Excerpt from The Conquest of Night Fiction Book by Justin James

The Conquest of Night by Justin James ExcerptExcerpt from The Conquest of Night

Prologue:

The wind swept across the city of Verden as the moon slipped behind the clouds. Under the blanket of darkness, the men set off across the ground once more. They pressed against the walls outside of the gate, escaping the notice of the sentries.
The man leading in front held up his hand to bring everyone to a stop. He looked around to see all of his soldiers pressed up against the wall with him. He shot an annoyed look at Nidle, a scrawny boy who was huffing and puffing at the back of the group. Clearly, he was too out of shape to make the dash to the walls.

Blast that boy. If the Baron hadn’t insisted, I wouldn’t have brought him along, he thought, still glaring at Nidle, who lifted a thumb to show he was ready to advance.

The group was ready. No further amount of waiting would do them any good. Every man turned their face expectantly towards him, and he knew that on his signal they would have to blaze a path through the quiet city into the ebony black keep. There, the king and his brother would be sitting lazily in their throne room, completely unaware of the fast approaching army. The man beside him grunted, “When you’re ready, Galen.”

Galen cleared his mind once more, and set forward to the gate, his sword drawn. As he rounded the bend, two men clutching spears appeared from under the arched gate in the walls and looked up at him. “What’s your business he-”

The first guard’s inquiries were cut off as Galen drove a sword through his chest. The second sentry rounded on him with his spear aimed at Galen’s chest, who in turn easily parried the spear tip aside. With uncanny speed, Galen moved in on the other guard, silencing him before he could scream out. One of the black clad soldiers quickly ran up the steps to meet the man sitting at the winch which opened and closed the gate. The man was busy reading a book and only just noticed the intruders. As he began to rise from his stool, a heavy axe was split through his book and continued into him.

Galen cleared his throat as the soldier came back down the steps. “Right. The keep is just straight ahead. Let’s move.”

And with that, fifty darkly dressed men ran through the winding streets towards the keep. It was only after a minute that the first civilian noticed them, and shouted frantically to alert the night watch. Irritated, one of the soldiers swung his mace into the civilian, and once again the only sound that could be heard in the streets of Verden was the sound of feet running along the cobblestone.

Before they could reach the looming keep, eleven members of the guard appeared ahead of them in civilian’s clothing. They stood, weapons raised and ready to take on the oncoming horde of invaders. Galen slowed his pace to a jog and the others around him did the same. The narrowing street could fit no more than ten men abreast, but it didn’t bother Galen. He and his men had been training for months and he knew they could easily outdo a few police who only had experience arresting petty thieves.

Swords clashed, but the battle was only a brief skirmish. The army pressed on again. Galen threw a quick glance over his shoulder, taking notice that one of his men lay dead on the ground with the guards, and two of them had nicks and grazes. He couldn’t tell how deep the cuts were, but he assumed if they hadn’t spoken up by now, they would be fine to finish the job.

Galen and his comrades reached the keep and burst through the front doors. They met a shocked looking serving boy wearing ratty grey clothing. The servant quickly recovered from his confusion and sprinted down the corridor to the right. There was another corridor branching to the left, along with two heavy wooden doors directly in front of them.

Galen ran off to the right, making the assumption that the servant was running to the throne room to tell the king of their arrival. They chased up a spiraled staircase at the end of the corridor, all the way to the top floor, and then followed the hall to the end. There stood two green wooden doors, decorated with a painting of some sort of bird, possibly a hawk, spreading its wings. These doors had gold trimmings on the edges, indicating the importance of the chamber within. Galen waited a few moments to make sure that most of his team was with him, and then kicked open the door.

Two brutish guards leapt at Galen, who only just dove off to the side in time. Galen’s men intercepted the ambushers immediately and quickly dispatched them. Galen turned his eyes to the throne, wearing a triumphant look on his face. He deflated quickly the moment he laid eyes on the raised golden chair. On the throne was neither the King, nor even the prince. With one leg draped over the side of a chair in a very casual position, the lowly serving boy smirked at the men in black that swarmed through the doorway.

Galen was beside himself with rage. “Search the room! Look for a secret escape! They can’t have gotten far!” he boomed. Galen turned and snarled at the servant. “You! Where did they go?”

The servant smiled and replied in a calm, steady voice. “Oh, you mean the king and prince? I’m afraid they’re long gone … But hey, Talon told me to give you something! Let’s see here…” The servant reached into his robe. As Galen took a step forward towards him with his sword drawn and readied, the servant grabbed a knife from his robe and smoothly flung it at Galen. The blade lodged itself deep into Galen’s neck.

With a strangled cry, Galen jumped forward to cut at the servant, but to no avail. The servant nimbly jumped off the throne and made a move for the back of the room. One of the soldiers lunged at the servant, impaling him with a spear. The servant slumped to the ground in a lifeless heap, still wearing a victorious smile.

Galen let out a cry of pain once more. “They escaped… We almost had…” He choked midsentence. Pulling the knife out of his neck, he saw that the tip was coated green. It was a poison he knew all too well. He looked around the throne room once more as he sunk to the floor. He escaped this time, but the king will be claimed by the Night, he thought presciently as death pulled him into an endless sleep.  

 

Read The Conquest of Night by Justin James:  available on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble and other book outlets.

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