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Authors: AJ Martin

Tags: #fantasy, #epic, #dragon, #wizard, #folklore

The Flames of Deception - A Horizon of Storms: Book 1 (9 page)

BOOK: The Flames of Deception - A Horizon of Storms: Book 1
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My daughter!” the king said warmly, embracing her.
“I had not expected to see
you
today. Especially
here
, in the company of my
guest
.” He motioned with a hand to
Matthias.


My apologies, Your Grace. I heard you had a
visitor from Mahalia and I was compelled to introduce myself.” She
nodded to Thadius. “My good man,” she said warmly, baring her teeth
in a warm smile. “How
are
you?”

Thadius nodded. “Very
well
, thank you princess.”


This is Matthias Greenwald,” the king advised. His confident
demeanour seemed to have become unsteadied now the princess was in
the room.

The
princess’s gaze turned to Matthias, and her smile dimmed.
“Ambassador Greenwald,” she addressed him, nodding her head. “I
trust you are well?”

Matthias nodded back. “I am all the better for seeing you,
Your Royal Highness,” he replied. “It’s a pleasure to meet
you.”


You are a man of charm, ambassador. But you should
work on your tone if you wish to convey yourself with
sincerity
.” She smiled.

Matthias’s cheeks grew crimson again. “I assure
you princess that my words
were
sincere.”

The princess squinted at him. “
Fascinating
,” she whispered, peering
closely at Matthias’s face.

Matthias coughed. “’Fascinating’, Your Highness?”


Your eyes. They do not glow with magic as I would have
expected of one of your kind.”

Matthias smiled at her. “That’s a common
misconception. Our eyes retain their natural colour unless the
earth power is wielded. But when it
is
seized, they turn blue. A little like
yours
shine now,” he
added.

The
princess gave a start, and her breathing caught a moment, but she
regained her composure almost instantly. “They are a gift from my
mother’s side," she advised. "Her family have been known for their
beauty for centuries."


You
have never met one of my kind before?” Matthias asked. “Not even
Lord Fenzar?


I try to keep my daughter
out
of my discussions with Mahalia,” the king
interrupted.


Would you show me what they look like?” the princess
asked.


I’m sorry?” Matthias queried. “Show you
what
what
looks like?


Your
eyes
. I should like to see what they look like when
you
use
your magic.”


Josephine, perhaps another time would be better to
satisfy your curiosity,” the king interrupted. “We are in the
middle of our breakfast and the ambassador and I have a
lot
to
discuss.”


It’s alright, Your Grace,” Matthias replied. “I don’t
mind.”

He
stepped back a pace and held out a palm upwards in front of
Josephine. His irises cracked from hazel to sapphire, and from thin
air a ball of water no larger than an apple whirled into existence,
spun and swirled three inches above his palm. He let it hang there
a moment before his fingers twitched and the ball began freezing.
In a second he had formed a sphere of ice, which dropped into his
waiting hand. Matthias clasped it tightly. The princess watched
with amazement.


Incredible
,” Thadius whispered.

Matthias smiled, and from between his fingertips water began
to leak. The ice melted, evaporated almost instantly, leaving only
behind a small pool of cold water on the wizard’s reopened palm and
droplets on the floor. “It’s just parlour trick, Your Highness,”
Matthias said, wiggling his hand until the remainder of the water
disappeared. “But I hope you approve?” His eyes flashed back to
their natural hazel.

The
princess took a breath. “Most impressive ambassador,” she said. “An
effective demonstration.”


If
you would like I can show you more of my abilities? The earth power
allows me to tap in to all the elements of the world. I can light a
flame as bright as the sun from nothing and then extinguish it with
water as cold as ice.”


That will be
quite
alright,” The king said sharply. “I think your
spectacle is more than enough for one morning.” He turned to look
at his daughter sternly. “My dear, I have business to discuss with
the ambassador now.”

Josephine withdrew into herself at his gaze and
nodded. “Of course father. Please forgive me Your Grace.” She
nodded to Matthias. “Ambassador, it has been a brief but
interesting
pleasure.”

Matthias bowed to her. “The pleasure has been mine,” he
replied.

The
princess nodded to Thadius and then turned to her father. “Your
Grace,” she addressed him again and bowed before turning and
swiftly leaving the room. Matthias stared after her, lingering on
the door as it closed behind her.


I must apologise for my daughter,” the king said.
“She does not get to meet
many
people outside of the usual nobles. It is not
often that we have guests that prove to be more interesting.” He
beckoned for them to sit again.

Matthias shook his head. “It was an honour to entertain your
daughter, however brief it may have been,” he said.


Well, now what is
left
of our soup is likely cold and the pleasantries
are over with, perhaps we should discuss your reason for your being
here?” the king suggested.

Matthias nodded. “Yes, of course.” He placed his hands
together and rested them on the table. “Your Grace, the truth is
that I am here on matter of great importance to you. I have to tell
you about a great danger to Aralia.”


I
knew
it,” Thadius exclaimed. “All your talk earlier of our
armies being prepared for battle.”

