The Troven (Kingdom of Denall Book 1)

BOOK: The Troven (Kingdom of Denall Book 1)
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Kingdom of Denall: The Troven

 

By

 

Eric Buffington

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed i
n
this book are either products of the author’s imagination,

or are used fictitiously.

Kingdom of Denall: The Troven

Copyright © 2016 Eric Buffington

Published by Dragon Scale Publishing

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Acknowledgments

 

From the initial idea to publishing this book has been an adventure! An adventure I could not have done on my own.

A special thanks to a small group of people who read through early drafts of the story and gave feedback: Dave Chudleigh, C.M. Mullane, George Macialek, EmmaLeigh Buffington, Laura Sushoreba, Shawn Buffington, Jill Petty, Julia Chudleigh and Marial Lewis. The advice, edits, and excitement that you shared when reading the book inspired me to keep going especially when the end seemed a distant, unreachable dream.

Sam, Rachel, and the team at Dragon Scale Publishing have been amazing. When we started, the story had a good direction and some fun characters but when we finished it was a full well-rounded book series. It really is amazing how a couple sets of talented eyes can see greatness and help it to come out. Thank you for bringing out the best in the Kingdom of Denall. I look forward to working with you for many more great books.

Saying, or writing, thanks will never be enough to properly recognize my wife for all that she has done to help make this possible. MaryBeth has read and reread every phase of this book. In addition to hundreds of edits she gave me advice and perspective that changed the entire course of the Kingdom of Denall. From her honesty, patience, and support, this has become a reality.

Thank you to everyone who helped on this adventure!

 

To MaryBeth, my perfect match in every possible way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the third era a leader shall arise, to save he must destroy.

The one without a mark, without a gift, without strength, he shall become the one with all marks save one, all gifts save one, all strengths save one.

The marks shall be gained at a great cost, forged in the fire of the mountain, when he overcomes death.

He shall rise or fall, when the Stones of Power are united again,

He shall be the force of Change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

Water echoed off the walls of the long, dark corridor. The abandoned mine deep in the Egtharnton Plains had long been the meeting place for Mordyar’s stone seekers, and tonight they were gathered together in a large, underground room for an oath ceremony. The light from the lanterns was absorbed into the roughhewn rock walls, leaving the room dim.

Twenty-seven seekers stood in a large circle all dressed identically. They had long, white, nondescript robes, and bottles of liquid hanging around their waists on white sashes. They circled left two steps, then back to the right three steps. This motion continued as the large circle shifted until they made a full rotation. It was dizzying for the young man standing in the center as he watched and waited.

Young Franklin had been raised by two stone seekers, and now that he was of age, they wanted him to take the oaths and become a seeker like them. He had learned all his life about the great power of Mordyar. He knew that Mordyar would one day come to Denall, and when he arrived, he would appoint rulers from those who faithfully served; those who sought the Stones of Power throughout their lives, and especially any who found the stones. But despite being taught the truth about Mordyar daily at home, he still did not know if he was ready to become a seeker at such a young age.

The circle came to a stop and five seekers were chosen to ask Franklin some questions. He knew that he could ask anything he wanted for clarification, but now that he was in the center of the circle, failure to correctly answer any question would mean death for him.

The head seeker, Melna, began, “Who is the rightful ruler of Denall?”

“The Great Sorcerer Mordyar,” Franklin answered automatically.

Melna nodded in satisfaction. “Well done, Franklin.”

Although it was an easy question, Franklin beamed at the compliment. He had heard of Melna, but he had only met the head seeker two times, and he was pleased to be in her good graces.

The next assigned seeker stepped forward. “What is the sworn duty of a stone seeker?”

“A stone seeker will scour the world in search of the Stones of Power,” Franklin replied. His parents had been through this ritual, but they were forbidden to share any details with Franklin. Although they had not shared the specifics, they had prepared him as best as they could without neglecting their sworn duty. This answer came almost as quickly as the first as it was taught in his home from the time he could walk.

The seeker did not nod or acknowledge whether he was correct, but merely stepped back into place in the circle.

A third seeker took a pace forward. Franklin recognized this seeker. He called her Aunt Kham although she was not his aunt. She was a wandering seeker. She went from village to village looking for anyone who had an exceptional gift, or anyone who stood out, and she made a note of it and looked for opportunities to search that person or his belongings. Though each person in Denall was born with at least one of the six gifts bestowed by the ancient sorcerers, some were endowed with more advanced gifts, and it could be difficult at times to distinguish whether a display of great strength, or perhaps of outstanding listening ability, or even the appearance of a particularly skilled magician was due to a level four or five gift, or to the enhancement the seekers knew could come through the use of a Stone of Power.

