Prince of Malorn: a Visit with a Villain

Prince of Malorn is an action/adventure fantasy novel geared toward young adults.  In it, one major obstacle stands between seventeen-year-old Prince Korram and the throne that is his birthright: Regent Rampus.  Temporary ruler of Malorn, Rampus has no intention of giving up his position when the crown prince comes of age – or of allowing the prince to live long enough to reach that age. 

Desperate to build an army of his own to stand against the regent, Korram treks into the Impassable Mountains to try to recruit the one segment of Malornian society not under Rampus’s control.  But can he lead a band of untrained hunters and gatherers to victory against the full might of the Malornian military?  Or will they all be crushed by the grasping hand of the regent before the prince can claim his rightful throne?

Following is a brief scene from the perspective of a villain in the novel.  Scroll to the bottom to see how to purchase your copy of Prince of Malorn!
Dannel reined his horse up before the last building on the street, a one-story brick structure with peeling paint and a sagging roof, typical for this part of town. Torches flickered invitingly on either side of the closed door, fainter torchlight leaking through the cracks in the window shutters along with strains of off-key singing. A hanging sign cut in the shape of a wide cup announced the tavern’s name: The Rusty Flagon.

A man smoking a pipe was leaning against the wall in such a position as to have easy access to the weapon obviously hidden under his cloak. He eyed Dannel silently, and Dannel gave him a courteous nod as he dismounted.

At this early hour, the hitching bar out front was only half full, so there was plenty of space for Dannel to tie up his horse. He took his time strolling up to the door, staring into the torchlight all the while so his eyes would adjust and he wouldn’t have to walk in squinting.

When he was ready, Dannel turned the handle and pulled the door open, the sound of raucous singing flowing out into the night air as he did so. The Rusty Flagon was a nondescript establishment, notable neither for its appearance and cleanliness, nor for the quality of its food and drink. But there were plenty of little tables in dim corners barely touched by the light from the torches up front, where customers could carry on secretive conversations or finalize shady business dealings under cover of the music. The bartender, Dannel was nearly sure, hired people to belt out drinking songs over and over to cover the sound of any conversation guests might wish to keep private. The watchers outside, including the one Dannel had seen and others he knew must be lurking nearby, were always quick to give warning if authorities were ever spotted approaching. The proprietor never asked any questions of his guests or tried to engage them in casual conversation. As long as they paid for their drinks and left a tip to cover the cost of any damage, he didn’t bat an eyelash over the occasional unexpected mess or business deal gone violently wrong. Dannel knew; his own blood had contributed to the stains on the floor in one of the back corners many years ago.

The bartender, his strength and agility belied by the belly that hung over an apron as stained as the floor, was making his rounds of the tables with a pitcher of beer in one hand and ale in the other for refills. Dannel caught his eye, and the man hurried over to join him.

“That fellow at the table there by the left wall,” Dannel began, pointing with his eyes. “Was he here last night too?” It was too dim to see a face clearly from across the room, but Dannel recognized the profile. The bartender would have seen him when he first entered and again when he ordered a drink.

“Oh, I don’t pay no attention to who’s here when,” the man was quick to assure him. “Folk can come and go from the Flagon whenever they want, and it’s none o’ my business. Besides, I got a real bad memory for faces.”

Dannel fished a silver coin from his pocket. “Try hard to remember.”

The man glanced at the coin, peered in the indicated direction, and frowned as though in thought. “You know, it’s coming back to me now. He was here last night, and the night before as well. Sat alone at that same table for a couple of hours before he finally left, and he looked kinda worried if you ask me.”

Good. Smiling, Dannel pulled out a second coin and handed them both to the man. “Bring me a pint of ale, and keep the change.” He wove his way around the tables toward the left side of the room, his shoes sticking slightly with each step.
Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published seven books (three YA action adventure/fantasy novels, one puppet script, and three anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.




  

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