The Demons Within – Book 2 of the Maingard Chronicles

£12.00

Book 2 of the Maingard Chronicles. The Saga continues.

In a land of swords and sorcery, magical flying ships have appeared in the skies over the city of Jacarna, heralding an invasion from another plane. An invasion that is hell bent on destruction and enslavement. A small band of heroes and heroines are slowly drawn together to stand before the invading host. Together, they hold Maingard’s fate in their hands.

Category: Tags: , ,

Description

Book 2.

The saga continues as the deadly peril looms over the world of Maingard, a peril that threatens the lives and futures of every being upon it. Accompanied by Bex, Ishtara and Bryn Kar, Prince Garlen sets out to rescue his sisters from the clutches of the Cassalian warlord, Karchek. But will he be Garlen the Warrior, or Garlen, Lord of the Inns, as he is known throughout the city of Tannaheim. Meanwhile, Jerone Witchguardian tries to evade his pursuers in order to find what he seeks.

 

ISBN 9781838456726    322 pages

A glossy cover and a big fat ‘2’ on the spine. Free 2nd class postage to UK addresses (Tracked 48 Small parcel for 2+ books.)

 

Prologue

 

With the Royal Pennant of the House of Barstt signifying it was on the business of the Red Throne flapping from the stern pole, the small ship had cast its moorings and had slipped from the Royal Harbour. The heavily armed guard ships had let it through the blockade that had been in force since the discovery of the kidnapping of the princesses, and the assassination of King Anjoan. The ship was The Dagger, a small brig owned by Count Eglebon Dutte. The aptly named brig cut through the early evening waters with ease, its sleek outline making it one of the fastest ships in Miangard.

The captain, Raust, looked out and nervously spied the black clouds ahead. He didn’t like the look of the weather and spat to his side for good luck. He rubbed his shaven head as he looked over his crew. Four good men were on deck right now with another four resting in bunks below. The ship’s cook would be cleaning the galley as the main meal had been taken early which was usual when passengers were on board.

Raust looked back at the cabin door and gave a slight chuckle. The passenger had annoyed him ever since he had come aboard but had retired after the evening meal looking worse for wear from the ship’s movement. If the landlubber had thought that bit of the journey had been rough, then he would get a rude shock when that weather ahead hit.

He felt the rain on his weathered face and knew it was going to be a rough journey and not just because of the weather ahead. For ten years he had been in the employ of Count Dutte and never had he seen him like he had been that afternoon. The Count had been agitated beyond words, wringing his hands as he passed his orders on. The previous orders to sail to Marneheim had been succeeded by new ones to sail to the Isle of Winds. A passenger, a herald from the court, was to be transported to either Count Neechy or Lord Visney commanding the Third and Fourth Squadrons respectively.

The Count had returned later with the herald, a middle-aged man wearing the red livery of the palace and carrying a small bag containing his orders for Visney and Neechy. For a man who had just conveyed orders of utmost urgency, Eglebon Dutte had acted strangely after ushering the herald on board. He had held Raust in conversation for nigh on quarter of an hour, ignoring the herald’s frantic attempts to interrupt. As he spoke had looked anxiously up and down the quay and had then finally acknowledged the herald’s protestations and left Raust speaking midsentence.

Raust pulled himself back into the present and sighed. Nobles seemed to have nothing and everything to worry about. He looked across to the mainmast and saw that Grose had not reefed the sail yet.

“Grose! Hurry it up, you lazy bastard!” He couldn’t see the young sailor and wondered whether he had gone overboard as the waves rose around the now struggling ship. He switched his gaze to the other side of the ship and called out to the crew.

“Ganner, Yorik! Where’s Grose?” He shifted from his vantage point and made his way over to where the young boy had been working. The deck was wet from the rain but no worse than the area he had just left. Of the youngster there was no sign. Raust gripped the rail, his big fists clenched hard, as he leant out and peered into the darkness. He called out again, louder than before. It was then that he realised that there hadn’t been a response from Ganner or Yorik.

“Tobe’s Tits!” he exclaimed to no-one but himself. If they had all gone below, he would skin the lot of them. He stepped lithely of the deck of the rocking ship only to find the port side empty of life as well. He turned and looked back to the stern of ‘The Dagger’.

His heart leapt into his mouth as a shadow rose out of the deck in front of him. The dark shape shifted into the figure of a man, taller but slenderer than the captain. The ghostly figure lunged forward and Raust staggered, finding it hard to focus as his eyes clouded over. The exclamation he was about to make died with him as the short sword penetrated his throat. The sword slowly withdrew, and he sagged forward to fall onto the deck. The last thing he saw were the black felt boots of his murderer turn and walk softly and silently to the cabin in the stern.