Matthias nodded. “My queries were thinly veiled at best,” he
responded.


You were as transparent as
glass
,” Thadius quipped.

The
king shook his head. “What kind of danger are you referring to?” he
asked.


It’s Sikaris, the creature known as the Great Dragon. He’s
breaking free.” He shifted his gaze from the king to Thadius,
observing their reactions.

King Arwell looked at him perplexed. “The Great
Dragon?” he repeated. Matthias nodded. “
The
Great Dragon?”


Yes, Your Grace,” Matthias said. “There is no
other.”

The king shifted in his chair. “But that’s
impossible!


I wish
that
were true,” Matthias replied.


But
the creature has been imprisoned for over four hundred years!” the
king exclaimed. “Your kind turned him to stone!”


Yes, Your Grace,” Matthias replied. "But a stone
prison made of the earth power like any prison made of iron and
steel has its
own
weaknesses, and someone, somewhere has finally found
them.”

The
king rose from his chair and towered over him. “How has this
happened?”

Matthias took a breath. “It’s…
complicated
. The Council of Wizards has
good reason to believe that a group of people with the ability to
wield one of the five streams of power are working on releasing
him.”


To
what end?” Thadius interjected, as the king paced to the
window.

Matthias shook his head. “We’re not sure.”


Well, who are the people
doing
this?” Thadius
continued.


We’re… not sure of
that
either.”


Is there anything you
are
sure of?” he snorted. “Where has your
‘information’, such as it is,
come
from?”


That’s
also
complicated." Matthias turned to the window, where
King Arwell was staring intently out towards the horizon. "Your
Grace, have you heard of an object called a seeing stone?" he
asked.

Arwell turned and nodded. "I have heard of them. They are
rare gems, said to contain messages from the gods," he answered.
“But I thought they were mythical?”


Your description is right. Except seeing stones aren’t
imaginary. Inside they hold prophecies: images and words, voices
and noises, all held deep within.”


Like the jewel in your pendant?” Thadius asked. “This
‘moment’ they hold inside?”

Matthias tilted his head. “A little. Except that
they aren’t man - made. As far as is known they
are
created by the three gods and sent
down to Erithia to be read. If you know how to, you can decipher
their messages. They are so rarely found though that they’ve become
legendary. There have only been a half dozen found in the last two
thousand years.” He leaned forward in his chair as the king
returned to his own and sat down. “The images that have been
deciphered have always come true. They are
always
accurate.”


So
you are saying they are sent down from the gods to warn us of
danger?” Thadius asked.

Matthias nodded.


And
you have found one that has warned you about the dragon?" the king
asked.

Matthias nodded. "We have. It showed Sikaris
breaking free from his prison and devastating the world. There were
also images of people using one of the powers to release him. These
events are coming.
Soon
.”


But... if these stones show you images of
the
future
, how do you know
when
the events depicted are due to occur? Could they
not be decades away? Centuries?” the king shook his head in
confusion.


There were indicators in the prophecies that narrowed down
the time of the events.”


Like what?” Thadius asked.


People, places, things along those lines,” Matthias advised.
“My people have experience in researching the prophecies in the
past.”


But
you can’t tell who the people are who are supposed to be breaking
the dragon free?” Thadius asked. “There are no recognisable
faces?”


No,” Matthias said with distaste.

Unhelpfully
.”

"I can't believe that anyone anywhere would
want
to free the
dragon!" the king exclaimed. “How can you
really
be
sure
of these prophecies?”

Matthias smiled. “Your Grace is free to believe what you want
of course. But I have come here to tell you that the Council of
Mahalia recommends that you prepare for this threat.”


And what if we
ignore
your warnings?” Thadius
asked.


They are not
my
warnings, or Mahalia’s. They are from the
gods.”


According to you,” the king rebuffed.

Matthias shrugged. “Regardless who the prophecy is from, if
you don’t prepare then you risk the event that this country will
burn.”


A
threat?” the guardsman asked.


A
truth
,” Matthias responded.

Thadius’s face grew dour. He turned back to the king. “Your
Grace? What do you think of this news?”

King Arwell exhaled deeply. “If this
is
the truth...” he
trailed off, shaking his head. “I believe in many things. The first
is to never
underestimate
a Mahalian wizard.” He looked to Matthias gravely.
“If he says it is true then gods help us, it most likely
is.”


But Your Grace would be the
first
to admit that Mahalia is known for
deception. Wizards weave trickery in every word they speak!”
Thadius exclaimed. He turned to Matthias. “You seem
no
different in
that.”


Your every sentence does invoke a deep sense of
confusion in me ‘ambassador’,” the king said to Matthias. “There’s
an old saying: ‘Better to bed in with a den of
vipers
than to take a
wizard
at face value.’” Matthias raised a
brow. Then the king sighed. “But then again, there is also
another
saying: ‘Foolish is
the man who distances himself from the advice of those who wield
fire and water.’”

BOOK: The Flames of Deception - A Horizon of Storms: Book 1
5.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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