Sometimes, following one of Aunt Kham’s ‘investigations’, a body would be found, and other times there would be complaint of a house or cottage having been mysteriously ransacked, but she was never caught. When she was close to Franklin’s village, she always came in and spent a day or two resting at his home. It was tiring work being a wandering seeker, and she was one of the best.

“What are you willing to do for the Master?”

Franklin was not sure how to answer this question. “I do not understand,” he said cautiously.

“To what lengths are you willing to go?” Kham added as clarification. She tried to keep her head steady, but could not stop herself from giving an encouraging nod.

“I would do anything the Master required of me. I would give up my own life, or take the life of another,” Franklin answered. He had heard his mother and father talk of the dedication required, and they often told him this exact phrase. He had said the words, but until recently, didn’t know if in his heart he truly believed he would be willing to give his life for a cause.

Aunt Kham nodded and smiled in satisfaction as she took a step backwards into the circle of seekers.

The next person to step up to him was his father. “Are you willing to give your sight for Master Mordyar?”

“Give up my sight?” Franklin repeated. “What do you mean?”

“Your vision, are you willing to give up your vision?” his father reworded the question.

“Do you mean I will never be able to see again?” Franklin asked. His father did not answer, but stood still with his hands behind his back. The way he stood, Franklin knew he was holding something concealed in his hands, but he could not see what it was. Trusting his father, Franklin nodded. “Yes.”

The four seekers who had asked him the questions lunged forward and held him down as his father kneeled over him.

“This ceremony is not only to test if you will say the words, but if you are willing to support your words with actions.” His father said. Then he revealed the knife that was concealed behind his back. “I will now take your eyes for the Master’s cause.”

Franklin looked around him at the seekers who held him down. He knew resisting them would be futile as they held him fast. He also knew that every seeker he had ever seen had both eyes. Franklin couldn’t believe that his father would actually cut out his eyes, but looking up at his dad he wondered if he might be wrong. At that moment he made a decision. He decided that despite his youth, he was completely dedicated to Mordyar. If it would help the Sorcerer’s work, then he was willing to give his eyes. If he said the words, he needed to demonstrate his resolve with his actions. Franklin did not struggle; he laid back and took a calming breath.

Aunt Kham released his arms and the other seekers followed her example. Franklin was left lying on the ground as his father held the knife high above his head.

His father kneeled down next to him and slammed the knife into the ground next to his son. Franklin jumped slightly at the sudden movement, but did not try to get away. “You will need to give up your sight, my son, but not like this.” He lifted his son from the ground and returned to the circle. Franklin stood up, waiting for the final question.

Franklin’s mother stepped forward. He could see the look of pride in her eyes as she reached out with a small bottle.

“Franklin, when you first drink this you are making an oath. You are dedicating your life, and your sight to Mordyar. When he returns he will give you wealth and lands, and restore to you your natural sight. This is the promise he gives for your loyalty. Drink and join the seekers.”

Franklin took the flask from his mother. He had been taught all about the promises that Mordyar made to his faithful seekers. He smiled at his mother, and then tilted his head back to take a long drink. The liquid burned as it went down his throat, but he continued to drink until every drop was gone. As it entered his body, he could feel heat pulsing through him, intensifying, until he felt like he would be burned from the inside. He began scratching at his arms and legs, trying to fight the terrible fire that was burning within him, but it only intensified.

The boy screamed out in agony and thrashed on the ground, sweat pouring from him, soaking his clothing. Slowly the pain began to subside; it became an uncomfortable itch, then warmth, and finally it was gone. He breathed out in gasps and stayed lying on the floor for a long time trying to recover enough strength to stand.

When he opened his eyes the world had changed. He could still see the natural surroundings of the underground room, and the people standing in a circle, but now he could also see on each seeker glowing balls of light everywhere they had magically enchanted items. Inside his body he could feel only one desire; a power pulling at him, the desire to please his master and find the Stones of Power.

From the time he took the oath, Franklin searched diligently for the Stones of Power. He started out working in his parents’ fletcher shop, but then moved north to Hillside to set up his own business. As he grew, he traded with local merchants and often spent his nights in the tavern listening to tales from those who arrived from distant parts of the country.

