Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What do U think of Ch.1 of "Fire and Smoke" by Marcia Lee Laycock?

The Ambassadors - Book Two
Volume FourFire and Smoke

As he prayed, Eghan’s heart beat hard. Princes had been accused of treason for less than what he was about to do. It was Silhas who formed the plan. They would take the offensive. Khalwyd would distract Damon’s men while Eghan confronted the guards and demanded to see his uncle. As they hurried toward the cells, Eghan prayed the guards would respond to his authority as their prince. At the entrance to the prison he was relieved to see Silhas greet an old friend.
Jhonar’s smile was brief. “I have been expecting you, Silhas.”
Silhas nodded. “We have come to see the Lord Adlair, Jhonar.”
“An ambassador in chains.”
“Once again.”
Jhonar's eyes darted to Damon’s men.
“Circumstances are different, my friend.”
“But the Lord is with us.”
Jhonar nodded and opened the first door. As they stepped through, he leaned close and said softly, “I’ll keep these ones away from the door as long as I can. Be quick.”
There were not many guards in the corridors until they reached the level where Adlair was held. Khalwyd slipped away and hid himself. As Eghan and Silhas walked boldly toward Adlair’s cell, Eghan noticed there were two of Damon’s men for every Lhinian.
Silhas spoke first. “We have come to see the prisoner. Open the door.”
Two of the king’s men exchanged a look. Damon’s men took a step forward but before they could respond, Eghan spoke with authority.
“By the authority of the king, open it now!”
One of the Lhinian guards produced a key and swiftly unlocked the cell. As they moved toward it, Eghan heard Khalwyd’s yell. It was enough to distract the men for a moment and that was all they needed. Adlair was out and running with them in a matter of seconds.
Eghan glanced over his shoulder as they fled and saw his father’s soldiers holding Damon’s men at bay. They made the upper entrance easily. As they leaped into the open, Eghan’s heart beat with victory, but it was short-lived. They had taken only a few steps when they were surrounded by Damon’s men, swords drawn. Eghan saw Khalwyd start to raise his weapon, but Adlair put a restraining hand on his arm. Resistance was futile against so many. Eghan clenched his fists in frustration. They had stepped right into a trap. The row of soldiers parted and Damon himself was before them. He eyed each of them. His smile was smug.
“Well, well. Treason against the king by his closest advisors.” He smirked as he faced Eghan. “And even his own son.”
Eghan wanted to drive his fist into the glinting white teeth, but he was helpless as the guards separated him from the others and herded them all toward the great hall.
The room was crowded when they burst in, the guards dragging Khalwyd, who had attempted to break free and still wrestled with his captors. Gherin stood in silence as Damon loudly presented the charge of treason against Adlair, Silhas and Khalwyd. As he spoke, he slowly made his way toward the king, until he stood on the dais beside him.
“You can deny the truth no longer, Gherin. The proof stands before you. Even your own son has...”
The king turned on the duke and Eghan’s heart leaped. For a moment he thought his father had seen through the deception. But Gherin spoke coldly when he turned back to the three men on their knees before him.
“I have trusted you with my life, and the life of my son. You have repaid me with treachery and betrayal.”
Khalwyd lunged to his feet. “Sire, by all that is holy and good, I swear we meant no challenge to the rule of your kingdom, nor harm to you, nor to your son. We were only trying to thwart the plan of a devious enemy - a snake, who has brought evil among us.”
Damon stepped closer to the king. “The witnesses you have already heard will swear again that these men have conspired against you, Gherin. Secure your throne. Stop this treachery before it destroys what you have built.”
Gherin paused for only a moment. He seemed to sway slightly and his hand went to his head. Damon reached out and grasped his elbow. The king shook it off and stared down at the three men. “All of you will hang.”
Eghan surged forward. “No!”
Damon’s guards were on him, pinning his arms.
Khalwyd took a step forward, his voice a bellow. “I have served you all my life. I ...”
Before he could finish, a guard struck him with the butt end of a long lance. Khalwyd crumpled to the ground.
Eghan writhed in the arms of his captors. “Father, please, you cannot do this. You have been poisoned by this...Duke. You must know in your heart we are not against you.”
Damon leaned toward the king briefly and spoke too softly for anyone to hear. Gherin faced them and his look made Eghan’s heart stop. His father’s gaze fell again on the three kneeling at his feet. He waved his hand over them, as though over a pile of dung, and spoke to the guards. “Take them away.”
Eghan struggled again, but could not break free of the tight grip of Damon's men. The Duke leaned toward the king once more and Gherin’s eyes turned on his son. The anger faded, but what Eghan saw there wounded him more deeply than anything ever had. For the first time in his life, he saw the look of defeat in his father’s eyes.
The king stared for a moment, his eyes seeming to glaze over, then he gave a slight jerk of his head. Damon nodded and stepped away from him. With a wave of his hand and the command, “Follow me,” he led them out of the great hall.
Once they were away from the king, Damon ordered Eghan to be bound. Then he deliberately led them out through the courtyard and into the open square. In no time a crowd gathered, forcing the guards to make a path for them as they marched toward the house of prayer. At its entrance, Damon turned and smirked into Eghan’s face. “Fitting, is it not, Prince Eghan, that you will be held here? Your prison will be the very house on which you have labored.” He turned to the people still swarming about them and raised his voice. “Spread the word. Prince Eghan’s attempt to overthrow his father’s rule has been thwarted. His treasonous friends will hang and he will be held in isolation until we are convinced he has come to his senses and is free of the wizard’s spell.” He nodded at the guards and Eghan was pushed through the high wooden doors. He watched over his shoulder as Damon stood at the entrance, surveying the crowd for a few moments. Then he smiled, turned, and bolted the huge doors behind him.

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