Read Magician Prince Online

Authors: Curtis Cornett

Tags: #curtis cornett, #epic, #magic, #fallen magician, #dragon, #fantasy, #rogue, #magician, #prince

Magician Prince (10 page)

BOOK: Magician Prince
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“I have not been blind to the toll this
conflict has taken on you either, son. Your mood is often dark and
your methods have grown brutal. You always carried a dislike for
those who could use magic, but as this conflict has escalated so
has your hatred. This war threatens to destroy Aurelia and you
believe that only through the obliteration of our enemies can we
stop that, but that is not true. There is another option and it is
one that I have great hope for its success.”

“There are no other options!” Janus shouted
angrily.

The king’s personal guards who stood on
either side of his bed stiffened. They were too disciplined to go
for their swords, but stood ready to act if things should get out
of hand.

Warlord Saberhawk put a restrictive hand on
Janus in an awkward attempt to calm him, but the warlord’s efforts
were brushed off.

“Take your hands off of me, you fat bastard!”
Janus shouted and struck the man with his full fury. He thought of
his father as he delivered the blow to the warlord and was
simultaneously horrified and gratified by the thought of hurting
his father.

One guard positioned himself between the
warlord and prince to prevent further violence while the second
guard grabbed Janus from behind and restrained him. Janus tried to
strike at the guard, but his blows and kicks were weak since the
king’s guard held the prince in such a way as to prevent him from
getting any leverage.

“Enough of this!” King Kale bellowed and the
room itself nearly quaked in fear of the command in his voice.
“Janus, you are acting like a spoiled child throwing a tantrum! I
expect better of the man who will one day rule Aurelia in my
place.”

“What will you do, father? Give the pretender
my crown?” Janus shouted. “It’s ok to give the kingdom over to them
as long as an Aurel sits on the throne, is that?”

“Janus, I am your father and your king! You
will show me the respect I deserve in both of those roles or you
will soon find yourself without a crown or anything else. Is that
clear?”

The prince went limp in the guard’s arms at
his father’s threat. “Let me go,” he told them forcefully keeping
his tone even. The king’s man looked to his lord and Kale nodded.
Janus landed on his feet nimbly and straightened his shirt that had
gotten twisted in the struggle. “Forgive my… passion, father. I
just cannot believe that you would be willing to deal with these
devils. Why would you give them the kingdom without a fight?”

Kale slowly rose from his bed with the
determination of a man who was long accustomed to carrying the fate
of a nation on his shoulders and stood before his son. Though he
felt fevered and his strength waned, King Kale stayed on his feet
and stood tall. “Aurelia is as much my child as you or Byrn and I
will not give her up either. We will offer the magicians amnesty in
return for their loyalty and make the kingdom even stronger. When
you rule you may do as you please, Janus, but for now you will
support me in this as a prince must support his king. Perhaps in
time you will see the wisdom of my decision.”

Janus bowed low to his king and father. “As
you wish, father,” the prince said solemnly, but privately his
blood boiled. He was so close to ending the magician threat and now
his own father was ripping victory from his grasp just to gain
favor with his unacknowledged, magician son and there was nothing
the prince could do about it.

 

***

 

A secret door silently slid open in the
bedchamber of the king and queen. Few knew of the honeycomb of
secret passages that littered the castle and even fewer knew how to
find the sleeping place of Aurelia’s king among them. Leading up to
Kennath’s escape, the magician had been using this passage to sneak
into his Highness’ room and use his magic to keep the king
perpetually sick, but now that subterfuge would no longer be
possible.

Guards were posted outside of the room at all
times causing the man who entered to be doubly careful not to make
a sound. Everything hinged on the next few minutes. If he was
discovered, his life would be forfeit and the kingdom would begin
its first steps on what would undoubtedly be centuries of darkness,
but if he were successful, then Aurelia would be saved from that
fate and the people would know who they had to thank for it.

