Queen of all the knowing.., p.1
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       Queen of all the Knowing World, p.1

           Jon Jacks
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Queen of all the Knowing World

  Queen of all the Knowing World

  Jon Jacks

  Other New Adult and Children’s books by Jon Jacks

  The Caught – The Rules – Chapter One – The Changes – Sleeping Ugly

  The Barking Detective Agency – The Healing – The Lost Fairy Tale

  A Horse for a Kingdom – Charity – The Most Beautiful Things (Now includes The Last Train)

  The Dream Swallowers – Nyx; Granddaughter of the Night – Jonah and the Alligator

  Glastonbury Sirens – Dr Jekyll’s Maid – The 500-Year Circus – The Desire: Class of 666

  P – The Endless Game – DoriaN A – Wyrd Girl – The Wicker Slippers

  Heartache High (Vol I) – Heartache High: The Primer (Vol II) – Heartache High: The Wakening (Vol III)

  Miss Terry Charm, Merry Kris Mouse & The Silver Egg – The Last Angel – Eve of the Serpent

  Seecrets – The Cull – Dragonsapien – The Boy in White Linen – Porcelain Princess – Freaking Freak

  Died Blondes

  Coming Soon

  The Truth About Fairies

  Text copyright© 2015 Jon Jacks

  All rights reserved

  Thank you for downloading this ebook. It remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be reproduced, copied and distributed for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

  Thank you for your support.

  Chapter 1

  Imp was worried: she could hear the roaring of the enraged buisoar, yet she couldn’t detect even a trace of the cajoling cries of her father and brother anymore.

  She stood up on the seat of the cart, notching an arrow in her bow.

  It would be useless, of course: it wouldn’t even bring down a baby buisoar.

  Besides, it would be her father who would be enraged if she did manage to kill it. All that dangerously, painstakingly prepared meat going to waste just like that – killed by surprise, rather than when fully incensed and fighting for its life.

  Even from her raised position, Imp couldn’t completely see over the top of the thick covering of bushes lying between the trees. She could, however, see the violent movement taking place amongst them. The sure signs of something both incredibly large and brutal pummelling its way through.

  Small trunks snapped, bushes toppled. Branches were scattered high into the air, with a reverberating crack after crack.

  The buisoar shouldn’t be running so freely at this point, Imp realised.

  Her father and brother had been stalking it, goading it, for hours. They should have strung enough thick nets amongst the bushes by now. Stealthily corralling it into an area where they could finally risk moving in to kill the great beast.

  Cornered, a buisoar was more dangerous than ever: but that, as her father always boasted to his clients, also made for the best meat.

  The blood rushed through to every part of its being, saturating its flesh, muscle and innards with its most nutritionally intuitional essences. A diet of joints from his slab was guaranteed to enhance anyone’s Knowing abilities. It was a claim backed by his right to call himself the Official Supplier of Intuitionally-Rich Meats to the nearest of the Imperial Colleges of Knowing.

  The wild headlong rush of the buisoar within the bushes was nosier, more obvious, nearer.

  As Imp had originally feared, it was rushing towards her: no doubt having detected her scent.

  Now she could clearly see that the toppling bushes were mostly falling her way. The trodden track in the undergrowth the buisoar was leaving in its wake was rapidly snaking her way.

  She raised her bow in readiness, breathed in.

  She tried to calm herself.

  To think only, purely, of the flight of the arrow. Its target of the eye.

  To become as one with the bow. As one with the arrow.

  Even as it left her fingers.

  It must remain a part of her mind. An element of life she will still be in control of. Still determine.

  The buisoar’s eye is incredibly small. Its massive surroundings are also ridiculously heavily armoured. The skin of a buisoar’s extended skull is its most formidable defence – and that on a creature with skin a hand’s width deep on its supposedly weak rear.

  Know your enemy.

  Know its weakness.

  Know that it is that weakness you are aiming for.

