The Wrath of the Lizard Lord

BOOK: The Wrath of the Lizard Lord
11.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

For Sarah Davies

‘But a man, a living man, and with him a whole generation of gigantic animals. Buried in the entrails of the earth – it was too monstrous to be believed!’


Jules Verne,
A Journey to the Centre of the Earth







ELBA, 1815


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

Chapter Thirty-four

Chapter Thirty-five

Chapter Thirty-six


A Note from the Author

Also by Jon Mayhew

ELBA, 1815

Chapter One

A Demon from Hell

Dakkar bit his lip, hardly daring to breathe as he approached the guard who was slumped against the tunnel wall. Crimson blood stained the white of the man’s shredded uniform and a pistol shook in his hand. He lay beside a solid oak door that led deeper into the building’s cellars or perhaps up to the ground floor. The remains of another door littered the other end of the passage. It had been smashed open with some force.

‘Oginski, quickly!’ Dakkar hissed to his mentor, who followed behind him in the tunnel. ‘Someone got here before us!’

Oginski barged past, his big frame almost crushing Dakkar against the rough side of the passageway. He snatched a flaming torch from a bracket in the wall and squatted down beside the guard. Dakkar joined him.

‘Who did this, mon ami?’ Oginski said to the guard as he gingerly examined the man’s wounds.

‘A demon!’ the guard gasped, his eyes widening. He lifted his pistol and waved it towards the shattered door that had once barred the tunnel that stretched before them. ‘I shot it and it fled back from whence it came. Down there.’

The whole tunnel shook as a roar echoed around them.

‘It hasn’t gone!’ Dakkar yelled. ‘Is this loaded?’ he demanded, grabbing the guard’s rifle. The man gave a weary nod and slumped back as if passing all responsibility to the new stranger.

‘Dakkar, wait!’ Oginski called after him, but Dakkar had already dashed through the splintered door. With an oath, he charged after him.

Oginski’s torch cast wild, dancing shadows, the light reflecting off a trail of black blood spots that led down the tunnel.

‘Whatever it is, it’s bleeding,’ he called to Oginski. ‘Do demons bleed?’

‘Demons!’ Oginski spat. ‘Whatever came down here is as mortal as you. Which is why you should
slow down

‘Look!’ Dakkar cried, hurrying ahead.

In the flickering light, Dakkar glimpsed the glowing orb of an eye and a flickering tip of a tail. Torchlight shimmered on the creature’s scaly skin and flashed on rows of pointed yellow teeth. Then it vanished round the corner.

Dakkar stopped so abruptly that Oginski ran into his back, sending them both sprawling to the ground.

‘Impetuous boy!’ Oginski groaned, rolling on to all fours. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’

Dakkar staggered to his feet, rubbing his bruised backside. He stared up at the bend in the tunnel.

‘Didn’t you see it?’ he asked, his voice low.

‘See what?’ Oginski snapped, dusting himself down.

‘The demon?’ Dakkar whispered.

Oginski stepped in front of Dakkar and grabbed him by the shoulders. ‘Dakkar,’ he said, staring deep into the boy’s eyes. ‘There is no demon.’

‘But I saw it,’ Dakkar began. ‘It was a monster
. with teeth and tail, scales and claws.’

‘Follow me,’ Oginski said, blowing his breath through his teeth and shaking his head. ‘And keep that rifle ready.’

The silence was unbearable as they inched towards the blind turn in the tunnel.
What is that thing?
thought Dakkar.
It might be waiting to pounce even now

Rock dust began to trickle from the ceiling, making Dakkar freeze.

‘Oginski,’ he hissed. ‘The tunnel, it’s –’

But Dakkar’s voice was drowned out by the deafening roar of tumbling rock. He stumbled to the side as chunks of stone rained down. One rock struck him, numbing his shoulder. He could see Oginski falling backward through a fog of dust as the entire passageway shook. Bigger slabs crashed around him, and Dakkar crouched, covering his head with his hands as if that would save him somehow.

Then all fell still.

Oginski coughed and spluttered as the air cleared. ‘Are you all right, Dakkar?’

‘Yes,’ Dakkar said, his voice parched by the experience. ‘Just a bit bruised.’

‘We can’t follow it now,’ Oginski said. ‘Whatever it was.’

Rubble covered the ground and a wall of fallen stone sealed the tunnel ahead of them. Nothing was coming out of there.

Dakkar peered over Oginski’s shoulder.

‘Listen!’ Oginski said, holding up a hand. A faint, metallic whine, followed by a grating, scraping sound from behind the rock, gradually died away.

