Lance Cabaret is a brave knight from the town of Duracia. As a member of the Brotherhood, Queen Priscilla’s personal army, he has seen many adventures in his time. He has often found himself surrounded by extreme danger, and he has killed to protect his queen and his fellow knights. After hunting down yet another wanted criminal, however, Lance begins to question his position as a knight and wonders if he has ever killed an innocent man.
One night while contemplating his position in the Brotherhood, Lance hears a strange song floating on the breeze, coming from the direction of the mysterious Western Realm. According to Queen Priscilla, the Western Realm has not been heard from for many years, so Lance agrees to go on a quest in the name of the crown. Upon undertaking his dangerous journey, though, Lance realizes the queen has betrayed him.
Now free of the Brotherhood, Lance finds himself in a strange, unfamiliar land. Purposeless in his new life, he enters a tournament against the best warriors on the continent. It is during this bloody tournament that Lance meets Sophie, a beautiful slave girl under the power of a dark wizard known as Meritan. Without a queen to protect, Lance dedicates himself to Sophie—but the dark wizard will not let her go without a fight.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.51(d)|
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By J.R. BRYCE
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 J.R. Bryce
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLance and the members of the brigade had traveled all night, and were approaching the great canyon of Ginnera. The canyon was vast and dry, one of the largest within the entire region. The air seemed void of moisture, as if the heat of the days before had exhausted all of the water out of the canyon. The fugitive had done a respectable job of avoiding the group, but they knew it was all a matter of time before they would catch up with him. Lance stroked his dragon, Rigel and turned him toward the east. The sun was rising over the mountains in the distance, and the great canyon was beginning to fill with light. Lance's dark blonde hair seemed to glow for a moment in the dawning light and his green eye's seemed to reflect it like pools of water. He had grown up as a thief in one of the lesser towns, but now he was a member of the royal cavalry. His job was to secure the borders of Dermavu, and ensure that no enemies would invade it. Lance rode with pride, his body toned from the battles he had endured. The fugitive, Markus Demanchi, had been caught leaking information into the neighboring countries, and therefore had to be dismissed from the living. As Lance looked into the sunlight, he caught a glimpse of a shadow on the rocks below him. He narrowed his eyes for a moment, but the shadow had vanished away. Gabriel, one other knight and commander of the brigade, gave him a quick glance.
"Did you see him Lance?" Gabriel asked with an arrogant tone.
Lance looked at him with a blunt stare. Gabriel had been his commander for years now, but he always had trouble communicating with him.
"I did not. I think that the light is playing tricks on me today." Lance replied, looking over the dry canyon.
"Very well then, we must press onward." Gabriel replied, his grip tightening on the leather reigns.
As the group kept moving, the day grew hotter by the hour. There was no water in the canyon, so the fugitive could not last long. He would die of thirst if they did not soon find him, and they could not let him have that satisfaction of escape. Death would be merely escaping his awaiting trial. The Brotherhood as they were called had never lost a fugitive without bringing them to trial. Lance had rode with The Brotherhood for many years now, and was trained in their methods. His swordsmanship had proven worthy enough to join the group, and the queen had appointed him herself. Gabriel pressed ahead of the group, and drove close to the canyon below. He seemed to be spying out the area in hopes of being the first to find the fugitive. Gabriel had always been the type that rushed things along and could almost pierce armor with his cold blue eyes. His blonde hair seemed to radiate the sun off it, making him almost look angelic. He pressed deeper into the canyon, leaving the rest of the group behind. Lance knew better than to leave the group, and urged the rest to follow. He felt obligated to look after his fellow knight, even though Gabriel was as arrogant as anyone he had ever met. Gabriel out paced them by a few hundred feet and his dragon glided low to the ground. He turned a curve, vanishing out of sight.
"Gabriel! Slow down!" Lance yelled, trying to slow him down.
