The Rise Of The Western Kingdom

( 1 )

Overview

Embark on a new adventure as The Sword of the Watch saga continues. In The Rise of the Western Kingdom (a prequel to The Fall of Daoradh), a slave (Galbard) is offered freedom in exchange for murdering and robbing a hapless vagabond. His decision could alter the balance of power between the Watchers and Spellmakers, resulting in the first real possibility for mankind to separate their destiny from the immortals-or sealing their fate forever.

Come again into the rich world of ...

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The Rise of the Western Kingdom: Book Two of the Sword of the Watch

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Overview

Embark on a new adventure as The Sword of the Watch saga continues. In The Rise of the Western Kingdom (a prequel to The Fall of Daoradh), a slave (Galbard) is offered freedom in exchange for murdering and robbing a hapless vagabond. His decision could alter the balance of power between the Watchers and Spellmakers, resulting in the first real possibility for mankind to separate their destiny from the immortals-or sealing their fate forever.

Come again into the rich world of Erathe, where the fleeing refugees of the City of Rion fight to survive a timeless war between wizards and demigods, and one man must rally his people to stand against the forces of evil.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781469792910
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/30/2012
  • Pages: 372
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The Rise of the Western Kingdom

Book Two of the Sword of the Watch
By John Montgomery

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 John Montgomery
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4697-9290-3


Chapter One

Harm's Way

Galbard walked toward the main temple of Amphileph, dwarfed by the jailer that walked in front of him. Slavery had both tattered his shirt and filled it with a muscular frame, and his wrist chains thumped against his leather loincloth in syncopation to the slap of his sandals on the stone path.

He walked a few paces behind his jailer, looking straight ahead at his back or down at the floor, the behavior demanded of a slave. The jailer was a Camon, a member of the race collectively known as the Camonra. They were the creation of Amphileph, master of the Spellmakers, and Amphileph had absolute dominion over them. Though they shared many of the characteristics of humans, most were over seven feet tall, and their slow gait, broad sloping shoulders, and thick limbs were deceiving, for when they wanted to be, they were as swift as they were strong. That three of the Camonra would roust a human slave in the middle of the night told Galbard that Amphileph himself must have taken some kind of interest in him, and that was frightening. It was better for a slave to remain unnoticed.

Two of the Camonra walked behind Galbard, and the jailer led the way through the Camonra encampments, toward the immense temple at their center. The group came to a stop before the temple entrance, and one of them exhaled his boredom on the back of Galbard's neck. The warm stench of it surrounded him, and Galbard curled his nose. He wanted to step away, but he did not dare move.

Galbard had rarely seen the Camonra without their helmets, so he caught himself glancing up when he was sure no one was looking. The Camon in the front of him had been roughly shorn, his short, jet black hair exposing one ear that had cartilage crumpled from a blow. The other ear had a more pointed tip that flopped a bit with each step the Camon took.

His wide-necked chainmail revealed his upper back, where whip marks crisscrossed the bared area at various widths and depths, some of them edged by the dots of scar tissue that a course needle might leave. When the Camon turned, Galbard could see deep frown lines that made his face look as though it might never have smiled. A large scar ran from the crumpled ear to the edge of his chin.

"Enter!" a voice called from within the temple.

The Camon in front of him snorted through his snub nose and motioned with his head for Galbard to enter, and Galbard momentarily looked at the Camon's face. He did not seem to notice Galbard's mistake, and Galbard quickly looked at the floor again, but the flash of an image stuck in his mind: the bloodshot eyes under the heavy brow, the flat square face, the pug nose and large carved chin, and the gold beads that adorned some of the dreadlocks in the creature's beard.

When the Camon turned to face the temple door, Galbard looked up at him again. The massive creature raised his thick, somewhat elongated arms and slowly pushed open the heavy door of the temple entrance. His tree-trunk legs lumbered ahead of Galbard through the temple doorway, and his chainmail chinked with each step. Galbard tried to walk in time with the Camon's steps, but he had to take two steps for each of his.

The two other Camonra took their posts on either side of the entrance, and Galbard followed the jailer inside. He heard the doors closing behind him, and then his escort pushed him forward through an arched opening, an entryway into the domed temple sanctum. They shuffled to a halt at its center.

