Forever Knight (The Champion Chronicles Book 3) (29 page)

BOOK: Forever Knight (The Champion Chronicles Book 3)
2.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“That’s it?” Glaerion asked.  “We just wait here until someone opens the door?”

Conner shrugged.  “It’s the way it works.”

Glaerion looked around, fidgeting.

“What’s wrong?”

“I hate enclosed spaces, especially tunnels dug into the ground.”  He reached over and pulled the rope two more times.

“It shouldn’t be too long,” Conner said.  He closed his eyes not realizing how tired he was.




Lord Martin followed Queen Elissa into her chamber, his face red from exertion.  The queen had walked from the Great Hall with long strides, making it difficult for the plump lord and his short legs to keep up.  Four guardsmen, each former knights, had taken it upon themselves to be her personal escort.  They had changed out short swords for their own longswords and posted themselves at her door.  Toknon slipped in behind Lord Martin and gently closed the door.

“We cannot just leave our guests!” Lord Martin cried out.  “What are we to do with them?”

“I don’t care,” Elissa said.  “There is a Taran army marching on my city!”

“They are still your subjects, my queen.  We must offer them leadership and direction.  We cannot abandon them.  Many are already starting to panic and that panic will quickly spread through the city.”

There was a sharp knock on the door.  Toknon opened the door and let Arpwin in. 

Arpwin gave the king of Thell a quick look, wondering why he was in the queen’s chambers.  To Elissa, he asked, “Is it true what they are saying?  Is there a Taran army out in the forests ready to attack?”

Lord Martin turned to him and snapped, “We do not know that!  It is just rumor.”

“You have been discussing a treaty with the Taran diplomats,” Toknon said calmly.  “Do we know where they are?”

“Marik has detained them,” Lord Martin said.  “And if there is no army out there, they will be livid and everything that we have accomplished in the past few days will be for naught.  We have established the framework for an economic treaty that will keep our coffers full for years to come.”

“And if the army is truly out there, you have prisoners of war you can use to bargain with,” Toknon said.

“They are a diplomatic delegation!” Lord Martin said.  “They are here only for peace.  They will be treated accordingly.”

“I would recommend that if there is war, that they be treated accordingly,” Toknon said.

“No one is asking you,” Lord Martin snapped back.  “What are you doing here, anyway?”

“I have pledged my sword to the queen.  I will not leave her side.”

Elissa smiled.  “My dear Toknon, that is indeed sweet of you, but I do have four guards outside this door.  They are all former knights.”

“Nonetheless, my sword is yours.”

“It seems there is much to do,” Aprwin said.  “Your Majesty, I will handle the guests.  Some will wish to leave the city, but until we know for sure whether or not the roads back to their homes are safe, it would be wise for them to simply stay here in the castle.  I will prepare rooms for them.  There are also many homes outside the castle that will be suitable as well.  With your leave, I will attend to these matters.”

Elissa took two long steps to the elderly man and hugged him tightly.  “Thank you, Arpwin.  You always know how to do the right thing.”

“It is simply my duty,” Arpwin said, slightly embarrassed at the public display of affection.

“You missed the dance,” Elissa said with a smile as he pulled away.

“I did not expect you to miss me.”

“This was as much your party as mine.  You spent so much time preparing it, but you were not there to enjoy it.”

“Knowing that you enjoyed it is all that matters.  I simply had other duties to attend to.”  Aprwin stepped back and dipped his head.  “Now, I will attend to your guests.”

Toknon opened the door for Arpwin to leave and gave him a slight nod of respect.  He wished that he had a man like Arpwin to keep his own castle running smoothly.

“Now,” the queen said with a sigh.  “I will need Kimmie to help me out of this dress and into something a bit more comfortable.  Lord Martin, please find her and send her to me.”

Lord Martin stammered, trying to find a reply to such a menial task.  Toknon opened the door again, to further emphasize that the lord was dismissed.  Red-faced, Lord Martin left the room.

“It is not appropriate for a queen to be left alone with a stranger,” Elissa said with a smile.

Toknon smiled back.  “There are four heavily armed men on the other side of this door.  And from experience, I can tell you that little sound is stopped by these doors.  I am sure they are well trained, ready and willing to defend your honor.”

“Thank you for staying,” Elissa said.  After a slight pause, she added. “By my side.”

They stood for a long minute looking at one another, each wondering if the other was thinking the same thing.  Elissa was beginning to really like Toknon, as he continued to show his softer and more compassionate side.  She had told him that she would never forget that he had been instrumental in her father’s death, but she was beginning to believe that in time, she might forget.

A light knocking on the door interrupted their moment.  Toknon opened the door to let Kimmie in.  She looked from Toknon to the queen, sensing they had shared a personal moment.  A slight smile came to her lips.

“Your Majesty,” she said with a slight curtsey.  “You have called me?”

“I need help getting out of this dress,” Elissa said.  To Toknon, she said with a smile, “For this, I think that Kimmie and I can be alone.”

Toknon gave a formal bow and said, “I shall retreat to the outer antechamber, milady.  Call if you need assistance.”

As soon as the door closed, Kimmie let out a giggle.

“Enough!” Elissa said, but she couldn’t hold back her own smile.




Roland looked up the stairwell, and then down the hallway.  It was empty and silent.  “Are you sure this is the back way to her chamber?” he asked.

Peter replied, “Yes, of course.  I have been here several times, but there always had been a guard or two posted down here.”

“Well, it has certainly made our job easier,” Roland said.

Roland led the way up the stairwell, a bloodied sword in his hand.  Peter held the other dead guard’s sword and followed just behind.  Berrien, his eyes cautiously looking up and down the hallway before he started up the stairwell, trailed just behind the other two.  He held a dagger in his hand, but it felt awkward and uncomfortable.  He would only use it if necessary, but he hoped beyond hope that he would not have to use it.

