Read War of the Princes 03: Monarch Online

Authors: A. R. Ivanovich

Tags: #Fantasy

War of the Princes 03: Monarch

BOOK: War of the Princes 03: Monarch
8.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
War of the Princes 03: Monarch
A. R. Ivanovich
CreateSpace Publishing (2014)

Rune Thayer’s rebellion in Cape Hill has placed all of Breakwater in danger. Now, Katelyn Kestrel and her best friend Kyle must do something that no one in the Western Kingdom has ever attempted: travel North into enemy territory and request aid from none other than Prince Varion himself. Before they are able to depart, Katelyn is unwillingly brought face-to-face with Prince Raserion. Separated from her friends and enveloped in a dark world of his making, the indomitable Prince of Shadows offers her a deal that she dare not refuse. The accord is struck and Katelyn continues her mission, holding close the secret meeting, and wondering whether she has become a traitor to her own cause. Stalked by unrelenting shadows across enemy lines, she must decide: Trust Prince Varion in hopes to save Breakwater- or trust Prince Raserion to win Rune’s freedom.












A. R. Ivanovich



This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.



Copyright © 2014 by A. R. Ivanovich.

Cover art
and interior map by A. R. Ivanovich.

Editing by Michelle Ivanovich.

All rights reserved.


Except for brief passages quoted in newspaper, magazine, radio, or television reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, including mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher and author.










For Andrea, who reminds me, “No guts, no glory,” in life and in writing.




Foreword: Butterfly Effect







There was a time in my life when I didn’t believe in change. In Haven, you could set your pocket watch by any one of a thousand patterns that would repeat day in and day out. Shops opened and closed, trains came and went, newspapers were delivered
– even the weather was predictable as clockwork.  But it wasn’t natural. A code of control held my society firmly into place.

When I left Haven I discovered that change was the
most powerful force I’d ever encountered. It was more consistent than breakfast. If circumstances in life were always changing, shouldn’t that mean that people could too? Every moment should be a platform for positive growth and new possibilities.

The thing about personal change is that
you can’t predict its direction. There’s no promise that we’ll choose right over wrong, good over bad. Not even for me.


Chapter 1: Crashing Waves







There's nothing to be afraid of.”

Night had fallen, and
Breakwater was draped in cobalt and black. Glowing orbs bobbed out on the water: lanterns marking the positions of a dozen fishing boats. The sea was striped with blue, green and yellow where the city's lights spilled their shimmering reflections. The faint sound of a sweet melody drifted from the shoreline across the ebbing bay to the keep on the water. It was cold out on the second story balcony where we sat, but I was warm.

I never said I was afraid,” Rune answered. Our chairs faced the view more than each other, and there was a table separating us. He wouldn't look me in the eye.

I promise,” I said, offering the gentlest of encouraging smiles.

You clearly don't have the best judgment,” he said. “You still tolerate having me around.”

That got a single laugh
from me. I turned directly to him, resting my elbows on the table. “I happen to
having you around.” No sooner than I'd said the words, a memory overtook my thoughts. Rune was standing over me, his sword brandished and glinting with morning sunlight as he brought it down to slice through my leg. I blinked to clear my head. It hadn't been his fault.

I knew there had to be something wrong with you.” He flicked a brief glance at me, and humor was infused with his apprehension.

I grinned, despite myself.
“Add it to the list. Now, give me your arm.”

Maybe tomorrow.”

That's what you said yesterday. You can't wear that forever.”

Rune was still clad in his Cormorant Dragoon armor. It was an impressive composition of layers of hard leather stained in the Prince's colors: black with deep red embellishments. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the getup was as alluring as it was intimidating. But Rune wasn't a Cormorant, or a Dragoon, or even a soldier in the Prince's army anymore. He was a defector. The armor had to come off sometime. Even I had to admit there was good cause for his avoidance.

“Maybe I can,” was his belligerent answer.

Yeah? And how will you bathe?”

I'll wash around that arm.”

That's disgusting,” I said, crossing my arms on the tabletop. “I might actually like you significantly less if you were to stop washing under one arm.”

And if I'm right?” His jaw went tight. “If I'm changed... how much will you like having me around then?”

I'd hoped it wouldn't come to this. I didn't want to
about that day, let alone talk about it. “You're not changed.”