Gabriel, being the headstrong knight that he was, continued to press forward. Suddenly, he let out a yell, and the group heard a struggle. Lance and the other knights turned a curve, and saw Gabriel on the ground, struggling with the fugitive. Mitus, one Knight, drew his bow, aiming at the fugitive with a blank stare on this face.
"I believe I would surrender." Mitus said, hoping this would be the end of the hunt.
Gabriel took that opportunity to slam the fugitive into the rocky canyon wall. He pointed his sword to the man's throat, staring at him with his cold blue eyes.
"I see that we finally found you Demanchi." Gabriel said with his deep voice.
"So you have." Markus said, clearing his throat.
"I see that you are not afraid?" Gabriel stated, pacing around the fugitive.
"I have nothing to fear. Fear is just a figment of the imagination after all." Markus exclaimed, laughing as if Gabriel had told a joke.
Gabriel seemed to study that remark, as if the man had introduced some new philosophy to him.
"Well then, I guess you will not mind if we begin the trial?" Gabriel said, a smile appearing on his lips.
He nodded quickly, as if he was eager to face his penalty.
"I urge you to hurry Gabriel; I am dying to see what you have in store for a wretched soul like me!" Markus yelled, his words slipping through his decayed teeth.
His words seemed to echo off the canyons walls, emitting an unpleasant chorus of sounds. Gabriel climbed on his blue dragon, and pulled out a tattered scroll.
"By the order of Queen Priscilla we have come here today. Markus Demanchi, you are being tried for the crime of treason against the kingdoms of Dermavu. What say ye?" Gabriel asked in his bold tone.
The small man seemed to roll Gabriel's words around in his mind, as if they were some kind of puzzling riddle.
"I AM GUILTY!!!" Markus screamed, startling the knights with his voice.
Gabriel and the other knights looked at one another in dismay, as if they hoped it would not lead to this fate.
"By the laws of Dermavu, you will be tried by fire." Gabriel proceeded, looking at the scroll.
All the knights raised their swords, awaiting the command. Gabriel positioned himself directly in front of Markus.
"Purity, Honor, and Light may you judge this man in our sight!" Gabriel shouted, signaling the other knights.
They all raised their swords higher, their blades glistening in the bright sunlight. Gabriel's tone sounded triumphant, as if he was proud to be the leader of the sacred chant.
"By Fire!" Gabriel yelled proudly.
"BY FIRE!!!" The rest repeated, mingling their voices into a rhythm.
At those words, the dragons emitted their searing flames. Markus stood there, awaiting the rain of ash and stubble. The flames soon consumed him, and they watched as he burned to nothing but a pile of ash and charred bones. Lance looked at the ashes, and watched as they blew away in a simple puff of wind.
"Looks like he was not pure brethren, or he would have survived the trial." Gabriel said, chuckling a little.
"Agreed Sir, he must have been impure." Mitus said nervously, looking down at the charred bones.
They all turned toward the city of Zirai, the nation's capital. The day still had plenty of hours left, so they decided they could make their journey to the city with ease. Lance could not help but gaze back at the great canyon, wondering if they had done the right thing. He felt a sense of guilt for taking part in the death of the man, but he also felt it was what the queen would have wanted him to do.
"That was some journey Lance if I do say so myself." Mitus said, looking over at Lance.
Lance turned his attention to him. Mitus was a young man who had joined the Brotherhood merely months ago, but was a very strong man for a youth. He had enlisted because he wanted to see the world and take in all the sights of the distant realms.
"Well, the feeling of excitement leaves you once you have been in it since I have. It is always important to keep our focus on our duty and not think of this as a simple game." Lance said, hoping to put the youth in line before someone else had to.
Mitus shrugged his shoulders as if Lance's word bounced off him.
"Oh well, a hunt is a hunt after all." Mitus stated with a smile on his face.
Lance pondered those words in his mind for a few moments. He had never heard their job called "a hunt", and it made him consider the words carefully. "This is much more than some childish game, so you best take it seriously." Lance said with his voice slightly aggravated.
