The Pirate Prince (Pirate's Booty Series, Book Five)

BOOK: The Pirate Prince (Pirate's Booty Series, Book Five)
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The Pirate Prince

A Pirate’s Booty Story

By Temple Hogan

 

 

 

Resplendence Publishing, LLC

http://www.resplendencepublishing.com

 
 

Resplendence Publishing, LLC
2665 N Atlantic Avenue, #349
Daytona Beach, FL 32118

 

The Pirate Prince
Copyright © 2012 Temple Hogan
Edited by Delaney Sullivan and Juli Simonson
Cover art by Les Byerley,
www.les3photo8.com

 

Electronic format ISBN: 978-1-60735-502-1

 

Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

 

Electronic Release: May 2012

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and occurrences are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places or occurrences, is purely coincidental.

 

 

 
 

 

The Dedication

 

To my wonderful husband
who has always been my hero~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

“You, my brother, are a thief and now you would be a murderer as well!” Prince Rajak Jehan, son of Shah Jehan, Mogul ruler of India’s famed Peacock Throne, stared into Mohan’s eyes over their crossed blades. Their muscles quivered with the pressure they exerted, but neither would give way. To do so meant certain death to one.

“You are unfit to rule the empire,” Mohan gasped. Sweat ran down his brow and plump cheeks. He blinked against the sting of sweat in his eyes. The whites of his dark eyes were streaked with red lines.

“You are the one who is unfit, Mohan,” Rajak said through gritted teeth. “Did you think your assassins could kill me? Did you think I wouldn’t escape your attempt to enslave me? Do you take me for such a fool that I would trust anyone you sent as a friend?”

“A fool is what you are,” Mohan countered. “Your claim to the throne is lost. I have won.”

He smiled triumphantly and Rajak was reminded of that younger brother who had won his way many times with stealth and trickery. Then it had been for a favored toy or his father’s attention, now it was for the vastly wealthy Peacock Throne of India. The throne that was rightfully Rajak’s, but he’d been abroad tending to his father’s business—arranging a marriage for Mohan—when the ruler had taken ill and died. Rumors abounded that the shah had been poisoned.

Now, gazing into his brother’s eyes, Rajak was sickened at the clarity of Mohan’s guilt.

“You killed our father,” Rajak growled and tightened his grip on his blade, wishing for a mad moment to run it through his brother’s heart.

Mohan looked startled at his words and shook his head once as if to deny the accusation, but the words died on his lips and he smirked.

“It was time,” he said without any remorse. “He was an old man. Why should we wait for our inheritance? I did it while you were gone so I might secure the throne before you could return and lay claim by right as eldest—”

His words were cut off by Rajak’s sudden movement. Putting all his strength behind his effort, Rajak gripped his brother’s wrist and flung him backward, wanting only to avenge his father’s death. Mohan slammed into a wall and crumbled to the floor, his blade spinning across the tiles. Seeing him disarmed, Rajak stepped forward and placed his blade against his brother’s neck. With one swift swipe, he could behead Mohan and regain his throne, but something within him, some long accepted role as protector of his younger brother, stayed his hand.

Mohan looked up at him with black, terror-filled eyes. “Brother, I beg you for mercy,” he said.

“Did you show mercy to our father?” Rajak demanded, warring within himself. “Did you stay your hand when you administered your deadly poison? There is no mercy for the unmerciful.” He raised his blade, willing himself to strike, but he hesitated, unable to mete out such final punishment. Even as he lowered his blade to his side, Mohan took advantage of his brother’s moment of weakness.

“Guards!” he shouted and immediately, quick footsteps sounded outside the sumptuous chambers.

Rajak spun and saw two armed men enter.

“Kill him,” Mohan commanded.

Mohan’s men rushed toward Rajak, their blades at the ready.

Rajak met their attack and quickly disarmed them, but he knew it was only a matter of seconds before more guards would converge on them. Casting a final glance at his brother, he ran to the balcony and looked for an escape. Even as he climbed on the balustrade and prepared to jump, he heard the shuffle of more armed men coming to his brother’s aid.

“He’s on the balcony,” Mohan shouted. “Hurry, kill him.”

They reached the balcony, Mohan’s harsh voice urging them on to kill. Rajak let go of his grip on the posts and did a free fall, spreading his arms so his robes might soften his landing, but he’d chosen well and he tumbled into a wagon of grain that had been left below. He lay on his back, gazing up at the balcony where his brother leaned over the railing, his face twisted in frustration.

