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Authors: Bruce Blake

Spirit of the King

BOOK: Spirit of the King
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Spirit of the King

Khirro's Journey Book 2

by

Bruce Blake

 

[email protected]
 

 

Published by Bruce Blake & Best Bitts Productions

Copyright 2012 Bruce Blake & Best Bitts Productions

 

 

First Original Edition, 2012

 

 

License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to the ebook store and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of the author.

 

Dedication

 

This one is dedicated to all the independent authors out there working hard to do what they love. To all of you: no matter what happens, just keep believing. Sometimes it's all we have.

 

Spirit of the King Cast of Characters (in order of appearance or mention)

 

Shariel
– an assassin brought back from the dead

The Archon/Sheyndust
– magician and leader of the Kanosee

Khirro
– A farmer conscripted into the King's army

Athryn
– a magician, brother of Maes, who joins Khirro's Journey

The Necromancer/Darestat
– an outlaw magician, the only one able to raise the dead

Elyea
– a whore who joins Khirro's journey

Ghaul
– an Erechanian soldier who joins Khirro on his journey

Jowyn
– a soldier of the King's army and friend to Khirro

Maes
– a midget and brother of Athryn who joins Khirro's Journey

Braymon
– King of Erechania

Therrador Montmarr
– advisor to King Braymon

Graymon
– Therrador's son

Lera
– a woman of Erechania

Sir Alton Sienhin
– commander of the king's army

Shyn
– a border guard who joins Khirro's journey

Monos
– the first Necromancer

Seerna
– Therrador's late wife

The Shaman/Bale
– King Braymon's healer, a magician.

Suath
– a one-eyed mercenary

Barrack
– a Kanosee soldier

Dar
– a Kanosee soldier

Gendred
– an Erechanian soldier, one of the elite Shadowmen

Rudric
– a general in the King's army and member of the Kingsblade

Lord Emon Turesti
– High Chancellor of Erechania

Hu Dondon
– Lord Chamberlain of Erechania

Hahn Perdaro
– Voice of the People of Erechania

Creeg
– a citizen of Poltghasa

Sir Matte Eliden
– a senior soldier in the king's army and friend of Therrador

Callan
– a prisoner of the underground-dwellers

Aryann
– a whore and friend of Elyea's

Mart
– a citizen of Poltghasa

Shyctem
– the first king

Fystal
– a citizen of Poltghasa

Leigha
– a whore and friend of Elyea's

Despina
– a whore and friend of Elyea's

Emeline
– Khirro's love

Iana
– Emeline's infant daughter

Lehgan
– Khirro's brother
 

 

Chapter One

 

I saw verdant fields stretching horizon to horizon, endless as far as vision reached. A tender breeze pushed waves across flowers of red and blue and yellow and more. No clouds crowded the bright, sunless sky and the lone sound of delicate birdsong was the only thing disturbing the silent calm.

Paradise.

But it’s all gone now, replaced by darkness. No song of birds. No flowery perfume. No indescribable colors. No sky. I can’t tell if I’m awake and blind, asleep and dreaming, or dead yet somehow aware. My arms and legs feel nothing, as though they may not even exist. My mouth makes no sounds, if I have a mouth. I do not breathe. There are only these words in my head and the longing to return to that infinite field.

The blackness is complete. It surrounds me and fills me, holds me fast, floating in nothing, like a leaf fallen on a lake and frozen in place by a winter wind. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know what I am.

I don’t know who I am.

All I remember is lush grass, azure sky, the fragrance of blossoms. Nothing before that perfect place, and after it is only this nothing. I feel there’s more, though, important things I didn’t want to forget. People, places, events—the things that make a life. They’re all gone. If I have eyes, I close them, concentrating my thoughts to discover what more there might have been. But are they my thoughts?

I float in the blackness for a second or an eternity; they’re the same to me. Nothing changes. Eyes open or closed, alive or dead, awake or asleep, the dark—my only companion—refusing to answer my questions.

After some time, or perhaps no time at all, the shadow lightens. The change is almost imperceptible at first; a lighter black, if that’s possible, until my world slowly becomes gray. I try to blink the eyes I don’t have, move the arms I don’t know exist; still, nothing happens. I am only my thoughts floating in a lighter colored nothing.

My surroundings go from iron gray to silver, and finally white, but this is not the white of noonday sun on the sail of a ship. It is snow too long on the ground, a dress washed too many times. There is nothing bright to this white. It is flat and dead, without color or warmth. It is more nothing. If I could sigh, I would use the breath to release my frustration. What did I do to deserve having the glorious world of green and blue, of flowers and grass and sky, taken from me? Could there be worse punishment than being ripped from that and banished to this?

Black spots appear before me, around me. I reach out to them without reaching out. I don’t know what it is, but it is finally
something
. The first something in...how long? The spots swirl and spin like birds wheeling across a distant blank sky, or perhaps they collect like a cloud of black flies waiting to feed. Either is welcome relief. They make me feel like I have eyes again, like I can see. If I do, I have not the lids to allow me to blink.

The spots collide, whirlpooling against the white background and sticking to each other to make larger patches of black. More bits of dark nothing are absorbed by the bigger pieces, expanding it, spreading. My fascination turns to apprehension as the bigger patches of black carry with them a feeling of dread.

The last few pieces come together in unspectacular fashion leaving a single patch of black before me. It ebbs and flows, a blackened glob that might be tiny as a flea or bigger than the world, for I have no frame of comparison to know which it is or where in between it may fall. Its agitation slows and a shape forms.

