Silent Kingdom Book 1
by Rachel L. Schade
Genre: YA Fantasy
Some fates can't be escaped
Chosen by truth. Marked for death. Halia must choose to save her kingdom, or let it fall.
Misroth's king has died, and the entire kingdom is in mourning--or so it seems. After her father is crowned regent in his brother's stead, Princess Halia discovers a terrible truth that could end her life. But when she flees to live in hiding, she discovers that the Royal Guard are not all she has to fear. Dark creatures stalk her, reports of oppression and war reach her ears, and her burden to protect her kingdom--at any cost--will not be silenced.
Lovers of fantasy adventures such as Throne of Glass, An Ember in the Ashes, and The Remnant Chronicles won't want to miss this exciting new series. Filled with heart-pounding action and thrilling courage, supernatural powers and nightmarish monsters, readers have trouble putting this book down. Start your adventure today!
I was thirteen when the truth first revealed itself to me. It happened on a day usually set aside for celebration in Misroth, now weighed down by the loss of our king. The air felt heavy and still under the grey afternoon sky as I walked amidst the coronation procession. All around me, councilmen strode silently, their cloaks swirling about their legs, their boots thudding a steady rhythm along the cobblestone streets of the capital. Arrayed in elaborate scarlet and blue, the King’s Guard formed a protective barrier around the procession’s outer edges, as if they could save my family from the pain that had already taken residence in our hearts. Even in the dim light, the guards’ steel armor glinted. I watched them in awe, for I had never seen them in anything other than their everyday chainmail and leather breastplates, and they looked ready for battle. Before me, my mother and father walked with their heads held high. Mother’s long, dark hair was plaited delicately and her emerald green dress was so long it trailed along the street behind her. Father kept his grey eyes focused on the crowds around us, nodding to citizens as we passed. He had warned our family that we should not let this dark time steal our dignity, and reminded us that tears were for the weak. To my shame, my vision blurred with tears anyway. Perhaps I’ll always disappoint Father. I blinked them away hastily and turned to my cousin Gillen, who trudged beside me. His golden, shoulder-length hair tousled in the wind and fell into his face when he hung his head. I knew he was trying to hide his eyes, which were usually bright, but today were swollen and red. I reached out and gave his arm a reassuring squeeze, wishing I could lend the last shreds of my strength to him. “Thank you, Lia,” he muttered for only me to hear. “This is not a day I feel strong.” But he had to be. One day he would be our new king. I opened my mouth to murmur something comforting, but choked on my words. He is healed now. We will see him again. What nonsense. The words were all hollow and brittle, crumbling as soon as I thought them. Gillen didn’t want to hear them, and neither did I. Frowning at my feet, I clamped my mouth shut. Drawing a deep breath, I dared to raise my gaze to study the rows of citizens lining the streets. Their faces were solemn and their eyes seemed to reflect my own fears: fear of change, fear of the pain and death we had witnessed. This was no joyous coronation procession, not when it followed a funeral. We had left grieving citizens and my weeping aunt at her husband’s graveside to wind our way through the wide streets of Misroth City, past the towering stone buildings and houses. There were no cheers or fists raised to hearts in salute; no ribbons were waved, and no songs were sung. Throughout the city, a heavy silence hung in the air. We halted in the main square, surrounded by shops closed for business today, and stood, hushed, as my father approached the waiting priest, who stood in the center of the square before a marble statue of King Eldon. Beside the priest, a solitary Royal Guard stood bearing Misroth’s banner, adorned with the stars of the dragon constellation, Vehgar. Father’s velvet robes, midnight blue and trimmed in silver, trailed along the cobblestone behind him. Dressed all in red, the royal priest stood tall and solemn, his dark face masked by the large hood he wore. His cloak billowed about him, but he was motionless. “Today is a day of many emotions,” the priest announced. In the stillness, his voice was startlingly loud, echoing off the buildings around us. “We grieve the passing of our beloved King Reylon. Together, we mourn the loss his family all feel. But we have hope and comfort in this dark time. We know the Giver of Life has carried our king to another, better place, and King Reylon’s brave brother, Zarev, stands before us willing to accept the throne until King Reylon’s son Gillen is of age. Misroth will not be leaderless.” Lifting his arms, the priest began to sing an ancient blessing over my father. The words were in Alrenian, a language no longer understood in our kingdom, but the meanings of the old songs were still remembered, passed down from generation to generation. This was a traditional coronation blessing, asking the Giver of Strength to equip my father for the task before him.
“O bren valt hali,
O bren valt mis.
Mari, O emba l’val.
Thero, yagen sem forith.
Thero, yagen sem mis.
