The dread lords rising, p.1
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       The Dread Lords Rising, p.1

           J. David Phillips
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The Dread Lords Rising
The Dread Lords Rising

  Book One

  By J. David Phillips

  Credits and Acknowledgements

  I could not have written this book without the help and loving support of countless individuals.  I love you all, though there are too many of you to write about on just one page.  I am especially grateful to my daughter, Maddie. Without her encouragement when she was eleven, I never would have discovered Bug, and this would have been a different novel entirely.  Also, thank you Karen for kicking my butt more times than I care to think about.  I still don’t think I can sit on flat surfaces comfortably, you know. I also want to give a special acknowledgement to the students at South Brunswick Middle School and High School. I have never met a sweeter group of kids. I think so highly of you. Please don’t forget that. You have restored my hope in the future of this country.

  (The cover for this novel was created by Les Solot. She can be contacted as Germancreative at fiverr.com.)

  Be on the lookout for J. David Phillips’s next novel, I Scream of Genie, book one in The Demon’s Playground comedy series. The Sorcerer’s Fury, book two in The Dread Lords Rising series will be out before the end of winter, 2017.

  Table of Contents

  Forward

  1.Niam And The Dog

  2.Justice Well Deserved

  3.The Family Custard

  4.And So It Begins

  5.Retirement Interrupted

  6.Niam’s Run

  7.A Bigger Problem

  8.How The Bug Got Bugged

  9.Below The Ruins

  10.Maerillus Tells A Lie

  11.Another Day Begins

  12.The Boxes

  13.When The Tree Falls

  14.The Trall

  15.The Family Court

  16.The Merchant

  17.Things Overheard

  18.Hound And Hare

  19.Bug’s Run

  20.Not Far At All

  21.Voice Of Thunder

  22.A Decision To Act

  23.The Bad Place

  24.Beyond The Door

  25.The Assassin

  26.Hair And Stuff

  27.Some Rules Must Be Broken

  28.Whatever Possessed Her

  29.The Stench Of Death

  30.Rampage

  31.More Things To Worry About

  32.What The Sorcerer Left Behind

  33.The Undead

  34.Training

  35.An Incoming Rider

  36.Piper’s Flute

  37.The Cave

  38.The Convergence Of The Count

  39.With Dangerous Intentions

  40.Fury In The Face Of Fear

  41.Danger In Disguise

  42.The Deeps

  43.The Sorcerer’s Lair

  44.Unfinished Business

  45.A Family Matter

  Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.

  —Vishnu, The Bhagavad-Gita.

  Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.

  —F. Scott Fitzgerald

  When the moon is high and the stars are set

  All night long in the Dark and wet a man goes riding by.

  Late in the night when the fires are out,

  Why does he gallop and gallop about?

  —Anonymous

  Before

  The woman on the bed in the center of the room bunched up in one mighty spasm. A moan began in the center of her chest and worked its way outward, shaking her entire frame. Sweat poured down from her brow across her cheeks. Drops of it cascaded into her puffy eyes, which were rimmed with red and shot through with swollen vessels. Her breathing reached a crescendo, and her back suddenly arched. There was no more air in her lungs and her mouth worked silently. Her hands slid down the edge of the bed, and she gripped the loose sheets so that her fingers balled into white knuckled fists.

  The room grew deathly quiet.

  Then there came a series of liquid gurgles followed by soft cries of a newborn infant. Karin Maldies fell back gasping for air. She groaned again, but there was finally a note of relief to it. She began to laugh.

  “Never . . .” she began, but didn’t have the breath to finish. The midwife deftly cleaned the baby off. “I never had a childbirth that hard before.”

  “Well, you handled it excellently, lady Maldies,” the midwife said approvingly, “You’re the mother of—”

  A boy,” Karin finished for her. “It’s a boy. I already know.” Her voice was shaky with fatigue.

  “Aye, it was a rough one, ma’am. Once you’ve held him, you’ll need your rest. I’ll summon a wet nurse.”

  “No,” Karin commanded, “My child is mine to nurse . . . and his name is Niam.”

  From a darkened corner of the room, an old liveried servant stepped forward. It was his job to report on the success or difficulty of the labor. He cleared his throat uncertainly. The midwife looked up at him, as if only now becoming aware of his presence, and addressed him irritably, “Oh, don’t stand there like an old scarecrow, Falion. Speak, old man! We’ve still got to pass the afterbirth.”

  “If it’s all right with you and the misses, I’ll go and notify Lord Joachim that the boy is well,” and he inclined his head in Karin’s direction without actually allowing his eyes to fall on her. “Her husband should be here soon.”

  The midwife had other plans for him. “Just a moment, Falion.”

  Unsure of what to do, Falion began to retreat back into the shadowy corner. On the bed, Karin’s face began to contort in pain and her breathing sped up again.

  “Oh no, it’s about to pass. Right here with you,” she pointed to him and indicated that he should stand next to her.

  Falion shuffled up to the bed.

  “You’ll need to hold this young gentleman before you’re off to tell the men.” Without waiting, she tenderly finished wrapping the newborn in fresh linens and deposited him into the old man’s arms.

  The old servant looked at her as if she had lost her mind.

  “They don’t bite, you old fool!” the midwife snapped.

  Averting his gaze from Karin’s lower half, he carefully cradled little Niam in his arms. “But there is a woman’s modesty to consider,” he complained, jerking his head in the direction of Karin’s open legs. He didn’t dare look, for Falion considered himself first and foremost a gentleman.

  “Those don’t bite, either,” the midwife retorted, “Or have you grown too old to remember?”

  Falion felt his face flush.

  On the bed beside him, Karin Maldies began to grunt as the final contractions came at her in waves.

  “Just a little bit more, “the midwife encouraged soothingly. “We’re nearly done, dear. I’ve passed five of my own, and dozens of other women’s over the years.

  Falion turned his back on the women so he wouldn’t have to watch. This was women’s work, and he would have only as much of it as he had to, and not a hair’s breadth more. In his arms, he felt the gentle warmth of the infant through the wrappings.

  Little Niam stirred impatiently.

  Despite himself, Falion smiled. He couldn’t help it. A good forty-five years ago he had held the first of his three, and the feeling of a helpless baby tucked in his arms fresh from its mother’s womb was a thing that never left a man. With his finger, Falion moved the blanket aside so he could see the child’s face. And when he did . . .

  He suddenly froze.

  The boy’s eyes were bright yellow.

  Falion l
ooked around in alarm. The midwife was bent intently between Karin’s legs. “Come on now,” she coached her, “Just bare down a few more times, and we’re done.” All he could do was stand there, gaping.

  As his mother labored to rid herself of the placenta, little Niam looked up at Falion and his pupils were the color of sunflowers on a late summer afternoon.

 

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