Read Felling Kingdoms (Book 5) Online

Authors: Jenna Van Vleet

Felling Kingdoms (Book 5)

Felling Kingdoms

The Father of the Fifth Age Book Five

By Jenna Van Vleet

Edited, Produced, and Published by Writer’s Edge Publishing 2014

All rights reserved.

© 2014 by Jenna Van Vleet.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

All characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Other Books by Jenna Van Vleet

The Father of the Fifth Age series

The Castrofax

Breaking Stars

Unlocking Void

Chasing Bloodlines

Felling Kingdoms

 

Dedicated to: Justin Morrill, because high school English teachers don’t get enough credit for the profound impact they have on our lives.

 

 

Chapter 1

The news of Queen Robyn’s survival from poisoning was quite a surprise to Arch Mage Ryker. He took his time informing Nolen and Maxine, especially since it appeared she enjoyed torturing him so much. He had seen her infuriated before, but not like this. The look of relief on Maxine’s face was palpable, but despite the maltreatment, Nolen looked angry at the news. He also limped and declined to sit for a week. Neither he nor Maxine looked at each other the same way after. Ryker found it all terribly amusing.

He spent his nights slipping into Tintagaelsing with a hood over his brown hair while strolling through the slums. They were quiet now, slowly being invaded by riffraff and youth. Precious few Mages still occupied the dwellings. When he began his reaping, he had the best to choose from, but the star-blasted Head Mage took the rest. Still, Ryker managed to steal about two hundred Mages from their homes before the remaining were swept to Castle Jaden.

Ryker stood in his great hall, watching the blonde-headed Mages in their sullenness. They had been easy to coerce. Some put up a fight, the younger ones, but most had accepted their new station quietly. It was disgusting and enthralling. He had two hundred Mages who would perform without balking.

“How fairs the training?” Ryker asked quietly, clicking his cheek as he stepped alongside Arch Mage Pike.

“They learn,” Pike sighed, rotating the torc around his neck. “Not quickly, but they learn.”

“Are they giving y’ problems?”

“Not after the first day.” Pike had to make an example of a young man who stood to challenge him. It had not been a clean process.

“Do ne let me keep y’.” Ryker patted Pike’s shoulder and strode off into the manor. It hummed as it had in the best of Ages. Maxine had naturally taken the choice males for her mansion, but the rest Ryker lodged. He clothed and fed them, gave them a warm bed and covered roof. In turn they would fight for him. Each was given a gray mantle to wear into the impending battle to commence as soon as Dorian was discovered.

Ryker already laid out Dorian’s bones, but without the skull he may as well have no pieces at all. The skull was the most paramount piece. In it fit the brain and shaped the face that made an Arch Mage what he was. A finger bone could be remade, and a shattered leg could be mended, but a skull could only be put back together, not made entirely new.

As if the idea of Dorian had summoned him from the grave, Ryker’s chest suddenly pinged from one of his summoning rings. He sent a searchers-pattern to the object and smiled. He wasted no time, shifting to the appropriate location outside the Castle Jaden.

The boy Demi tucked behind a boulder wrapped in a Mage cloak. He perked up as he spotted Ryker.

“A Mage cloak, lad?” Ryker asked as he appeared. “What Class?”

“Six. Is my mother well?” Demi cut in.

“That all depends on y’.”

Demi looked downtrodden. “I’ve reached a snag. Dorian’s head is held in the Head Mage’s loft. Nobody can breach it, not even a specter.”

“Y’ been talking to Aelony.”

Demi’s eyes widened. “Why, yes.”

“Good lad, Aelony. Well, there is one way in.” Demi’s face looked expectant. “The Head Mage wears a ring what permits him int’ the loft. I don’t know which, but I know it’s bonded to him. It can ne come off, but if y’ can…let’s say knock him unconscious ac move him int’ the right spot, the door will open.”

Demi ran a hand over his face as his wild eyes searched for a solution. “Do you know where the entrance is?”

“Somewhere in his quarters.”

Demi ground his jaw. “You know what you ask of me?” Ryker nodded. “I canno’ take on the Head Mage.”

“Y’ do ne need t’. Poison will.”

The boy looked terrified. “I need proof my mother is alive.”

“I will bring y’ her finger, wait a tick.”