How do you know that?” Rune clutched his arm and glared out at the pleasant night. “Hest stabbed me in the arm with the same needle that she'd used to drain Sterling.”

I chose my words carefully, and
used them quietly, afraid that volume alone could coax back more than I wanted to remember. “It was only for a second. The... energy... or whatever it is, may not have even transferred to you.”

Look what it did to her,” he frowned. “The smallest amount could still have an effect.”

The music in the distance faded away, leaving only the song of the surf below us.

“If she made me a
,” he said the word like it burned him. “How could I live with myself? My Ability would intensify, I could create a blaze that would lick the sky and not tire. I could Command people to my order with ease. I wouldn't want to misuse those things, but how long could I win out over the temptation? It would be so easy to do what I wanted. Could I fight an addiction to power? How long before I thirsted to be stronger still?”

I hadn't thought about that. I hadn't
to think about it. “Is that what it’s like for Dylan?”

I don't know. Maybe. What I’m certain of is the zeal behind the eyes of the Commanders and Margraves I've served under. I wasn't supposed to survive all of this, but I did. My mother and father are dead because of this war. My sister too. All I have left of them is myself, and what will that be worth if I become a Commander, corrupt in mind, body and spirit?”

You're nothing like the Commanders. Not now and not ever.” For a split second, I saw us out of context. A hunted girl sitting across the table from an enemy soldier with short black hair, warm brown skin, and sharp blue eyes. He was a trained killer, stolen from his family and used as a weapon of war. But I knew what lived beneath the years of scars: an artist who had loved his family more than anything.

Rune looked at me and I could see the fear plain on his face.

“If it took hold, if you are a Commander now, I promise that I won't treat you any differently... unless you give me a reason to. As long as you're you, I'll be right here.” I felt cold coils of dread constrict in my middle. If he was a Commander, could I really look at him the same way? Would he terrify me the way they always did when they used their power to Command me? I wanted to believe he'd never do that, but I'd been wrong before. He tilted his head down, and I could see the scar that ran from his temple to his cheek. My doubts washed away like they'd been cleansed by the tide. I found myself smiling at him, and I held my hands out across the table. I trusted Rune.

His brows knitted together and he nodded. He finally released the grip he kept on his bicep
and placed his right arm down on the table. I unsnapped the cuff of his glove and pulled it carefully off, finger by finger. When his hand was free, he flexed it, clenching and reopening his fist.

Do you feel any different?” I asked him working the clasp of his vambrace at his wrist. “Physically?”

He shrugged. A lot had happened in the past few days, I could hardly classify how I was feeling, so I couldn't blame him for not giving me an answer.

The vambrace slipped off and he curled his wrist, apparently grateful for the extra circulation. Something marking his flesh grabbed my attention. I couldn't see it clearly in the dimness of the electric lantern built into the keep wall. I stood and bent down to better study his forearm. The lantern light surged, glowing brighter as I strained for a better look. Lately, the Spark, my Ability to control electricity, had begun to aid me without any conscious thought or concentration on my part. Brightening the light was my doing, and I didn't even realize it at the time.

What is this?” I asked, running my fingers over a symbol branded into the soft underside of his forearm. It was a squiggled line, like a tipsy lightning bolt, with a semicircle curving around one end of it.

I felt him flinch. He caught my wrist with his free hand and gently moved it away.
“Mark of a Dragoon. Tracing that shape will call my warhorse. I don't think this balcony is an appropriate place.”

Oh,” I formed the word with my lips and didn't try to touch it again. “The symbol sort of looks like a horse. It's like the shadow chasers right? Draw the symbol and it shows up?”

Similar,” he said. “But not the same.”

You can trace it over your armor?”

He nodded.

“You'll have to explain it all to me some day,” I said, moving closer to him, conscious of our nearness. “You know, when we're not in a life-altering situation.”

Don't wait around for that.”

I smiled, putting my fingers back to work on the pauldron that covered his bicep and shoulder. Every day, he improved, relaxing a little more into a human state of normalcy
, one where humor and self-expression was acceptable.

My hair spilled over my shoulder and brushed his bare forearm and he flushed.
“It won't– you can't– it doesn't come undone only from there,” he stammered, pulling back and sitting up straighter. His left hand swept up, deftly unhitching the final clasp beneath his arm, and the belt that crossed over his chest.

