In the Shadow of the Dragon King

In the Shadow of the Dragon King by J. Keller Ford Read Free Book Online

Book: In the Shadow of the Dragon King by J. Keller Ford Read Free Book Online
Authors: J. Keller Ford
Tags: adventure, Fantasy, Magic, Action, Sword and Sorcery, Dragons
“But I don’t want someone else.” She drew the tip of her finger down his cheek. “Come with me. It will be fun.”
    Eric broke away from her once more. “I’m sorry, my lady. Another time, perhaps.” He guided Sestian into the crowd and didn’t look back.
    “Perhaps we’ll see each other again at the ball?” she called out to him.
    “Not if I can help it,” Eric mumbled. “Did you see where the mages went, Ses?”
    “Never took my eyes off of them. Follow me.”
    Eric and Sestian darted alongside the A-framed buildings, keeping to the shadows as they pushed through the crowds. They turned left down Baker’s Street and waited beneath the awning of a bread maker. Up ahead, the mages crossed the road and continued past the bustling clothier, tapestry and weave shops of Threadneedle Lane.
    “Let’s go,” Eric said.
    A grip upon his collar jerked him backward, the fabric choking his airway. A strong hand planted in the middle of his chest and pushed him against the building. Eric clenched his fist and raised his arm to strike, but changed his mind.
    “Sir Farnsworth.” He glanced to his left at Sestian, pinned to the wall by the knight’s other hand. Two other knights, Crohn, and Gowran, stood behind Farnsworth, their arms folded across their chests, smirks cocked on their faces.
    “What are you two doing here? Don’t you have work to do?” Farnsworth’s eyebrows lifted up and down like hairy inchworms.
    Eric gulped. “Sir Trogsdill gave us permission.”
    At the end of Threadneedle Lane, one of the mages glanced behind him before turning a corner and melting away into the tree line. Eric’s stomach fell. Drat rotten luck!
    “Then I suggest you get going before someone becomes suspicious and thinks you’re up to no good.” The pressure on Eric’s chest lifted as the knight removed his hand. “We wouldn’t want that, would we?” Farnsworth raised an eyebrow in Sestian’s direction.
    Sestian shook his head. “No, sir. Absolutely not.”
    Farnsworth stepped back. “Then get moving, both of you.”
    Eric and Sestian scrambled off without looking back, the knights’ laughter resonating loud and clear behind them.
    “I don’t believe it!” Sestian said reaching the town square. “We were so close.”
    Eric smacked a wall and cursed beneath his breath. “We should have been more careful. Come on. Let’s go.”
    “Yeah, yeah. In a minute.”
    A troupe of musicians arrived in the town square, followed by six dancers whipping around long, colorful ribbons attached to a stick. Sestian’s gaze fixed on a particular raven-haired woman dancing to an energetic fiddle and flute.
    Eric rolled his eyes and punched his friend on the arm. “Forget it, Ses. She’s too old for you. Besides, you wouldn’t know what to do with her if you had her.”
    “Speak for yourself. I am an apt pupil, you know.” His smile grew wider if that was at all possible.
    “You’re an idiot, is what you are. Come on. Let’s go before we’re accused of shirking duties we don’t even know we have.”
    Sestian rolled his eyes. “Don’t remind me.”
    They left the walled town and scampered up the hill, weaving in and out of the throngs of people trekking northward to Gyllen castle. The turrets of the sprawling limestone fortress pierced the sky while hundreds of arched eyes, stacked eight layers high, watched over all that lay below. Vibrant blue and gold silk banners hung over the palace walls; flags flapped in the persistent cool breeze.
    Colorful tents and haystacks speckled the lush hillside. A breeze rustled from the east across the Northern Forest of Berg and the Domengart Mountains. The Cloverleaf River meandered southward, glistening in the afternoon sun.
    Inside the castle grounds, Eric and Sestian stopped and stared. As if by magic, the royal wisteria tree, its branches so wide it embraced the entire courtyard, was in prolific lavender bloom. To their left, pages led commoners to the small but

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