Crown of Cinders (Imdalind Series Book 7)

BOOK: Crown of Cinders (Imdalind Series Book 7)
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Crown of Cinders
Rebecca Ethington

Text Copyright ©2016 by Rebecca Ethington

The Imdalind Series, characters, names, and related indicia are trademarks and © of Rebecca Ethington.

The Imdalind Series Publishing rights © Rebecca Ethington

All Rights Reserved.

Published by Market Street Books LLC

No Part of this publication may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher. For Information regarding permission, write to:

Rebecca Ethington – [email protected] Rebecca Ethington.com

Copyediting by C&D Editing

Production Management by Market Street Books

Cover Design by Duck and Bicycle Productions

Cover Photo by Shelton Photography

ISBN (print) 978-0-9964632-7-0

ISBN (e-book) 978-0-9964632-6-3

Printed in USA

This Edition, November 2016

You gave this book a page.

So, I created a world.

May you get lost in its pages.

Love you, always.

SAIN
1


I
have a job for you
. Do it well, and I won’t kill you. Fail and your life will end in a much more painful way than poor Edmund finally found.”

The man Ovailia had spared cowered on the ground below me as I spoke, blood still dripping from my fingers, forming little pools of red by my feet. It was the red the man couldn’t look away from.

The red matched the fluid seeping from the corpse behind me.

“Stand.”

He didn’t hesitate. He moved quickly, his eyes still on the pools of blood, unwilling to look at me.

“I want you to go and tell everyone what you saw here. Tell everyone of what Sain, the first of the Drak, really is. Can you do that?”

“Y-ye-yes …”

Ovailia laughed as the man stuttered and wet himself in fear.

I smiled, my lips pulling away from my teeth as my eyes gleamed.

“Good. Then, when you are done, come back to me, and I’ll have another little job for you. You have a new master now. Do you understand?”

A nod and then the man tore from the room, stumbling over his own feet in his attempt to escape me.

“Do you think he will do it?” Ovailia asked, coming so close behind me I could feel my magic roar in an attempt to reach her.

“Yes, I do. Now is when things really start to get interesting.” Pulling Ovailia to me, I let my magic swell, moving it to reach her, realizing it wasn’t her it wanted.

It wasn’t her it craved.

It was sight. It was the world that was yet to be.

“Now is when everything gets real.” With two strong hands against her collarbone, I pushed her away from me, watching her stumble on her heels in an attempt to find her balance.

I didn’t care.

Allowing my magic to swell into sight, I saw the whispers of what was to come, shadows of what was about to happen. What needed to happen. I couldn’t let that man go.

“Wait,” I said to the man who was now down the hall, still trying to make his escape. My magic stretched out to him, wrapping around him and pulling him right back into the room.

I could hear his panicked screams due to the movement, could hear Ovailia’s disgruntled complaints from being thrown around. But all I saw was black, the fear and anger of my two companions fading into the screams of another sort.

Of sight.

“See what I have done!” My own voice echoed inside my mind as the images solidified.

I watched the crowd of horrified Trpaslíks appear in the hall of council, a large stone room that hadn’t been used in decades if not centuries. They looked at the corpse of the man I had destroyed, anger and fear clear on their face. One man yelled then another then another, and the sight began to shift to the same room. This time, it was full of bloodied bodies and bowed heads, Edmund’s loyalists cleared from the wheat like the chaff they were.

Useless garbage.

My heart rate accelerated at the sight of that, at the knowledge of what had happened—what could have happened if I had sent Damek out into the hordes with news of my accomplishments.

A revolt.

I had to stomp it.

The sight began to shift again, fire moving within the hall of Imdalind as a child laughed and cried in the background. It was a clear image, but one I waved away. I didn’t need to see more. I already understood the path my sight wished me to take. I already understood what it wanted me to see.

The fire-drenched hallway faded to the dim room before me as the black left my eyes, some prophecy half-formed on my lips before I pushed it away, too.

Ovailia stood before me, still irate at my hasty banishment, her arms folded over her waist like a stubborn child.

“What is it?” she snapped, her head high as she watched me, making it clear she hadn’t missed a moment of the sight. Knowing her, she had even tried to tap into it.

Luckily, the Black Water had been removed from her spine. I didn’t need her knowing too much about what I was planning, about what was coming.

