Here to share with us his latest release, The Gift-Knight’s Quest is Dylan Madeley!
Chandra hated the tapestries for as long as she could remember. She frequently wondered why a king who prided himself on being peaceful needed well-kept grotesque imagery. Was it a nagging reminder of peace’s price? Was it the self-aggrandizing indulgence of her father, an offshoot of his obsession with being someone after whom he was named?
She crossed her arms and shivered. There was a draft from somewhere, as one might expect in an old stone building. She could not recall the time of night or what possessed her to wander the halls in a gown designed to prevent nakedness, not trap heat.
Her mind, perhaps tired enough for sleep, failed to remember which path in this poorly planned labyrinth of a Palace would lead back to bed; she looked down one way and back down the other. She hated the way each pair of eyes in the art—victims, victors, bystanders—was designed to look at her, but she could not escape the stylistic convictions of stubborn classical artists. Tradition held that anyone depicted in a Kensrikan tapestry should engage visually with the audience.
Down one hall; dead end. Strange. She thought that was the way, but she could not mistake the wall or the art. “Jonnecht Triumphant” is the caption, and the focus of the piece is dressed like her father; rather, her father’s usual garb imitates the depicted outfit down to the last visible button. She doubted anybody worked a vertical loom on the battlefield while the man posed on horseback. Did the first Jonnecht ever wear that costume? Could anyone know? Maybe her father was an example of life imitating art in a manner that the artist could never have predicted…
She shook her head. Bed: find the way to it. The draft blew again, as cold as a spirit departing life and as cold as the body left behind. She shuddered at the uncanny accuracy of the tapestries as she turned and tried the other direction. In that dim light, she could hardly tell if they were landscapes made of thread, not portals to other worlds.
She swore to bring a lamp with her next time.
Something about the draft seemed unnatural. It came from different sides, on again, off again, as if the walls breathed. She suffered goose flesh; she quickened her pace.
The eyes followed her as did a scent like a kitchen fire. The smell was of charred meat, but she did not recognize the livestock.
She heard whispers, the hoarse wheeze of burnt corpses drawing breath again.
A tremendous work covered the next wall she saw: The Valley of Garnecht. The depictions were quite eager to engage with her.
The dead, usually locked forever in their final moment of agony, reached out from the tapestries and just missed her as she rushed by. She wondered how long the hall could be, but knew that mistakenly traveling to the dead end added length to her journey.
She tripped on a bunched up rug—no, hands from the rug grabbed her ankles. She felt the rug move as many hands pulled it toward a bare wall. It was not a rug after all, but a new tapestry that lurked on the floor. It waited all this time to get her.
Needles entered the skin of her limbs as the rug hands sewed her. She felt disoriented as she looked down. Her black hair slowly became thread and prepared to weave itself into an unoccupied spot. She could not resist the hands. She would be sure to look every trespasser of the hall in the eyes, like a good depiction.
A blade swung and severed the threads, carefully, precisely, without harming her; the hands retreated in fear. She struggled back on her feet and wondered at the savior. One of the guards? Her father? Fear prevailed and she tried to run, but the pain of the needles added to a strange drag.
She could not gain speed, but she tried nonetheless. A familiar voice echoed old insults…
Fear gave way to reason if only for a moment. Whoever cut the threads might be there to help. She turned to view the slow approach of a strange man, a mysterious knight whose garb she recognized from a book. She sensed he was a swordsman of unparalleled skill, invited there to protect her without hesitation.
He was so poorly lit that she strained her tired eyes, ultimately failing to memorize his profile.
Something distracted her from the effort. She stared at the twin voids in his skull, dark enough to absorb any light that got too close, where eyes should have been. The maddening emptiness stared back. It drove her to scream.
She started awake, in bed, where she was and must have been the whole time. A plump servant girl had her by the shoulders and was in the process of shaking her awake.
“Chandra.” The girl said firmly with a hint of concern.
Chandra might be Jonnecht’s daughter, but it felt like this task was a chore and the concern was for someone else.
“Stop. I’m awake. Yes?” Chandra replied as firmly as she could manage at the time.
“The Captain of the Guard was ordered to check on you personally. He felt strange barging into a girl’s chamber, so he insisted I help.” The girl smiled falsely.
“He’s still outside. Now that we know no harm’s done, you had better get dressed and ready to get to some place safer.” She relayed the order.
Captain Jan Donde, standing outside her door? What was so important?
“Let go of me, then, and I’ll get started.” Chandra shrugged off the servant girl’s grip.
Once free, Chandra asked: “Are you allowed to tell me what this is about?”
The girl peeked back at the door to make sure it was shut. She was not allowed at all, but she would tell, albeit in a soft voice.
“Something happened to the Queen. Word is, she was murdered last night.”
Great no? Grab your copy today on Amazon!
Stay tuned because later in the week Dylan will be back to answer some questions for our readers!