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Authors: Kel Kade

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BOOK: Reign of Madness (Revised Edition)
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The young man opened the door to find Frisha standing on the
other side with her hand raised to clasp the handle. A look of surprise crossed
her face as Rezkin smiled and bowed slightly. “Frisha,” he greeted before
maneuvering around her and heading back up to the main deck. Reaylin beamed ear
to ear at Frisha’s shocked and suspicious expression. She nearly laughed when
Rezkin did not even stop to explain his presence alone with her in the room.

Frisha narrowed her eyes at Reaylin and asked, “What was
going on in here?”

Reaylin replied casually, “We were talking.” Belatedly she
added, “He really has the softest lips, doesn’t he?” as she smiled like a
love-struck dreamer.

Frisha’s eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. “You
didn’t!”

Reaylin shrugged and replied, “We
did
.”

Frisha clenched her teeth and growled as she stormed back up
to the deck, plowing across the planks in a fury. When the fuming woman stopped
about a foot away, Rezkin became wary of her hostile posture and heated glare.
She breathed heavily as her nostrils flared, her fists and teeth were clenched,
and she looked angrier than he had ever seen her.

Rezkin cocked his head to the side in genuine confusion and
asked, “What is wrong, Frisha?”

“What-…what is
wrong
, you ask?” Frisha practically
shouted. The scene drew the attention of several of the other passengers and
crew.

Rezkin paused in bewilderment. The question seemed too
simple. “Yes?” he asked with a furrowed brow.

Frisha growled and stomped her foot. She thrust her finger
in his face and said “You! You kissed her!”

Shiela’s amused smirk turned to surprise along with Malcius
and Tieran. Tam and Palis were still up on the quarterdeck, but the commotion
caught their attention, so they made their way over to the gathering. Reaylin
stood in the doorway of the cabin grinning.


I
did not kiss anyone,” Rezkin replied.

“She said you did!” Frisha accused.

“Who?” Malcius asked. “Shiela?”

Frisha scowled at him. “No!
Her
,” she said pointing
at Reaylin.

“Well, well, not so innocent after all,” remarked Shiela. “I
thought it was something particular to my dear cousin, but now I see that you
are simply one of those men who likes to toy with the common women. Tell me, do
you have half your maids knocked up by now? Come, Rezkin, stop playing with the
help and accept a lady worthy of you.”

Rezkin cocked his head as he considered Shiela. His eyes
were cold and assessing, predatory, and his hand hovered over his hilt. The
others may have thought Rezkin was thinking of a response or perhaps
considering Shiela’s offer, but Tieran and Jimson had both seen that look
before. Tieran’s eyes darted to the army captain, pleading for him to step in
and prevent the bloodshed. Jimson met the future duke’s eyes and then took a
step back, lowering his own gaze to the deck. Tieran’s jaw dropped. The army
captain assigned by the general, himself, would do nothing to stop Rezkin from
killing Shiela, if he so chose.

“Shiela,” Tieran prompted steadily, “You might want to find
yourself elsewhere right now. Perhaps you would like to rest in your quarters?”

Shiela actually snorted, “Not likely. This is far too
interesting.”

“Is that true, Rezkin? Do you just
play
with
commoners?” Frisha asked angrily. She knew she was being ridiculous. She knew
Rezkin had only been
acting
the part of the pompous noble – at
least, she thought she did. He didn’t even have servants – at least, she
thought he didn’t.

Frisha’s question drew Rezkin’s attention back to her, and
the promise of death previously directed at Shiela melted away. He leaned back
casually against the railing and asked, “Is that what you believe, Frisha?”

The young woman huffed. The wind seemed to leave her sails
as she said, “Well, no. But, Reaylin said you kissed.”

Rezkin shrugged. Frisha’s anger gradually seeped away with
his apparent lack of concern. Rezkin appeared confident that there was no cause
for worry, and Frisha desperately wanted to believe it. “I went to speak to
Reaylin, and
she
kissed
me
.” He looked pointedly at Reaylin and
continued, “At which point, I immediately left.” Reaylin blushed but shrugged
her shoulders and smiled shamelessly.

“You were in the room together…
alone
,” Frisha
accused.

“She did not wish for others to hear the conversation,”
Rezkin replied.

“And, just what were the two of you discussing that others
shouldn’t being hearing?” Frisha prompted.

Rezkin looked to Reaylin for a response, and she lost her
smile and shifted uncomfortably. When she refused to answer, Rezkin shrugged
and said, “She was upset by a recent development. I was the most appropriate
person to speak with about her problem.”

Shiela gasped, “I knew it. You got her pregnant!”

Tieran grabbed Shiela’s arm and pulled her further away. She
did not go quietly as he shoved her behind him. He was not sure why he did
that, since he
really
did not want to get between Rezkin and the object
of his wrath.

Rezkin frowned and clenched his jaw. He found that his anger
most often overcame him when his honor was questioned. “If Reaylin is pregnant,
then I am not aware of it, nor would it be
my
problem. Conversely, if it
were
my problem, by my honor, I would take responsibility for my
actions. As it is, I have taken no actions with Reaylin that could result in
such a problem, nor do I wish to.”

Frisha flushed. It had not been her accusation, but the
thought
had
crossed her mind. She felt guilty for doubting Rezkin in
such a way. “Then what was so important?”

Malcius saved Rezkin from having to answer when he finally
realized what had happened. “Rezkin saved her life, possibly all of ours.
Reaylin got upset when she found out she is a
healer
.”

