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Shadow Prince
Time Of Shadows: Book Two
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-100-5
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 175 Pages
Published: May 2013



From inside the flap

Ever since Clayden Kiel looked into the Seeing Pond and was shown a stirring of shadows, he has known that one day he must make a journey to the Watchtower. Now his god has bid him go and go he must though he is loathe to leave the castle.

Clayden is well aware that this trip could cost him his life, but it's a sacrifice he's willing to make for the god he serves. But when he angers one of the dark gods, he may have to pay with more than his life. He may lose the one thing he holds most dear.

While Clayden is off on his journey, Prince Dominus discovers a hidden cache of spell books in the castle Keep. A discovery that will carry the kingdom one step closer to war.

Shadow Prince (Excerpt)


CHAPTER ONE

Flames danced in the hearth, casting a flickering light across the gray stone walls. Above the mantle, Bolsom’s portrait was draped in a white sheet. Daemon could not bear the weight of his father’s gaze on him now, no matter that it was only a painting. Bolsom was seven springs gone to ash and Daemon could still feel him standing over his shoulder, disapproving of everything he did.

The door to the study opened, letting in a draft of chilled air. Daemon didn’t bother turning to see who it was; only one person in the castle would dare to enter this room without knocking.

"How long must this go on?" Gazella asked.

"I don’t know what you mean." Daemon rolled the stem of his glass between his fingers, watching the way the firelight refracted off the crystal.

"It’s been seven days, Daemon. Seven days. To mourn is one thing, but this is ridiculous. The servants have begun to whisper. They fear you’ve fallen prey to your father’s affliction."

Daemon laughed to cover the discomfort of being compared to his father. "And who was it that started them thinking such things, I wonder."

Gazella made an exasperated sound, then switched to a different tactic. "You have a responsibility to this kingdom and it’s high time you started acting like it. It doesn’t look right for you to be sulking about like a child. Your people need a king."

"How kind of you to worry so." Daemon stood, bracing his hand against the back of the chair until the room ceased to spin. "It warms my heart to hear you express such concern for my kingdom." He staggered to the desk and proceeded to pour himself another glass of mead.

"Our kingdom." Gazella gave him a look of pure disgust. "I am your chosen queen, in case the fact has slipped your mind."

"Not my choice." Daemon stared down into his glass. The honey gold liquid twinkled back at him. "You were Mother’s idea." And the only thing she’d ever done that gave him cause to resent her.

"I suppose it doesn’t really matter," she said. "You hardly act as if we were married."

"Don’t start that again." He turned to face her. She was still as beautiful as the day they wed-her hair almost the same golden shade as the mead in his glass, her alabaster skin flawless, but those ice blue eyes were so cold, seeming to look right through him. Yes, she was beautiful, but it was a harsh kind of beauty with edges so sharp they could cut a man to his soul.

"The trouble in our marriage," Daemon said, "is entirely your own doing."

"It pleases you to believe that, doesn’t it? It gives you a good excuse for crawling into another woman’s bed." The faintest hint of pink stained her cheeks.

Daemon had the sudden, strong urge to hurl his glass at her. Instead, he placed it on the desk and tried to keep hold of his anger. This was the same old argument they’d had time and again, like a wheel spinning round and round but never going anywhere.

"You know that’s not true." He held his voice low, for she had not bothered shutting the door and he didn’t want anyone to overhear their conversation.

"Really? What about that little island girl?" Gazella smirked. "You think I don’t hear the whispers? You think I don’t know you trail after her like a bitch in heat? A fine example you set for my son."

Daemon winced. "I don’t understand why you insist on believing I’ve been unfaithful to you when I never have. Valeria and I are friends, nothing more." Except in his mind, in his heart, but to him that hardly mattered. He’d never carried through on his feelings, no matter how much he wanted to.

Her smirk twisted into a cruel smile. "Maybe I am wrong to think such things of your little island girl. Maybe it would do me better to worry about that priest. Is that it, my husband? Is he the reason you never touch me?"

Something snapped inside Daemon’s head. In two steps he was across the room and grabbing Gazella’s arm before she had a chance to step away. "Shut your filthy mouth. You have no idea what you’re talking about."

Gazella struggled to pull free from his grasp. "Take your hands off me."

Daemon squeezed harder, gratified to hear her gasp, to see a hint of fear in her eyes. Then he realized what he was doing and released her. He took a step back, frightened and appalled by the depth of his anger, his hatred, of how much, in that moment, he wanted to hurt her.

He turned and moved back toward the desk. "Leave me now. I can’t bear to look at you a moment longer."

"Fine. Stay here and drown yourself for all I care." The study door slammed hard enough to vibrate Daemon’s eardrums.

Leaning against the desk, Daemon struggled to control his raging emotions. "Mother, I wish you were here to tell me what to do. I feel so lost without you."

He lifted his head and stared at the chair where his mother had so often sat. It was supposed to be the king’s chair, but Daemon had never sat there. It had been his mother who ruled the kingdom. Now she was gone, and he was utterly alone.

Daemon’s bleary eyes fixed on the bottle and he reached for it, only to stop as he caught sight of his trembling hand. What would his mother think to see him this way? She would be so disappointed. He could almost hear her now, telling him to straighten up and act like a king. Only he didn’t know how.

It was so frightening inside his own mind sometimes, so dark and full of shadows. He’d hidden himself away in the study because he could think of nowhere else to go. But it was no good, this being alone. He never had done well alone. Gazella had reminded him of one place he could go, though he wasn’t sure how well he would be received there.

There were no servants in the hall. No surprise, as they usually used the maze of hidden corridors to go about their daily business-the idea of some long past ancestor who had felt servants should be neither seen nor heard. Most of the time, Daemon felt ill at ease in the silence, it made the castle seem empty as a tomb. But on this night, with the winter wind wailing against the walls, he was glad there was no one to see him fumble down the stairs.

His feet took him down the familiar halls to the temple doors. There, he hesitated. It wasn’t the fear that there might be others inside that held him, it was the fear of seeing Clayden. They didn’t see each other much these days, and every time they did, there was a near unbearable tension in the air between them.

Maybe it would be better to go back to the study and spend another night in the company of a bottle. But the idea frightened him. If he couldn’t reach out to someone, find someone to pull him up out of the dark waters of his own soul, he was going to drown. And, much as he hurt, he wasn’t ready for that.

When Daemon pushed the doors open, he found the temple empty. A few candles lit the way between the wooden pews to the altar, leaving the rest of the room wrapped in darkness. Candlelight flickered across the marble eyes of the statue of Basale, making him seem almost alive.

As Daemon approached the statue, he felt again that sense of helpless anger. "What have I ever done to deserve all the misery you have heaped upon me? Why do you turn a deaf ear to my prayers? Why? Answer me, damn you!" By the end, he was screaming as tears streamed down his cheeks, but he found he didn’t really care who heard or saw him.

"That is no way to speak to a god."