The domed ceiling had a central opening, allowing a column of moonlight to illuminate the temple floor, and when Galbard stood still in its light blue beams, the walls of the room seemed to sink away into the darkness.

"Father, I have brought you the human," the Camon said.

Out of the darkness, a thin man in a long, flowing red robe appeared. Galbard caught his breath. It was Amphileph! Amphileph looked at his fingernails, cocking his head to one side, his long, jet black bangs hiding his eyes. He leaned his head back and pushed his bangs back with both hands. His skin was pale, and his dark green eyes were piercing.

"You are the one called Galbard?" Amphileph asked.

The Camon swatted Galbard to the ground. "Bow down before the Father, dog!" he said.

"Yes, master," Galbard managed.

"Now, now, let's not mistreat our guest," Amphileph said. "Help him to his feet."

The Camon's massive hand grabbed Galbard's shoulder and lifted him up, dropping him back upon his feet.

"I am told that you can speak the old language, Galbard. Is that true?" Amphileph asked.

"Yes, master," answered Galbard.

Amphileph circled him in the shadows. "A slave's life is unbecoming to such an educated man. Wouldn't you like to go free? All I have to do is speak it, and it will be so," Amphileph said.

The hair rose on Galbard's neck. "Yes, master, of course."

"Then you must do something for me. You will find a man in the foothills of the Black Mountains, asleep under the Arch of the Patriarchs. Do you know this place?"

"Yes, master," Galbard responded.

"Kill the man and bring me his belongings, and I will set you free."

Galbard's heart raced at the mere thought of freedom, but he sucked in a quick breath and fought to remain silent. Killing for freedom would bring him only a new prison of guilt, but it was sure death to refuse Amphileph. Silence was the better option.

Amphileph's hand emerged from the shadows, a single finger pointed in Galbard's direction. His nails were manicured and his red garment shimmered in the moonlight.

"Ara Libre Cudhara," Amphileph said, and the shackles fell away from Galbard's hands and feet. Amphileph raised his hood, and his face disappeared in its shadow. His eyes seemed to glow from within the hood. "Run, and I will find you, no matter where you go."

Amphileph turned to exit the room and waved them away. "Dress him properly and see him to the western gate," he said, before completely disappearing in the darkness.

Galbard allowed himself to exhale, but before he could relax in the least, the Camon's large hand grabbed him up and dropped him facing the opposite direction. He flicked his fingers against Galbard's back, pushing him toward the exit.

The three Camonra escorted Galbard to the western gate as Amphileph had commanded, stopping just long enough to remove the large timber that barred it. The Camonra gave him clothing fit for traveling: leather boots and a long coat, a dagger, and a pack with a day's supplies. Galbard waited for them to say something, but instead, the largest jailer pushed him out of the gate rather unceremoniously, and the Camonra turned and walked away. Galbard picked himself up and watched them push the gate back closed. The timber fell back in its place with a great crashing sound.

Galbard was a little stunned. After more than a year of imprisonment, they had just left him at the western gate without even a second thought, like so much trash. He pulled his hood over his head and tightened his belt, turned and walked toward the Arch of the Patriarchs, a holy place of prayer west of Amphileph's temple and high in the Black Mountains.

He had always told himself that he would do anything to escape his enslavers. He had often thought of killing one of the Camonra and escaping, especially when they had been unusually cruel, but he acknowledged to himself that it was only a crutch, a way to keep some thread of hope alive in his hopeless life. Still, a Camon was one thing; never once had he imagined killing a human being, and it was unthinkable in a holy place where the Creator himself watched over them. It was not in him to murder, or at least that's what he had thought, but failure to do as Amphileph asked was toying with death, and likely a horrible death at that. He repeated Amphileph's words in his head, Run, and I will find you, no matter where you go, until in the distance, he could see the arch above the horizon about two-thirds the way up the Black Mountains.

Galbard climbed higher still, and when he pulled himself onto the arch's plateau, he could see a man, just as Amphileph had said, motionless, leaning over the large, flat, knee-high stone table centered under the arch. His hair and robes were dirty and disheveled. It appeared to Galbard that the man had been kneeling in prayer, maybe throughout the night, and he had fallen asleep out of exhaustion.