The would-be assassin did not like to dirty
his hands with such acts preferring to send underlings to take the
risks on his behalf, but this was too important and there was no
one else he could trust to kill the king. His hand trembled as he
slipped a vial of black liquid, given to him by the dwarf, Gilkame,
out of a small, brown pouch. The dwarf never asked the reason why,
he was happy to help his patron with any task set before him. That
willingness to serve combined with his inventive genius is what
prompted the prince to take the dwarf into his home and make him a
member of the royal court despite the fact that he held no noble
lineage to speak of.

Janus stood over his father and watched as
the bed sheets lifted with every rise and fall of his breath. It
was his father’s fault. Why would he choose to back Byrn Lightfoot
instead of his true son? Was he always so misguided or had he grown
soft in his later years?
I am your son, not him. Why would you
choose him over me?

His mother lay next to Kale and slept as
deeply as the dead. He did not need to do this, warned a quiet
voice of compassion… or perhaps it was cowardice. No one saw him
come in and no one would see him leave if he turned around and
walked back through the secret passage. Just turn back-

No, there was no other way around this and to
think otherwise was a weakness in and of itself. His father was too
weak to do what needed to be done and Janus would not be like that.
The rebels would not be defeated through half measures and
superficial alliances that would make it seem all right to give the
kingdom over to a group of mad men with magical powers. Janus could
not sit back and let his birthright be destroyed before him.

He could not afford to think on it any
longer. If he waited even one more moment, then he might lose his
resolve. Janus poured the liquid down his father’s throat and
watched the smooth, black concoction slip out of the vial down to
the last drop.

King Kale coughed in his sleep as the poison
choked his lungs. Janus returned to the tunnel and did not dare to
look back. The door slid shut behind him. The king’s coughing
continued for a minute more and Janus stood there listening with
his forehead pressed against the false wall. He fought back the
tears that threatened to overwhelm him. How foolish he was to think
of crying for his father when he was the one that put the poison to
his lips.

The cold, calculating voice that often drove
the prince told him that he should leave. He should be in his room
in case anyone was to show up there and they surely would within a
matter of minutes of discovering the king’s death to tell him the
tragic news. However, he could not go. On the other side of the
wall he could hear his father gently dying in his sleep while his
mother lay beside him blissfully unaware that anything was wrong.
This was Janus’ dark act and he would be a witness to his own
actions. King Kale gave the prince life, and now Janus was taking
his father’s life in return. The least he could do was be there for
the old man in some small capacity even if he was the only one that
knew it. He wanted this memory burned into his brain, so that he
would always carry this moment with him no matter how much it hurt
or how much he would always hate himself. This would be a reminder
when dealing with the magicians of the lengths that he must be
willing to go to ensure the future of his kingdom and his
crown.

The coughing slowed after a minute and
eventually stopped completely. Queen Wendi was never roused and
continued to sleep peacefully beside the body of her husband. Janus
had expected that she would wake near the end when her husband’s
death throes were at their worst. She would discover her husband
dead and call for the guards. Janus would have to race back to his
own chambers to beat the guards there and feign being awakened
abruptly, but the king’s death was thankfully a peaceful one and
that never happened.

Instead Janus had the time to return to his
room at his leisure and think on what he had done. He murdered his
father. The thought seemed abstract as he repeated it time and
again in his mind. Hours passed and Janus tossed and turned in his
bed trying to find a comfortable position that would allow him some
semblance of sleep, but the blessed release never came. Guilt kept
his brain active and would allow him no measure of serenity that
night. “Please forgive me, father,” Janus whispered into the
emptiness of his posh apartment. Gods, please let his decision be
the right one, because the cost was too high to consider that his
choice might have been wrong.