“Something wonderful,” I said with a smile, taunting her as I stepped toward Edmund’s last remaining guard, leaving bloody footprints behind me.

The silence of the room pressed against my chest as the sight’s magic still reverberated inside me, loud and abrasive, the same image of the ignited hallway breaking through.

Just a flash of fire and smoke, and my heart stopped.

While I didn’t know what I was seeing, I knew someone else who might.

Someone who shouldn’t see any of this.

Edmund’s dead eyes looked at me as my heart picked up, a sudden fear gripping me, the disgusting emotion far too real.

I hoped I wasn’t too late.

I needed to stop her from seeing any of this.

Stop her from knowing what had happened.

I needed to put a block around my sight, a block around everything concerning me.

A Zámek.

The same magic had cursed Wyn. The same magic had been taught to Timothy by me in an attempt to kill her centuries before. This time, I would use it the way it was meant to be—to block a Drak’s sight, to stop them from peeking into someone’s life, into their fate.

Only powerful magic could cause such a wall. Although it would also block me from seeing into her fate, causing me to go into any upcoming battle blind, it was a risk I would have to take.

I needed to keep this from her. They couldn’t know what had happened until the perfect moment.

Body tensing in hesitation, I closed my eyes, knowing how much exertion this was going to take.

A Zámek was not done often, if at all. And I already knew it would weaken my ability, weaken my sight. But for this, it was a risk I would have to take.

Heart pounding, eyes shut, I let my magic swell within me, all of my power pulling into me, against my heart that held it, against my lungs that breathed it.

Swelling inside of me, strong and powerful, it began to shake, the energy condensing in a wave of power and sound that moved into my bones, rattled my skull. I could already feel the shield beginning to form, hard as steel, as dark as death. It was heavy enough to keep out even the most powerful magic of sight, to keep the future and past contained within me so that only I could see.

“What are you doing?” Ovailia snapped from beside me, her voice oddly distanced over the rumbling static that was filling my mind. “Sain, what do you see?”

Ignoring her, I focused on the power that seemed moments from exploding out of me. The rumbling grew worse until I was convinced the vibrating I felt moving inside me was visible from the outside. I half-expected Ovailia to scream in worry, but there was nothing except silence, nothing except my strained breathing as the iron-clad shield began to move away from me, stretching past the caves and over the fields that surrounded us, butting right up against the large shield Edmund had placed over them all.

Heaving with the effort, I kept myself upright, determined not to show the weakness the Zámek had on me, knowing I could easily pass out from the effort.

Timothy had almost killed himself, and he had spent a month putting it in place.

“Sain?” she asked again as I opened my eyes to glare at her. “What’s going on? What are you doing?”

“I am securing your future,” I said with a smile, the hidden meaning humorous to me.

Ovailia narrowed her eyes before looking away, obviously not happy with the response yet unwilling to pursue it any further.

I had more exhilarating things to deal with.

“You,” I snarled, aware that I wasn’t certain of his name, although it wasn’t something I would remedy. A man without a name was more valuable than a man who clung to a weak identity.

“Y … yes?” He lifted his head slowly, his body shaking as he pulled himself back to his feet, his head bowed in humility.

It wasn’t respect he was showing, however; it was fear. His focus was still fixed on the drying blood that coated my skin, that dripped from my disheveled beard, on the bright red footprints trailing behind me, on the body of his former master, and on Edmund’s guards who littered the room in a garden of death.

It was the remains of Edmund that he stared at the most, however. The air was saturated with the scent of his charred body. You couldn’t ignore it was there.

You couldn’t ignore what had happened.


Yes
?” I repeated the response with a hiss, my eyebrows lifting.

Even if the warning in my voice hadn’t startled him, I was sure that did.

“Yes, master,” he amended quickly, his body shaking in fear, the anxiety making it difficult for him to stand. He continually shifted his feet, his hands flexing and grabbing at the air as if it would somehow support him.

“Do it,” I whispered, taking another step toward him, leaving another damp and sticky bloody print behind me. “Bow.”

He didn’t hesitate to fall to the ground, his hands and arms tucked underneath him as he quivered in a pathetic show of reverence. He looked like nothing more than the disgusting gelatin the mortals would eat.

This would not do.

“No, you idiot. I said bow, not cower.”