‘I’ve heard that sound before,’ Dakkar said, shivering suddenly and hugging the rifle against his chest. ‘It was a Mole Machine. Do you think another of your brothers has perfected such a device?’

He thought back to their last encounter with Count Cryptos. He had been building a giant machine that dug tunnels, intending to cause a massive volcanic explosion. Thankfully, Oginski and Dakkar had foiled the plot but Count Cryptos had died in the ensuing chaos. There would be another Count Cryptos to take his place, though – that was certain. The count who had died was one of Oginski’s six brothers, all of whom were determined to change the world order and rule themselves.

‘I fear it’s more than possible,’ Oginski said, snapping Dakkar out of his thoughts. ‘One of my wonderful brothers must be behind this. We were right to come and investigate.’

‘Do you think Count Cryptos brought the
. thing here?’ Dakkar asked, edging towards the pile of stones and straining to hear.

‘Whatever-it-was came up into this cellar through a tunnel made by the Mole Machine,’ Oginski muttered, dabbing a finger in the congealing blood on the floor. ‘When it went back, the tunnel collapsed behind it. We can’t linger – the alarm will have been raised by now.’

‘You think the one we came for has already escaped?’ Dakkar said.

‘I don’t know but that tremor and the wounded man are enough to bring him
his entire personal guard down here if he hasn’t left already.’

As if in reply to Oginski’s comment, muffled shouts echoed down the tunnel towards them, followed by the sound of urgent footsteps.

‘We’d better go!’ Dakkar said, turning to hurry back up the passage.

Something gleamed in the frame of the shattered door as Dakkar passed it, making him stop and squint in the dim light.

‘Dakkar, there is no time,’ Oginski snapped.

‘It’s a claw,’ Dakkar exclaimed, plucking it from the wood of the door. ‘It must be two inches long!’

‘Very good,’ Oginski said, grabbing Dakkar’s arm. ‘We can look at it later. Now, come!’

Dakkar slipped the claw into his pocket and scurried after him.

The wounded guard still lay propped against the wall. His breathing was shallow and blood pooled around him. Dakkar felt a lump in his throat.

‘You never get used to it,’ Oginski said, his voice heavy. ‘If you do then you’ve become a monster.’


Dakkar spun round and found himself staring down the barrel of a rifle. Three guards, in similar blue and white uniform to the dying man, spilled through the remaining doorway, glaring at them with bayonets fixed.

‘Gentlemen, it is not what you think,’ Oginski said in fluent French.

‘This man will vouch for us,’ Dakkar said, glancing down at the injured guard.

But the guard gave a last, strangled gasp and sagged lifeless against the wall.

‘My comrade seems indisposed to answer any questions,’ the head guard hissed, clicking back the flintlock on his rifle. ‘And I see no other possible culprits. Prepare to die.’

Chapter Two

The Little Corporal

The other two guards cocked their rifles and levelled them at Dakkar and Oginski.

‘You must listen to us,’ Dakkar said, shaking his fists in desperation. ‘We didn’t kill this man.’

‘Even if that were so,’ the guard said, squinting down the rifle at Dakkar, ‘you are trespassing beneath the palace of the emperor himself!’

More footsteps echoed through the tunnel. Dakkar squeezed his eyes tight shut, waiting for the roar of the rifles.

An imperious voice cut through the tramp of feet. ‘Wait!’

Dakkar opened one eye to see the tunnel filled with men in blue and white uniforms. The soldiers who had first apprehended them lowered their weapons and stood to attention.

A stocky man worked his way through the scrum, soldiers standing bolt upright as he did so. His clothes – a brown woollen jacket, green waistcoat and cream knee breeches – suggested to Dakkar that he was a gentleman of some kind, while his steely blue eyes suggested a higher authority. He reminded Dakkar of his own father, the Rajah of Bundelkhand, and hoped he wasn’t such a ruthless and pitiless ruler.

‘Count Oginski,’ the man said, a smile lengthening his round face. ‘Is this a social call or have you come to join me?’

‘Your excellency,’ Oginski said, giving a shallow bow. ‘I’ve come to save your life.’

‘Really?’ The man seemed amused by this. His eyes wandered to Dakkar. ‘You bring a child on your rescue mission?’

‘Forgive me, your excellency,’ Oginski said, gesturing to Dakkar. ‘This is Prince Dakkar of Bundelkhand.’

‘And I’m not a child,’ Dakkar said, glaring back at the man.

BOOK: The Wrath of the Lizard Lord
11.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Pia Saves the Day by Thea Harrison
Goddess of the Night by Lynne Ewing
All That Burns by Ryan Graudin
Scala by Christina Bauer
Not Just A One Night Stand by Jennifer Willows