Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Tainted Crown - 30 Days Until Release - Chapter 1 Preview!

It's now only 30 days until the release of The Tainted Crown: The First Book of Caledan!

To celebrate, I'm releasing chapters 1, 2 and 3 before the release. So, without further ado, here's chapter 1! I hope you enjoy.



The Tainted Crown: The First Book of Caledan

Chapter 1


Zaki struck Naisa from behind without mercy, flinching at the sickening crunch of metal upon bone. She dropped to the floor with an exclamation of surprise and pain cut short. Breathing heavily as he raised the candelabra for another blow, Zaki stood over her, but he stayed his hand. She lay stunned, her legs trapped and tangled in dress folds as bright blood oozed from her head.

“It’s true,” she tried to say, but her mouth would not obey her and he heard only a moan. Tears slid from the corners of her eyes, soaking into her hair and mingling with her blood.

Zaki lowered the candelabra and it fell from his hand with a dull thump onto the carpet as he watched her dispassionately.

“It had to be this way, sister.” This is your own fault Naisa. You rushed me to this. I would have paid for a clean death for you.

He couldn’t be sure whether he spoke to himself, to her, or to nobody. Naisa moaned again, but it was fainter this time. He only had to wait a few minutes before she stilled. He leaned closer. No breath. No pulse.

Zaki kicked the candelabra out of his path and strode from the room, pausing to close the door on his way out. He need not have bothered. Naisa’s rooms were devoid of servants and guards, as he had arranged. Whilst Pandora city bustled outside, his men were silencing the rest of the castle with every pace he took.

“Long live King Zaki,” he murmured to himself, savouring the sound of it.

Standing upon the dais that evening, Zaki surveyed the crowd of battle-stained men before him.

“You may report,” Zaki commanded, trying not to gag at the stench of sweat and worse things. “Sir Loren, begin.” Zaki drummed his fingers on his folded arms with impatience and nerves, hoping for good news.

“The west guard folded, Your Royal Highness. The south guard are ours and the east guard caused us great losses but we subdued them,” Sir Loren recited.

“Their losses?”

“Heavy. At least half. A quarter more captured. The rest surrendered.”

“Good. Imprison them all. Those who prove loyal may return to service. Our losses?”

“Not so heavy as theirs, as we had the element of surprise and more men than they.”

“Good. Next?” He spoke to each general in turn, his smile growing. Pandora was his already; his main enemies were mostly dead and only pockets of resistance remained within the castle. For the most part it seemed, the civilians remained oblivious to the chaos there.

“What of the traitor? Where is Soren?” Zaki asked last of all. The hall fell silent. “Where is he? One of you must have found him by now,” he insisted. No answer came. “Damn it! The boy has killed our queen and you have not yet found him?” he shouted. Few looked back with knowing faces; but then few were trusted with the truth.

Lord Argyle spoke. “My son informs me that His Roya- the traitor may be in the royal wood.”

“Then, Lord Argyle, I suggest you and your son gather some men and go and search there for him,” Zaki said through gritted teeth. Do these dolts have no ingenuity? “Reynard, join them.” Zaki named a man he knew he could trust to accompany them. “As for the rest of you, search harder! Hunt him down! I care not if he lives or dies; find him!”

The hall teemed with bodies scattering at his command as his retinue fell into place behind him with a snap of his fingers. “Again; we’ll search the castle again. I’m not about to pin everything on Argyle’s word. Do we have the girl?”

“Aye, sir,” a man replied.

“Keep her out of the way.”

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