He shivered, the wobbling mass vibrating before me as my magic rushed from me and wrapped around him, infecting him, controlling him, contorting him into a form more acceptable for someone of my stature.

He screamed out in fear and pain as I contorted him, his arms twisting into unnatural positions before I tucked them underneath his torso, twisting him into the perfect form.

“Lovely,” I whispered, stepping toward him as his screams faded to pained whimpers. “That is a bow.”

“Yes, master,” he repeated once more, his voice stronger, as if the quivering would protect him from what was coming.

“I have changed my mind,” I began as I walked closer still, more bloody footprints appearing in his line of sight. “I have seen what is coming, and I have a new job for you.”

He jerked a bit, obviously confused and needing some kind of eye contact to verify what I had said.

My magic flared once in warning, jerking him back to the position I had placed him in, a small whimper of pain seeping from his throat.

“I no longer wish for you to tell them what has happened here. I wish for them to see it. I
want
them to see.” Flashes of the sight I’d had filled me, the screams and blood echoing inside my mind.

Turning toward Ovailia, I couldn’t stop the smile, knowing her part in all of this made it all the sweeter. She watched me intently, still not pulling herself away from the remains of her father.

“Tell them all,” I continued, the dried blood on my face pulling and cracking as I smiled toward the quivering mass below me. “Trpaslíks and Chosen are to gather in the old council hall. Tell them their
master
has an announcement to make, nothing more.”

I stood, waiting, focused on the pathetic man, on the quiver in his spine.

He said nothing. He did nothing except shiver.

I could feel my temper rise from being ignored, my magic heating and rising from the insubordination.

“Can you do that?” The words hissed past my teeth, and he shivered more, his head wobbling in what I assumed was a nod.

It didn’t matter. It wasn’t good enough. I did not have to put up with this type of behavior anymore. Never again. I wasn’t going to let him get away with it.

“I don’t appreciate being left waiting,” I snapped, and his back jerked as my magic wound around him once more, lifting him into the air with a jolt before slamming him against the far wall. Pictures rattled with the impact, a flurry of dust and tiny rocks falling from the ceiling as I jerked them free from the crevices they had been hiding in for thousands of years.

Ovailia shrieked in surprise behind me, but I didn’t turn, my focus remaining on the whimpering man whose bloodshot eyes were wide as I controlled him in the one way I knew how—with fear.

“I gave you a command, and I expect it to be carried out with perfect precision. Tell no one of what you have seen. Instead, instruct them in what their king has asked.”

King.

My heart was light with the use of the word on my own tongue. My smile so wide that the man before me shuddered, nodding his head furiously in obedience, the words of acceptance and understanding lost in the buzzing that now filled my ears.

After I dropped the man from the wall with one twitch of my magic, he scuttled away, desperate to do what had been demanded, desperate to comply before it was his own flesh that was burned. I, however, remained frozen in place, my eyes trained on the rough stone of the wall, on the streaks of faded blood Damek had left behind, on the word that was echoing on repeat.

King.

“What did you see, Sain?” Ovailia asked from behind me. I didn’t even look at her. “What are you planning?”

King.

“I plan nothing,” I snapped, still not looking at her, the word continuing to repeat within me. “It is the magic of the earth that lays my path. I am simply wise enough to follow.”

Years of plotting, of manipulating, of using everyone around me … After years of carefully setting the stage, I had finally accomplished what I had set out to do.

I was king once again after being stripped of my ruling power so many centuries before. And soon, everyone would know. Soon, everyone would bow to me as they had before, as they had for centuries.

I was one of the first.

I deserved nothing less.

And I had regained it.

Now, all that was left was to destroy the last remaining people who could take away this role. The last people who could challenge me: Joclyn, Ilyan, Wyn, perhaps even Ryland if he ever conquered the madness Edmund had given him.

Four people were all that were left in my way. And I would make them pay, for fighting me, for their parents’ mistake of removing me from the role I had been born to fill.

I had come from the mud. The earth had created me. I was the only one suited to rule them, the only one who could.

“King,” I said aloud, pulling my focus away from the wall and to the twisted charred corpse that Ovailia stood beside, her back straight and lips pursed as though she were guarding him.

Foolish girl, guarding the man she had killed.

BOOK: Crown of Cinders (Imdalind Series Book 7)
5.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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