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       Dawn of the Valiant (The Valerious Chronicles: Book One), p.1

           Julian Saheed
 
Dawn of the Valiant (The Valerious Chronicles: Book One)
Dawn of the Valiant

  The Valerious Chronicles: Book One

  By Julian Saheed

  Copyright 2013 Julian Saheed

  Cover Art by Julian Saheed

  DEDICATION

  This is and will always be dedicated to Melina. Who took a red pen and transformed a story into a novel.

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  To my proof readers. Fross, Chris, Davide and Ben, without your help this would have never been possible.

  To the individuals whose kind words of encouragement drove me to continue, I thank you for the motivation.

  Table of Contents

  Prologue

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty One

  Chapter Twenty Two

  Chapter Twenty Three

  Chapter Twenty Four

  Chapter Twenty Five

  Epilogue

  About the Author

  PROLOGUE

  A TYRANT KING

  "Blind loyalty is not admirable, it is the path to an early grave," said Zephra as he stepped over the bodies littered in the snow.

  The birch doors of the Academy loomed as their final barrier inside. He motioned to his brutish accomplice, who after sheathing his sword, charged forwards, smashing the doors inwards.

  The third companion checked their backs with one last cautious gaze as he stepped over the splintered wood. "Are you sure of this?" he asked.

  "Ask me once more," replied Zephra venomously.

  A cold wind swept into the hall beside them and carried with it the bitter remnants of last night's snowfall. Wrapped tightly in their crimson cloaks they marched through the hall, sending haunting echoes ahead of them. Those onlookers who stayed to catch a glimpse of the intruders quickly ran from view, scurrying into darkened rooms and slamming the doors behind them. A king's ransom had been paid to gain the support of the rest of the Academy's guards. Coin well spent.

  They continued to the end of the hall where two iron bound doors stood sealed. Zephra raised his hands, summoning forth his new powers, and sent a wave of force forwards.

  The doors burst open with a thundering crash.

  As the powerful magic that had shattered the ancient entrance dissipated, the three men stormed into the chamber.

  "Remove your hand from that seal at once!" roared Zephra, pointing threateningly at the throne.

  On the opposite side of the room, King Friedrich Hermagoras, ruler of Dargon, had stopped just short of pressing his royal seal onto the treaty. He rose from his stone throne in outrage. "How dare you!" the King boomed over the panicked crowd.

  A slight smile curled towards Zephra's hollow cheeks as he strode purposefully closer to the King. He quickly scanned the room, paying close attention to a slim foreign man in blue vestments standing before the throne. "You did not really think that you could hide your actions from the people, Cousin?"

  "I am hiding nothing," replied the King.

  Zephra then stopped and turned to his two companions. The crowd, sensing the growing tension, fled their seats and gathered at the sides of the room. His companions both stepped hastily to his side.

  "Zephra, you have no place in this assembly. You must be utterly bereft of your wits to come here and destroy the doors of my council hall. Doors that have stood untouched through centuries of conflict."

  "You seek to partner with our most hated foe!" screeched Zephra. "What you plan is sacrilege!"

  "I have ruled this nation since before you could stand on two feet. If I seek peace, then I will do so without question and without your approval."

  Zephra's eyes widened in anger and the foreigner before the throne backed away in fear. "Such a fool...You underestimate me."

  "You have ever been a plague upon the Hermagoras bloodline," replied the King.

  "I am the Hermagoras bloodline!" snapped Zephra. "And I also know that what you are planning is in fact not in the best interests of the Dargonian nation."

  "I am the King and I decide what is in the best interest of my own land!" the King shot back.

  "This man is our mortal enemy," screamed Zephra, pointing at the foreigner in blue. "If the kings of old were here to see a Feldonian ambassador in the Academy of Gushkall they would murder you on the spot. This is a crime against our people."

  The Ambassador, now fearing for his life, quickly moved to join the huddled members of court at the room's side. The King ignored him and took a step towards his young cousin. "You go far to assume that you can come here and accuse me of crimes against my own people. If we did not share the same blood I would strike you down. My actions today will mark a new era of peace. An era where our children are given good food and shelter, not a sword and shield."

