Authors: B.T. Narro
A CRUMBLE OF WALLS
BOOK 4 OF THE KIN OF KINGS SERIES
Copyright 2016 by B.T. Narro
Cover Art by Beatriz Garrido: www.beatrizggarrido.wix.com/illustrator
Maps by Annette Tremblay
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is coincidental.
All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the copyright holder.
Sanya read the mysterious note left on her pillow enough times to memorize it. “
I know who you are, S. Come to the dungeons at midnight. Follow the torches once you’re there. If you don’t show up, I will notify Tauwin.
it said. Whoever wrote it did seem to know her. “
Midnight. The empty dungeons.”
He or she, probably he, wanted to lure her to a place they wouldn’t be seen by others in the castle. He would either threaten her further or attempt to harm her. She was confident she could handle either, but waiting for midnight proved to be difficult as she paced around her apartment in the castle. She’d never been patient.
For hours, her mind had raced with panicked thoughts that she might be forced to kill this person or leave the castle for good. Now it was finally time to find out. She hurried down the quiet halls as best she could with her loose black robes getting in the way of her feet.
Escaping the secret room with the hidden weapon of death had shredded her last concealing outfit, but Ulric had given her new robes of black silk that didn’t grate against her skin like the cheap linen she had before. It wasn’t much of a gift from a man so rich, but she’d never received something so expensive and would cherish it as if he’d sewn it himself.
Her silver mask had not been damaged. It would continue to hide her face as it had before, but she feared that whoever left the note had recognized her from the way she moved about the castle. She could think of only one person who knew her that well and was observant enough to figure her out. Tauwin’s mother, Kithala. But Kithala was one of the few people Sanya couldn’t bring herself to kill.
She wished, instead, that it was a psychic who awaited her, someone who’d spent enough time around her when she was engaged to Tauwin to recognize her energy again now that she’d returned to the castle. Someone like that might want money or something else of value. She could handle such a request by taking care of him quietly.
Her opportunity to steal control of Kyrro from Tauwin was as dead as her mother, Lori. Sanya would stay at Ulric’s side, eventually proving that she deserved to be one of his most trusted advisors. Soon the war would be over, and Ulric would take control from Tauwin.
She didn’t know Ulric’s full plan. She hoped she could formulate one with him that would allow her to have the honor of executing Tauwin. He needed to pay for the damage he’d done to her and all of Kyrro.
And I do as well.
Damn her guilt.
She wondered how long it would take, once the war was over, for Kyrro to return to its former glory. She supposed it depended on how the war ended. If Tauwin remained king, the people would continue to be hungry and unruly. She couldn’t imagine them any less volatile than ocean waves in a stormy sea, with the castle a sturdy ship struggling to stay afloat. Would it sink or would the waves calm? It would be one terrible storm.
Could Ulric be behind this note? He was a cunning man, but devious plots involving threatening notes didn’t seem his style, especially when Sanya was the target. She’d felt his energy after she’d escaped from the room containing the weapon. He genuinely cared for her.
She didn’t have to ask Ulric if he’d removed it yet. She still felt it there in the bowels of the castle, creating a sour taste deep in her throat and a throb in her chest. She felt weakened by that dark energy. It was too close, even when she was in her quarters high above.
In the short time since the weapon had nearly killed her, she’d suffered frequent bouts of terror. Her whole body would tremble, then a fire would ignite in her stomach. After rushing to the nearest lavatory to relieve herself, she would calm her speeding heart in private, where she was able to remove her stifling mask.
Sanya continued to follow the torches, reaching out with psyche to sense for life. Shadows lurked in every corner. The squeaks of rats echoed around her. She was not afraid. She was
Eventually she came to a circle on the ground made by chalk. “Stand here and wait” was written within.
She took her place and strained her mind to feel for energy in the same way she might strain her ears to listen for footsteps.
She detected someone’s energy behind the wall to her left. She tried to read the energy, connect to it, but through the wall the task was like trying to make out words in the dark.
A muffled voice called out. “Sanya, who else knows how you conceal yourself in this castle?”
She didn’t answer as she tried to recognize the voice. It seemed to belong to a man, though it could’ve been a woman distorting her voice to sound like one.
Whoever it was had to be a psychic. That was the only way he could tell she was standing on the other side of the wall in this narrow hallway. She put her hands against the stone to search for a hidden doorway like the one that had opened to the chamber containing the weapon.
“Answer me, or Tauwin finds out who you are,” the voice threatened.
“Who are you?” she asked to buy herself more time to search.
“Answer the question!”
Definitely a man.
She searched almost all the wall near her and found nothing. “If you answer a question of mine,” she said, “I will answer you. Why did you summon me down here?”
She didn’t hear him as she ran down the hall, took a left, ran down another hall, then took another left. She felt the wall for anywhere that had give and finally found it. Level with her knees, one part of the stone sank into the wall as she pushed. She turned the heavy wall enough to fit through, though the sheer blackness ahead made her stop. She went back to fetch a torch.
“You will stop and get back in the circle!” yelled the voice, “or I will kill you.”
No you won’t.
In his panic, the man wasn’t able to keep his voice low enough to disguise it anymore. She recognized the sound of Yeso’s tenor even before she brought the torch within the room. Of course it was him. She should’ve known. The Elf was loyal to Ulric to a fault, guarding him like an aggressive dog unable to tell friend from foe. He probably saw Sanya as a threat to his position or to his
“I know it’s you, Yeso,” she called from the gap in the wall. “Come out here.”
She felt his energy for signs of aggression. There was a bit of anger, but mostly he was embarrassed.
He slinked out and faced her. She took off her mask to show she was unafraid.
“Why the note?” she demanded.
“Ulric needed to test your loyalty.”
She could feel it was a lie, but she didn’t call him on it. “How is this supposed to test my loyalty?”
“We needed to see what you would do to keep yourself from being caught, and whether you would come to us for help.”
He keeps saying “we” and “us,” but all of this was his decision
. So Ulric knew nothing of this clandestine meeting.
“You still don’t trust me.”
“I don’t, but I know why Ulric does. He can’t sense what I can.” Yeso patted his closed fist against his chest. “I can feel you’re hiding something. At first I thought it was your ability to manipulate bastial energy, but even after that came out, I still felt you wanting something. What is it?”
“I want only to be allowed to live in the castle and serve Ulric by giving counsel.” She changed her energy to hide her lie. “And of course I want Tauwin dead. Then I can live freely.”
So long as you and everyone who wants vengeance on me is dead.
She couldn’t think about that predicament right now.
“You’ll be left alone when you’ve proven your loyalty and worth.”
“You’re such an irritation. How am I to prove those things?”
“You were to be ordered to leave the castle without telling Ulric. Just disappear. I was to threaten you once more with telling Tauwin of your identity if you disobeyed. Ulric and I needed to see how much trouble you might cause if your goal was threatened. Now—”
“Stop lying.” She couldn’t contain her irritation any longer. “This was solely your idea. You want me gone and thought this way would be a cleaner method than killing me. Afterward, you planned to tell Ulric I ran off because someone figured out who I was.”
Yeso’s face normally was put together nicely until times like these, when anger flared his nostrils and tightened his mouth. “Ulric needs something from you. I was going to tell you what it is once you’d proven your loyalty.”
“Just take me to him.”