As they continued towards the capital city, Lance gathered his thoughts. He had been pondering a lot as of late, and wondered if there was more for him in life than just simply being part of a band of royal knights. Sure, he enjoyed the work of destroying enemies, but it sometimes became monotonous to take the lives of people he had never had the pleasure of knowing. Dermavu was a land full of humans, both weak and strong. The entire human race seemed to work together to survive, ensuring that they would be able to see many years to come. Invaders came, but none of them took over the land of Dermavu. This was the only land that the human race could still call home, for many others had taken their former boundaries, leaving them with only a single nation. Other races had their realms as well, and it was best that they stayed within them as far as the humans were concerned. From time to time, an army of Orcs would enter the borders of Dermavu, but soon retreated at the sight of the dragons. The dragons were a form of protection from other races, because no race liked facing a creature that could burn them to cinders.
That was the very reason that the humans had learned to tame the dragons, and to use them as weapons. Without them, the human race would have surely been overwhelmed in the first Crimson War. Lance had read books on the first war, but all he understood was that it split the nations away from one another, and that the humans were among the victors. The Orcs were among the great armies that fought the humans, and have attempted dominance over them ever since that day. They were among the most powerful races on the entire planet, but never seemed to be able to rally their forces together enough to take over the humans completely.
Lance noticed that they were approaching the great stonewalls of the city of Zirai. As they entered the steel gates, he felt the unity of the city embrace him. It seemed that the entire city was gathered outside the palace, awaiting their heroes. Lance looked around, and noticed Queen Priscilla waiting on them. As they approached the palace, the crowds cheered them on. Lance and the others stepped off their mounts, and walked over to the queen. She smiled and looked at the cheerful crowd that had gathered to meet them.
"We welcome our heroes ... The Brotherhood!" Queen Priscilla yelled, signaling the crowd around her.
Mitus stared at the crowd, shocked at the amount of people that had gathered.
"Wave!" Lance said, nudging him a little.
Mitus waved to the crowd, as they cheered for them. The queen motioned for them to quiet down with a slight wave of her hand.
"Let us celebrate our victories with a party! All assemble in the royal ball room!" The Queen said, motioning towards the ball room.
The crowds gathered inside quickly, and the knights soon followed. Lance stood outside the castle for a few moments, wondering if this was where he truly belonged.
Chapter TwoAs Lance walked into the ball room, he noticed the crowds had gathered. Many were partying, and having a great time, but he just walked over to a table, and sat down. He noticed everyone dancing with partners, but he was alone. He looked around the room, and noticed Gabriel coming towards him. He made his way through the room, and sat down with Lance.
"That was some show earlier, was it not Lance?" Gabriel said, stretching.
"I suppose it was Gabriel, it just seems to bore me now days." said Lance, nodding slightly.
Gabriel gave him a humorous look.
"You have to be joking Lance, this is the best sport anyone could ask for. What is more fun than tracking down low life scum, and burning it to death?" Gabriel said, smirking at him.
"Just because someone is different from us, does not make them scum Gabriel. You of all people should know that." said Lance, glaring into Gabriel's eyes.
Gabriel stood to his feet, clutching the handle of his sword.
"I would advise you take back those words Lance." Gabriel answered, his tone changing to harsh.
Lance stood up, stepping closer to Gabriel.
"Gabriel, do you remember the last time we fought? I spared your life that time, but do not expect me to act so kindly again." Lance said, his eyes narrowing.
"I best be going. Good day to you Lance." Gabriel said sharply, releasing the handle of his sword.
He turned quickly and started back towards the entrance of the ballroom.
"Good day Gabriel." Lance said, nodding at Gabriel. Lance stepped out onto the balcony, and sat on the edge of the railing. The wind blew through his dark hair, and he could hear music playing. He looked around, but no instrument was close by.
"What is that ...?" Lance said to himself, examining the night sky.