  "You wish to end a war which has raged since the beginning of time, since the very dawn of our age, instead of taking the steps towards victory."

  "Listen to me carefully, Zephra. This war you speak of is what has held our nation back. I will be the first king to see Dargon rise to its true potential." The King's voice reflected his belief in his words.

  "You," sneered Zephra condescendingly. "Know nothing about the true potential of Dargon. You sit on that throne thinking only of your own desires and growing treasury, not of what we could truly become."

  "My reckless cousin is accusing me of not knowing what is good for my own nation," the King replied, speaking to the crowd mockingly. "Know this Zephra. I have waged war with the Feldonians since my first day as this country's ruler and I have seen nought but senseless casualties of a one sided contest."

  "That is why you are not the right man to lead this country," Zephra retaliated harshly. "We have the manpower and will to claim this world as our own. What we lack is someone powerful enough to lead our armies over Lake Moonsong and burn Feldom to the very ground. Someone like me!"

  The King's face tightened, the anger growing in his eyes. "Guards, remove this treacherous fool and his companions from this council room. I grow tired of his youthful bickering."

  Four soldiers, who were standing ready at the King's side, moved towards the three intruders. Within an instant Zephra's companions had their own weapons out and stepped in front their leader.

  "I think you also underestimate my companions," Zephra said gleefully. "Oh, have I failed to introduce them? How very rude of me."

  His two companions removed their hoods; the larger wearing a fearsome golden helmet made to resemble a snarling bear, and the other revealing his dark, deep set eyes.

  Zephra pointed his hand towards the man with dark eyes. "This tall young man to my left you will recognise, Cousin. Mandigal, head disciple of last year's class at the Academy." Zephra grinned. "And this gigantic brute to my left," motioning to the helmeted figure. "Is none other than Luschia."

  This announcement drew gasps from the crowd. They cursed and said silent prayers to Gushkall. In the room's centre the four advancing guards stopped dead in their tracks.

  "Luschia!" The King roared. "You were exiled from these lands. Banned from ever entering Dargon again. The carnage that you caused here in th
is Academy is unforgivable. By coming back here you have sentenced yourself to death."

  As he turned to face the King, a muffled laugh escaped Luschia's golden helmet. A laugh so chilling that many of the onlookers drew back with fear.

  "I think he disagrees. Perhaps you wish to try and detain him," Zephra said with a wide smile.

  "You dare come into my throne room with these two fiends and stalk around as if you are the lord of these lands," the King said, his temper reaching breaking point.

  "You sent us away under false accusations," Mandigal said. "You sent us away because you were afraid of what we were becoming."

  "I was not afraid of what you were becoming, you insolent savage. I was afraid of what you already were. The three of you nearly brought about the downfall of this Academy."

  Mandigal swung his sword through the air in anger, his magic sending forth a ripple of energy that shook the room. "You cast us out of the Academy because we were excelling too quickly. You were looking to hinder us. You were threatened."

  The King snorted. "Luschia brutally butchered almost thirty disciples on the day of his exile."

  Another horrifying laugh emanated out of Luschia's helmet. Mandigal pointed his sword at the King. "I had no part in that bloodshed. I do not deny the atrocious crimes that Luschia committed, but I was exiled because of my friendship with him."

  "And that in my opinion is reason enough!" roared the King. "Any friend of that beast deserves no better than death." He paused, biting his lip. "I should have never helped you in the first place."

  The anger surged in Mandigal's eyes and he began to advance on King Hermagoras.

  "Mandigal, restrain yourself!" Zephra commanded.

  The room fell deadly silent and Zephra once again turned to face the King. Friedrich Hermagoras could sense what was on Zephra's mind and knew the danger he was in.

  "I know why you are here Zephra. I am not as foolish as you may think," the King said, taking a deep breath. "I cannot give you what you want."

  Luschia began to laugh once more as Zephra shook his head. "Cousin, what I want is not something you can give me, but rather something I must take."

  The King, fearing as much, sank back into his chair and the crowd moved further away from the three men, huddling together near the entrance of the room.

  "So, I shall tell you just why I have come to visit," Zephra continued in a level tone. "I have come to tell you that I will be the one who fulfils Dargon's destiny. I will unite all of Dargon under one banner, something that has never fully been achieved in our proud history."

