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Authors: Marly Mathews

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The Forgotten

BOOK: The Forgotten
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The Forgotten

 

The Hunted Saga, Book 2

 

By Marly Mathews

 

 

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Copyright © 2014 by Marly Mathews

Cover art by Erin Dameron-Hill

Edited by Kristen Schubach

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. 

Chapter One

 

The Kingdom of Shardizar

The Crown City of Albia

Alby Palace

The festivities were in full swing. For two months straight, the celebrations had reigned commemorating the return of Prince Grifon and his Order of Mage Knights. Music streamed out of the house sized ballroom and struck an odd chord inside of Sir Lucan Wylde. His heart was heavy. They’d consulted the Royal Seers to find out who amongst the cursed had surviving family and who did not.

He was one of the unlucky ones. He had no descendants. His family line had ended with him. The bad news didn’t surprise him. It had always been he and his mother against the world. She’d lived with the shame of having him out of wedlock and had continued on running the family tavern that she’d inherited after the death of his grandfather.

Life for them had been rocky at times—but they’d always endured.

On the fateful day that he’d left to go and find his way as a Squire with a Knight Mage who had come to the Wylde Wolf Tavern, his mother had told him the troubling truth concerning his father.

She’d told him that his father was their liege lord, The Earl of Wythley, and also the Alpha of the Wolf Shifters that lived in the County of Cambria.

He’d wanted to confront the dirty rotten bastard for seducing his mother and then leaving her to marry another who fit into his social circle. Her name had been Lady Odessa and she’d come from the noble House of Relwyn, making her fit to be Lord Wythley’s Lady Wife. Lord Wythley actually had the gall to tell Lucan’s mother that she wasn’t good enough for a man like him!

His mother had quickly talked Lucan out of his foolhardy plan, explaining that as untrained and callow as he was, he would not be able to go up against his father and emerge victorious. She’d told Lucan he could not react so rashly, and begged him to leave the village and never return until he could control his hot head.

Elaine Wylde always got her way, and he’d obeyed her that day. He’d always planned on returning to her and challenging his father after he’d apprehended Lady Red Riding Hood. But that night had turned out very badly for him indeed, and he’d never set eyes on his mother again.

Before that fateful night, Lucan had found fame and glory as an elite Knight Mage, rising through the ranks thanks to that one Knight Mage who had taken a chance on him.

Sir Algernon Bayard had treated him as his own son, teaching him all he needed to know about how to be a good and true Knight Mage. He had believed in fighting and dying with honour, and Lucan had been sad to hear that Sir Algernon had died by the hand of a Domnonee warrior two years after Lucan had been pitched into his life of hell in the Obsidian Forest.

Had Lucan not been under the curse, he might have been able to make a difference. He might have been able to save the reckless old man who had made him into what he was today.

As for his mother—she had died of old age, passing away in her sleep. He supposed he should take comfort in that knowledge, even though his heart screamed out in protest for being denied the ability to have closure with her—he would never be able to say his goodbye.

“So, how does it feel to be the newly invested Duke of Cambria?”

Grifon’s commanding voice rumbled through the empty hallway—dubbed the Hall of Knight Mage Honour.

Portraits of Knight Mages long dead flanked these walls along with the newly commissioned portraits of Lucan, Grifon and the other Knight Mages who had survived the curse.

He sat opposite the portrait of his mentor.

Algernon wore a cocky smile, with a mischievous glint dancing in his dark blue eyes. Lucan stood a step behind him, with a mop of unruly black curls on his head, a gangly sight to be sure.

Algernon had always joked that he believed Lucan to be outfitted with a hollow leg as he could eat him under the table and constantly seemed to be hungry.

In the portrait, Lucan carried Algernon’s shield. He remembered how his legs had almost buckled beneath the immense weight. The ear to ear grin he wore was a reminder of the stupidly happy fourteen year old boy he’d once been. He’d spent eight good years apprenticing with Algernon before finally being knighted by the King. Algernon had taught him all he needed to know about magic and how to wield a sword so none could think to stand against him.

It had been rare for Knight Mages to include their Squires in such a high place of honour, but Algernon had always treated him like an equal. He’d never kicked, punched or lashed him like other Knight Mages had done to their Squires.