He listened closer, and noticed the music seemed to be carried by the wind. He could feel a beating in his chest like nothing he had felt before. As he listened to the song, he realized that he knew the melody. It was a simple song that had been passed through many generations of the human race, but he wondered how it had been carried so far. The music seemed to dance in the wind, and he hummed along with it in a low tone. The music suddenly faded out, and he wondered if it had just been his mind playing tricks on him again. He stepped back into the ball room, and noticed a crowd had gathered. Queen Priscilla had gathered all the citizens together, and was about to make a speech.
"Dear public, today I wish to speak with you on a matter of high importance. It seems a great portion of our eastern border has not been heard from for many months, and this greatly concerns me. I know that no one has ever been that far from our kingdom, but I wish to ask today that someone would go to check the affairs of the eastern realm." The Queen said with an elegant tone in her voice.
The knights stood, looking at one another with a sense of dread. Lance thought for a moment, and realized that the sound he heard was coming from the east.
"My dearest Queen, I would be more than honored to look into the affairs of your vast kingdom." Lance said, speaking up.
The crowd gasped a little, and Priscilla stepped closer to him.
"Noble Lance, you are one of my highest ranking knights, and I would trust you to do anything. It is very hard for me to let you go, but I feel we can manage. Lance, you have permission to go, and you must leave no later than the morrow's first dawning." The Queen said, smiling at him.
He nodded to her, honored to have her orders.
"Very well my Queen. I will collect my things, and set my affairs in order." Lance said, looking into her eyes.
"Dear knight, are you sure you are ready for this quest?" Priscilla asked, putting her hand slowly on his shoulder.
"I have never backed down from a challenge my Queen, and I plan not on starting now." Answered Lance with a prideful smile on his face.
"I present to you, Lance of Duracia!" The Queen exclaimed, looking at the crowd with a look of elegance and pride.
The crowd cheered as Lance waved calmly.
"I will prepare." Lance said, turning to face the large staircase.
"Very well then." Priscilla said, flashing him a smile.
He quickly headed towards his chamber, and shut the door. He grabbed his bag, and stuffed it quickly with supplies. He looked out his window, gazing towards the mountains in the distance. He thought about all the things that could await him, both magnificent and treacherous. He stood there in deep thought, wondering if this would be the journey that would shape the rest of his life. He stepped out of the room, and made his way back down the stairway. Gabriel met him at the bottom of the steps, with a look of hatred on his chiseled face.
"I see everything went in your favor Lance." Gabriel said with his words in a harsh tone.
Lance stared him down for a moment.
"I do not have time to play games Gabriel; I have a mission to perform." Lance said with his voice stern.
Gabriel grabbed him by the shoulder with a firm hand and Lance turned to face him.
"Do not walk away when I am talking to you Lance!" Gabriel yelled, a look of hatred covering his face.
Lance glared at him, shoving Gabriel's hand off his shoulder. He stepped closer to Gabriel, as if he was measuring him for a fierce blow.
"I would advise you never do that again." Lance said harshly, staring into Gabriel's cold eyes.
He turned again, and Gabriel grabbed his shoulder, trying to pull him around. Lance turned, slamming Gabriel into the stone wall beside the staircase. Gabriel flinched a little, sinking to the floor. Lance kicked at him lightly, making sure he was unconscious.
"You had it coming." Lance said, turning away from him.
He stepped out into the main ball room, and made his way to the Queen. She smiled as he approached her.
"My Queen, I am leaving tonight. Please, keep me in your prayers." Lance said softly.
"It is done brave knight, and our kingdom is proud of you." Priscilla said, nodding cheerfully.
She waved as he made his way through the crowd. Many individuals patted him on the back, and gave him words of encouragement. Lance made his way out to the stable area, and found Rigel.
"Are you ready old boy?" Lance said, smiling at his trusted friend.
Excerpted from Uncharted Realms by J.R. BRYCE Copyright © 2012 by J.R. Bryce. 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.
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