Thero, val re rynnet…”
All around me, heads bowed in reverence. It seemed as if others felt comforted by the priest’s words, but I felt numb. I didn’t want to be the daughter of a king, even a king regent. I didn’t want to return to a home bereft of my uncle’s kindly smile or his exciting stories shared with Gillen and me by the fireside. My red armband of mourning, fastened over my forearm, was constricting, and I wanted to rip it off. Why would the Life-Giver bring us death? I was startled out of my reverie by my father’s voice, repeating a pledge before the Misrothian people and the Giver as he accepted kingship. The priest’s and my father’s voices trailed on, alternating as the priest spoke and my father recited the words. “I vow to protect my kingdom with my own blood, to dedicate my service to the Giver of Life and to Misroth …” “My father was supposed to live a long life,” Gillen whispered, his countenance still a picture of shock. “Not leave me to rule as soon as I am eighteen. That’s four years from now,” he choked out. Grasping Gillen’s cold hand in mine, I bowed my head, knowing nothing I said would help my cousin. “… and, if circumstances demand it, to give my own life for Misroth.” My father rose, the king’s silver crown contrasting with his long dark hair as he faced the crowd. His voice was steady and confident. “… and, if circumstances demand it, to give my own life for Misroth.” As the priest called my mother forth to declare her own pledge as queen, I wished for something to say, anything to ease Gillen’s pain. If only I’d known how dangerous words can be.
Silent Kingdom Book 2
An empty throne. A ruined kingdom. Is she their deliverance or their downfall?
Halia's fight for her kingdom is only beginning. With Misroth's rightful king in danger, Halia is forced to trust her enemy and embark on a dangerous journey into Toryn to find her cousin. But Toryn is in ruins, its people plagued by terrors and fighting for survival. As death stalks them all, Halia must face the darkness in her past and her deepest fears, until at last she is faced with one terrible question: How much is she willing to lose?
Lovers of fantasy adventures such as Throne of Glass, An Ember in the Ashes, and The Remnant Chronicles won't want to miss this exciting new series. Filled with heart-pounding action and thrilling courage, supernatural powers and nightmarish monsters, readers have trouble putting this book down.
The people of Misroth marched my father’s head through the streets. In a gleeful parade, men, women, and even children held their fists high in the air and shouted their victory, their freedom, and their release from tyranny and death. The patches of ice and snow littering the muddy cobblestones underfoot did nothing to slow their steps. Kneeling beside my mother’s memorial, I watched them stream through the streets below as anger and disgust stabbed my chest. Beside me, Jennah reached out and grasped my arm, her hand warm and reassuring. I stared at her, a breeze off the Alrenian brushing its chill fingers through my hair. Her eyes were sympathetic, but her brow was furrowed into firm lines. In the daylight, the fresh scar cutting across her cheek contrasted starkly with the dark, gold-tinted skin that, along with her eyes, showed her Alrenian heritage. “This needs to end,” I said, plucking her hand from my arm and rising. The rebels standing behind us, acting as my unofficial Royal Guard, stirred uncomfortably. Jennah didn’t move, but continued to gaze at the stone altar. Words were etched into its side, words that left me cold and numb as they blandly recited facts: Lady Ryn of Misroth, Daughter of Lord Dievon and Lady Loella, Wife of Prince Zarev. Born Year 159. Perished Year 201. Prepared years ago for the former queen, with her death date added mere days ago, its charred surface was a heavy reminder of the night we burned her body. Contrasting starkly with the blackness were white sythrel petals scattered over the memorial, offerings to plead for the Life-Giver’s favor toward the dead. My fingers curled into fists. There would be no favor for the dead if there was not favor for the living first. And behaving as my father had was no way for my kingdom to earn it. I turned my back to my mother’s memorial and took a step back toward the city, my boots crunching on gravel and sand. “Your Highness.” Jennah’s voice was low, smooth. “Do not call me that.” Ignoring my comment, Jennah stood and joined me as I glared down at the streets. She studied me for a moment before quirking an eyebrow. “How do you plan to stop a mob—by running out into the fray and being trampled to death?” I lifted my hands to massage my temples. “We must not be like him. We cannot stoop to this—this barbarism …” Again, Jennah reached out her hand to touch my shoulder. Her face softened with compassion, the gold flecks in her brown eyes glittering with warmth. “What will you have us tell the people?” “Tell them to burn the king’s body. Scatter the ashes to the wind, or bury them to be forgotten forever. I don’t care,” I finished, “as long as the people return to their lives. It is time to rebuild. To forget.” I fingered the red armband of mourning adorning my right forearm, tracing the outline of sythrel petals etched into its smooth leather surface. It and the diamond star hanging from a white gold chain my mother had worn to honor her marriage to my father were the only symbols of