Lugah - Feral IntentAdrian Juhl / Fantasy
Lugah – Feral Intent
Copyright © 2014 by Adrian L Juhl
All rights reserved
Adrian L Juhl
Cover art by: Kristina Juhl
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
This book is dedicated to
Alison and John Stonyer
Thank you for your support over the years and the many discussions on solving the mysteries of the universe.
Table of Contents
Glossary of Names
Other books by this author
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Glossary of Exotic Names
A lone figure sat in shadow on the holy throne, overlooking the mezzanine’s balustrade. Although the arched windows covered the height of the wall, the sun no longer touched the throne. From within the shadows, she watched a line of soldier ants disappear through a tiny crevice in the marble wall. She scratched absentmindedly at the armrest, wondering where they were going in such a hurry.
“Ouch!” Removing the fine splinter of wood embedded beneath her nail, she sucked at her finger.
A sound drew her attention. She watched as someone hurried down the length of the hall, footsteps echoing against the marble floor. A shadow accompanied him. As he passed them, courtiers dropped to their knees to pay homage. She waited as the footsteps drew closer.
“So, you made it,” she remarked with indifference. She perched on the edge of the large throne and pushed. With noiseless ease, the throne turned away from the balustrade to face the entrance to the room.
The Regent strained to calm his breathing. His black-armored, personal Apothecary waited in the corridor.
“Regent, you should do something about your fitness.”
“That’s my concern. Is there a reason you’re here and sitting in my seat?” He glared into the shadows, trying to identify the mysterious woman.
As he moved towards the throne, she stood. “My dear Regent, Ophidia herself has declared that everyone must have purpose.” She leant forward. “Or have you forgotten that?”
Alarmed, the Regent stepped back towards the entrance. “Don’t be absurd. I am Ophidia’s most faithful servant. I—”
“Spare me the rhetoric, Regent, and let’s continue, shall we?”
“You had better hope this is as important as you portray.”
“I’m here because a great travesty is about to befall the Church.”
“Oh? And why has Ophidia not informed me of this herself?”
A moment of silence passed between them. Devoid of emotion, she responded in the coldest tone, “Because we all have our responsibilities. If you like, we could attempt a summoning so you can… demand this of her?”
“No, that’s unnecessary. My faith in Ophidia is steadfast.”
“Then stop wasting my time and listen.”
The Regent nodded in assent.
“The Ferals—in particular, one named Lugah—are opposing the Church. In fact, even now they conspire against Ophidia. Something must be done, Regent. What do you propose?”
The Regent approached his throne. Long strands of black hair brushed past his face as he took his seat. He placed his hands on the arms of the throne and focused his thoughts. His eyes glazed black, as if covered in a dark ooze. Unintelligible words poured from his mouth as he reported to Ophidia. Moments later, he opened his eyes.
“Ophidia is pleased with your report. She will deal with Lugah. We will deal with the issue on the Forbidden Isles.”
“The Forbidden Isles?”
“Yes. It seems our young prince has defied the law and visited them. He has strayed from his true path and seeks to endanger us all.”
“I see,” she muttered in a soft voice. “What are our orders?”
“Ophidia is monitoring the situation. In the interests of maintaining peace between church and state, I will send my personal Apothecary to speak with the prince and undo any damage he has caused.”
“That’s an excellent idea. He is very loyal. At the same time a delegation will be sent to Ketu to impose sanctions.”
Puzzled, the Regent replied, “Sanctions? There’ll be no sanctions.”
“What do you mean?”
“Blessed Ophidia has ordered a culling. Every child under eight is to be euthanized. The wayward beasts will travel to Her embrace and She will save them from a life of heresy.”
Outside, the hardened features of the Regent’s personal Apothecary paled in horror. Raymond staggered in disbelief as he overheard his master’s plan.
The Regent stood and grinned. “Raymond!” he shouted.
Raymond entered the room and found only the Regent there.
“Mighty Regent, I am here,” he replied.
The Regent smiled at Raymond. “Ophidia has blessed us this day with an opportunity to magnify our faith and kingdom.”
Raymond bowed his head, hiding the anger and confusion in his eyes. “Blessed be Ophidia and her divine purpose.”
The Regent opened his arms and hugged Raymond in a pious embrace. “Leave now on our fastest ship. Summon to council the wayward prince. Escort Kayne home and into the embrace of Ophidia’s loving arms.”
“Blessed be Ophidia and her divine purpose.”
“Oh, and one last thing, Raymond.”
“Yes, my Regent?”
“Send me Bishop Belle.”
In that moment, Raymond questioned his faith. Without raising his head, he shuffled backwards to the door, replying, “Yes, my Regent.”
Raymond stopped in the archway and raised his head. “Yes, my Regent?”
“Blessed be Ophidia and her divine purpose.”
“Blessed be Ophidia,” Raymond replied. He bowed once more and left the room. In the darkness, the Regent smiled as he sat back down. The throne turned to face the balustrade. He watched Raymond move down the long hall and disappear.