  Know that you are capable of this.

  Know, she thinks, unwisely, that dad will kill you if you kill it for no other reason than it’s going to kill you!


  Think straight girl! Quickly!

  This thing moves like a stallion!

  Know your-


  With a triumphant cry, Imp’s brother Hoak suddenly leapt from a tree’s leafy, overhanging branch. With another excited whoop, he dropped down onto the humped back of the oncoming buisoar.

  Using the momentum of his fall, Hoak sharply dug the hook in his left hand into the beast’s thick neck. With a stern grunt, he pulled his legs and knees in tightly, forcing the barbs on the inner parts of his shoes and trousers deep into the buisoar’s hide.

  The buisoar, while continuing its headlong charge, also bucked fiercely, an attempt to remove this abruptly imposed, unwanted burden.

  Hoak clung on, his barbs and hook deeply embedded. Leaning forward, he reached out with the much larger hook he held in his right hand. He looped it down towards one of the buisoar’s ears, tucked behind its armoured face-shield.

  Wrenching back hard on the hook, he violently jerked it up, sinking it deeply into the entrance to the ear trumpet.

  Feeling the hook begin to sink in, Hoak gleefully readied himself to click the handle’s switch. Clicking the switch would release the heavy spring in the barbed end, firing it like a dart up into the beast’s brains.

  From deep within the forest, there came a sharp blast of a hunting horn. It wasn’t just any horn, either; it was the vibrant wail reserved only for the queen’s hunting party.

  Hoak started a little in surprise; not much, but enough to cause him to slightly alter the angle of the hook. Just, too, as he fired the dart.

  The beast shuddered. It gave a howl of surprised agony, the barbed dart tearing through the soft cells of its brain.

  But the firing of the barb didn’t, as it was supposed to do, as it would usually do, bring the buisoar down.

  The beast continued on its thundering charge.

  Hurtling directly towards Imp and the cart.


  Chapter 1

  1,000 Years Later

  Desri felt both incredibly proud and incredibly sad.

  Mounted on his horse, his pennanted lance held high, his perfectly circular shield strapped to his back, Cranden looked every inch the warrior he’d always wanted to be.

  His helmet sparkled in the sun, its long plume of dyed horse hair flowing out behind him like a blaze of fire.

  Desri was thankful that she’d tied her expensive silk scarf to his horse’s harness when they’d finally had to part. Otherwise, how would she recognise him amongst so many hundreds of almost identically dressed men?

  Despite the closely surrounding, loudly cheering crowds, Desri tried to keep pace with Cranden’s languidly trotting horse. Running around the back of everyone where it was possible, squirming apologetically through them wherever they stretched too far back.

  Naturally, like all the other men in his troop, Cranden had to keep looking straight ahead. Whenever he managed a fleeting, strained sidelong glance, however, he caught Desri gaily waving to him; and he would smile warmly for her.

  At least she wasn’t crying, he thought.

  Not like she had earlier, when t
hey’d held each other for what might be the last time. It would, at least, be for months, maybe even years.

  Maybe, even, for ever.

  The chances were high that he would be one of the many unfortunate men who always failed to return from these missions to hold the pass to the Blue-table Plain, the only thing separating them from the aggressive Prenderean Empire.

  There were innumerable weeping people amongst the crowd. Girlfriends, like Desri. Wives, mothers, children. And yes, even fathers.

  But even most of these began to look up excitedly, to cheer, when they saw that the queen herself was riding deep within the procession.

  Desri couldn’t see the queen yet. Even so, she could hear the clarion call of the horns that would be following on behind her.

  Besides, Desri wasn’t interested. She was still trying to keep up with Cranden. Still trying to attract his attention with a wave, even the odd jump. Hoping this would raise her high enough above the rest of the crowd for him to see her.

  Eventually, Desri could run no farther.

