Dead of Knight

ISBN-978-1620151563 | Fantasy | Booktrope Editions 2013 | View on Amazon

Gold Winner of the 2013 Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award

King Orson and King Odell are power-stricken, grieving, and mad. As they wage war against a rebel army led by Elise des Eresther, it appears as though they’re merely in it for the glory. But their struggles are deeper and darker.

Excerpt from Dead of Knight

Note: This excerpt takes place in the ruins of the old city Rovalle. Ryan, new to the rebel party, finds himself in the abandoned town square of the city with Alex, a seasoned member of the rebels, and Adrian, a ship captain and merchant. The three of them followed one of Adrian’s masked customers here, thinking that the unidentified man has some connection to the throne. When we come in, Adrian is waiting a few blocks back with their horses, while Ryan and Alex try to locate Adrian’s customer. What Ryan soon discovers here, is that the customer is closer to the throne than he thinks… 

Map of The Joined Territories in Dead of Knight

Map of The Joined Territories in Dead of Knight

Ryan circled around the street, walking on his toes so his footsteps remained unheard. “Perhaps Adrian’s customer is already gone,” Ryan said, his muscles tight and ready. He was coiled with anticipation.

Alex, on the other hand, looked comfortable masked by the mist and lingering night. “He will be here. He always finds himself here, before he goes into the palace.”

“Who is he, an Amarayan messenger?” Ryan felt as though he was back at the beginning, when he had known virtually nothing about Elise and Alex and their covert rebellion. Now Ryan was beginning to understand the layers to the realm. It frightened him to realize that the majority of the people in the Joined were unaware of the inner workings of the territories.

“Not a messenger, Ryan,” Alex said. “I suppose you could say he is Amarayan, although he is Yelhite first, and of course Rovallan second.”

“What do you mean?”

Suddenly Alex gripped Ryan’s arm. “He’s here,” he whispered, slowly moving backward. When they were in full shadow, crouched in the low-lying fog, Alex spoke again. “Do you recall what King Odell looked like at the public speaking?”

Ryan nodded, startled by the urgency in Alex’s voice. His heart rate increased. “Yes, I suppose.” He waited for a response, but there was none from the man beside him. Ryan returned his concentration to the streets.

A huge place, it was evident that the town square had once been magnificent. Arches framed every street that led to the central area of the city, crumbling from the wear of weather and time. Each was tangled with dead vines that perhaps long ago would have been ripe with flowers. In the center of the abandonment was a fountain, filled with murky rainwater and who-knows-what. A rotten noose swung in the breeze at one end of the square, and most of the cobbles lay askew from their proper placement.

A hunched figure shuffled into view, stumbling over the crooked cobblestones, gathering Ryan’s attention away from the ruin. The man was the only thing to startle the stillness. He muttered to himself as he shuffled over the stones, one hand trailing alongside the curved wall of the fountain. The fountain’s centerpiece, the secondary god Antony, god of the mind, looked down at the man as though he were disappointed. Once Adrian’s customer had circled the fountain a time or two, he made his way toward one of the arches outward.

“He’s going to the palace,” Alex said. “I’ll get Adrian.”

He ran away from their hiding place, crouched so his body did not rise above the low-lying fog. With Alex lost to the shadows again, Ryan felt extremely vulnerable. He kept his eyes on the strange man hobbling away from him. Ryan forced his breathing to slow down, yet his heart still pounded heavily in his chest. All his attention was on the customer. He was shuffling away from Ryan, but then halted in his tracks, lifted his cloak from his brow…

Ryan’s breath caught in his throat. His hands began to sweat despite the coolness of the city and his heart thumped wildly in his ears as King Odell swiveled around to look directly at him. The king’s head tilted to one side. There was no coherence in his eyes or on his expressionless face. Ryan held back a yelp of fear, expecting the worst to happen now that he had been spotted. Ryan felt the panicky urge to vomit when someone placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Come, Ryan,” Alex whispered, handing him the reins of his horse.

"I..." Ryan gulped. "I've been seen."