(This is a sneak peek at Book Two of the Sundered Crown Sage, it is still only a rough draft so there are likely to be a few kinks and it is subject to change)
Luxon watched the bustling city below. The people looked like ants as they scurried back and forth and from his high vantage point from the top of the King’s spire, they even looked the same size as the tiny tenacious insects. He had only visited the rebuilt palace twice in the past five years, once to visit the King and the other at the behest of Caldaria’s Grandmaster. During his first visit, the spire had only been half-complete and on his second, the final additions had been hastily made. The spire towered over SunGuard to offer spectacular views of the huge city below and the expanse of countryside outside the high walls. On the horizon, he could just make out the outline of the distant seaside city of Kingsford and if he stood on a balcony on the opposite of the tower, he would have been able to see the clear calm waters of the Ridder River. He stepped back from the railing he was leaning on and stretched his back. He had been waiting for over an hour and his patience was wearing thin.
“You sure you don’t want some of this pie?”
Luxon smiled as he turned and walked back inside. On one of the waiting rooms, ornately decorated chairs sat his best friend. Yepert had grown taller in the past few years but his waistline was still wide. Food would always be his passion.
“Maybe later,” he replied as he sat down on another of the rooms dozen or so pieces of furniture.
“You would have thought the council would offer you some respect and not keep us waiting for so long. I mean you’re a wizard and the hero of Eclin,” Yepert said through mouthfuls of blueberry pie. His mouth was already covered in the blue fruits juices.
Luxon ran a hand through his sandy blonde hair and blew a raspberry in exasperation.
“Only a few people call me that Yepert, most just blame me for what happened. If it weren’t for me there would be no dragons terrorising the Western lands or Fell beasts marauding unchecked throughout the realm,” he sighed.
For a brief moment in time, Luxon had been hailed a hero for his actions at Eclin. Together with his friends and the brave men of Balnor, he had defeated the dark wizard Danon and saved the boy who now sat upon Delfinnia’s throne. It had not taken long however before his name was used with scorn and anger. The tear, which had opened upon Luxon and Danon’s escape from the void, had unleashed countless Fell beasts and other long forgotten horrors onto the world.
“What’s happening out there is not your fault. The whole mess could have been cleared up if the council had allowed the mages to leave Caldaria and aid the Nightblades in hunting down the Fell beasts,” Yepert replied.
Luxon was about to offer a retort, when a tall woman wearing a blue velvet dress approached them. She was one of the city’s noblewoman charged with overseeing the kingdom’s administration and civic affairs. The sapphire pendant around her delicate neck was the badge of her office. She was young, no older than twenty at a guess. She smiled politely at the two magic users. Luxon frowned slightly as he could see in the woman’s eyes that she was nervous around them.
“The council will see you now Master Edioz. I’m afraid your friend will have to stay outside however as the Barons…well, the barons aren’t comfortable having two spell casters in the chamber at once,” the woman said nervously.
Her eyes moved quickly between the two young men. Yepert wore the long blue cloak of a mage whereas Luxon wore green, the colour of a wizard. The cloak had been dusty and in need of repair when the mages finally found it hidden away in Caldaria’s stores. With no wizard seen in the kingdom for a century the etiquette of how to treat Luxon had been confused at best.
Yepert rolled his eyes and muttered under his breath.
“You go on ahead Luxon; I’ll just sit here and finish my pie. Wouldn’t want my mighty powers to scare those brave lordlings too much now would we,” he said his tone dripping with sarcasm. He flashed the woman a smile before settling back into his pie.
The noblewoman bowed slightly an uncertain look on her face.
“If you would follow me,” she said before hurriedly leaving the waiting room.