  Not because she was exhausted – even though, yes, she was indeed exhausted from all the running, all the excitement, sadness, and fear – but because the milling crowd had at last formed a completely impenetrable barrier before her.

  She tried to dodge around a number of the nearest people, but they refused to move. They irately protested that they couldn’t move, because they too were constrained by everyone massing about them.

  Desri screwed up her face in frustration. She craned her neck to peer over the rapidly increasing number of heads blocking her view of the disappearing Cranden.

  She couldn’t tell where he was anymore, her silk scarf hidden from sight by his own body. He was, finally, just one of many similarly dressed riders, one of the hundreds in the serpentine procession slowly winding its way out through the town’s great gates.

  A trembling blast of horns alerted Desri to the nearby presence of the queen, whose part of the procession was now passing her section of the crowd. Now that the queen was so close, Desri suddenly couldn’t take her eyes off her: she was unbelievably magnificent, truly inspirational in her whole appearance.

  She wore a snowstorm-white armour, sparkling with both silver and the pure, bright light of thousands of stars. She carried her white helmet in the crook of an arm. With her other hand, she held her own lance as perfectly upright as any warrior. Its large red banner flickered like a fire in the light breeze flowing across the square.

  The same breeze caressed the queen’s long hair, hair almost as red as the banner. It drifted behind her in an even more flame-like fluttering, for it sparked as it caught the sun.

  The queen’s mount was as white as her armour. Its neck was elegantly, imperiously arced. Its hooves rose high in the air, coming down with a light clop.

  The horse trotted along with an air of complete confidence and pride. It was only lightly armoured, being draped instead with flowing white veils and decorative blooms.

  Suddenly, the queen’s head whirled in Desri’s direction. Across all those many people, that great distance, Desri sensed their eyes briefly locking.

  Know this; you are destined for greatness!

  As quickly as that arrogant thought had entered Desri’s head, it vanished.

  It could only, after all, have been her foolish imagination. The queen wasn’t even looking her way, let alone picking her out from amongst the vast crowd to grace her with particular attention and flattery.

  The queen rode on, waving gaily at the crowd as a whole, not as individuals.

  Despite how admirable the queen looked, however, at that moment Desri couldn’t help but hate her.

  It was for her that Cranden was heading off to war.

  And it was for her that he might die.


  Chapter 2

  1,000 Years Earlier

  Know what you want to achieve.

  Imp steadied her splayed feet. Steadied her bow. Steadied her mind.

  She had to sense, rather than see, where the buisoar’s eye might be. Going by how high Hoak was, how swiftly he was coming towards her.

  Continually smoothly shifting her bow, she kept the arrow aimed at that highly-probable point in space.

  As the buisoar broke through the edge of the thick undergrowth, revealing the massive beast in all its magnificent, fearsome bulk, she didn’t stop to think that her guess was slightly off.

  All that was in her mind was the beast’s eye, her arrow point reaching out to it across a short space of time and distance.

  She instinctively – not with any thought, any reason, which would only get in the way, spoil her aim, spoil the naturalness of it all – shifted the aim slightly. Sensing that this was right.

  She let the arrow fly.

  Know that you will die, buisoar!

  The arrow slid home with a joyful hiss into the beast’s eye.


  Chapter 2

  1,000 Years Later

  The way Desri told it, Cranden was easily the most handsome man in the whole procession.

  That, of course, was exactly what his parents wanted to hear.

  He’d had no doubts about the mission when they’d talked before he’d left, she added brightly. She excused herself for the lie.

  The Frendens had already lost a daughter, Cranden’s elder sister.

  To lose Cranden too would be too much. Even for a couple who had become as hardened as anybody could be to the vagaries and unfairness of life.

  What made his leaving even worse for them, of course, was that even if Desri’s father had given them permission to say goodbye to their son, Cranden wouldn’t have wanted them there. He was too angry with them, too ashamed.

  ‘What’s this?’ Desri’s father flung the door open angrily. ‘We’ve got customers out here! Customers who’re dying for a drink!’

