|1.||To Summon a Demon ~ Excerpt||See below|
|To Summon a Demon ~ Excerpt|
|Inaeus stood waiting outside the central chamber, a hallowed place only the League Council was permitted to enter. A young page avoided his gaze, his thin hands twisting. All of Arcaider knew of the theft of the Crytsal. Now he, as Captain of the Guard, had to appear before the Fathers.|
Inaeus had accepted his guilt and was prepared for the penalty.
The page pulled open the doors and Pendagon’s gnarled hand beckoned Inaeus toward the central chair. When would he ever stand in this chamber again? Twice in his lifetime was already a rare privelege. So Inaeus couldn’t help himself…
His gaze flicked over the nine ivory thrones carved out of the ornate wall. Seven were empty. Five Fathers lost and two, Lord Meyjes and Nugent, were only half alive. The Council was old, so old that its members could no loner withstand the loss of the Crystal’s support. And without the Crystal, the League of Sorcerers would fall. They were the ones who had bound the demons and secured the land. Without them… A fist tightened in Inaeus’ gut. Without them, the demons would rule again.
The air smelled musty, ancient with old spells and incantations. Pendagon was hunched like a battered animal on his cold, white throne, a weary old man in glittering robes.
“Captain Inaeus.” His voice cracked in the sharp silence of the chamber.
“My Lord Pendagon.” Inaeus nodded his head. His gaze moved to the other beaten old man huddled in the fifth chair. “My Lord Ratelband.” Inaeus settled into the formal stance, hands held behind his back. He held his gold Captain’s ring in a tight fist. He didn’t deserve to wear it any more.
Pendagon let out a wearied sigh. “Conde’s Demon has taken the Crystal. Without it, all of this…” twisted fingers patted the carved arm of the chair in a slow rhythm, “…is destroyed.”
Conde the traitor. Memories flickered but Inaeus forced them back.
“Is it the same Demon? I thought that I—”
“You did not kill the first one she summoned. And it has proven easy for her to make it rise again.” Pendagon snapped out the words and paused as his breath wheezed. “She wants to destroy us, Captain Inaeus. Her Demon must be stopped before it returns on the next full moon and releases the Hoarde.”
“I understand, my lord” He straightened his shoulders. The gaping hole in the wall above the nine thrones reminded him of his guilt. The Crystal had sat there, undisturbed, for over half a millennium. He had brought Conde into the League. And this was how she repaid him—destroying everything to which he was loyal. “It was my duty to protect the Crystal. I’ve failed. And I’m ready for punishment.”
“Now is not the time for selfless heroics, Inaeus!” Irritation bristled across Pendagon’s aged features. “Conde is foul. From the instant she came through the gates of the city she stained it with her lack of respect for the League and its laws.”
Ratelband grunted. “And for the Fathers who only wished to guide her power.”
Inaeus couldn’t stop the words. “In the beginning, Conde was an exemplary officer—”
Ratelband’s hard, dark eyes fixed on him and something unnamed glittered there. “Yes. You were close to her, were you not, Captain Inaeus?”
Inaeus flushed. “Our ranks forbade—”
“You have always denied it.” He poked a bent finger at him and a withered lip curled. The Father slumped forward in his chair and harsh light cut across his face. “And yet I saw the way you slavered over her.”
“Ratelband!” The burst of anger robbed Pendagon of his breath. He visibly gritted his teeth against the rush of pain, a gnarled hand pressing against his hollow chest “Now is not the time. Conde took the Crystal. She cannot be allowed to rule in my, in our place. We are the Council. We are eternal.”
Pendagon closed his eyes. “You still have your sorcery. Why, I don’t know.” The old man tried to straighten his crippled body and failed. “And so it’s been left to you to return the Crystal to me. You are authorised to kill anyone or anything that gets in your way.” His eyes opened. “And that includes your former second-in-command.”
Something swirled around the First Father and unease washed through Inaeus. A murky cloud formed from dull little lies fused with ancient power shrouded him. His decayed face twisted and flaked, clear blue eyes bleeding into dull blackness and lost in loose folds of skin—
“Inaeus…” Conde’s voice.
He awoke with a start.
(c)2007 Kim Knox
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