Luxon took a deep breath and followed her out of the room. The woman led him along a corridor that spiralled upwards. Lining the marble walls were large arched windows, which offered more stunning views of the city below. As they went higher, Luxon could see as far as the distant Eclin Mountains to the far northeast. Memories of the terrible battle in the now destroyed city of Eclin flashed into his mind. The bodies scorched by dragon fire and those rendered asunder by the claws of the un-dead. He shook his head to get the memories out of his mind. Since that day whenever he found himself alone, a dark mood would threaten to overwhelm him. It was at those times that memories of his time trapped in the void would try and surface in his mind.
“Everything alright?” said the woman. A look of genuine concern and perhaps a little fear was on her face.
Luxon looked down and noticed that he was gripping the marble handrail that ran along the corridors side. His knuckles were white. Slowly he opened his hand and stared at it for a moment.
He looked at the woman. For a brief moment, she looked like his mother before her features reverted to those of his now ashen faced guide.
“I’m fine. I’m sorry…please lead the way,” he said giving her a poor attempt at a smile. Hesitantly she turned away and continued up the corridor.
‘Do they really fear us that much?’ Luxon thought.
He had heard the stories filtering in from across the kingdom of magic users being attacked. Now that he had witnessed the looks of fear and mistrust for himself, he knew that the stories were likely to be true.
Finally, they reached the towers highest level. A large foyer was decorated with statues and exquisite pieces of art. The windows on this floor were taller than a man and instead of the glass being clear it was stain glassed. Images of Delfinnia’s kings and heroes adorned the panes.
The noblewoman stopped in front of a pair of large oak doors. Two members of the King’s legion stood guard on either side their silver armour contrasting with the purple of their tunics. At their hips hung short stabbing swords and in their hands they held a long spear and large oval shields adorned with a silver background and the image of a golden sword, the badge of King Alderlade.
They too gave Luxon an unpleasant look as they opened the doors. The woman bowed politely before hurrying off back down the spiralled corridor.
Luxon braced himself, held his head and walked into the council chamber. A large circular table made of serpentine was in the centre of the oval room. Twelve high backed chairs were placed around its circumference. To Luxon’s surprise, only two of the chairs were occupied.
‘Why the long wait if there is no one here to see me?’ he thought in annoyance.
His nerves eased slightly as he recognised one of the men who was in the middle of a heated debate with the tables other occupier. Of the child King, there was no sign. The men stopped their hushed argument as they noticed him standing in the doorway.
The elder of the two stood and walked over to Luxon. He still moved with a limp. A broad smile was on Davik’s face, but his eyes gave away his tiredness. The man had fought at Eclin and had held the title of King’s Regent for the last five years. His rule had been anything but easy, as dealing with the aftermath of Danon’s return had tipped the realm into chaos.
“It is so good to see you my lad. I apologise for making you wait for so long. I trust you and Yepert are well?”
Luxon smiled back; there was no fear or distrust in Davik’s eyes. The other man in the room however regarded him with barely concealed loathing. The man stood and cleared his throat.
“Introduce us Davik. Long have I wanted to meet the wielder responsible for the kingdoms woes.”
Davik frowned. ‘Sorry’ he mouthed to Luxon. Reluctantly he gestured to the man.
“Luxon Edioz. This is Ricard, the baron of Champia.”
Ricard was a tall man. He wore a tunic of black felt lined with gold. His grey eyes shone with intelligence and his neatly trimmed short black hair and beard made him look dashing. The baron of Champia was the King’s uncle and was well renowned for his prowess on the battlefield; his hatred for magic users was also famous.
“I have told you time and again Ricard that Luxon was not responsible for the destruction of Eclin and all that has followed. If anything, he could help us,” Davik added angrily.
“Davik, your fondness for wielders is well known, but even you, cannot deny that since that day this realm has been in chaos,’ Ricard replied shortly. The baron pointed at Luxon; “this boy may be a wizard, but the realm would be a far better place without his kind constantly endangering us all, Danon is free because of him.”
Davik shook his head in exasperation. Luxon felt an anger rise in his chest. He knotted his hands into fists; it took all of his willpower to stay in control.
“Sadly I have pressing business elsewhere, so I will leave you two in peace. I’m sure we will meet again…wizard,” Ricard said. With a mocking bow, he turned on his heel and left the chamber.
“I am sorry Luxon,’ Davik said gesturing to one of the vacant seats. Luxon sighed and sat down.
“I had no idea how bad things were getting outside of Caldaria, I’ve lost count of the number of people who have looked at me and Yepert with fear in their eyes,” Luxon replied sadly.
Davik sat heavily in one of the other chairs. He reached into his tunic and pulled out an envelope, which he then slid across the table’s shiny surface.
“It’s worse than you know. This arrived this morning penned by the hand of our mutual friend Ferran of BlackMoor. I fear that magic users will not be safe. Attacks have increased and now even Nightblades are feeling the wrath of the mob. Luckily, Ferran escaped, but the village of Resden was lost to Fell beasts.”
Luxon’s stomach knotted as he read the letter.
Davik rubbed his eyes with his fingertips. His time as regent had been a disaster. It had been a role he had never wanted and one that he was never trained to do. He was a warrior; he preferred a straight fight to all the intrigues of politics. Ricard however, was better at the game of Kingship; Davik could feel his grip on the council slipping through his fingers. Even the eight-year-old king was falling away from his influence and under the sway of his uncle.
“I may be losing control, but at least I can offer you some positive news, and tell you why I summoned you to the capital,” He said with a weary smile.
Luxon put down the letter. Excitement filled him.
“Do you have news?” he asked, some enthusiasm returning to his voice. He had lost hope of finding his mother.
Naively he had hoped to find her after the crowning of the King but quickly he had discovered that she had hidden her trail well. Luxon’s mother had been a source of mystery throughout his life. She had answers to questions he had to know.
“A strange woman was spotted at the gates of the fortress of the Watchers. The woman apparently wanted to pass through the gates and enter the Great Plains. The King’s legion commander on duty tried to stop her, she…resisted,” Davik explained.
“Magic?” Luxon asked.
Davik nodded in the affirmative.
“Six legionnaires were left unconscious but unharmed, and the fortresses gates had been forced open. The commander sent riders out to find her, but after a few hours of searching they were forced to turn back after coming under attack by one the plains tribes.”
Luxon sat back in his chair and stroked his chin.
“What makes you think it was my mother? Perhaps it was a witch fleeing persecution or perhaps a rogue mage?” he asked. His mind raced. Why would his mother have travelled so far to the southwest? Why now?
“The commander said she had an emblem on a brooch about her next. He drew a sketch…”
Davik pulled another piece of paper from his tunic’s pocket and passed it to the wizard. On it was a rough sketch of a golden serpent upon a blue background.
“The sigil of the Diasect,” Luxon’s blue eyes widened as he recognised the image.
He quickly stood from his chair, the paper gripped tightly in his hand. Years of dead ends, now he had a solid lead. Finally, he had a place to start. He would travel to the Watchers, he would traverse the vast Great Plains and he would find his mother and get the answers he sought.
Davik stood too and held his hand up.
“Before you go Luxon I must ask something of you. Do you remember the sigil stone we retrieved in Eclin?”
Luxon paused. The last time he had seen the stone was on the day of the king’s coronation. When he had touched it, visions of war, and a sword shining brightly in the darkness had burned into his mind.
“I do,” he answered warily. The visions still appeared in his dreams.
“King Alderlade wants answers. I want answers. According to Esma, his guardian, his highness dreams every night of the stone. In fact, he dreams of it so often that he rarely sleeps through the night. She grows concerned about his health,” Davik said pacing the room nervously. “I have caught him staring at it for hours in the royal vaults. Whatever it is, its grip over the boy seems to be growing stronger.”
“Perhaps my mother will have some answers. From what I’ve learnt in my research of the sigil stone the Diasect was charged with hiding it away,” Luxon said thoughtfully. The answers they both sought were with his mother. Now all he had to do was find her, and that would not be easy.