Modral the Assassin paused before the cabin door, his hand reaching for the latch. The banded leather armour, black as the shadows he worked from, flexed as he moved, neither stifling of hindering him at any point.  He was grateful for the mask that covered the lower part of his face that added a little protection from the stinging wind. Sea spray dripped from the cowl of his hood as he hesitated at the door to the cabin.

He had already despatched the crew below silently and with ease. Not one had stirred in their bunks as he slit their throats with as much indifference as a man might cut bread. After all, that is why his services were as expensive as they were. His expertise and his ability to ply his trade of murder and subterfuge at a moment’s notice carried a high price that almost merited the exorbitant fee that the Guild applied.

The client had given exact details regarding the layout of the ship and not only the number of crew and passengers but where they should be at certain points of the day. This was the second mission that Modral had carried out for the client, and he smiled, knowing that The Guild would be keeping notes for the possibility of extortion at a later date. In this line of business, you never knew when you would need to call in an extra favour. The Guild itself was shrouded in secrecy. It was well known within the other rogue guilds, such as the Thieves’ Guild, that the authorities had agents within their ranks, but the Brotherhood of Karnast was small and highly secretive. Neither the Crown nor even the Phantom had managed to infiltrate its ranks, but even the occupants of the Red Throne, in its sordid past, had used the Guild for its own ends.

Modral now paused, mentally ticking off the crew in his head. ‘One missing’ he thought, and he realised that the last crew member would be at the stern of the ship, working on the spanker sail. He pulled himself up onto the cabin roof and crept towards the stern.

The old wizened sailor never stood a chance. The rolling of The Dagger didn’t affect Modral as he leapt from the cabin roof, crashing into the last sailor. The wiry figure was propelled onto the gunwales of the ship and turned, half stunned, to face his attacker. The assassin landed with a roll, and had come up to meet the shocked sailor with the point of his sword. With little satisfaction showing on his stony face, Modral pushed the man away, the blade sliding from the sailor’s stomach.

The assassin turned his attention to the focus of his contract and once again approached the cabin door. His breathing slow and controlled, he opened the door and stepped inside. The herald sat near the centre of the room in a highbacked chair, certainly the worse for wear due to the motion of the ship. A small table was at his side, covered in maps and charts. The two lanterns swung alarmingly from the cabin roof as the swells picked up and rocked the ship even more. The herald, dressed in the red robes of House Barstt looked up as he entered, whatever colour left in his face draining at the sight of death walking into his cabin. He snatched at the small satchel that was on top of the charts and tried to pull a small dirk from it.

Modral closed the distance between the two men swiftly and silently. His dark eyes seemed to bore into the scared, old man in front of him. His sword was already at guard, pointing unwaveringly at the herald.

“I am a herald of the Red Throne sent by Queen Sarsi herself. It is an offence punishable by death to interfere with my business!” the old man stammered as he held the dirk up between himself and Modral. His hand shook as he did so. Modral said nothing in reply and reached into a belt pouch with his free hand. He withdrew a large coin and flicked it from his fingers causing it to land in the herald’s lap. It was an old copper crown from centuries past but the king’s head that should have looked up at the herald as his gaze turned towards it, had been obliterated by a skull scratched into the soft metal.

“That coin was marked with death by the Grand Master Karnast in Tannaheim Hall.” Modral’s voice was neutral, his words spoken in a monotone. The Karnast he referred to was the Guild master of the Assassins’ Guild in the Western Kingdoms. It was a nom de guerre, more a title than a name as it was in recognition of the first assassin and the founder of the first guild. He carried on.

“It is your death, a death from which there is no escape. Strike me down and another will take my place and you will be hunted until your last breath.” It was the liturgy of the Assassins’ Guild, an oath and warning given that the contract will be fulfilled.

The dark figure of Modral danced forward, the blade a perfect extension of his arm as his strike hit home. The herald’s eyes had barely lifted from the coin that had landed in his lap as the tip of the blade sank into his chest. Modral made sure that the herald was dead by a coup de grace across his throat.

It was only at this point that he allowed himself a wry smile. The job was completed apart from a couple of loose ends. He hooked one of the lanterns down and opened the small glass door. Reaching into the small satchel that the herald clutched in his dead hands, he took out the orders for the commanders of the Third and Fourth Squadrons and set light to them with the flame. Satisfied that no trace of the orders survived, Modral then went back onto the deck.

Once the squall had settled down, maybe in the morning, he would lower one of the small boats on board and let himself drift away from the scene of the crime. On the morning tide, a ship would sail from Tannaheim with a similar course to The Dagger, looking for him. Once back in Tannaheim, he would once again disappear into the Maze under the city until the next time his services were called for.

Additional information

Weight 0.400 kg
Dimensions 22 × 14 × 2 cm

Reviews

There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “The Demons Within – Book 2 of the Maingard Chronicles”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *