young nobles were satisfied that their attire
had survived the short coach ride through the city, they began making their way
down the dock. The servants and a number of dockworkers began unloading the
luggage coach and were already passing by the strutting nobles. Shiela, who
seemed to be in the lead, stopped a few paces short of Frisha and her
companions. She stuck her nose in the air and sniffed disdainfully as she eyed
Frisha’s sensible tunic and pants.

“Frisha,” she said, “
Cousin
, it is a pleasure to see
you again, I am sure.” Her tone made it seem like it was anything
but
a
pleasure.

Lords Malcius and Palis next greeted their cousin with
little more than a slight bow. They even neglected to introduce their friend.
Well, Frisha would not be so rude.

“Malcius, Palis, Shiela, this is my friend Tamarin Blackwater,
and this is Reaylin de Voss,” Frisha announced. All three nodded vaguely and
mumbled something that sounded like “pleasure” without actually acknowledging
the presence of Frisha’s companions. At that moment, Rezkin chose to make an
appearance.

He strode up to the group with a broad smile and overly
loud, cheery voice. “Greetings! It is a pleasure to finally meet you all. Ah,
you must be Lord Malcius,” Rezkin said as he clasped forearms with the young
man in a familiar greeting between close friends and peers. Malcius and Palis
both had the dark brown hair that ran in the Jebai family, but while Palis’s
eyes matched the warm brown of Frisha’s, Malcius’s were a soft grey like his
mother’s. The older brother had broad shoulders and was slightly taller, about
six feet, while the younger brother had a leaner, wiry build.

Malcius grinned and greeted Rezkin with just as much
enthusiasm, “And, you must be Lord Rezkin! I heard you would be traveling with
us. Our uncle spoke highly of you.” Frisha and Tam shared a surprised glance,
both thinking the same thing. “Please, allow me to introduce my companions.
This is my brother, Palis.” The warrior-turned-noble clasped arms with Palis
and exchanged pleasantries. Malcius motioned to the young woman and said, “And,
this is our sister, Shiela.”

Rezkin bowed low and intoned, “Lady Shiela, it is most
gracious of you to bless us with your stunning presence.” He gave her his best
smile, the one that women seemed to prefer. Shiela blushed as Rezkin brushed a
soft kiss across her hand.

“Oh, Lord Rezkin, the pleasure is mine, I am
sure
.”
The way she spoke most definitely made it sound like a pleasure. “You are one
fine
gentleman.”

Rezkin bowed slightly, again, and said, “Thank you, Lady
Shiela, that means much coming from a lovely lady such as you.” Shiela actually
giggled as she fanned her face with a lacy hand.

Malcius grinned and continued, “And, this is our good
friend, Lord Brandt of House Gerrand.”

Not having a direct connection to Lord Brandt, Rezkin gave
him a more formal bow in greeting rather than the familiar one he had used with
the Jebais. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Lord Brandt,” Rezkin stated. “If I
might be so bold, I would just like to say that I have always admired your
mother’s artistry.”

Brandt’s brows rose in surprise, “You are familiar with my
mother’s work?”

 “Of course! Lady Gerrand has a way of capturing the
light with a softness that makes one feel as if he is looking upon a dream. It
is quite easy to forget that underneath the fantasy lies simple paint and
canvas,” Rezkin remarked.

“I had never really thought of it that way, but you are
correct. I can see it, now. Which is your favorite?” Brandt asked curiously.

“I once had the pleasure of looking upon
The Lilies of
the Lake
.” Rezkin shifted his gaze to Shiela and grinned as he mock-lowered
his voice conspiratorially. “If I did not know any better, I could swear that
fairies lived among them,” he confided with a wink. Shiela giggled and blushed
as she batted her lashes.

Reaylin, who was standing behind the stunned Frisha and Tam,
leaned forward and whispered, “Oh, he’s good. I didn’t know the tough warrior
had
that
in him.”

“Say, Lord Rezkin,” Malcius spoke up, “is that your
magnificent beast?” Malcius waved a manicured hand toward Pride who was standing
further down the dock. The reins hung limply, brushing the ground in a silent
command for the horse to remain where he was. Pride was nearly as opulent as
Rezkin today. The stallion’s black coat was clean and brushed to a shine. The
embossed black saddle and black and silver bridle were polished, as well. The
horse’s mane and tail were braided and woven with silver ribbons in a parade
style.

“Why, yes, he is. But, please, you may dispense with the
title. I am quite sure none of you will forget who I am. Just call me Rezkin,
although my friends sometimes prefer to call me Rez,” the young man said with
such confidence it was infectious.

“Yes, quite right, Rezkin…Rez. It would please me if you
called me Malcius, as well,” the noble replied. Frisha’s jaw dropped. Her
egotistical cousin
never
dropped his title – for
anyone
. No
doubt Malcius thought he would look weak and insecure if he insisted on
continuing to use his title after Rez’s speech. The announcement was followed
by a round of permissions by all to dispense with the titles. In only a matter
of moments, Rezkin had completely disarmed the nobles of their pretentious
snobbery, at least as far as
he
was concerned.

