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Authors: Jenna Van Vleet

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The Castrofax

BOOK: The Castrofax
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The Castrofax

The Father of the Fifth Age Book One

By Jenna Van Vleet

 

Edited, Produced, and Published by Writer’s Edge
Publishing 2014

All rights reserved.

Smashwords Edition

© 2014 by Jenna Van Vleet.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system in any form or by any
means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

All characters in this book are fictitious, and any
resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

 

Other Books by Jenna Van Vleet

The Father of the Fifth Age series

The Castrofax

Breaking Stars

Unlocking Void

Chasing Bloodlines

Felling Kingdoms

Dedicated to: Kyle Van Vleet, who knew I was crazy
but married me anyway—which makes you crazier

Chapter 1

The flower bloomed and died and bloomed again
in Gabriel’s palm. He rolled the fingers of his spare hand together
as though twisting wool to yarn and watched the flower crumple
inward. Its creases browned and dried as he altered the pattern
until all a curled husk was all that remained. Drawing a thread of
Earth energy from his chest, he spun a green string across the tips
of his fingers forming his desired pattern. Snapping his wrist he
fueled it to make the flower bloom again from the shriveled curls.
Sighing, he repeated the motions. He was bored out of his mind.

A pigeon had arrived at his families’ manor
the day before. It brought a message stating the Queen was dead,
and the daughter-heiress vanished. This gave Gabriel’s father
Cordis a strange reason to bustle about the manor instructing the
servants to have everything cleaned, shined, pressed, and polished.
Cordis did not pause to grieve for his Queen or the loss of her
heiress; instead, he set Gabriel to dust the library, which Gabriel
did not do. The boy sat tucked in a dark corner of the foyer,
perched on a ledge two stories above the door. It was impossible to
reach without climbing across two statues and a tapestry. Cordis
would not see him unless the man paused his fervid fascination with
cleaning and looked. Until then, Gabriel practiced his Earth
patterns and lamented the lack of entertainment.

“Carriage on the road!” A shout came from the
top floor, sending the manor into a flurry.

“Your father will not be pleased to find you
in the rafters again.” A bold voice severed Gabriel’s train of
thought. Mage Dagan descended the stairs gracefully. He had pale
blond hair that fell braided to his collar, and his slender frame
drew into a tight line that bespoke confidence and authority.
Though his tone was commanding, his lips curled into a smirk that
made his eyes glitter. Several months beforehand, Castle Jaden sent
him to be Gabriel’s tutor. The man had the female servants falling
over themselves to get a look at his fair face, but Dagan never
abused his looks and subsequently earned the respect of the
household.

Today, as all days, Dagan wore shades of
green with a touch of brown spattered here and there, but this coat
was
extra
fine with gold trimmings. The Mage was fiercely
proud of his Earth Element and had never been seen without the rich
colors. He stopped at the landing and clasped his hands behind his
back. “Go put a coat on. Your father will not have you received in
your shirtsleeves.”

“I’m wearing a vest,” Gabriel replied and
plucked at the gray braiding that wove tight designs across the
black brocade.

Dagan smiled in a manner only a father
humoring a child could. “As am I.” The conversation won, he gave
Gabriel a lingering glare and strode away.

“Mage Cordis, he’s pulling in.” The doorman’s
voice echoed through the foyer.

“Get the door without me!” Cordis called
back, lost somewhere down the hall. “A coat?” he asked. “Is the
vest not fine?”

Cordis strode into the foyer as proud as any
noble. Gabriel’s father was a powerful Mage controlling both Earth
and Water Elements, which was rare in this Age. Though he carried
himself proudly, anyone who saw his face would know he was anything
but. The man was handsome with wavy black hair cropped short,
expressive eyebrows, and deep blue eyes. His physique was still
young, slender, and broad-chested while he carried his shoulders
and neck in a straight, sly manner as if his next words would be
humorous. Gabriel swore the man’s purpose in life was to make
people laugh, and in turn, make himself laugh.

