Three Quest Deal (Tales of Former Dragons Book 1)

BOOK: Three Quest Deal (Tales of Former Dragons Book 1)
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THREE QUEST DEAL

Tales of Former Dragons, Book I

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Rainer M. Domingo

 

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

 

 

Intelligent copy-edit by

The Book Specialist, Charlie Wilson

http://thebookspecialist.com

 

Cover artwork by Daniel Kamarudin

http://thedurrrrian.deviantart.com

 

Map illustration by Rainer M. Domingo

 

 

Amazon Edition

 

 

PROLOGUE

Princess Cierra cringed as Mira removed the blood-soaked bandage from her upper arm. “Ow!” She flinched, kicked her feet and splashed water out of the tub onto the balcony. “Where’s Mage Hilden? What’s taking him so long? This should’ve been healed hours ago.”

“He’s probably passed out in some tavern,” Mira said. “You really shouldn’t have told Sir Aian he wields a sword like a chamber maid.” She inspected the princess’s deep wound. It continued to bleed despite her best efforts. She grabbed a fresh bandage and applied pressure.

Cierra smiled. “You should have seen him after that. So eager to land a blow.”

“He told me four times before he left to tell you how truly sorry he is. I’ll never understand why your father made you master weaponry. Your mother would not have approved.” She wrapped a long strip of white cloth around Cierra’s arm and tied it in a bow.

Mira squinted at the summer afternoon sun and wiped the perspiration from her face. She looked down at Cierra’s long, vibrant red hair, which shone in the orange sunlight—a stark contrast to the dreary gray of her own tunic. “Do you want to cut your hair tomorrow?”

“No,” Cierra said as she watched the ripples in the bath water. “He likes it this way.”

“You know you’re going to have to tell your father about him.”

Cierra frowned as she turned to look at Mira, and sighed.

Mira nodded. “Soon.”

 

When the sun disappeared over the horizon, the bath water cooled.

“My towel,” Cierra said.

Mira wrapped a towel around Cierra’s athletic build as she stood, and escorted her inside.

High up in the castle’s third wing, Cierra’s room was quite spacious, with all the comforts one would expect to be lavished on a nineteen-year-old princess. A large four-poster canopy bed. Three sofas for entertaining guests. A table for two when she felt like eating in her room when her father was away. And a vanity table in front of a large lattice window that bathed her face in natural light.

Cierra dried herself, put on a plain white sleeveless nightgown, and sat at the vanity table. She examined her face for blemishes, and made sure she didn’t have any food stuck between her teeth. She waited patiently until she caught Mira’s eye, and then gestured for her to comb her hair.

Mira lit the last of twelve scented candles around the room, and walked to the princess. She hummed softly as she combed Cierra’s hair. A loud double-knock on the door startled her so that she dropped the comb. With flushed red cheeks, she quickly reached down and picked it up.

“Who is it?”

Cierra recognized the familiar knock of her father’s bodyguard. She rolled her eyes at Mira in the mirror, and giggled.

“King Wolford I,” the voice replied. “He’s here to see his daughter.”

“Come in, Father,” Cierra said.

The door opened, and a large, muscular man in a dark-blue tunic entered the room. Wolford’s red hair was tied back in a short ponytail, beard well-trimmed. He winced at the overpowering smell of lilac in the room and frowned at the sight of the scented candles.

Closing the door behind him, he said, “Thank you, Mira. That will be all for now.”

Mira curtsied and left the room through the servants’ entrance.

Cierra smiled. “And to what do I owe this visit, Father?” She stood and gave him a hug.

Wolford’s warm expression turned to concern when he noticed the blood-stained bandage on her arm. “How’d you get this? Why haven’t you had this healed?”

“Mage Hilden is nowhere to be found.”

“Again?”

“It’s nothing. It’ll be fine. I’m sure he’ll show up in the morning.”

“He’d better.”

“I’m all right. Stop worrying.” Cierra smiled and hugged him again. “So why are you here? I can’t remember the last time you came to my chamber.”

“I—I’m here to discuss your betrothal to Prince Jaren. It’s been six months since the announcement and you haven’t made any plans.”

Cierra’s smile disappeared.

“A king can’t make empty promises,” Wolford said. “This truce with the east won’t last if you don’t wed. Once an heir is born, both lands will be united and we’ll have peace. You know how important this is.”

Cierra remained silent. She looked into his eyes with a pained expression on her face.