“No!” Demi cut in sharply with authority in his voice. “Bring me
her.

Ryker smirked. He liked gumption. He shifted back to Atrox Manor and in a minute returned with Anabel screaming and trying to pull loose. “Cease, woman, lest y’ be lost!” he yelled and jerked her arm sharply, silencing her. He appeared before Demi and put a hand over Anabel’s mouth. Demi’s eyes widened, and he reached for her, but Ryker pulled back. “Proof, lad. She lives. Y’ have,” he looked to the waxing moon, “until new moon t’ bring me his skull, or she’ll start misplacing her fingers.”

“Wait!” Demi shouted as Ryker pulled back into the spirit world, racing to his manor with the woman clutched in his arms. She shook and breathed heavily, and he was certain tears leaked over his fingers. A woman’s tears never cut him. He had no sympathy for them.

He released Anabel in the great room, and she broke away with a tear-stained face with immeasurable disbelief.

“You entrapped my son?” she whispered, a hand over her mouth. “He will be killed.”

“Y’ best hope he’s not. Your life is riding on his success. I’ll take a cup of tea now.” He slid into a chair by the fire and watched her horrified expression fade to anger. With a huff she swept out into the hall. He heard a sob catch in her throat as she descended the stairs.

 

 

 

 

Gabriel slept until Mikelle shook him awake. He was tired to his bones, and his muscles in his back ached from sitting for so long. His spine cracked as he slipped his legs over the side of the bed. The whole Council was tired and behind on their usual duties, so he agreed to give them a day off which made him all the more displeased to see Mikelle had woken him so early. She was
far
too happy for a Council Member these days. He gagged to think why.

“The sun has been up for
hours
, Gabriel. Your breakfast cooled off a while ago,” she retorted to his protests.

“I don’t need food, I need sleep.”

“Quit your bleating.” She exited his dressing room with a stack of garments. “Or would you like to remain in your sleeping trousers all day?”


That
sounds wonderful.”


I
certainly won’t complain.”

He glared at her, grudgingly extending his hands to the clothes.

He washed and dressed before eating a cold breakfast as he surveyed the reports he stacked in the ‘do this first’ pile that was ever climbing. The newest report was from Parion where a town needed help liberating themselves. It was their second summons. He sighed and sipped his cold tea. There was so much that needed to be accomplished in the castle, but he had to trust his Council and their assistants to do it for him.

“I need to shift to Parion,” he told Mikelle as she tided his study. “Would you bring me Shaun?”

“Do I need to go with you?”

“No, you have things to do here.”

She nodded and swept out, returning sometime later with Shaun. He dressed in wrapped boots and flowing trousers tucked into the tops, something he claimed was traditional Air garb. Mikelle dressed certainly him, for the colors complimented each other. The thigh-length sleeveless coat was different shades of gray belted with a sash of blue around his trim waist.

“Peacock,” Gabriel muttered as Shaun entered.

“You’re one to talk, mate. She dressed you, too.”

“It is so obvious?” Gabriel sighed.

“Of course, you cannot dress yourselves,” Mikelle smiled.

Gabriel shook his head as she left. “We’re going to Parion.” He stepped up and took Shaun by the arm, laying the shift-pattern and sending them south. He did not know the area well, but the town called Declan was marked on a map, so he could maneuver well enough.

Shaun extended a hand and his revolving pattern arced around the spirit world. “I cannot get used to t’is place,” he whispered.

“Can you not see?”

“Not a t’in’ but you.”

Gabriel altered the shift as they neared the place. Cutting and restarting, he searched until he spotted a town far on the horizon. The air was filled with the smell of boiling dye, and he knew he was in the right place. Shaun finally breathed easily and cast his pattern out to view the surrounding area.

It was a small town with a wooden wall made of trees hammered into the ground. No one milled about outside, and as they stepped into the town, there was no one to be seen. A few sheep scattered, and chickens pecked the trodden earth, but the town was silent.

“Not a soul,” Shaun whispered, a hand outstretched to the buildings on his left.

“Something is very wrong,” Gabriel replied and picked up his legged pace. He suddenly heard a masculine shriek, and he broke into a run down the street, coming into a crowded market square. There were sheep pens bordering most of the clearing, but they were filled with people in dirty clothes, all bound in rope. Some cried while others called for a halt.