“You were speaking of the horse?” Shiela prompted demurely
as she batted her lashes.

“Yes, tell us about the stallion,” Palis piped up. “It is
massive. I have not seen the like. The only horse I have seen that comes close
is Uncle Marcum’s.”

“What breed is it? Is it of the Cronelis stock?” asked
Brandt.

Rezkin grinned like he was holding all of the candy. “No,
Palis is quite right. He is a purebred battle charger of the Augmerian line. I
call him Pride.”

The men’s jaws were slack as glances darted back and forth
between Rezkin and the horse. “But, that is the king’s stock,” protested
Malcius.

Rezkin grinned broader as he placed his hands loosely in his
pockets and rocked back on his heals in an uncharacteristic display of pride.
“Indeed,” was all he said. “Speaking of which, it is time I get him rigged so
they can haul him aboard. You had best keep your distance. He tends to maim or
kill anyone but me.”

The three male lordlings followed Rezkin but kept their
distance, whispering between themselves as he removed the saddle and tack and
strapped the horse into the harnesses, readying him to be hoisted aboard the
ship. The lords looked like children drooling over their new best friend’s
amazing toy. Shiela’s eyes never left Rezkin, and every once in a while, he
would bend or stoop, and her face would flush. Frisha had no idea what Rezkin
was up to, but if he thought for one second that she was going to lose him to
Shiela, then he had another thing coming.

Once everyone was aboard, they received their berth
assignments. Rezkin already knew the assignments because he had made them
himself. The young warrior assigned himself to share a room with Malcius, while
Palis and Brandt shared a second. For strategic reasons, Rezkin would have
preferred to place Tam with Brandt, but it would have been considered unseemly
for the young lord to share a room with a commoner who was not his manservant.
Frisha, Reaylin, Shiela, and Shiela’s maid, Tami, were assigned to share a
four-person berth. Rezkin could get away with placing Reaylin in the room since
she was the only other female onboard. As both officers and nobility, Captain
Jimson and Lieutenant Drascon shared a berth; and Tam was left to bunk with
Sergeant Millins as commoners. The four Jebai house guards shared another
four-person room, while the other servants were placed with the crew.

The rooms were small and cramped since two or three of the
berths could possibly fit into a single average room at an inn. When it came to
the confines of a ship, it seemed the nobles preferred privacy over space.
Malcius looked around and wondered, “Where are the rest of my belongings?”

Rezkin laughed, a sound that would have seemed unnatural to
anyone who knew him but sounded genuine and effortless to the unsuspecting
lord. “I do not know about you, but I would prefer
not
to sleep on a
trunk.” Rezkin waved a dismissive hand at the two trunks that had been placed
at the ends of their respective beds. “I believe we only need one in here at
time. The rest are stored in the hold below. If you require something, I am
sure one of those crewmen will be delighted to retrieve it for you.” In order
to keep up appearances, Rezkin was also traveling with several trunks. It would
have looked odd for a noble of his unspecified, but presumably high, standing
to be traveling with nothing more than a single pack and saddlebags. So far, no
one was willing to risk offending him by questioning his place within the ranks
of the nobility.

Since the crew had situated their belongings and Rezkin had
already seen to Pride, there was little to do. He and the other passengers
found themselves standing on the deck waiting to depart. The women approached
the huddle of young men. All three wore sour expressions, but Frisha and
Reaylin stood back as Shiela sidled up in exasperation.

Malcius grinned and said, “Ah, Sister, so nice of you to
join us.”

Shiela batted her lashes at Rezkin to whom she directed her
answer. “Nothing could keep me away,” she said with syrupy sweetness.

Rezkin bowed slightly and inquired with a pleasant smile,
“Lady Shiela, how do you find your accommodations?”

Shiela’s composure slipped as she fanned her face with a
lacy hand and fluttered her eyes with overly dramatic distress. “Well, I am
sure that little can be done, but it is
most
disconcerting to be sharing
a room with a bunch of
commoners
.” The disdain with which she said the
word
commoners
made it sound as if she had been assigned a room filled
with livestock.

Rezkin’s smile dropped, and he directed an uncertain and
disapproving frown in Malcius’s direction while flicking a glance at Frisha.
Malcius flushed at the unspoken rebuke. As General Marcum’s heir, Frisha was
due all the respect of the nobility, and to demean her publicly was unbecoming
behavior for a lady. Rezkin’s comportment as a nobleman of the highest standard
encouraged Malcius to uphold the standard, as well. Malcius cleared his throat
as he gave his sister a penetrating look. “Sister, I am sure you misspoke.”

ADS
15.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
READ BOOK DOWNLOAD BOOK

Other books

Home for Christmas by Lily Everett
Dead End Job by Vicki Grant
The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne Duprau
Conquerors' Pride by Timothy Zahn
Bad Penny by Sharon Sala
Honey Does by Kate Richards
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman