Read War of the Princes 02: Dragoon Online

Authors: A. R. Ivanovich

Tags: #Fantasy

War of the Princes 02: Dragoon

War of the Princes 02: Dragoon
Number II of
War of the Princes
A. R. Ivanovich
(2013)
Rating:
*****
Tags:
Fantasy

Surviving a narrow brush with death convinced Katelyn Kestrel that she must never return to the war-torn Outside World. Safe again within the sanctuary of Haven Valley, she has forced herself to forget Rune Thayer, the young Dragoon soldier who sacrificed everything to save her.

Katelyn’s struggle to adapt to a peaceful life is undone when she is assaulted by a classmate, triggering her powers with devastating consequences. The authorities learn of her rare Abilities, and a web of troubling mysteries unravels around her. She finds that an unfortunate twist of fate has delivered Haven prisoners to the Prince of Shadows, and he will stop at nothing to discover the valley’s secret location. Katelyn must find and rescue the captives or witness the destruction of everything she has ever loved.

 

DRAGOON

WAR OF THE PRINCES: BOOK TWO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A. R. Ivanovich

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

DRAGOON

Copyright © 2013 by A. R. Ivanovich.

Cover art
and interior map by A. R. Ivanovich.

Editing by Michelle
Ivanovich.

All rights reserved.

 

Except for brief passages quoted in newspaper, magazine, radio, or television reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, including mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher and author.

To Kevin, my modern-day paladin. Thank you for believing in a dream in this topsy-turvy world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

F
oreword
:
A Role to Play

 

 

 

 

 

We are pieces of a living machine. Every one of us, from the loftiest official to the humblest student, is invaluably important. We are all a part of something greater than ourselves. If a single piece breaks, no matter how small, the entire machine will grind to its destruction. Sometimes we need to exchange our wants for the greater need. The machine must run smoothly. Never forget that you have a purpose, a responsibility to your home, your people, your world. We are, all of us, invaluable.

That's what my dad used to tell me. They were just words to me, until my life shattered into chaos for the second time.

 

Chapter 1: Guilty

 

 

 

 

 

Three days after my eighteenth birthday, I sat miserably in an interrogation room. My stomach was twisted into a million little knots. It wasn't a mistake that placed me under the scrutiny of law enforcers. I was there for a good reason. I was guilty.


It's not like I killed him,” I heard myself say.


So you admit it then?”


I'm not going to lie,” I said defensively, glaring at Constable Mason. He was an average height, with a square build and cropped blond hair that was smothered in grey. His eyes were silver, but then, so were everyone else's.

He paced around the small, table
where I was forced to sit and rounded on me. “Why don't you tell me exactly what happened?” It was a demand, not a request.


Everything?” I asked. My throat went dry. I did not, by any means, want to talk to the authorities about what had happened to me one year ago. I had broken the greatest national law in all of Haven Valley. I left. The crime had come with its own punishment, I'd barely returned alive.


Everything,” he affirmed.

Everything I had been through was a tumble of unbelievable experiences that had shaken the blind naiveté straight out me. How would this
officer of a quaint and quiet town react if I told him the real
everything
?


Well,” I started slowly. “I was born here in Rivermarch. I live with my dad, stepmom and half-brother because my real mother left us when I was a little girl. Back then, my favorite food was chocolate cake and I loved to collect these hideous little dolls-”


Miss Kestrel, that is quite enough! Do not waste my time or you'll spend yours in a cell.”

I sighed, staring morosely at my hands in my lap. This was not going to be fun.

“This past year, Calvin had gotten half the guys in our class calling me ‘Scars,’ and then he’d tell me he was the only one who would ever look past how ugly I’d become. I was just leaving the graduation ceremony when I ran into him.  It was just the two of us and I knew he was going to try to start something. I turned around to get away from him, but he followed me. He grabbed me. I told him to let go, but he wouldn't.”

Embarrassment
reddened my cheeks.

Constable Mason folded his arms over his broad chest.
“What happened next?”

I fidgeted with my hands.
“He fell.”


An eighteen year old athlete didn't just fall down because of a few words from a girl! You've already admitted your involvement, what did you do to him?”


I was defending myself!”


Miss Kestrel, Rivermarch hasn't had a single incident of brutality in fifty years. He wouldn't have harmed you.”


Oh yeah? Would you stake my life on that?”


Neither of us is here to speculate. Calvin Cale is in the hospital with second degree electrical burns on his arms and chest. If he'd had a weak heart, he could be laying there dead with his mother and sisters weeping over him, and you to blame,” the constable said, his words burning in my ears. “Now, I want to hear it from your lips. What did you do to Calvin?”

My breath caught in my throat. I could have killed him. I hated Calvin, but I never wanted to hurt him, not this badly anyway.

Why hasn't Kyle invented a time machine yet? I could really use one.

There was no escape for me. What was done was done.

“I shocked him.” My confession was barely over a whisper. Absently, I touched the circle of smooth scars that hid beneath the collar of my shirt. Phantoms of pain stabbed at me, and just for a second, the grizzly, metal torn face of Commander Stakes flashed into my mind. “I didn't mean for this to happen. I just wanted him to leave me alone.”

Satisfied, Constable Mason leaned away.

“Did you use a weapon?” The question was a setup. I could tell by the shrewdness of his eyes.


No, of course not,” came my reply. It was nothing short of a sin to use a weapon against another person in Haven Valley, but I'd imagine it would have to be even worse to admit that the weapon was me. What an excellent day it was shaping up to be! Accidentally almost kill someone, and then spend an afternoon incriminating myself! Lovely.


You created the electric current, yourself?”

“Yes,” I whispered.

“I expected as much,” he said, distracted.

My eyes squinted ever so slightly as I observed the man stride across the barren cube of a room.
“Shouldn't you be calling me crazy or hauling me away to be dissected and studied or something?” I was answered with silence. His reaction, or lack thereof, was the first real indication that I might not be the only person with Abilities in Haven. My friends didn't have them... was it rare? How many of us were there?


You've broken one of Haven's primary laws,” Constable Mason told me with all the reassurance of a lead mallet.


Gotta collect them all,” I chimed miserably.


What?”


Nothing.”

He crossed his arms over his chest.
“Nonviolence is paramount.”

My remorse was genuine.
“I know, I didn't mean to.” What was wrong with me? How could I let myself do that?


If I didn't owe Keller a favor, you'd get the most severe of punishments.”


My dad knows about this?” Shame took root and I sunk in my chair.


Of course. He was the second person Sterling informed.”

I went rigid and my eyes snapped to meet the
constable's. “Sterling saw what happened? And he didn't help me? He just turned me in?”


He did the right thing.”

My fear and guilt
transformed into anger. For the past year, Sterling had developed a relationship with my best friend, Ruby. We'd spent a lot of time together. The betrayal stung. At first, I wondered why he would do this to me without so much as a warning. I didn't need to guess for very long, the answer was right in front of my face. Constable Mason was Sterling’s dad.

There’s the motive. And the gold ribbon for detective skills goes to, Kat. Cash-prizes must be claimed before jail-time.

“He's been keeping an eye on you, and now I know why. Boy's making his old man proud. In a few years I might have to learn to live with having another Constable Mason in the building,” the man clucked, proud as a mother hen. I couldn’t care less about his plans for my
former
friend.

I tucked my arms around my middle and frowned. Was there no one I could trust?

There was a knock at the door. A young man with a square, athletic build and shorn, sandy blond hair stood in the doorway as if it were physically impossible for him to come any farther into the room. It was Sterling, himself. He spoke in low tones to his father.

Sterling kept his gaze low as he retreated back the way he had come. My betrayer wouldn't even look me in the eye.

“If you'd excuse me, Miss Kestrel, I have to go get a cup of tea and decide how much of your future will be spent in Pinebrook Prison.”

 

Chapter 2:
Out of the Frying Pan

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was nothing for me to look at in the interrogation room where Constable Mason left me
; no windows or pictures on the eggshell colored walls. Unable to find a distraction, I was left to ponder important things like, for instance, what the thread count of my sheets would be in prison.

Because there was so little crime in my country, we only had one long-term institution for the unlawful. It was a glorified jailhouse in the capital city of
Pinebrook. I'd passed by it once. The place was nearly empty and a man who worked there admitted to me that it was mostly kept for appearances and warnings. The entire upper floor was encased in double-paned glass. Wrongdoers were brightly displayed to the entire capital. To add insult to injury for any would-be escape artists, the few furnishings, from cots to cups, were made of rubber. We loved embarrassing our few lawbreakers.

Now I was one of them.

My sentence would be humiliating beyond words. Would it have been indefinite if my father hadn't intervened? I had plenty of experience with imprisonment. Once, I’d been dragged from the dungeon of a keep, to lavish rooms over an endless sea, and then, locked away in the bowels of a hideous fortress. No food or water. Utter darkness. I refused to think about the one person who had helped me when I was in that horrible place.

Not a single thought.

My final cage had been a withered greenhouse at the top of the installment fortress tower.

Crumbling inwardly, I dropped my head into my hands, lacing my fingers through my wavy black hair. I couldn't even remember the worst parts about staying in that place without thinking of
him
. I wouldn't do it.

No, I'd rather stew over the idiotic mess I'd gotten myself into here, at home.

