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Authors: Mike Shelton

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The Path of Decisions

BOOK: The Path of Decisions
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The Path Of Decisions

The Cremelino Prophecy Book II


By Mike




The Path Of Decisions

Copyright © 2016 by Michael Shelton

All rights reserved.




Library of
Congress Control Number: 2016905670

North Carolina


Cover Illustration by Brooke


Map by Robert Altbauer


Author Website





First and foremost I thank my wife
Melissa for all her patience as I have worked through multiple versions of
manuscripts in this trilogy over many years. Her support of my dreams has
always meant so much to me. I thank my children Danielle, Emily, and Ryan, my
parents and my siblings for their continued interest, support, and
encouragement of my writing.


This book would not have been
accomplished without the work and help of Heather Moore and others at Precision
Editing Group, as well as my beta readers. I really appreciate all the feedback
and support they have given me.


Bringing my book to life visually
was Brooke Gillette.  She took a few notes and directions from me and expanded
it into a colorful, awesome, and detailed cover. Her work is really amazing.
Robert Altbauer also did an incredible job on the map.


The Path of Decisions is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of my
imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events,
locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. I alone take
full responsibility for any errors or omissions in this book. –Mike



 Books by Mike Shelton


The Cremelino Prophecy:

The Path of Destiny

The Path of Decisions

The Path of Peace (summer 2016)



Chapter 1



ommander Darius San Williams, first commander in the King’s Elite
Army, waited a week for word from the King on what to do with Mezar and his
group of prisoners from Gildan.

Darius was proud of what the army had accomplished under his
leadership on his first assignment. He had, through somewhat unconventional
means, captured a large battalion of Gildanian soldiers who had invaded the
southern end of the Realm through the city of Denir. This he had done with only
twenty-five men, a small portion of the entire Elite Army.

The Gildanians, under the command of a man known only as Mezar,
had taken 500 men over the border and seemed poised to attack further. Darius
and his men, working throughout the night setting traps for the enemy, had
secured a quick and decisive victory. The use of his growing magical powers had
aided in their success, but Darius wasn’t secure enough in his position to
admit that openly yet.

A rider had been dispatched immediately after the capture of the
Gildanian soldiers to ride to Anikari, the capital of the Realm, and inform
King Edward DarSan Montere. Darius passed his time talking to all of the young
ladies of Denir and relishing in his recent accomplishments.

Recently turned nineteen years old, Darius was beginning to enjoy
the attention of others, rather than having to live under the shadow of his
father Richard, the Senior Councilor to the King.

He watched Leandra march up to him now through the haze of lazy
camp smoke in the cold, gray air. Fire seemed to blaze from her brown eyes, and
her mouth turned down in a teeth-gritted scowl. Her short brown hair flew
around her normally soft face. Darius knew that look and would have to do his best
to smooth it over. It wouldn’t do for him to be seen in front of his men
arguing with her.

Darius stepped away from the other girls who had circled him that
afternoon and reached out his hand to her. “Leandra.”

“What are you doing, Darius?” She motioned her arms around at the
group of young ladies he had just stepped away from. “Aren’t you the commander

“They just wanted to congratulate me for saving them.” Darius
puffed out his chest. “It’s only natural.”

Leandra continued to glare at Darius. He thought back to when they
had met, months before up in the Superstition Mountains. She was one of the
camp cooks and seamstresses for King Edward’s new Elite Army. Darius had found
himself in those mountains newly recruited by the King, whisked away from his
home with little warning. Leandra had befriended him and had been a good
distraction for the anger and loneliness he felt at being away from Anikari and
his friends. She had snuck away with his group when they had left to confront
the Gildanian battalion. At first Darius had been angry at her stowing away,
afraid she would distract him. But lately he was happy she had come along.

Darius put his arm around her and pulled her closer. His body was
firm and well-toned now, after training for over six months. “A commander must
be seen to be in charge, and the people have to feel safe, Leandra. I am acting
the part.”

“So you don’t care for those girls giggling around you?”