Gabriel loved his father. Of his mother he
knew little, but Cordis raised him from birth, and there was no one
else Gabriel felt closer to. He was the joyful balance Gabriel
needed as he brooded through his teen years.

Cordis wore long black trousers and short
boots, a white shirt laced to his neck overlaid with a dark green
vest and—no coat. While Cordis understood the language of garments,
he did not care what his clothing spoke and so dressed as he
pleased, coat or no.

“Gabriel, I know you’re up there,” Cordis
called without looking up. “And the library is still dusty.”

“Who are we receiving?” Gabriel asked.

“Descend and find out for yourself,” Cordis
replied and looked up. “Good, you are presentable. Come help me
greet.” Without a pause in his step, he strode through the open
door and vanished into the sounds of horse hooves on cobblestones
and jingling tack.

“Do not embarrass your father in front of the
first guests we had since Prince Balien, and do something about
your mop of hair,” Dagan stated calmly before he too disappeared
through the door.

Gabriel ran a hand through his thick head of
wavy black locks. He shook them contemptuously from his eyes before
launching himself from the ledge and colliding solidly with the
landing.

“Ah! Master Gabriel, you’ll break your leg or
worse!” a servant exclaimed at the sudden noise as she rushed
passed to line up at the door.

“I always land on my feet Janie,” he replied
in the haughty way only a teen-aged boy could.

Descending the polished oak stairs, Gabriel
rounded to the main door opened to a bright but overcast day,
spying the fuzzy image of a black carriage blurred by the sudden
light. Urima Manor was dark inside, built with few windows and
doors to withstand a siege. Gabriel liked the darkness and feeling
encompassed.

Striding past the lined servants in their
pressed white-and-brown livery, he stepped out into the day. The
light revealed him for who he really was. He was built like his
father and rapidly growing into a lofty height with broad
shoulders, a trim waist, and slender figure. He already matched his
father’s height, and Dagan had said with the long legs, which must
have come from his mother, he would be taller. He still felt gangly
and awkward as he grew used to his lengthening body. Like his
father, his eyes were a deep piercing blue, and while his shapely
chin and cheekbones matched Cordis’, Gabriel’s nose was straighter
and less prominent. He moved with an unusual smoothness uncommon to
teen-age boys with slow and lengthy strides that made him look
controlled and bored. Shoving his hands into his trouser pockets,
he took his spot at the front of the line.

Two teams of handsome dapple-gray draft
horses pulled a large black carriage heavily laden with chests and
crates. By the dust on the black lacquer, Gabriel guessed they had
been on the road for many days. A short man with tightly-cropped
hair and posture straight enough to mark him a soldier unclasped
Cordis’ warm handshake as they exchanged words and nodded. The
carriage opened, and Cordis stepped forward with his arms spread to
greet the inhabitants with a welcoming tone so warm Gabriel himself
felt the truth in it. A plump, rosy-cheeked woman stepped out
garbed in common Anatolian clothing: long brown traveling dress
with a bit of ivory lace at the neck and wrists, and her hair
braided up around her head in proper fashion. She boisterously
announced her surprise at the massive manor that rose to greet her
and accepted Cordis’s welcome with a dignified curtsey and smile.
‘Who are you?’
Gabriel wondered.

A much older woman stepped out dressed in a
high-necked black dress, a common cut from Anatoly City. She
adorned herself with a single chain of silver wrapped around her
neck. It clinked as she took Cordis’s hand. She was wrinkled around
the eyes and mouth and looked like she was incapable of smiling.
She spoke with a proud, proper Anatolian accent void of
contractions or slurring often found outside the capital.


What did Anatoly City bring that has
father in such a twist?’

Cordis remained standing at the carriage door
as if more would step out, but none did. He glanced at the younger
woman who gave a shrug and waved her hand to state she had enough.
Cordis chuckled and stepped into the carriage, closing the door
behind him.