  "And how exactly do you plan to do this Zephra?" said the King, knowing exactly what was coming. "Claim the throne? You may be my cousin, but you have no right to the rulership of Galdovan."

  "You know why we have come here."

  At that, Mandigal and Luschia rushed at the now stationary guards with their swords raised high. The crowd turned away as the two intruders crashed loudly into the four soldiers. Those who turned to catch a glimpse of the struggle quickly turned away in terror.

  The King, seeing his guardians fall to the floor motionless, rose once again from his throne and drew a sword from the seat's side. "Guards!" he yelled out.

  "Sit down!" Zephra screamed at the King. "This is my time to talk." He turned to face his companions. "Secure the door."

  Luschia and Mandigal ran to the entrance and raised their hands. Within moments a shimmering wall of magic covered the entrance. The noise of the guards running through the corridors drew closer.

  "I may have only just become a disciple of Gushkall, but do not think that I am weak," Zephra continued. "When I spoke with him, he saw my potential. He saw in me the very saviour of Dargon. And he gave me power!"

  Zephra's eyes began to glow with a red fire and a crimson mist slowly formed in the air around him. King Hermagoras stepped back, almost toppling over his throne, and clutched his heart in fear. "What have you become?"

  "No one has ever wielded a greater power. I have more of Gushkall's blessing than anyone has ever received. I have become the envy of all disciples, the envy of all Dargonians."

  "You have become a power hungry monster!" the King defiantly replied. "Nothing more."

  Zephra laughed. "Yes, I admit that I crave power. But that is what will drive me to bring Dargon to its true destiny."

  "You will drive Dargon into the ground. Your craving would lead these people to their doom," the King said, pointing at the frantic crowd.

  Zephra began to step towards the throne. "I grow tired of your insolence. I will give you an option."

  At the entrance a few of the loyal Academy guards reached the barrier and began to pound against it with their shields. The loud banging filled the room and the crowd began to scream wildly. They were silenced by a terrifying glare from Mandigal.

  Zephra reached the throne and clutched the King's throat, lifting him off the ground with an unnatural ease. "You can give up your throne and swear allegiance to me," Zephra said, tightening his grip and causing the King's face to turn red. "Or face the consequences."

  King Hermagoras, astonished by Zephra's sheer strength, lifted his hands, trying in vain to pry the fingers from his neck. The banging from the entrance grew louder and more intense with each passing moment.

  "Hurry Zephra! Do what must be done," Mandigal called. "This will not hold forever."

  Zephra released his grip just enough for the King to answer. Half choking, the King managed to utter, "Never!"

  Zephra shook his head and let out a long sigh. He tightened his grip on the King's throat once more. "It is a pity, Cousin. You were always one of my favourites," he whispered. "But no one will stand in my way."

  With an audible roar the red mist surrounding Zephra swirled to completely encircle the two of them and his eyes grew red with a fire from within. "Fear not, I will make sure that your son grows up to be a fine man," Zephra whispered contemptuously into the King's ear.

  The King's eyes widened in terror and he began to struggle even more.

  A bolt of red fire then shot through Zephra's extended arm and into the King, sending him into a series of violent convulsions. A raging scream escaped the lips of King Hermagoras as Zephra's god given powers drained his life away.

  The terrified crowd watched as Zephra tossed their King's limp body aside. "Being the King of Dargon is such messy business," commented Zephra with a sigh. Taking a seat on the ancient throne, Zephra leant back for comfort and motioned to the cowering Feldonian Ambassador. The shivering man hesitated, but Zephra's cold stare quickly swayed his mind. He made his way slowly towards the throne and stood there, trying hopelessly to stop his body from trembling.

  "I want you to go back to your wretched King and tell him what has happened here," Zephra instructed. The Ambassador nodded hastily. "I want you to tell him that the only time that there will ever be peace between our nations is when every last Feldonian is lying ten feet underground."

  Zephra then waved his hand towards Mandigal. "Remove the barrier. These loyal fools will swear fealty to me or suffer for their ignorance."

  A sense of unease filled Mandigal's mind as he looked at the former King's limp body. It was too late now. He dispelled the barrier, allowing the guards to rush through.

 
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