“If your mother were here—”

“I know, Father,” she interrupted. “She would remind me of my duty as your daughter and the princess. But I don’t love Jaren. I don’t even know him. Why should I marry someone I don’t even know or love?” A tear ran down her cheek.

Wolford placed his hand on her face, wiped away the tear, and looked into her eyes. “Because, as you said, it’s your duty.”

She gently removed his hand from her face and held it with both hands in front of her. She sniffled and took a deep breath. “I have something to tell you.”

“Go on.”

She swallowed hard. “There’s someone else, Father. Someone I dearly love with all my heart.”

Wolford frowned and looked confused. “Who is he?”

“Baldazar.”

“Ba—Baldazar? Not Baldazar the wizard.”

“Yes, Father. He’s the most wonderful man. He’s loving and kind, and he treats me with the utmost respect.” She searched his eyes for approval.

“Baldazar...” he whispered. Eyes open wide, his jaw dropped and he covered his mouth with his hand. Then he shook his head and regained his composure. “No, child. You’re mistaken. You’re not in love with that old wizard.”

“Old wizard? He’s not that old.”

“Not that old?” He raised both hands to his temples and ran them down the sides of his face. “He must be more than five hundred years old.”

“Five hundred years old? What nonsense! He can’t be more than thirty.”

Wolford’s face was angry now. “He put a spell on you, didn’t he?”

“No, Father. That’s not true at all. I fell in love with him.”

“What? How is it you’ve fallen in love with a man you’ve never met?”

“Never met? I’ve known him for nine months.”

“Nine months? Since before you were betrothed?”

Cierra looked away.

“Mira!” the king shouted at the top of his lungs. “Mira. Get in here. Now.”

Mira scampered into the room. She knelt before the king and looked into his eyes. “Yes, my lord?” Her voice trembled.

“The truth,” he demanded. “Do you know Cierra is seeing Baldazar the wizard?”

“Yes, my lord.”

“For how long?”

Mira’s eyes wandered as she thought. “Since… October, my lord.”

“And when and where have they been meeting?”

“In the sage’s library, after her studies. He frequents it quite often.”

“And you choose not to tell me of this?”

“I—She—” Mira looked at Cierra.

Wolford turned to Cierra and saw the princess slowly nodding her head at Mira. He turned his attention back to Mira.

“She made me promise not to tell you,” Mira said. “I’m sorry, my lord.”

Wolford’s face flushed red. He clenched his sword hand so tightly that the pressure from his fingernails made his palm bleed.

“And she’ll prevent me from taking your head?” he shouted.

He reached for the hilt of his sword, but grasped only air. He looked down to see he wasn’t wearing it.

Mira dropped to her hands, lowered her head and wept. Her body trembled and she placed a hand on her stomach.

“No, Father. No. Please don’t,” Cierra begged, thrusting herself between her father and Mira. “It’s not her fault. It’s not her fault. I made her promise.”

“You don’t understand, my child,” Wolford said, eyes ablaze. He slowly circled both of them like a wolf about to strike. “Mira was supposed to watch over you. Protect you. She failed me. She failed her king. Everyone in the kingdom. And for that, she must pay with her life.”

“No, Father. No!”

Cierra pushed Mira behind her, but Wolford grabbed her and pushed her to the floor.

“Guard!” he shouted as he walked to the door. “Guard!”

The king’s bodyguard flung open the door to Cierra’s room, sword drawn. He wore full chain mail and a polished metal breastplate, and carried a shield bearing a red silhouette of a crowned lion’s head.

“Your sword,” Wolford commanded. He walked to the guard, hand extended. Then, with raised sword in hand, he walked back toward Mira.

“No, Father. Please don’t! I beg of you,” Cierra said. “I need her. I am with child.”

Wolford froze. He lowered the sword and pointed it at Cierra. “Do you realize what you’ve done? Do you realize what this means? Do you?” He looked away and closed his eyes. “How long have you been with child?”

“Two months.”

Wolford ran his hand over his hair, tightened his fist, and shook his head. He turned to the guard. “Tell the captain of the guard to take the mages and black knights, and find Baldazar. I want his head by nightfall tomorrow.”

“Yes, my lord,” the guard said.

“No!” Cierra screamed, her eyes filling with tears. “No!”

Wolford turned to Cierra. “And as for you—you are no longer my daughter.”

BOOK: Three Quest Deal (Tales of Former Dragons Book 1)
8.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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