At first I don’t recognize it; I don’t remember shapes, only the field and the heavens. When it’s done, it dawns on me what it is: the shape of a person clad in black cloak and cowl. Or perhaps a cloak shaped like a person. It lifts an arm toward me and the sleeve falls away to reveal a white hand, though not so white as my world. I gasp if I can gasp and feel something I recognize as hope.

There is color at the end of the fingers.

I cannot name the colors, but they are such contrast to where I have been. A tear spills from my eye leaving a trail down my cheek. It touches my lip, my tongue, and I taste the saltiness of my joy. This brings more tears.

I
am
again.

The figure floats closer as I smile and cry and laugh without sound. Maybe this thing, this person, was sent to take me back to my perfect expanse, or to whatever came before. I reach toward it, wanting to touch the cloth of its cloak, wanting to feel
something,
but I am still without arms, without body, despite the feel of the tear on my cheek, the taste of it on my tongue.

The black apparition comes closer. I search beneath its hood, my new found vision blurred by welcome tears, but see nothing. My blessed eyes find the fingertips instead, the color, and I recognize what I see. On each fingernail is painted a tiny picture of my paradise—emerald grass on one, cobalt sky on another, flowers of many colors on the rest, their petals stirred by an unfelt breeze. More tears flow, some in sadness, some happiness, the rest relief and fear. I still don’t know where or who I am, or what’s happened to me, but I’m no longer alone.

The painted fingertips touch where my shoulder would be. I feel it. The figure makes a sound.

“Shhhhh.”

It’s not the sibilance of a snake, but the sound a parent might make to calm a child. It works. I sigh a chest-full of air—I
breathe—
and finally feel alive. I can see, feel. It still may be a dream, but I’m glad to know I’m not blind, that I don’t
feel
dead, at least.

“Shhhhh.”

The final piece falls into place and I find a voice. The voice of a woman.

“Who am I?”

The figure grasps my almost-shoulder in a gesture of comfort, its grip cold. A shred of apprehension shivers through my core, but disperses quickly like mist before the wind, replaced again by hope.

“Who am I?” I ask again. “Where are we?”

The figure tightens its grip on my shoulder but doesn’t respond. I smile and cry anew.

 

Chapter Two

 

The earth trembled beneath Khirro’s feet.

Somewhere behind them, he heard the snap and pop of a tree broken in two, the thump of its trunk hitting the ground. In his mind, he could see the beast’s over-muscled shoulder striking the tree, snapping it like Khirro himself might snap a sapling; he imagined what a creature with that kind of strength could do to their bones.

Khirro leaped over a tangle of roots and brush, pushing himself to go faster; his foot landed on a rock, dangerously close to turning his ankle. He stumbled but kept his balance despite the earth’s shaking and dared a glance over his shoulder. Trees shook, leaves flew. He pushed on.

It’s gaining.

Five yards ahead, Athryn darted through the bushes with the lithe grace and ease he always had, branches plucking at his cloak as it swirled behind him. Leaves slapped Khirro’s face, roots and runners grabbed at his ankles, attempting to slow him, throw him off balance. He wished he could move like the magician.

“Hurry,” Athryn called over his shoulder. “The beach.”

In his panic to escape their pursuer, Khirro hadn’t noticed the brackish smell of salt water on the breeze; his companion’s words filled him with both relief and apprehension. Being free of the forest’s impediments would be good, but could they hope to outrun a giant, even without fallen trees, stumps and stones to slow them? With the Small Sea before them, would there be anywhere else to run, or would they be trapped between the beast and the briny deep?

Athryn leaped through a bush and disappeared from Khirro’s view. With no way to tell what lay beyond—life or death, escape or capture—Khirro’s heart jumped into his throat, blocking the breath that already struggled to enter his sore lungs. The smell of the sea ahead and the sound of the giant behind urged him on, and he plunged through the foliage. Thorns tore his clothes and scratched his face. His feet tangled and he spilled headlong through the other side of the bushes, losing his feet from under him.

Warm sand touched his cheek.
With no branches slapping his armor or leaves brushing his ears, he heard the waves rolling onto the beach. Somehow, Athryn had known where they were, though Khirro had felt lost since the day they left the Necromancer’s keep.

Athryn grabbed Khirro under his arm and pulled him up. The sand under their feet muted the rumble of the giant’s massive strides behind them, but it was still there, getting closer. They rushed toward the water.

Shells and sun-dried seaweed crunched under Khirro’s boot as he navigated around driftwood strewn across the wide swath of beach stretching to the Small Sea. Sand shimmered wetly under the bright midday sun; a cool wind gusted off the water, rustling the sail of the boat lying on its side a few yards from the water’s edge.

“A boat,” Khirro yelled, pointing.

“Our boat.”

Khirro squinted at the vessel and saw his companion was right. He recognized the markings on its side, identifying it as the same craft that brought them to the haunted land, the one Elyea paid for in a way only a woman could. Khirro’s lips squeezed to a thin line at the thought of her and how much she’d sacrificed.

“We won’t have time to get it into the water,” he said, pulling his mind from his loss.

“We will do what we can with the time we have.”

As they reached the stranded boat, a tree crashed to the ground behind them. They spun and saw the beast come through the brush, giving them their first clear view of the giant since stumbling into his path.

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