bereavement I bore. It had seemed wrong not to follow Misrothian custom in the wake of my mother’s death, even if she had failed me in countless ways. Jennah’s eyes followed my movement, and I could read the question on her face: Was there a part of me that mourned my father? Refusing to contemplate that possibility, I averted my gaze. “Let’s return to the castle, and I will pass on your orders,” Jennah said. We descended the dirt pathway leading to the streets. Now that the riotous crowd had passed, the surrounding city was quiet and empty. A distant bell tolled the time—half past the thirteenth hour—and a stray cat skittered along the cobblestones to avoid our path. Half the shops we passed, even those lining the main street that wound a path toward the castle, were closed, while the rest looked lifeless, vacant of all but their shopkeepers. Our guards followed Jennah and me silently, a constant reminder that I was confined once again to the life of a royal, always being followed, always being watched. Always feeling constricted. Towering overhead, even the slate-colored buildings of the capital seemed to hem me in. I caught a glimpse of a woman peering from a window high above until she met my gaze and turned away. The eyes of an entire city—an entire kingdom—were on me, all the Misrothian people resting their hopes in my hands and waiting to see what I would do next. I couldn’t fail them. I swallowed as memories of open skies and friendly faces darted through my mind, as grief and regret rose at the reminder of how much I missed Lyanna and Rev and all the others I’d never even bid goodbye. But in a kingdom teetering toward anarchy in these uncertain days, I had no time to consider that now. Mere days had passed since the rebels had taken possession of the castle, but these days had felt like a lifetime. I couldn’t leave Misroth until a semblance of order was restored and my aunt was well enough to rule in her son’s stead, but my heart ached to be journeying toward my cousin Gillen, to find him and bring him home safely. Every moment I remained in Misroth was another moment I was abandoning him to an unknown fate in a perilous land. We reached the castle, our footsteps echoing in the courtyard as guards let us pass with salutes. Two more pushed the main doors inward to reveal the gleaming marble floors and carved mahogany columns of the main entrance. My stomach twisted; I still wasn’t used to the sight of my childhood home, a place that felt cold and empty with so many recent painful memories—and without Gillen’s presence. After the years I’d spent in the quiet village of Evren with Lyanna and Rev, I felt like I was living a stranger’s life in Misroth City. Jennah turned toward me. “We need to prepare for your meeting with the Royal Council.” She glanced back at the men accompanying us. “Gather more men and put an end to the riots, in the princess’s name.” Ever since King Zarev had been overthrown, I’d found there were few I could trust within the castle. Most of his Royal Guard were locked in the prisons while the servants were questioned one by one. Because of this, members of the rebellion, including Jennah and her family, had moved into the castle with me to better serve as my unofficial guard and assist in the many changes I needed to enact. Jennah had already proved to be an encouraging supporter and advisor. But I wasn’t as thrilled as she about my meeting to reconvene the Royal Council today. I drew a deep breath as Jennah and I passed through the halls and up the spiraling staircases of the castle. Endless stone corridors, richly carpeted rooms, grand windows with breathtaking views of the gardens and sea, and dozens upon dozens of paintings and statues and tapestries commemorating Misroth’s history—they all whirled by in a maze I could have walked with my eyes closed. When we entered my chambers, two servants were already laying out a gown the royal seamstress had prepared for the occasion. They glanced up at me expectantly, but I waved them away. “That will be all, thank you,” I said. The headache forming in my temples was growing more relentless, more insistent. “It’s beautiful,” Jennah murmured, running the skirt’s silken folds through her fingers. Pressing my lips together, I studied the dress carefully spread across my bedcovers. It was scarlet, its flared sleeves accented with small jewels that cast small glimmers of light along the walls. The bodice was fitted and overlaid with silver lace; the skirt hung in loose folds that shimmered with further hints of silver—more lace or jewels or perhaps elegant embroidery, I could not tell. I didn’t want to look and suppressed the urge to cringe. Jennah spun toward me with a smile. “Now you can finally set that old dress aside.” “Yes,” I said, turning away as I bunched folds of my wool skirt in my hands. It was travel-stained and faded, an old brown dress Lyanna had made for me. I had few possessions from Evren to hold on to, and I longed for even these simple reminders of the family and friends I’d left behind. Though I knew I had no choice, I was afraid if I discarded my old clothes for all the new castle attire the seamstress was preparing, the servants would burn them or use them as rags. This isn’t a time to be sentimental. Drawing a deep breath, I nodded. “I will change.” I snatched the gown from the bed before Jennah could protest and dashed toward my dressing chamber. “Do you want help …?” Jennah