For one moment, their gazes held, and it seemed to Rajak that all the years passed between them—years of life shared in the royal palace, years of being taught by the wise men about what would be expected of them as future rulers. Such bright promise was gone. Their father had been slain by his son’s hand, and Rajak’s claim to the throne had been usurped by the brother he’d loved. Now he must flee for his very life from men Mohan had drawn to his cause.

He leaped from the cart and fled the home he’d always known, racing down narrow alleys and doubling back so his trail would be lost. Only when he was sure he wasn’t being followed, did he turn down a passageway that led to a high brick wall with a single door set in its center. Knocking a special code, he cast a glance over his shoulder while he waited. Good, the street was still empty. They’d all been in hiding since Mohan’s attempts to have Rajak assasinated, while they worked to gather their supporters who would rise against Mohan’s treachery. The door opened and he slid inside.

“Master, you have returned safely,” his manservant and friend, Basa, exclaimed, running to meet him.

“The royal guards are right on my heels,” Rajak warned him. “We must go separately, in case they come upon us.”

“I will not leave you, Rajak,” Basa replied.

“You will do as I say, old friend,” Rajak answered in a tone that tolerated no insubordination.

Basa’s expression grew troubled, but he nodded in obedience. “As you wish,” he replied without enthusiasm.

Rajak placed a hand on his shoulder. “Gather our men and meet me on the dock. Tonight, we make our getaway permanent, and we strike back.”

Basa brightened. “I will do as you command,” he said, making a formal bow, but when he straightened, his face was alight with anticipation. “May Allah go with you, master.”

“And with you, Basa.”

Rajak left the courtyard where they’d rendezvoused and, making sure no one was about to spy on him, he stepped out into the alley and disappeared into the night. Basa would take a different route to the hiding place of their outlawed men. Outlaws, Rajak thought sourily. To think he and his loyal followers should be considered outlaws was an outrage. He knew they believed he was destined to be a great Mogul ruler like his father before him, but Mohan had betrayed them all. Rumor was that he had even imprisoned his own three sons and his daughter so he would have no opposition for the famous Peacock Throne. Now Rajak and his supporters were left to hide for their very lives. They all worried what would happen under Mohan’s bloody rule.

Preoccupied, he made his way back through the city of Kabul, dodging into shadowy corners at the first sound of guards. Though he felt a haste to meet his ragged band of men, he could not leave without making one last stop. He had to return to the castle to see Nidra. She had been one of his father’s harem favorites and a good friend to his mother when she was alive. He went slowly, creeping into the royal garden where the concubines lingered in the moonlight. He took up a position behind an exotic plant heavy with blossoms, filling the night with sweet perfume. Peering through its branches, he watched and waited until the woman he sought made her appearance. She walked proudly, her head tall beneath its covering, her silken garments moving lightly in the breeze of her passing. She came directly to the end of the garden where he waited.

“Rajak?” she called softly.

He shifted closer so she might see him. Relief crossed her face when she caught sight of him. She was well past her youth, but her beauty was still luminous.

“Are you all right?” she asked with some anxiety. “It was whispered in the palace that you tried to kill Mohan as you have killed your father.”

“So, that’s the way of it,” Rajak growled, the sound all the more fearsome for its quietness. “You know the truth of things, Nidra. I could never kill my father. I honored and loved him too much for such an evil deed. Besides, I was on my way back from Persia with news of Mohan’s bride.”

“I know as do many of us. We don’t believe Mohan’s accusations. He has men in the street, crying out news of your murderous deed, but still the people don’t believe him. They remember Mohan as a boy, who never spoke the truth and was a coward. They do not want him as their ruler, but if they speak out, they will be killed.”

She gasped as a guard entered the garden and milled about.

“You must go. They are searching everywhere for you.”

“How have you and my father’s other wives fared under my brother’s rule?” he asked, keeping his eye on the guards.

“He has had many of us assassinated. He will not take his father’s women, but he knows some of us hold power even with the shah’s death. He must proceed slowly so as not to outrage the palace elite. I am safe for now. He believes I possess knowledge that he must have to rule effectively.” She turned to face him, despite the danger of discovery, and her voice shook with emotion when next she spoke.

“You must not worry about me, Rajak. I will survive if it’s to be. I am but a woman, but you are meant to be the new shah and you must survive to take back the throne, otherwise we will all be lost. Stay safe.”

BOOK: The Pirate Prince (Pirate's Booty Series, Book Five)
10.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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