Gabriel looked at Dagan who stood beside him.
“Tell me
she’s
not in the carriage.”

“What do you know of happenings in the
capital?” Dagan posed.

“Queen Rincarel Bolt is dead, so the
Novaculas should be vying for the throne since the Bolt daughter is
too young and has vanished.”

Dagan put his hand on Gabriel’s shoulder and
leaned in to whisper, “Yes, vanished
here
.”

“No, Dagan, please. Balien says she’s
dreadfully uptight and political and has no understanding of
fun.”

Dagan chuckled. “Aye, and we proved we could
foster Prince Balien, so why not his sister? This is a safe place
far from prying eyes. People will certainly be looking for
her.”

“The safest place is Castle Jaden.”

“That will be the first place people look. It
would be far more difficult to keep her identity secret in a castle
of a thousand Mages. Here, no one will know her identity but the
three of us.”


The Princess Robyn Bolt?’
Gabriel
processed. He knew her brother Balien well enough to call him
brother
, but of the famed heiress of the powerful Anatoly
Kingdom, he only knew what Balien told him. He described her as a
beauty who already knew how to command people with a glance. By the
time she was ten years old, she was already a force to contend
with. Balien said she was an uptight prep who could not bear a
single wrinkle in her dress nor go out in public without her hair
styled up.


The heiress in Urima Manor?’
Gabriel
swallowed.
‘She will likely find it disdainful.’

The wind blew warm air with scents of
moisture and pine down from the Gray Mountains. The summer was
often warm in the foothills, but this season had been unusually
wet. Gabriel did not mind the gloomy weather.

As the servants unloaded the luggage, a
handle suddenly gave way sending the crate to the ground with a
terrible crash. Every soul in the tight courtyard jumped as the
sound echoed. The horses gave a start and lurched forward while the
servant at their head pulled back on the reins. Gabriel moved
almost without thinking and unslung his hands from his pockets. The
movement was so sudden the servants almost missed it, but they
never would have seen the green pattern he snapped between his
fingers. It looped around the ball of his foot and pierced into the
cobblestones. Mere seconds passed from the birth of the crash, two
vines shot from the cobblestones and wrapped around the back
wheels, securing the carriage to the ground, and preventing the
horses from pulling further.

Gabriel returned his hands to his pockets,
once again bored.

Dagan leaned forward o Gabriel would look at
him. “Boy, you are getting very quick at this.” Dagan’s own hands
were out and ready, two threads of green wrapped around his palms
ready to lay. “It is a shame you do not control another Element
like your father,” he sighed as he leaned back.

“I may yet, there is still time,” Gabriel
replied indignantly. Mages came into their Elements around puberty,
and he was certainly not finished though his voice dropped as his
baby fat melted. “What is the girl doing in there? Braiding her
hair?”

“Have an iota of respect, boy. Her mother
just died, and she has been plucked from all she knew.”


Oh if we could all be so
fortunate.’

Gabriel rocked back on his heels and stared
at the sky. The absent look he faked gave him the advantage as he
took a quick step out of Dagan’s reach and around the carriage to
the nearest window. It was paned with diamonds of glass and
shrouded with fabric within. He pressed his ear against it and held
his breath to listen.

“—can call me Cordis, or Mage, or Mage Cordis
or whatever you like that isn’t insulting.” His father’s jovial
voice sounded hollow, so he pressed harder to hear better. “—once
insisted on calling me
Class Five
. Don’t do that. I have few
rules here: don’t wake me up unless it’s important and don’t run
screaming through the halls. Also, don’t cry. A woman’s tears are
my only weakness, and you would cringe to hear the things I’ve done
for women who come to me in tears. If you want a pony or something,
just ask. I don’t kill spiders so don’t come to me if you find one
in your bath. I can’t braid hair, neither can my son, but I hear
he’s killed at least one spider by himself and lived to tell the
tale, so he’s the resident hero. I trust Balien has filled you in
about my boy?”

BOOK: The Castrofax
9.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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