Chapter 9

 

 

 

Alia held her daughter and rocked the sweet
six-month-old gently soothing her back to sleep. Since the baby was
born the enchantress’ life had been filled with sleepless nights,
colicky bouts of crying, and dirty, smelly diapers that were in
constant need of washing. At times Alia was driven to frustration
by the tiny person she and Byrn had created, but as she sat and
silently watched her little girl sleeping in her arms she was
overcome with a sense of contentment that had eluded her for most
of her life and wondered if this was how her own mother felt when
holding her so long ago.

Perhaps that was why she chose to name the
child Avelice after her mother. When Alia was fourteen she ran away
from home after they had a falling out. Alia was a headstrong girl,
who eventually grew into an equally stubborn woman, and got it into
her head that they could rescue her father from the magician
prison, Baj, but her mother would not even consider the idea. She
said she would not allow her daughter to risk her life on such a
foolish notion and forbade the girl from even speaking of it any
further. Alia failed to understand her mother’s reasoning then, but
now she was beginning to.

Alia put baby Avelice in her crib and tucked
her in snugly before taking a short nap of her own. When she awoke
Alia found that her daughter was still sleeping quietly and began
to pick up around the small house she now lived in within the town
of Wolfsbane. It was not an easy decision to make, but in the final
months of her pregnancy Alia ceded her waning role as Collective
leader to her father and decided to live with the newcomers from
Ilipse within the town proper to spend more time with her daughter.
Over the last year, she relinquished more and more power to Xander
until it was only a formality. She still sat on the council of
masters, but with so many new masters from Baj joining their ranks
Alia could not help but feel like her voice was no longer heard as
it once was. It was a sad thing to give up so much control over an
organization that she built and put her heart and soul into, but
she would be the first one to admit that she no longer held the
burning desire to avenge the tragedies of her life. Her father was
free from prison. She had a child to care for. That was all the
family she needed or could hope for, and she was content with that.
Still it was difficult for her to accept a diminished role among
the Collective even if it was mostly self-imposed.

It was no small task for her to take control
of the castle and make it a home for the Collective before such a
group ever existed. It required some sneaky enchanting and old
fashioned guile to wrest this hold from its previous owner without
the kind of bloodshed that would have brought the kingdom down upon
her before her dream of a unified group of magicians ever began. It
was even more difficult to keep the fact that the castle was filled
with magic users a secret from the citizenry as their numbers grew,
and once the magicians’ numbers swelled following the rescues at
Ilipse and Baj it became impossible. Rumors flowed like water
throughout the town and it was Alia who eventually decided to make
the announcement that she and those who resided in the castle were
all magicians. She stood on top of a stage in the town’s square and
talked to the people as the woman who had protected them from the
threats of bandit raids that the former lord did nothing to stop
and made them prosperous for the last four years by using her magic
to enchant favorable deals with many traders and merchants in
neighboring cities. She assured them that no harm would come to
them from the Collective and that she and her fellow magicians only
wanted a place to live in peace.

Half of the townsfolk left that first day,
but she knew such a thing was a possibility and the Collective was
ready. Their enchanters made quick work of altering the memories of
those leaving so that they no longer recalled Alia’s announcement
or had any inkling that there might be magicians in their midst.
Then more decided to leave not long after even as more magicians
trickled into Wolfsbane of their own accord and once the magicians
outnumbered the non-magic users the rest of the original townsfolk
left the town altogether. It was a blow to Alia’s ego as a ruler.
She had done everything right. She used her magic to help them and
protect them, but it was all for nothing. It was the rightful place
for magicians to rule over the “lessers,” but that did not mean
that they had to be cruel. It was a natural fact of the world that
those with power rose above those without. Whether that power was a
keen intellect, a warrior’s battle prowess, or magic it should have
made no difference as long as the people felt protected.

If they had stayed it would have meant
something. It would have meant that an eventual peace could be
reached and maybe her own daughter could grow up in a world where
she would not be hated for simply being born. She did not want
Avelice to have to fight as she had. Gods willing Avelice would
never need to know what it felt like to kill a man, nor ever grow
so detached that she took pleasure in the act as Alia once did.

BOOK: Magician Prince
9.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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