His had been a good life—and Algernon had become the male role model he’d desperately needed in his life.

He’d taught him how to control the beast inside of him—he’d taught him how to be a wolf shifter who could live just as easily inside of his human skin, as he could within his wolf skin.

“I might be a duke, Grifon, but I still feel empty inside,” he sighed heavily.

Sadness permeated his voice. He had felt hollow inside since he’d discovered that he had no one to return to. Only things remained—things that were scant compensation for the people he’d loved and lost.

Grifon sat on the bench beside him, settled the long royal purple robes he wore around him, and heaved out a heavy sigh. They’d come a long way from living trapped in the Obsidian Forest.

Grifon now looked like the regal prince he was. He wore a shining crown on his head, inlaid with purple diamonds, white diamonds and emeralds native to Shardizar. The robes he wore had gold thread sewn through them giving him a highly sophisticated look.

None that attended the balls could possibly mistake him for anything else save for what he was, a Prince and heir to the throne. Even if Grifon hadn’t been born with the silver hair only nobles and royalty in Shardizar were blessed with, they still would have pegged him for a Prince of the Realm.

Lucan wore a modest gold coronet inlaid with garnets—the simplicity of the diadem he wore contrasted sharply with his newfound wealth. None at the ball would guess at first glance that he had recently gained such an impressive fortune.

Grifon looked to where Lucan’s eyes were rooted.

“Ah, Sir Algernon. Now, he was quite the character—that man had a warm belly laugh that infected all around him. Even my father was fond of him, and it’s quite hard to earn his favour, prickly personality that he has.

Nonetheless, Sir Algernon was a man of honour, he had true courage. He was also a man who loved to have a comely wench on each arm and a flagon of the finest wine on the table in front of him, while he told his dirty jokes. He loved life, and named you as his heir, since he’d never found a woman to love and have children with. As such, you might rival me in terms of wealth,” Grifon chuckled.

“I doubt that. Although, I have to admit I never knew Algernon had amassed such an impressive fortune. I’m lucky he arranged to have it held in trust for me, as he always believed I would return. He never lost faith that I wouldn’t come back—he knew I had survived. I bet my mother never envisioned me having such a life of good and plenty. I don’t have to worry about anything now. I have everything and yet, I have nothing.”

“He was truly a good man. I am sure he’s with the Celestial Beings of Light enjoying the Afterlife, just as much as he enjoyed the life here on this mortal plane of existence.”

“I can still hear his jovial laughter that would boom through a room. He always told me I couldn’t just think of life within the Kingdom of Shardizar. He was the first person to tell me the creation story of Carn Brea. He told me there were many other lands on this magnificent world of ours, lands that stretch beyond the kingdoms of Avonry, Shardizar, Domnonee and Tamar. There was a time when I dreamt of exploring those faraway lands. Now all I want to do is go home. I want to put down roots and have a family. I want everything that I never thought about desiring before the curse. But still, it would be nice to not think of Shardizar as being the center of our Universe.”

Grifon harrumphed. “Don’t let my father hear you speak like that—he would say you were being blasphemous. He likes to believe that the world starts and ends with Shardizar. He wants to believe that he is the center of the Universe,” Grifon laughed. “He insists that once, in ancient times, all of the four kingdoms—since that is all that he will ever acknowledge, existed under one divine ruler, one ruler that hailed from Shardizar.”

“I have to return to my roots, Grifon. I have to go back to where it all began. They might have forgotten me, but I haven’t forgotten them. I want to feel the county of my homeland beneath my feet again. I want to breathe in the sweet air, and I want to see where my mother was buried.”

“I knew you wouldn’t be able to stay here at the Palace forever. Ava told me as much just a few moments ago. She also told me that I couldn’t let my father keep a crucial bit of information from you. Even though my father is doing it because he foolishly thinks that if you don’t know the truth, you’ll want to stay here forever. He likes you almost as much as he loves me.” Grifon chuckled.

“What do I need to know, Grifon?” Lucan asked, deadly serious.