A wide plinth stood in the center splattered red with blood. A man sat in a chair stripped to the waist. His face was bloodied, and various black instruments punctured his torso. Beside him stood a short dark-haired woman with dusky skin garbed in flowing trousers and a long belted tunic. One hand laced through the man’s sweaty hair, and the other held a hooked knife.

The woman smiled and lowered the knife. “It is time you showed.” She spoke with a strange Shalabane accent.

Gabriel marched up to the plinth in a cloud of wrath. “What is the meaning of this?” he hissed.

She smiled, her eyes flicking from him to Shaun, and she laughed. “I have been waiting. This is my friend Legan.”

Gabriel wasted no time and went straight to the man, sinking a delve before quickly stitching the man’s wounds from the inside out. The woman watched with a smile on her face and her eyes wild. Gabriel searched the area as he mended, and his eyes rested on a dirty pile of rags across the square. His breath caught in his throat when he saw a hand sticking from it. They were not was not rags, but people.

He ripped the fibers of cord out of the man’s binds and hauled him out of the seat, “Explain yourself, woman.”

She advanced as he backed up. The man’s movements were lethargic, and he stumbled more than walked. Gabriel saw a flash of gray as Shaun slipped behind the pens to free the dirty crowd.

“I wanted to introduce myself. It has taken you very long to arrive. I thought I was going to run out of villagers,” she laughed manically. “Leave him be, Head Mage, my quarry is not with him.”

Gabriel stepped off the plinth but did not release the man. “Who are you?” he asked. He had his suspicions.

“I? Why, Head Mage, do you not know me?”

“Evony Mitexi.”


Arch Mage
Evony Mitexi, Head Mage. Do me the courtesy of stating my entire title as I do with yours. It is only proper, and we do be noble people,” she chuckled.

People milled behind her and raced for safety as Shaun continued to rip ropes from people’s limbs. “State your business here, Evony.”

“Arch Mage,” she corrected with a waggled finger. “I wished to meet you properly. Ryker, Maxine, Pike, and Nolen have all had the pleasure, so why not I? I did not believe them when they said you were so young, though Maxine usually does not exaggerate. She was correct. You
are
as ripe as a swollen peach. A shame she did not have the pleasure to taste you further.”

He quickened his pace backwards, almost dragging the man, “Leave these people.”

“Oh, I do plan to. These people have no tolerance of pain. You, on the other hand, I hear can withstand days of it,” she said, her voice fading to an admiring whisper. “Give me a taste of it, and I will leave these people.”

Two men rushed up from Gabriel’s left and grabbed their tortured friend, paying Gabriel a thankful look before hurrying to a safe distance.

“I would not give you the pleasure,” Gabriel replied.

“Alas, then I shall stay and slay every soul living here. There is no place to hide from an Air Mage. I can feel the quickening breath of frightened innocence marked for death. They have no escape,” she gestured to the pile of bodies. There were at least ten. She reached out her bloodied hand as she advanced. “Give me your wrist, Head Mage.”

Gabriel watched her approach and stood his ground. Shaun still raced about in the back wielding gray patterns of compressed air to sever the binds.

“Head Mage, do me the courtesy. I shall leave once it is finished, I vow it.”

“No,” he snapped. “You will leave
now
.”

“Oh, no, no. Arch Mage Ryker charged me with this. I cannot return until I have fulfilled it. Shift me away, and I will only be shifted back to slay each and every soul here.” She kept her hand extended as she walked forward.

“Shaun, wrap up!” he shouted as the Air Mage stood in the last pen. “We are all leaving.”

“Head Mage,” Evony sang. “Head Mage, you are not listening. Let me see how strong you
really
are. Give me your wrist, and I will leave peacefully.”

“You don’t control Void, so we both know another Arch Mage will have to fetch you.”

“Oh, no, I brought a Spirit Mage to sidestep with.” She gestured to a room overlooking the square, and a face vanished in the window. “Your wrist, Head Mage.”

Other books

Gerda Malaperis by Claude Piron
Hopper by Tom Folsom
Cross the Ocean by Bush, Holly
Return of the Bad Boy by Paige North
Manhunt by Lillie Spencer