The ward of castoria, p.1
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       The Ward of Castoria, p.1
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           Robin Silverglate
The Ward of Castoria
The Ward of Castoria

  THE CASTORIA SERIES

  Book 1

  By

  Robin Silverglate

  Copyright 2014 Robin Silverglate

  Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial and non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

  DEDICATION

  For Mom,

  my biggest cheerleader

  CONTENTS

  Prologue

  Chapter 1: A New Assignment

  Chapter 2: The New Student

  Chapter 3: Dinner Guests

  Chapter 4: Confrontations

  Chapter 5: The Strange Walk Home

  Chapter 6: The Summons

  Chapter 7: Followed

  Chapter 8: Unpleasant Discoveries

  Chapter 9: Xenther

  Chapter 10: Confusion

  Chapter 11: Aftereffects

  Chapter 12: Nick

  Chapter 13: A Change in Duties

  Chapter 14: Puzzling Behavior

  Chapter 15: Clarity

  Chapter 16: Nardoc

  Author’s Note

  Titles by Robin Silverglate

  About the Author

  PROLOGUE

  The creature paced back and forth along the balcony of the fifth story apartment. Its large eyes studied the foreign terrain. There were no trees. There was no water. Nothing looked like the forest it called home. All it saw were tall structures and bright lights piercing the night sky. Periodically, a rumbling noise would warn the creature to hide back amidst the shadows. It had no idea what those giant, rolling things were, but they did not smell right. Nothing seemed right in this strange place.

  A vaguely familiar scent permeated the air. It was the smell of fresh meat. Hunting instincts urged the hungry creature to kill even though it usually steered clear of this animal. It looked over the ledge of the balcony and saw the being that walked upright on two legs. The greedy eyes of the creature took in its prey and thought that it looked smaller than normal. Perhaps that meant it was weak. It decided to get closer and investigate.

  The creature jumped down to the ground and winced as its feet hit the unnaturally hard surface. It much preferred the soft mossy terrain of home. The creature’s forked tongue tasted the air and found its prey again. Hunger pains drove its legs to quicken their pace and close the distance. Now was the time to attack.

  *****

  The Protector waited in the shadows of the dark alley. He leaned against the cool brick wall with his eyes fixed on the building across the street. Five hours had already passed and he had long grown used to the fetid smell of the city street. He enjoyed the quiet solitude that could only be found in the city at two in the morning. Most of the people who lived on this block were asleep. Only the occasional passing car disturbed the unusual silence that hung over the city. To keep from getting bored, the Protector watched a rat pick through a nearby trashcan in search of a buried cache of food. He was amused by the animal’s determined perseverance and even smiled when it found a discarded loaf of bread.

  A movement across the street diverted the Protector’s attention away from the rat. His body stiffened and he snapped to attention. He watched his Ward exit the double doors of the office building and begin the trek home. The Protector emerged from his hiding place in the alley and proceeded to follow his Ward. He walked with his well-practiced silent tread and was careful to remain hidden in the dark shadows away from the street lamps. It would not have mattered anyway since the Ward never once turned around to look behind him.

  The Protector sensed the creature the moment it landed on the sidewalk. It followed his Ward with the cautious stride of a predator. The Protector took note of the creature’s bumpy scales and long, spiny tail. The talons at the tips of its multi-jointed feet made unnatural clicking noises against the sidewalk with each unwavering step. The Protector knew how to destroy the creature. It would not be easy, but he was confident in his own abilities.

  He reached for the bow behind his back and shifted his legs into the proper stance. The Protector watched the creature approach his Ward with a stealthy gait and knew exactly what it intended to do. Turn at the next corner and don’t look back, he thought as he took aim. It was best that his Ward not see the creature and know how close he had come to a gruesome death.

  The Protector released his arrow the moment his Ward safely rounded the corner. It was a direct hit against the creature’s scaly back. The creature spun around and made a feral hiss through its double row of sharply pointed teeth. The Protector was undaunted by the vicious display and calmly closed the distance between them. He unveiled a sword that had been hidden underneath the folds of his coat. The creature eyed him suspiciously, but did not yield its ground. The Protector thrust his sword forward to hit its leg, but the hard scales there protected it from harm. The creature hissed and lashed out with its long forearm. The Protector was ready for the counterattack and jumped back in order to avoid its razor sharp claws.

  He walked slowly onto the street in order to get a better angle of attack. The creature followed his movements, not allowing him to gain the advantage. The creature continued to hiss and lifted his barbed tail as a clear warning for the Protector to stay away. The Protector, however, had no intention of backing down. He lunged toward the creature and hit his sword against its impenetrable scales. The creature retaliated with a swift thrust of its tail. The Protector easily parried and began another attack. This violent dance between the creature and Protector went unnoticed by the sleeping residents of the city block.

  The Protector soon changed tactics and jumped to a window ledge on the second story of the building. The creature followed, as he knew it would and jumped up onto the awning over the building’s front door. The sure-footed Protector moved to another nearby ledge and turned to watch the creature propel itself off of the awning. It landed on the window ledge that he had just vacated.

  The Protector looked directly into the large, bulgy eyes of the creature and smiled. He leapt back down to the sidewalk underneath them and landed steadily on his feet. The creature jumped down to pursue. The creature’s eyes widened the moment it realized its mistake. While its outer body was covered in scales, its soft underbelly was not. The Protector raised his sword and sliced through its exposed skin as the creature fell to the ground. It was a clean kill. The Protector had successfully completed his mission.

 
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