Galbard approached the prayer circle. The man's shoes sat beside a small bag and an old sword. Staring at their worn soles and the dusty bag, he wondered what guilt this man was carrying that qualified him for death, especially death at his hand.

He stood there for what seemed like an eternity, wrestling with the repercussions of not doing as Amphileph commanded. Galbard put his hands upon the sword and removed it from its scabbard. He tried to remove it slowly, silently, but the blade seemed to scrape the scabbard along its entire length, making Galbard sure the man would wake. His heart began to race, and he moved closer to the prone man's head, raising the sword above him. Its tip pointed precariously toward the man's temple.

Galbard couldn't move. Sweat began to bead upon his forehead.

What am I doing? he thought. "Creator, forgive me," he whispered, looking to the skies above. He lowered the sword and backed away, and then he returned the sword to its scabbard, his hands shaking so badly then that the length of it made a tink, tink, tink sound sliding into the scabbard. He tried to regain his calm, but the noise seemed as loud as a dinner bell. He stopped for a moment and closed his eyes, exhaling deeply.

He turned and looked down the mountain toward Amphileph's temple. "Under penalty of death, I'll not bring this shame upon my forefathers," he said. "When I stand in judgment in the Third Domain, my soul will blacken with things for which I am ashamed, but this will not be one of them."

He carefully placed the sword back where he had found it and returned to the man's side. To Galbard's relief, the man had not awakened throughout the entire ordeal. "I don't see a bottle, my friend, but whatever it was that you drank, you should probably not drink it again."

Galbard shook him, attempting to awaken him.

"Wake up!" Galbard said. "Wake up!"

The man's eyes flickered open.

"You must run! Run away, far from here!"

The man's eyes were dazed. He didn't seem fully aware of what was happening. Galbard stood back from him and yelled, pointing to the temple in the valley below. "Listen to me! Sober up! I don't know what you've done, but the master of that temple wants your head on a spear. I was sent to kill you, and now that I haven't, I've made my own doom! Flee before I come to my senses!"

The man's facial features suddenly began to shift and his clothes changed in a flash of blinding light as he slowly rose before the stunned Galbard. The pauper clothing had transformed to white, flowing robes that floated around the holy man.

Galbard stumbled back and fell to the ground. He knew immediately who it was: the great prophet Evliit, the leader of the Watchers, who could consult directly with the Creator and call down his favor or his wrath.

The former slave spat on the ground with his misfortune. "How can it be that I've angered both a Spellmaker and a Watcher in a single day?"

Evliit hovered above the ground, his face shining. He raised his hand, and the sword flew from its scabbard into it. The sword began to glow, giving off such an intense heat that Galbard had to cover his face. He prepared for his doom. The winds gasped like the gods drawing a breath, and the light suddenly dimmed.

Galbard dared to look again. Evliit and his robes slowly sank back to the earth. He was teetering as if he might fall.

"Help me," Evliit managed, reaching out to his would-be killer.

Galbard hesitated in bewilderment, but then instinctively moved to catch him as the prophet fell forward.

Evliit clutched Galbard's arm to regain his balance, searching his face with what Galbard thought was a mixture of sadness and terror in his eyes. "It has come to this," Evliit said. "The Spellmakers would take the Sword of the Watch from me by force?"

Awkwardly, Galbard helped him to sit upon the edge of the altar table, and then he looked away. A slave should not have even touched the same ground as a Watcher, especially in a prayer circle.

Amphileph had sent him to kill the prophet of the Creator! His soul was likely cursed just having agreed to make the trip to the Arch of the Patriarchs. His mind reeled with the thought that the actions of the past few minutes might actually have doomed him forever.

"Your things, master," Galbard said, and then he hurried to bring the prophet his scabbard, bag, and shoes. Galbard stopped and knelt at the edge of the prayer circle, and he placed the shoes so that Evliit might slip them on immediately upon his exit.

"I accept my fate," Galbard said, entering the prayer circle with his head down and Evliit's scabbard and bag outstretched before him. He waited for Evliit to take his things, and then Galbard quickly backed away from him outside the prayer circle.