His eyes locked with mine.
“What you said before... you mean it?”

I mean it.”

He took a deep breath and shrugged out of the piece of armor, placing it on the table. All that was left between us and the answer to Rune's questions was a thin black shirt, rolled to the elbow.
“Cut it. It's the quickest way. I won't need it after this.”

didn’t know where the slim, leaf-shaped knife came from, but he offered it to me. Holding a weapon to him was not something I felt comfortable with and I stared overly long at the blade. I winced, an unwilling victim of that relentless memory.

It was an accident. You forgive people for accidents.

“If you'd like to stab me, we'll be even,” he said. “But we'd better wake up Kyle so I don't bleed out.”

You're turning out to be quite the joker,” I said, hardly enjoying the subject matter. “With my luck, a shadow monster will jump out at us, I'll scream, stab you in the shoulder, and we'll need Kyle after all.”

Huffing, I smothered my reservations and plucked the small knife from his hand. Pinching and pulling the black fabric of his shirt away from his arm, I steadied myself and made the incision. I cut about three and a half inches before the fabric
became stubborn and the knife quit slicing. You'd think I'd be all flush and flustered, cutting the clothes off of the guy I could never stop thinking about, but I wasn't. It would have been selfish to make the moment about me. The outcome of this situation would shape the rest of Rune's life, and possibly mine as well.

Have you looked for the metal growths anywhere else?” I wondered.

This is the only place I haven't checked.”

I clapped the blade down on the table as soon as I was finished using it, glad to have it out of my hand. Mechanically, Rune reached for the knife, inspected the blade with his fingers, and returned it to a hidden sheath on his thigh. He sat straight, his shoulder exposed, waiting. It was like he was cut from stone, for all of the emotion he showed. I'd seen him like this countless times before. He was a Dragoon once again.

His lips were pressed to a hard line, his eyes fixed, his breathing steady. “Tell me what you see.”

I parted the gap in the garment, pulling it wide so I could get a good look. Margrave Hest had cracked and punctured part of his shoulder-guard with the savagery of the blow she'd dealt him. His skin was bruised and gouged
, crusted with dried blood. There was a singular point that was especially aggravated and red: The point where he'd been stabbed. The needle was thick, and if the swelling was any indication, it must have driven deep.

I searched two, three, four times, for a point of metal.

I found none.

Well, patient,” I said, straightening up to stand before him. “You're going to need some ointment– or Kyle– whichever. Most importantly, I can't find a single abnormality. Congratulations, you're human.”

His eyes widened and he jolted forward.
“I am? I'm human? I mean, I'm normal? No metal? Are you sure?”

Yup. No soul crushing thirst for power for you,” I said, like he'd be disappointed.

He let out a ragged breath and slumped in his chair like his limbs had melted straight off his body. His head rolled back.

Worried that he died, I tiptoed to crane over him. “Um.”

Rune snapped back up and fired a flaming ball of suspicion at me.
“You're sure?”


Relief tugged his shoulders down and he threatened to smile, but then his brows narrowed again.

Yes!” I said emphatically, waving my arms out at my sides.

He stared past me and tentatively touched the scabs on his shoulder.

“Why, Rune Thayer!”


A grin crept to my face.
“I've just learned something about you.”

Is that so?”

You're a
!” I accused, pointing at him.

His eyes widened.

“You take that back!” he snapped as though he was furious. He wasn't.

I gave him my best smug smile.
“Nope. Not happening.”

A wild expression crossed his face. He smirked and dove from the chair, pitching his frame downward so that he could easily scoop me up over the top of his shoulder. I shri
eked as he slung me over his back like a sack of produce. The night sea, luminescent boats, and Breakwater's city lights whirled far below me.

Take it back, Kestrel!” he roared in the kind of exaggerated tone that implied he was grinning. “Or I'll send you down for a swim!”

BOOK: War of the Princes 03: Monarch
8.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Oasis of Night by J.S. Cook
D2D_Poison or Protect by Gail Carriger
Carats and Coconuts by Scott, D. D.
The Planets by Dava Sobel
Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore
Pretty Is by Mitchell, Maggie
Velvet & steel by Sylvie F. Sommerfield
Ice Blue by Anne Stuart