Grifon rubbed his hand briskly across his face, sighing heavily. “You won’t like it, my old friend.” His voice had also sobered, telling Lucan what he’d already suspected. The news Grifon held for him was grim indeed.

“As much as we should all like to hear tales filled with sunshine and roses, our lives have hardly been filled with it. We’ve lived in the darkest recesses of our souls, Grifon. Whatever you have to say could not shake my resolve to return.”

“Your village isn’t like you remember. It’s being run by a cutthroat pack of wolf shifters. The entire County of Cambria is under the control of the same bullish Pack. Apparently, the Earl of Wythley’s line died out twenty years ago, and the man that became Alpha is a sadistic son of a bitch—the people there live in a constant state of fear.

He’s taken over Wythley Castle—without the right to do so. My father never gave him any title and yet, he calls himself Lord Ulwyn. My father has agreed that you should also have the title of Earl of Wythley, as I told him that you were the 3rd Earl of Wythley’s illegitimate son, making you the 6
th
Earl of Wythley, since your father’s only legitimate son become the 4
th
Earl of Wythley and the 4
th
Earl’s son became the 5
th
Earl of Wythley. That will be a nice courtesy title to hand down to your firstborn, should he be male or female. My father doesn’t care much now about whether or not a child is born in or out of wedlock, having Eustacia changed his mind on that.”

“Why hasn’t your father done something about this Pack leader? He has the support of the Shifter Alliance, he should be able to end his reign of tyranny.”

“We are rather strapped at the moment for available fighting men, I’m afraid. The Domnonee threat is much larger than I realized. They pose a danger to us that my father doesn’t want his subjects to know about—lest it cause mass panic. Ava and I have had some restless nights trying to digest the gruesome intelligence reports.

The sad reality is the kingdom needs the Hunters and my father mercilessly hunting them down and executing them has hurt us badly. There might be a day when I’ll have to call you back to my side since you are one of the best warriors this realm as ever known, and I’m not sure I can fight the darkness that is coming without you. We need to know what we’re going to have to face, should the Domnonee decide to attack us in an organized campaign. That’s always been their weakness, they’ve always attacked in small bands. Now, it’s different. They are mobilizing in larger factions, and some say there is a new leader that has united the various tribes.

Ava and I have decided that we need to know more than what our Seers can tell us. They say they can’t read the Domnonee as well as they can divine the futures of those in Shardizar, Avonry and Tamar. As such, we’re thinking about sending a spy into the Domnonee ranks to see what information we can glean that way. A battle is brewing, one that will either see Shardizar emerge victorious or shattered beyond repair, and I will not see our Kingdom fall, Lucan.”

“I think we both know this spy will be Caine. Only he has what it takes to fit into the Domnonee ranks.”

“Aye, you are right, my friend. Sir Caine Eloi is the only man I’d trust with the job. Plus, his unique heritage makes him an invaluable asset. Our time spent cursed, tells me that Caine is loyal to me no matter what, so I have no worries about sending him back to the land of his father’s people.”

Lucan sighed heavily. “I do not relish the thought of fighting a war here on our home soil. If there is a way to keep the Domnonee within their borders, I pray you find it. The Reivers we fought in the village of Falconworth were formidable adversaries. They almost felled a few of us that night, Grifon, had we not had the wolf warrior within, I fear they would have taken our heads. They are barbarians. They rape and pillage without compunction. If it’s not already been done I think the border villages and towns need to have their defenses improved. The Border Lords need to be ready for long sieges. It will not be easy should they gain a foothold on Shardizar. Our people are not ready for such carnage and destruction.”

“Indeed, that is what has Ava and I so worried. We are not prepared for such a large scale conflict. The absence of Hunters within our ranks is hurting us more than helping us. They knew how to take the fight to the enemy, and I’m fearing it’s a lost art. Ava and I are attempting to find as many with Hunter blood as we can locate. They will be an immense help when it comes to facing the Domnonee, as they are fearless when the warrior bloodlust takes hold of them. All I have to do is figure out how to overcome the damning prejudice my father still carries for them. They will not come to help us if they think they are risking the wrath of their ill-tempered King. Knowing that you are ready to lend us your fighting skills will ease my worried heart.”

BOOK: The Forgotten
12.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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