Curse of Kings (The Trials of Oland Born, Book 1)

Curse of Kings (The Trials of Oland Born, Book 1) by Alex Barclay

Book: Curse of Kings (The Trials of Oland Born, Book 1) by Alex Barclay Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alex Barclay
    â€œThere is one thing I’ve heard about Decresian,” said Delphi, “about the screaming. Who screams there at night, Oland?”
    â€œThe souls of Castle Derrington,” he said, and he told her about the failed experiments of Malcolm and Benjamin Evolent and the nine hundred and ninety-nine unsettled souls buried in the grounds.
    â€œThat is horrendous,” said Delphi.
    â€œAnd the Evolents are still alive,” said Oland. “They’re somewhere out there, walking the same land as us, breathing the same air.” He paused. “And so is the Thousandth Soul.”
    â€œThere is a thousandth soul?” said Delphi.
    â€œIn Decresian, we believe in the Fortune of Tens,” said Oland. “And, apparently, one thousand turned out to be fortunate for the Evolents: it was the one animal-human experiment that was a complete success. The creature, whoever or whatever it is, survived… but escaped. It’s known as the Thousandth Soul, and the Evolents are desperate to find him, so that they can work out how their experiment was so successful. They want to recreate that success and use it for all kinds of evil.”
    â€œWhat will they do when they find it?” said Delphi.
    Oland sliced his hand across his throat.
    Delphi was silenced by the horror.
    â€œMalcolm Evolent, Benjamin Evolent, Villius Ren…” said Oland. “They no longer speak. Not for years. Even the Evolent brothers have gone their separate ways. No one knows why.”
    As Oland spoke, a rope dropped down at the mouth of the cave and whipped from side to side, scouring the cliff face, sending stones pouring down.
    Delphi reached out to Oland. “Quick,” she said, grabbing his arm, dragging him backwards.
    A man dropped to the ledge outside the cave. A second man followed. They were black silhouettes against the light. But Oland recognised their form and, when they spoke, their voices. It was Wickham and Croft.
    â€œThey’re from The Craven Lodge,” whispered Oland. “They must have come through Galenore.”
    Delphi put her finger to her lips and they retreated into the corner.
    â€œThis is like something out of one of your stories, Wickham!” said Croft. He was shouting over the water, the sound echoing through the cave. “What a surprise!” he went on. “What a dramatic turn of events! A midnight escape! Apparently, the boy was enthralled! What Oland Born did in that arena!” He shook his head.
    Oland had never heard Croft so animated.
    â€œYou can see how it could all go horribly wrong,” said Croft. “I’ll say one thing—”
    â€œYou’ve been saying many things,” said Wickham, his voice weary.
    â€œI’ll say one thing,” Croft continued, “I have never seen Villius so wild with grief. Absolutely wild.”
    Oland’s eyes went wide. Wild with grief? He waited for Wickham to confirm what Croft had said. Villius was wild with grief? Surely not.
    â€œWell, I’ve done what he asked,” said Wickham. “Chancey the Gold is dead.’
    Oland went rigid. Beside him, he could feel Delphi do the same. He turned to her and, in that instant, her dark eyes had filled with tears. Why tears? Did she know her distant neighbour?
    â€œWe have sent word back to Villius about Chancey the Gold’s death,” said Wickham. “He may or may not seek mystic reassurance, but I don’t think there is anything more for us to find here. It is time to go.”
    â€œThere’s more to this,” said Croft. “Villius is just not saying.”
    â€œWhatever it is,” said Wickham, “I don’t expect that you would be Villius’ first choice of confidant.”
    Croft snorted. “Well, if he told you anything, you’d only put it in a story and tell the whole world—”
    â€œThat’s not quite how it works,” said Wickham. “But maybe, to a man

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