Haunted by the words of the Regent, Raymond struggled throughout the day and most of the night. He knew what must be done. The full moon guided him as he sprinted through the streets and palace gates. Raymond ran past the Guards who pulled in their long spears to their chests. Several greeted him, but Raymond had no time for pleasantries. He arrived at the king’s chamber. The two guards posted there withdrew their spears and nodded in recognition. No guard would dare ask an Apothecary what he was doing.
“Leave,” said Raymond. He waited until they were farther down the corridor, and then knocked.
The door opened revealing the king. Raymond looked at him, conflicted between his faith and loyalty to the crown.
“Raymond? I’ll get Shannon, shall I?” The Apothecary stood in silence. “Apothecary?” Jim waved his hand in front of Raymond’s face.
The movement of the king’s hand snapped Raymond out of his daze. “Sire. May I speak with you in the hall?”
“Me?” Jim puzzled. “It must be important then.”
Queen Shannon stood in the darkness as her husband joined the Apothecary in the corridor—an act unheard of in the history of Methuselah.
Inside the king’s chamber, the queen pressed her ear on the bottom of a glass held against the wooden door.
Outside, Jim queried, “So, what is so dire that the Regent has not gone through the queen?”
“What I ask is not from the Regent.”
“I see… Then you must understand I cannot protect you from subjugation. The fact that my wife is the Subjugator doesn’t mean I can interfere.”
“Yes, Sire. I understand the risk”
The king stared at Apothecary Raymond and considered the situation. With a reluctant sigh he replied, “You have never given the queen cause to question your faith. So, out with it then.”
“Sire. I know you’ve been working hard to create new relationships with the other worlds.”
“Such is a king’s duty.”
Raymond nodded. “It’s just that… Ophidia has ordered an act that makes me question my faith and teachings. An act that could unite every world against Methuselah.”
With a stern look, the king placed his hand on Raymond’s shoulder. “It would be best if we start at the beginning.”
Raymond recounted his conversation with the Regent.
“Apothecary Raymond. I can’t profess to understand all of this, but I can see it brings you great turmoil, as it does me. Let me reassure you. What you say will stay between us. You are an intelligent man, Apothecary, so I doubt you came without a plan. You have my support and gratitude. Now what do you need from me?”
“I need you to send a message to Ketu.”
Inside, Queen Shannon moved away from the door and walked into her personal chamber, crying to herself, “He didn’t listen. I knew he wouldn’t listen!”
A tall, slender woman sat facing the window, as the light of dawn heralded in the new day.
“Before you say anything, it was Kayne’s decision.”
Queen Shannon sighed. “He gets it from his father. What’s happening? Will your vision come to pass?”
Her long, black hair danced around her shoulders as she shook her head. “I do not know. Too much has changed. I did my part, but the warning…Kayne did not heed our warning. It’s up to Raymond now.”
“What do you mean by that?” The queen looked up, but the room was empty. She ran to the window and saw Raymond walking towards the docks.
Raymond leaned against the rail at the docks as the men prepared his ship.
“A beautiful morning to serve, is it not?”
The delicate voice caught his attention. Raymond turned. The obsidian skin of the female Bishop reflected the morning light. With a quick nod, he turned his gaze away from her.
“Indeed it is, Bishop Belle. I see you wasted no time.”
“Thank you, Apothecary. We serve when called by Her grace and wisdom. I am just thankful that you have yet to set sail.”
“And to what do I owe the honor of a visit from one of such station?”
Belle laughed. The sound sent shivers down Raymond’s spine. “Nonsense, Raymond. We are all equals in the eyes of Ophidia. Why, I am here to wish you well, and thank you for your unwavering faith in the regrettable task ahead.”
Raymond turned to Belle. “Regrettable task? I find no regret in bringing Prince Kayne home from his wayward path.” He turned back to the rail and resumed his watch of the men.
Belle fell silent and walked towards an open barrel. She ran her finger along the surface of the fresh water inside, creating small ripples.
“It won’t take long to bring Kayne home,” Raymond replied, refusing to look Belle in the eye.
Belle whispered, “Home. Yes. Some would say that it would be in the best interests of the kingdom if the prince failed to return. Such a homecoming could even break the uneasy ties between the heretics and the faithful.”
“What do you mean? He is Kayne. Everyone loves him.”
“Yes. Love. I see. Such a fickle thing, love. Tell me, Raymond. What will happen when Kayne returns and faces the penalty for entering the Forbidden Isles? Some would say, for betraying the trust Ophidia herself has placed on mankind to self-govern. She is our guide, and the church is her loving hand. We would be forced to make sure the law is upheld.”
Raymond froze, splintering the wooden rail under his mighty gauntlet. “He will repent and see the error of his ways. Ophidia is not only mighty, but merciful.”
“Did you forget the unforgivable law?” Belle’s voice was stern. “The law that states that no one may enter the Isles? A law so divine that Ophidia ordered a wall of mist to conceal them from temptation.”
Raymond lowered his head. “No, Bishop, I have not.”
Her voice tempered. “We are honored to serve, Raymond.”
“Blessed be Ophidia and her divine purpose,” he replied, as he walked towards the men signaling all was ready.