  There was no point in Desri accusing her father of being drunk again. He was always drunk. Naturally, owning a tavern didn’t help. Neither did losing a wife to the Disappearance.

  Offering humble apologies, the Frendens bowed and nodded their heads subserviently. They jumped up from their seats. As Desri’s father half stumbled aside, the Frendens rushed for the door that would lead them to the area behind the tavern’s bar.

  With an irate frown, Desri made to follow them. But her father held a hand hard against her chest, stopping her.

  ‘You, you stay!’ he growled. ‘I think I’ve seen enough consorting with slaves for today!’

  ‘You don’t have to look!’ Desri snapped back disrespectfully.

  She vainly tried to step aside, step around his restraining hand.

  ‘I can’t help seeing you cavorting with their slave son!’

  ‘He bought his freedom, remember?’

  ‘And we all know how his mother raised the money to buy his freedom!’ her father snarled in reply. ‘Entertaining my customers after hours! Every hour she could too, going by the money she raised!’

  ‘She did it for him! For Cranden!’

  ‘And does he appreciate that? Being the son of a whore? Rather than a slave?’

  ‘Thanks to her – and Jaben for allowing it, even though it was tearing him apart – Cranden’s a warrior now! Protecting our borders from the Prendereans!’

  ‘Hah, well at least I can thank our glorious queen for that, can’t I now? Or are you really fooling yourself he’s going to return from this fool’s mission, girl? Hardly anyone else ever does!’

  ‘He’s brave, strong. Well trained! He’s got a better chance than most!’

  ‘And just how many young men do you think go off to war thinking the same thing? That’s why our queen always sends the young off to die – they’re still stupid enough to think they have a charmed life! One that’s always going to be free from the troubles besetting the rest of us poor mortals!’

  ‘I saw the queen! Despite how you’ve always described her, how you always loath her, I must say I was quite impressed!
She’s magnificent. There’s no doubt about it!’

  Grimacing furiously, Desri’s father raised a hand high to slap her face hard.

  Desri didn’t flinch, apart from an unintentional blinking of her eyes.

  Her father struggled to regain control, thought better of it.

  He dropped his hand.

  ‘Don’t you understand yet that – somehow, I don’t know how, but somehow – that odious woman’s the one who’s responsible for your poor mother just vanishing like that?’

  ‘Mother could have run away from you. Can’t you accept that?’

  She’d said it to hurt him. She knew it wasn’t true.

  She could remember that he hadn’t always been this way; always drunk, always bitter and angry with life. It was only since they’d lost her mother that he’d turned into this monster she no longer recognised as her father.

  He didn’t look like a monster now. He wasn’t angry anymore.

  He looked as if he’d been broken once more. This time by his own daughter’s cruel lie.

  Desri immediately regretted her hurtful comment.

  ‘Dad, I’m sorry.’

  She reached out towards him, embraced him. She felt the hard, heavy sobs building in his body.

  She cried too.

  ‘We don’t know why people just Disappear like that, Dad. No one does!’

  It was a frighteningly common occurrence, the way a man or woman (it was, thankfully, rarely a child) would seem to simply vanish off the earth. Leaving no message behind, no clues as to where they might have disappeared to.

  The authorities seemed equally baffled by these occurrences. Their only role appeared to be one of reassurance. No, they would proclaim defiantly: these people have not being lost to the illegal activities of the Officer Training Academy, as many continue to suspect.

  ‘Not Mum, not Clearen–’

  Desri’s dad furiously pulled back from her, cutting her short.

  ‘Don’t you dare go sullying your mother’s name! Linking her Disappearance with the legitimate hunting of a slave!’

  ‘Dad, Clearen vanished just like Mum did, not–’

  ‘No no! Clearen was a slave! The young officers have every right to hunt a slave down! But not your mum!’

  ‘You were never offered compensation! You never went asking for it!’

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