Here is the end of the month surprise. A touch of spoiler, but it has to be done. Hard to promote future books without this guy being revealed on my blog. May had the debut of Delvin Cunningham and June has the debut of Baron Arthuru Kernaghan. The man behind the Lich, the Hellfire Elf, Trinity, General Vile, and most of the other villains (Kalam is a loner) happened at the end of Allure of the Gypsies. So, here is his first scene.
“Silence!” booms a thunderous voice from the ceiling.
Neither Yola nor the Lich look up as a regal form gently floats out from the ceiling picture. The tall, muscular man is dressed in nobleman’s clothes of a style that has not been seen in centuries. His high-neck shirt of royal blue shimmers as if made of water and his black breeches are darker than a moonless night. A frightening crackle fills the air when he flexes his dark red-gloved fingers. The man’s face is chiseled with a short, ebony beard that runs from one cheek to the other, covering the entire chin in finely combed hair. His skin is healthy and sun-licked, which is a surprising appearance on the shadow-covered continent of Shayd. The man’s eyes are yellow orbs filled with a dark malice that makes Yola and the Lich cringe in terror-filled anticipation.
“He has escaped,” the man says in a deep, yet sensual, voice.
“Yes, master. I am very sorry for this,” the Lich apologizes with a low bow.
“Sniveling cockroach,” the man sighs. “You had nothing to do with this, except that you returned too late to help.”
“Baron Kernaghan! The Lich’s new spellbook was destroyed,” Yola tattles in a child-like voice. Her reward is a stab of searing pain in her skull that forces her to arch her back until the back of her head touches her heels.
“I am not in the mood for your antics, hunted one,” Kernaghan states before aiming a wry smile at the Lich. “I am aware of what happened to the spellbook, but it is of no concern. The tricks of Kalam are nothing compared to what I can do. Isn’t that right, my loyal servant?”
“Yes, master, but I wanted my old teacher’s knowledge to help you with your plans,” the Lich whimpers, hoping to gain some favor. “I am not as strong as you, so I require such things if I wish to remain useful.”
The Baron laughs heartily at the cowering creature. “It is good to hear that you know you are expendable. I appreciate having servants who are aware that they will not always be of use to me unless they improve. This is why I keep you alive and in my service, Tyler.”
The Lich looks up at his master and stands at attention. “With your permission, I will recapture the gypsy boy. It is the least I can do for my mistakes.”
“No need. The boy will be more useful as a wild card than a prisoner. He has no other use to us since he is not a champion,” Kernaghan explains, casually picking a loose thread from his shoulder. “Now, I want Yola to bring Queen Trinity to the healer where she will be brought back to consciousness. The wounds on her arm will be left alone for the next two days as part of her punishment. I want you, Tyler, to deliver a message to Nyder and Vile at the factory. They are to meet me in the throne room tomorrow evening where we shall discuss our current course of action.”
“As you wish, master,” the Lich and Yola swear. The Lich quickly sinks into the floor while Yola roughly picks Trinity up by the pants. The goddess vanishes in a puff of rainbow smoke that ignites when it drifts too close to the Baron.
Kernaghan wipes the colorful ash off his chest as he rises into the air, passing through the ceiling. He looks across the desolate landscape of Shayd and takes a deep breath of the stagnant air. The crumbling ruins of the chaos elf nation dot the blackened hills and steaming swamps. A symphony of screams blankets the continent while the Baron’s slaves are worked to the bone. He grins hungrily when his eyes fall upon a wagon full of yellow gems being pulled to the front of his elegant castle. Two emaciated chaos elves are barely able to move the wagon through the gates before one of them drops dead from starvation and exhaustion.
“Our game of pawns is coming to an end,” the Baron whispers, looking out to the open ocean. “Whether you like it or not, my old subordinate.”