“No. I only care for you, Leandra.” He smoothed things over.
He cringed at the unbidden thought. He had cared deeply for
Christine before leaving Anikari, even loved her. She was from the farmlands
surrounding the capital city of the Realm. Six months ago he’d left that city
behind him. The pain of not being able to tell her goodbye in person, due to
the abruptness of his leaving, had receded through the months, mostly because
he tucked it away deep inside.

He couldn’t bear the pain, so he ignored it. He tried to talk
himself into the fact that Christine had probably moved on without him, and
with his growing powers and role in the Elite Army, maybe she was better
without him. He may not return to the capital city for a long time, and when he
did, she may not like who he had become.

He had always wanted to be a commander of an army. His goal in
life was to fight for the glory of the Realm, to keep her borders safe, and to
make sure her people were at peace. It was only in the last year or so that he
realized there was as much danger to that peace and glory from within the Realm
as outside her borders.

He walked with Leandra back toward his men. A few of them tried to
get answers from him regarding their next move. He shrugged them off and told
them he would let them know when he was ready to move on and what would happen
next. He wasn’t in a hurry to leave.

The army had been stationed here a few weeks already, but he was
not anxious to see the King or his father. They would only lord over him, young
as he was compared to them. But with his new command and growing powers, he was
ready to make some of his own decisions now.

Darius leaned down and gave Leandra a small kiss on the cheek. His
dark hair had grown shaggier since being in the mountains. He was clean shaven,
unlike many of the other nobles his age, who were wearing goatees these days.
He looked at Leandra with his gray eyes and wondered what she really meant to

“I will see you later.” He broke contact with her hand.

“When?” she asked, almost afraid to let him out of her sight.

He smiled at her apparent jealously and appeased her. “We will
have dinner together.”

Darius found himself standing on a rise just outside the city
gates hours later. His army was camped on some land off of the main road from

The city of Denir, where he now stood, was the smallest of the
major cities in the Realm but was the main point of entry for goods from the
Gildanian Empire, the southern territories, and other countries farther south,
even as far as the Elvyn Kingdom. Belor, Mar, and even Sur, the other major
cities in the Realm, were bigger. However, the population of Denir more than
doubled in the upcoming spring and summer months, as traders from all of the
neighboring kingdoms set up trade shops in the area. Hence, the people of Denir
were a mixed lot of kingdoms and races and many times acted like an autonomous

The local governor, along with a contingent of tax collectors and
merchant guild leaders, kept the city a safe and prosperous place. The trade
status had brought wealth to the region, and many of the local merchants had
built large palatial estates of their own throughout the city and on the
surrounding foothills.

Darius was looking down the hill at one of the large estates,
almost the size of a small palace and admiring the white stone structure, when
the King’s messenger finally returned from Anikari. Darius heard the
approaching rider before the others did and walked back down the hill and into
his camp to meet him. The young man jumped off of his swift brown quarter horse
and saluted Darius.

Darius saluted back, “What’s the news from the King?”

The messenger spoke even as he handed Darius a parchment. “King
Edward wants you to bring most of your army and any of Gildan’s commanders to
Anikari, drop off the Gildanians, and then march to Belor. Let the rest of the
Gildanian battalion here be escorted back to Salish on their side of the
border. The King will send a group from the Anikari garrison to settle any
continued disputes with the Gildanians.”

It had long been the practice in the Realm for the King’s messengers
to memorize any instructions in addition to giving the written note. Darius
looked at the message in his hands. The note seemed vague about the trouble in
Belor, but Darius knew from meetings and discussions with his father the
previous year of the rising problem there.

A man who only went by the name of the Preacher had taken control
of Belor and wanted to separate that region from the rest of the Realm. It was
rumored that the man had the powers of a wizard, which as of late presented a
special interest to Darius. Although he had vehemently denied to Kelln, his
best friend back in Anikari, as well as to Mezar, the captured Gildanian
captain, that he was a wizard, his growing powers made him wonder what he was
becoming. His control was getting better, but he lacked vital knowledge of what
his powers could do. It seemed they only manifested themselves in the moment he
needed to do something with them.