Flashes of my recent past forced their way forward, unbidden. The harder I fought to forget, the less I could.

When I gritted my teeth and looked up again, claustrophobia snaked inside the small windowless room and curled invisibly around my chest. I could feel it constricting my lungs and I welcomed it. Nothing could make me feel worse anyway.

Overwhelmed, I leapt to my feet and paced the room like a trapped animal. How long had he left me? An hour? Two?

The door swung open and a woman strode in. She wore a crisp white shirt and a knee-length navy coat with polished silver buttons. Her straight brown hair was pulled back without a single
wayward strand.


Miss Kestrel. Sit,” she commanded with calm authority. The woman had dragged an extra chair into the room and placed it opposite mine. She closed the door behind her.

I'd been sitting in that room half the day and had enough of it.

I sat anyway. It was unnerving, sharing a cube of four white walls with this eagle of a woman.


Are you here to tell me I can go?” I asked, knowing it was too good to be true.

She ignored my question and
sank into the chair across from mine.


Miss Kestrel,” she said, drawing my attention. “Do you know who I am?”

The woman appeared to be in her forties, lean and fit, with such immaculate posture I was sure I could have balanced a book on her head right then and there. I began to shake my head, but I realized there
might have been more to the question. She was perfectly aware we didn't know one another.


My defender?” I asked hopefully with the tiniest of smiles.

She looked a
bout as amused as a brick.


You're some kind of official,” I answered with more honesty.

Her head tilted and her eyes twinkled, but barely.
“What makes you think so?”


You couldn't be sitting straighter if there was a wall behind you,” I said, letting a nervous chuckle escape my throat. Only the soldiers I'd seen in the Outside World had such impeccable posture.

The twinkle was gone. That eagle's focus was back and she stared at me with hard, silver eyes.

“My name is Sandra Loring. I am an officer for the Hall of Defense.”

Anyone else would have laughed aloud at the title, presuming eagle-woman wouldn't have stabbed them in the neck with a pen for making fun of her. The concept that Haven needed defending was not lost on me, however.

“We have become aware of your particular... skill set.”


My skill set?” I scoffed.


You have a body that regenerates quickly, control over the electrical element, and the capability to find anything you seek.”


How do you know that?” I asked with genuine surprise.

And what's this about regeneration?

“It was filed in Sterling Mason's report. The boy is able to sense the talents of others,” she told me matter-of-factly.

I was doubly stunned. Sterling had an Ability?

“I think it goes without saying that this conversation must be kept private. A breach of this privacy will not improve your consequences.”

I nodded dumbly. Of all of my friends, why did the one with the capacity for betrayal have to be the one with an Ability? My stomach soured as I thought about all the time I
’d spent with Sterling, never knowing that he was spying on me, and my Abilities.


My superiors have familiarized themselves with your background,” she continued. “And, though I would have preferred someone with a higher grade average, they have decided you would be an asset to our department.”

I shifted uncomfortably in my seat.
This woman could berate me for my lukewarm test scores all day long if it meant I wouldn’t end up in a glass cell. I couldn’t be more relieved by the promise of freedom, but a job with the Hall of Defense? What could I possibly offer them besides finding lost mail? 


Need someone to electrocute perverted teenagers?”


We need a field agent,” she corrected, and swung a leather case onto the desktop.

My eyes widened.

“After I go to University?” I asked, caught entirely off guard.


Now,” said the agent.


But, my graduation party is tonight. Oh yeah, and I've been arrested for attempted murder,” I stammered stupidly.

Her brows flicked together.
“Please refrain from playing the fool with me, Miss Kestrel. You're clever enough to have figured out that the good constable was attempting to frighten you. It was clear you were reacting in self-defense. My presence should be evidence enough that your charges have been dropped.”

I gaped as the relief bowled me over. I would have jumped across the table to hug the woman if she wasn't so scary.

She opened the case on the desk, removed a folder filled with papers and produced a sleek quill pen. Both items slid over to me, guided by her hand.


What's this?”


An acknowledgement form and a binding contract for your new position,” Loring explained.

I didn't touch the pen.

“I don't even understand what you want with me, of all people,” I said, flustered. This offer would have sounded exciting if I didn't have a horrid feeling thickening in my stomach.


Just so we're clear, if you repeat anything I am about to say, you will be arrested and sent to prison with a life sentence,” she informed me.

An icy quiet followed.

“Do you understand, Miss-”


Yes,” I answered before she could further sharpen the tone of her voice.

She folded her hands and stared at me levelly. I wondered if she thought she was wasting her time.

“Miss Kestrel, this is a matter of the utmost importance.” The edge in her voice was gone, replaced by absolute professionalism. “The safety of our country has been compromised.”

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