called hesitantly. I repressed an urge to laugh aloud. Help? I’d lived as a commoner only a few years of my life, and I’d felt more comfortable then than I’d ever had within the castle walls. If only she knew how much I longed to return to that life now, as the Misrothian people turned to me in anticipation and hope. “I’m fine,” I murmured instead. The dress was as heavy as I’d imagined, but to the seamstress’s credit, it fit perfectly, and the material was soft against my skin. And politically, to be attired in Misroth’s colors—well, I hoped I would make the impression I strove to make with the Royal Council, because I knew what I had to say was going to stir their anger. Drawing as deep of a breath as I could in my fitted bodice, I walked back toward my bedchamber and quirked an eyebrow at Jennah. Jennah set her hands on her hips. “I was right. You look stunning.” She smiled. “Like a princess.” I relaxed my shoulders somewhat and stepped forward, trying to ignore the way the dress swished along the floorboards around my feet. After years of sword practice and archery with Avrik in simple, more loose-fitting attire that let me move as I needed, it was hard to feel comfortable in a dress that restricted me. Even if my fight was over—for now. “Good,” I said, “then they will listen to me.” Jennah’s gaze was level yet piercing, as if she were looking into my head and assessing my thoughts. “You are their leader; they will listen to you no matter what. You are the one who should be dead, if not for the Life-Giver’s blessing. Have the people not sought blessings from our god all this time? To see one of their own, a member of the royal family, receiving his blessing and offering them freedom again as King Eldon did … It means something.” I caught a glimpse of myself in the floor-length mirror on the opposite wall and paused. My green eyes and dark hair were so like my mother’s, but my jawline and stern expression were more my father’s, traits that I could use to give me his same commanding appearance, if I wanted to. “Gillen is their rightful leader,” I said. In the mirror, Jennah’s reflection was visible over my shoulder. Her eyebrow rose in understanding. “You mean to find him,” she said. “You called this meeting to inform the Council or to seek its blessing.” Her brow furrowed and she shook her head. “Ele—Halia, please reconsider. Misrothians will look to you during this time. You must be crowned queen regent in Gillen’s absence and help the kingdom recover.” I tugged on the sleeve of my dress and stared down at my feet. “My aunt can do all of this in my absence.” “She is royalty by marriage only …” “She is as capable as anyone. More capable than I am, certainly.” I fidgeted with the folds of my skirt before I caught myself and stopped. “Trust me, Jennah, I’ve considered all of this. I know the objections that will be made. But if I don’t go”—I struggled not to choke on the words— “if I send others in my place while I sit in the safety of this castle … I cannot do it. I can’t leave him again.” Jennah’s eyes met mine in the mirror and for several long seconds we said nothing. Determination spread across her face and her eyes sparkled with defiance. “If you go, I go with you.” “What about your daughters?” “If this is for the kingdom’s safety, it is for theirs.” Jennah saluted. “Please grant me this. Let me stay by your side to protect you.” I hesitated, studying her strong features, her tall, slender form. A woman of Alrenian heritage with a warrior’s heart would surely be an asset, but I hated to risk her safety and tear her apart from her family again. The jagged scar tracing her cheek, pale white against her dark complexion, reminded me of how much she had already given. But who was I to tell her no? “If this is what you want,” I sighed, “I will not say no. But do what is best for you and your family, not me. Think of them and then make your final decision.” Jennah lifted her chin. “I already have. I’ll speak with my husband, but I know he’ll see my point. It’s too soon for him to travel again, when he’s still recovering, and he’s been away from our daughters all this time.” Bowing my head, I nodded. Distant tolling marked the hour and I jerked upright, straightening my back and holding my head high. It was time to meet with the Royal Council.
Rachel L. Schade was born on the first day of summer in a small town in Michigan, only to end up in another small town in Ohio. She attended The Ohio State University to learn how to write obnoxiously long papers, cite people who use big words, and discuss her passion: books. She has a great love for the color blue, sunshine, chocolate, and not folding her laundry. Currently she lives with her husband and surrounds herself with coffee and books on a regular basis.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I’d be the kind of world ruler that would demand a worldwide book celebration holiday or two. We would be able to take the day off work to stay home and read or venture out to author book signings. But as for politics or anything worthwhile, I’d probably get bored or frustrated or both, and beg for someone else to take charge while I go eat some chocolate and read a book. Therefore, in summation, I’d be a terrible world ruler and I don’t want that kind of responsibility. I prefer to rule the fictional worlds and events in my books. Don’t vote for me! 😉
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