As Darius returned to his tent, he stole a long glance at the tent
next to his where his men held Mezar. The man wasn't such a bad sort and seemed
to be only a few years older than Darius himself— though the age of Gildanians,
with their dark black hair and smooth brown skin, was hard to tell. He could
hear the sounds of the men in the camp. Apparently they had seen him talking to
the messenger, and conjecture stirred among the tents. The men had begun to get
restless in the last few weeks. This new victory had aroused their ambitions
for more excitement. Darius called his junior commanders to a conference in his
tent and gave the orders for mustering.

An hour later, five men gathered together; each directed about
forty men.  They stood in a semi-circle in in front of Darius’s tent.  The late
winter air was warming up, but a few still stood with their hands under their
arms for warmth. At least the snow was gone from the ground this far south.

“Some of us will be leaving again soon.” Darius stood up on a
wooden crate so all could see and hear him and used his power to amplify his
voice. “I will need two units to stay and escort the Gildanian soldiers back to
their side of the border. Two other units will return to Anikari with the
Gildanian lieutenants in tow and wait for my further orders. I, with the
remaining unit and the Gildanian captain Mezar, will go to Belor first and deal
with the trouble there in person.”

A few confused whispers floated through the crowd of soldiers.

Mezar, who stood with two guards at a short distance from Darius,
lifted his head in Darius’ directions. Only the tilt of his brown eyes hinted
at surprise.

“I thought we were all supposed to return to Anikari now,” said
one of the unit commanders, who had apparently pried information from the
King’s messenger for information.

“The King needs a group of soldiers in Belor as soon as possible,”
announced Darius to the group. “So I am going there first.”

“But the King said to go to Anikari and then Belor,” reiterated
one of his other commanding officers, his eyes and voice steady as he addressed

“The King is not in charge of this army. I am.” Darius let some
anger show. “Commanders out in the field need to make decisions many times
depending on the circumstances. I will send a missive back with the messenger
with my reasoning on the issue at hand. We have been trained for events like
this. If there is a problem in Belor, why go to Anikari first? I am sure the
trouble in Belor is nothing a small number of us can’t deal with. We will then
return to Anikari and meet up with the rest of the army.”

Neither protestor said anything more.

“Do you not want to fight for the King and protect his honor in
Belor?” Darius knew they couldn't answer in the negative. “We will surprise
those there who are causing the Realm trouble, capture their leader, then
return to Anikari in victory and glory. Two battles will have been won. The
King and our people will shower you with praises.”

A few of the men cheered at first, others then joined in. Darius
smiled. These men were trained to follow the chain of command. He still had not
finalized his plans for when he eventually arrived back in Anikari, the capital
city of the Realm. Nobility like the King thought they knew best, without
consulting the facts or those in the trenches. Their desire to control him
grated on his nerves, and this maneuver would make a statement.  But he knew
that something had to be done with the nobility to change their attitudes of
others and restore everlasting peace and glory to the Realm.

“But how will we go to Belor if not through Anikari?” asked a
third commander. “That is where the road leads.”

“Through the southern part of the Black Forest,” answered Darius,”
and we leave in three days, so go and start getting ready!”

The men chattered and whispered throughout the evening, arguing
for and against what Darius had decided. No one much liked the forest, named as
it was because of the rumors surrounding it. Yet three days later the men
Darius had chosen to accompany him stood ready to leave. There were forty men;
a full command unit.  They would travel lightly and live off the land.

The spirit of adventure seemed to take control as Darius marched
them out of the city. The new uniforms that Darius had made for them in Denir
looked sharp and ready for battle.  His own silver armor and blue uniform stood
out in front of his men.

Darius looked forward to crossing
through the forest and seeing the Everlasting Meadows on the far side. He
calculated they could be in Belor within a month.



BOOK: The Path of Decisions
9.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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