Roland moved slowly, carefully putting his foot down on the stairs to keep from making any sound.  He paused to listen at the top of the stairs, where there was a small landing.  They could hear two female voices, but they could not discern what they were saying.  He handed his sword to Peter so that he could test the door and the lock.

He hoped that there was not a crossbar that held the door shut.  If that was the case, then they would really have no way of getting into the room.  It was a thick door and would likely take a small battering ram to break it down.  Since there was a lock on the door that needed to be opened by a key, he made the assumption that there was no crossbar and only the lock held the door shut.  He bent down to study, but picking locks was not in his skillset.  He glanced up at Peter, who shrugged his shoulders.

Berrien stepped forward and knelt next to Roland, elbowing him out of the way.  “Amateurs,” he muttered softly.  Roland stood up and stepped back.  Berrien looked closely at the lock, trying to determine what style it was so that he could pick it quietly.  It only took him a moment before he stood up and said in a whisper, “Okay, it’s unlocked.”

“But you didn’t do anything!” Roland replied.

Berrien shrugged his shoulders.  “It’s unlocked already.”

Roland gently pushed Berrien aside so that he would be the first one in the room.  He took his sword back from Peter and then whispered, “I’ve got the queen.  It sounds like there is someone else in the room.  Berrien, you take her.  Peter, you secure the main door.  Even if there is no guard here, I cannot imagine that she wouldn’t have guards outside the main door.”

“What do you mean take her?” Berrien asked.  “Where are we taking here?”

Roland grabbed his arm by the wrist and forced his hand to come up, which brought his dagger into view.  “Use it to kill her.”


Roland just shook his head and turned away.  They needed to be fast, but Berrien was the wildcard.  He was most likely going to panic and freeze, but if his only responsibility was the other woman in the chamber, it might not matter.  He would dispatch the queen quickly and then return back out this door.  Without any guards in the lower levels, they might just be able to get out alive.  They had been lucky so far that they had not been found out.  He just hoped their luck lasted a few more minutes.


Peter nodded, but Berrien only looked at the door, waiting for it to open.




Elissa let out a sigh of relief now that the dress was off.  Although she loved to wear flowing gowns, the girdle worn underneath was always just a bit too tight and became increasingly uncomfortable over the course of a long night.  In its place, she now wore a loose fitting wool dress that kept her warm, but more importantly, was very comfortable.

“He has become smitten with you,” Kimmie said.

Elissa was sitting on a small bench while Kimmie brushed her hair.  Her feelings for Toknon were seemingly growing by the moment.  With each interaction, her hatred of both him and his kingdom became less and less.  She could not say that she loved him, as her feelings were not quite to that level.  Yet.  But she could see herself falling for him in time.

“He is still a bit rough around the edges,” Elissa said.

“Aren’t they all?” Kimmie replied with a giggle.

Even Conner had his rough side.  But his rough side wasn’t the gritty side of a soldier.  It was simply the rough side of a commoner.

She let out a long sigh of frustration.  No matter how hard she tried, thoughts of Conner kept coming back to her.  Maybe if he were still alive, she could let her thoughts and feelings go back to him.  But he was dead, and there was no sense in dwelling on the past.  For the first time in many days, she kept herself from crying while thinking about him.

She sensed the movement before she saw it.  Turning her head to the back door, she wondered why the guard who was posted down at the bottom of the stairs was coming into her room.  But as the three men came rushing in, she realized that something was horribly wrong.

She sprang to her feet while Kimmie screamed, frozen in fear.

Elissa had no weapons, so she looked up at the wall where Conner’s two swords were hung.  They were the only memento from their time together that she had kept.  If she moved fast enough, she might be able to get to them in time and maybe defend herself.  But as she took a step towards the wall, she realized the wall was empty.  The swords were gone.  Then she felt fear.

As soon as Kimmie started screaming, the far door burst open, King Toknon filling the doorway, sword drawn.  One of the men had ran straight towards the open door, his sword drawn and swinging towards Toknon.  Toknon easily parried the wild swing and engaged the man with his own offensive attack.

With Peter attacking the man at the door, Roland came at Elissa, bloodied longsword in hand, ready to attack.  Kimmie continued to scream.  The clash of sword on sword came from the doorway where Peter was trying to quickly dispatch Toknon.

While he approached Elissa, he pointed at Kimmie and said to Berrien, “Kill the wench!”

Berrien walked towards the young woman cautiously, his dagger held out in front of him.  Kimmie’s eyes, already wide with fear, went even wider as she realized what was happening.  She continued to scream, unable to move or react.

Berrien had never killed before, and his stomach did flip-flops as he came at the unarmed girl.  There was something wrong about this.  Killing this girl, killing the queen, it just felt wrong.  He knew why it needed to be done, but that didn’t make himself feel any better about it.  He held the dagger in his right and lifted his left up to place it over the screaming girl’s mouth.

Kimmie didn’t resist.  She let Berrien put his hands over her mouth, which silenced her.  Every muscle in her body was frozen, unable to move or react to what was happening.  Her wide eyes watched as the long dagger was plunged deep into her abdomen.  She thought it would hurt, but it did not.  There was no pain, only a strange sense as the dagger went in, came out, and went in again.  Her muscles then failed her and she fell to her knees.  Tears came out of her eyes as she closed them for the last time.

Berrien could not stop.  The thought of killing her had disgusted him at first, but with each stab, he became more and more intrigued at what was happening.  The power over life and death was thrilling.  It was a euphoria that he had never experienced.  All of the mind altering substances he had taken did not equal the incredible feeling that overcame him.

BOOK: Forever Knight (The Champion Chronicles Book 3)
2.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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