As the author of The Kingmaker and the books to follow, I believe I have a duty to show my readers a small preview of my work. I want to get you excited for the release of The Kingmaker. I want you all to want to follow Rhyn through his journey. So this is Chapter One of The Kingmaker, Book 1 of The Kingmaker Saga.
This latest version of Chapter 1, includes some previous edits by Lynda Dietz of Easy Reader. Her helpful input has been lifesaving so far.
Ruben burst through the front door of his house. He slammed it, shutting out what was coming. The look of fear in his eyes panicked his wife. She darted towards him.
“What is it?”
“Pack a satchel, Isabelle. We must leave, now!”
“Are we in danger?”
“We will be if we don’t leave!”
Isabelle ran to the cupboard, piling clothes into a leather satchel she kept. She furiously packed away as many items as she could while Ruben ran into his son’s room.
“Wake up, Rhyn,” he tried to hide the seriousness in his voice. “We have to go on a journey.”
“What’s the matter, father?” Rhyn stirred and sat himself up, looking at his father, confused.
Ruben’s mind raced, he hadn’t planned for anything like this. He never thought he would be the one being hunted.
He heard them arrive, it was too late. The horses bound over the sandbags, their riders carried torches of fire, hurling them through windows as they passed into the outskirts of the village. Panic came over the people as women and children ran for their lives, husbands were cut down, and houses licked by flames sent embers into the air. They rode through, cutting and slicing, silently. No battle cries were heard, just the cries of the dying and terrified.
The screams rose to fill the valley as the fires emerged in house after house until they reached the village centre. Ruben knew why they had come. He raced for his sword belt as a torch came through the window. Isabelle clinched Rhyn and moved to the back of the house, ready to climb out of the window. Rhyn dashed for his father but was yanked back by the protective hands of his mother.
“Stay with your mother,” Ruben said. “I will be with you soon.”
Ruben raced outside to see Shallowbridge aflame. The smell of smoke blew through the thatched houses as the people cried for help, they ran for their lives as the riders cut them down without remorse. The riders surrounded him. He drew his sword, each baiting him to fight them. One attempted to strike him, but was felled by a strike from Ruben. He quickly positioned himself to counter another strike as more joined the circle of men around him.
Isabelle escaped outside with Rhyn, she ran through the mud as fast as she could with him in tow. Another rider caught sight of them and rode with intent towards them, and in a moment seemed to last forever, Rhyn watched his mother cut down in front of him. For what felt like an eternity he stared at the lifeless body of his mother while the rain pelted him. Everything slowed down to a snail’s pace. His eyes welled, tears welled and streamed and his fury began to build. Rhyn struggled to his feet as the rider was knocked off his horse by a villager who had armed himself with a rake. Rhyn grabbed the sword from the rider and immediately impaled him on the ground, turning to see his father standing with the bodies of the twelve men that had surrounded him, now strewn in the mud and dirty water. As he called out to his son, a stray arrow hit him clean in the chest, protruding like a branch from a tree. Ruben fell to his knees, holding the arrow with his free hand, and as the thunder snapped across the skies, another joined it.
Rhyn cried out for his father, running to his aid. The riders had dismounted and were closing in to finish Ruben as the boy ran, sword in hand, ready to vanquish all of them. He reached the first rider, attacking him from behind. He sliced the back of his knee and pivoted, cutting the man’s chest as he fell. He ran to the next and jumped, slicing that rider’s neck, sending him to the mud. Four others had reached his father. Rhyn placed himself in front of them, blocking their striking path with a sword and his fiery gaze. Half-covered in blood and mud he held his sword high above his head, teeth bared and face twisted with hate. His father wheezed behind him. He knelt with the two arrows deep in his chest, calling to his son with his last few breaths. Rhyn turned, tears and crimson in his eyes. Ruben pushed him aside as another arrow shot towards them and pierced his chest a final time.
Rhyn cried out as his father fell to the void. Ruben laid motionless, his eyes still. Filled with fury and sorrow, Rhyn rose to his feet and turned to face the attackers, ready to join his family. His fate had been sealed if not for one man: the captain of the riders, the man with one ear.
“So, this is the son of Ruben.” The man, holding the bow that had just taken Rhyn’s father’s life, assessed the young boy. The man with one ear looked upon the men the boy had killed with such finesse and skill. “Take him. King Jendrik will be pleased a court rumour was true.” The riders grabbed the young boy, overpowering him and binding his hands and feet. Rhyn watched as the man with one ear took his father’s sword from his lifeless body, along with a necklace. The sword alone would prove the demise of one the king would reluctantly call a traitor.
Rhyn wriggled and writhed as the men attempted to place him on the back of a horse, yelling at them and cursing. For a boy his age he knew how to throw a strong curse. The leader of the riders walked over. The puddles of mud had turned to pools of red, rippling with each drop of rain.
He held Rhyn’s head up by his chin and looked into his eyes. “One day, you’ll know and understand the reasons for our actions this night.” He then struck Rhyn, hard enough to knock him out, his eyes clouded with only the memory of the crest on the soldier’s chests, a red wolf.