One evening, as he walked down the main street of Hillside, he was greeted by the innkeeper. He was a kind man, always willing to talk, and often a good source of information.

“Hello Frankie,” the innkeeper greeted him in a friendly tone.

“Hello, my friend,” Franklin replied, grasping his hand and giving it a firm squeeze.

“I thought of you the other day,” the innkeeper said, resting his hands on his large belly. “I heard the story of an exceptional archer. He doesn’t even have fuzz on his face and he shot an eagle out of the sky.”

“You don’t say?” Franklin said with sincere interest.

“I swear on the life of the king,” he replied, while holding his open left hand out in a sign of honesty. “He’s in the next village over. They say he saved a small child as an eagle dove down to scoop it up.” Much to Franklin’s amusement, he moved his hands in a downward motion acting out the scene as best he could.

“Well that is a rare talent!” Franklin replied. “I’ll have to make some special arrows to match his skill, and deliver them as a gift for being such a young hero. Where did you say he lived again?” Franklin looked eagerly at the innkeeper.

“He’s over in Dungan; the village just down the hill.”

It frustrated Franklin that people in Hillside described everything not in Hillside as ‘just down the hill,’ but he simply nodded and took a mental note.

“Do you happen to know his name?” he asked, trying to keep the conversation as casual as possible.

“No, didn’t catch his name, everyone’s just taken to calling him Eagle Eye. Quite the name, isn’t it?” Franklin smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. He was thinking that a boy so young would need some help to make that kind of shot. Even if he didn’t have one of the Stones of Power, Franklin determined that at his first opportunity, he would make a trip to Dungan.

The sun had barely risen the next morning, when he was on the road to Dungan riding his sturdy horse. He had packed a small bundle of arrows as a gift for Eagle Eye, a gift he intended to use as an excuse to get some time alone speaking with the boy. Before nightfall, he entered the village and went straight to the largest building he could see, hoping to find a place to rest and perhaps, if he was lucky, learn about the boy. As he approached the building, he saw a young boy sitting on the roof holding a bow.

“Hello, up there,” he called out in a friendly tone. “Do you happen to know where I can find a place to stay for the night?”

“Sure do,” he replied with a large grin. “But it’ll cost you.”

“Really? How much?” Franklin asked, somewhat amused by the boy’s behavior.

The boy sat bolt upright, clearly not having expected an encouraging response. “A copper.” His words were more of a question than a statement or a demand and Franklin chuckled.

“What’s your name, boy?”

“It’s Bendar,” he answered too quickly, and Franklin knew he was lying, but decided to play along.

“Bendar, that’s a really nice bow you have there. I am a fletcher from Hillside. I actually have an entire bundle of arrows here that I specially made.” The boy almost fell off the roof, leaning forward to get a look at the arrows. “I will give you one of these arrows, Bendar, if you will tell me where I can find a place to sleep tonight, and if you will tell me where to find Eagle Eye.”

The boy raised his hand excitedly. “I’m Eagle Eye,” he declared. “I was just kidding about the whole Bendar thing, my real name is Kaz, and you can stay in the inn right here.” He pointed down at the entrance of the building he was watching over.

Franklin pulled a single arrow from his bundle. “Come on down and get your reward.”

The boy disappeared off the roof, then popped out beside the inn with an expectant look on his face and his hands outstretched.

Franklin looked the boy over, but there were no signs of any magical items on him. He sighed dejectedly before handing over the arrow.

“How about you show me what you can do with that bow of yours,” Franklin said.

“Pick a target,” Kaz replied confidently, looking out across the village green.

“How about that fence post over there?” Franklin raised his hand to point, but before he had stretched out his finger, an arrow stuck in the post with the back vibrating from the impact. “That was very good,” he said, sincerely impressed. “You have a great gift.” Franklin then turned his horse around and trotted back out of the village.

“Wait a minute,” Kaz called after him. “Aren’t you going to stay in the inn?” There was no response. “Who were the other arrows made for?”

Franklin heard the cries from the young boy but didn’t turn around to answer.

It was difficult every time he had his hopes up, just for them to lead to another dead end.
Maybe one day I’ll find something worthy of sending a message to Mordyar, then he’ll know all the work I have been doing, and I’ll be rewarded when he comes.

BOOK: The Troven (Kingdom of Denall Book 1)
4.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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