Evliit placed the sword back in its scabbard. He removed a small vial from the bag, drank it, and put it away, and then he heaved a deep breath and slowly looked over the length of the sword.

"Come here," Evliit said. Galbard moved to kneel some ten feet away. "Closer, come closer."

Galbard glanced up at him, and then kneeled at Evliit's feet, expecting the worse.

"You are Galbard, a slave of Amphileph," said Evliit.

"Yes, lord."

"Stand up, and hold out your hands."

Galbard stood up and looked in Evliit's eyes then, extending his hands. To his astonishment, Evliit placed the sword in them, walked past him to the edge of the prayer circle, and slipped on his shoes.

Galbard could not move. A strange tingling sensation ran from his hands throughout his body. The tingling intensified. The golden color of the scabbard and tang began to blur together, becoming luminous. Memories raced through his mind, memories of Rion and the life he once had there, and then flashes of the rolling grasses in the fields north of the city. His head began to pitch slightly, and his eyes flickered closed. He was sure the Watcher could see his expression change from surprise to concern, and when Evliit spoke, the words seemed to pierce Galbard's soul.

"I can wait no longer," Evliit said. "My brethren and I have one last chance to confront the Spellmakers. We will bind them to the lands beyond the Black Mountains, and I will send the sword away from here with you. It has chosen you."

With those last words, the intense pain stopped. Galbard's arms relaxed, and he nearly dropped the sword. He immediately motioned to Evliit to take it back.

"Send the sword away with me? Oh no, my lord, please don't set this task upon me!" Galbard pleaded. "I have no business in the affairs of Watchers. I am nothing, and I must go to ask the Priests of Rion to cleanse me for the evil that I have already done. I swear to you that my eyes were covered by a strange spell, and I did not see you as you were." He lowered his head and held the sword out toward Evliit.

Evliit shook his head. "You didn't see a Watcher, and yet you spared my life. This is not the act of an evil man." Galbard felt Evliit place his hand on the sword and gently push it away. Galbard fixed his eyes upon it and accepted Evliit's charge. A surge of energy coursed through his body, as if every nerve was firing at once. It was exhilarating, and when Galbard looked up, he saw the Watcher's gentle face smiling back at him.

"You are worthy," he said, and the words seemed to melt away Galbard's anxiety.

Evliit turned away and looked westward. The winds began to stir up, and dark clouds formed above the Black Mountain valley. Evliit stared down at the valley for the better part of a minute, his eyes piercing, unflinching in the wind, his beard and hair blown back wildly. Galbard thought him sorely vexed, and he waited in silence for the Watcher's next command.

"Your former master has grown strong. A spell to bind him will come at great cost, consuming the life force of all but the strongest among us. We can take no chance of the sword falling into his hands, for with it, Amphileph would surely end the time of men. You must take it far away. My brothers and I will not be able to bind the Camonra who already move upon Rion, and Amphileph will give them no rest until they have captured the sword for their master."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Rise of the Western Kingdom by John Montgomery Copyright © 2012 by John Montgomery. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Illustrations....................ix
Acknowledgments....................xi
The Song of Isha....................xv
Prologue....................xvii
PART ONE....................1
1. Harm's Way....................3
2. The End of the First Age....................12
3. Boundland....................29
4. Discovery....................38
5. Journey to the Western Coast....................54
6. The northern Fields....................70
7. Power Revealed....................78
8. Shintower....................90
9. The Hunt Begins....................104
10. Missing Scouts....................117
11. Irreconcilable Differences....................125
12. Witch of Southwood....................139
13. The Faceless Mountains....................147
14. Autonomy....................155
15. Altar for the Sword....................162
16. Imperfect Cage....................179
17. Uneasy Peace....................185
PART TWO....................197
18. New Paths....................199
19. Amphileph's Revenge....................222
20. War Begins....................247
21. Costly Protection....................264
22. Attack on Shintower....................292
Epilogue....................341
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2012

    Awesome Story!

    The Rise Of The Western Kingdom is an amazing book that transports you into a magical world of epic heroes and fantastical creatures. It is a must read for anyone who loves adventure and fantasy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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