“Wait, what? When did this happen?” Frisha asked in
confusion.

Tam shook his head, “Didn’t you hear the crash and all the
shouting?”

Frisha blushed, “Well, yes, but I was…um…indisposed at the
time.”

Tam rolled his eyes. “This giant beam fell from up there,”
he pointed to where the mast was tangled and the sails were torn. “It nearly crushed
us, but Rezkin flew through the air and used his own body to knock the beam out
of the way.”

Frisha gasped and put her hands over her mouth, “You could
have been killed!”

“If he hadn’t, we
would
have been killed – or
at least seriously injured. Rezkin was only hurt a little,” Tam said furrowing
his brow in confusion. “He must have gotten really lucky. Anyway, Reaylin was
so shaken that it must have triggered her dormant mage powers, because when she
grabbed his arm to look at his injuries, she healed him instantly.”

Everyone looked at Reaylin who scowled in return. “I am
not
a healer!” she shouted before stomping back down the stairs.

“Ah, she was really upset, as you can see,” Tam finished.

Frisha was shocked that Reaylin was a natural healer, but she
was trying to stay on topic. “So, why were
you
the one who needed to
talk to her?”

“Because there are no mages on board,” Rezkin replied.

“So? What does that have to do with
you
?” Frisha
asked in puzzlement and more than a hint of frustration.

Rezkin sighed. “Reaylin believes that she cannot be both a
healer
and
a warrior, and we all know she feels it is important to prove
herself as a warrior. I am both a healer and a warrior, so, naturally, I am a
good example for her.”

“You are a healer?” Malcius asked curiously.

“Rezkin is a Master Healer of the Mundane,” Captain Jimson
supplied. The general had confided that bit of information to him before the
journey. Marcum wanted to make sure Jimson knew Rezkin was capable of handling
any injuries. It had not come as much of a surprise, since Jimson had witnessed
some of Rezkin’s healing ministrations.

Tieran protested, “You are too young to be a Master Healer
of any sort. It can take decades to achieve such status.”

Rezkin shrugged. He did not want to talk about his
Skills
and accomplishments. “The conversation has digressed,” he said. Looking at
Frisha coolly, he asked, “Are you satisfied, Frisha?”

The young woman flushed and shifted uncomfortably,
“Um…yes…with you. I am still angry with
her
.”

Rezkin moved closer and leaned down to whisper in her ear
where only she could hear his words. “I do not appreciate you questioning my
honor, Frisha, especially so publicly. I would not dishonor you so.”

As Rezkin walked off, Frisha flushed with shame. She had
been hurt and angry and reacted badly. Worse, she had let Reaylin get to her.
She knew both Reaylin and Shiela would do whatever they could to steal Rezkin.
It was wrong of her to accuse Rezkin without even first inquiring about his
side of the story. Rezkin had every right to be angry with her. He could have
yelled or stormed away, but instead he stood calmly and accepted her
accusations in stride. Frisha refused to meet Tam’s disapproving gaze. The
others broke apart to go about their own business.

Tieran ignored the blubbering Shiela who was berating him
for his rough treatment. He approached Captain Jimson who was trying to avoid
him. When he finally cornered the army captain, Jimson sighed and stood
straight and proud.

“You saw the same thing I saw, Captain. I know you did,”
Tieran accused. “Rezkin had murder in his eyes when Shiela would not shut her
mouth; and you, the commander of this little party, refused to do anything
about it.”

Captain Jimson locked eyes with the young lord and replied,
“I know my place, Lord Nirius. I follow orders, comply with the law, and
enforce it when necessary.”

“Are you afraid, Captain Jimson? Do you fear
him
so
much that you would stand idly by while he kills a woman?”

“With all due respect, Lord Nirius, you do not know that he
would have attacked her. People often think of carrying out acts they would not
actually perform,” Jimson replied.

“But, you made it clear you would not interfere if he did,”
Tieran asserted.

“You are correct. I would not,” Jimson responded.

“Why? Because he is your friend?” Tieran inquired. “Would
you shirk your duties for an acquaintance, Captain?”

“The captain would not interfere because it is not his right
to do so,” a deep voice interrupted from behind.

Tieran spun to find Rezkin standing too close for comfort.
“Who are you, Rezkin?” he asked with a mixture of fear and accusation.

Rezkin grinned darkly and replied, “I am someone who could
kill a woman in public without concern for the good captain’s intervention.”
Rezkin paused for effect and then chuckled lightly. “Come on, Tieran, do you
really think I would kill an innocent woman in front of all these witnesses,”
Rezkin waved his arm over the whole ship, “for doing nothing but wagging her
poisoned tongue? Do you really think I am capable of such a thing? Or that I am
an idiot?”

Tieran lost some of his confidence. “No, perhaps not. But, I
know the captain would not have interfered if you had. Besides, you just said
that he did not have that right.”

“And, that is true,” Rezkin nodded. “It may surprise you to
hear this, Lord Tieran, but Captain Jimson is not the commander of this
expedition. I am.”


You?
Who are you to be commanding anyone?” Tieran
scoffed.

“Who indeed?” Rezkin mused. He waved away the question and said,
“This was never his expedition. It was always mine. I was going to the
tournament, and Frisha wanted to come along. The general knew that Captain
Jimson was also going to the tournament, so Marcum assigned the captain and his
men as a protection detail. Since Frisha could not travel with me alone, the
general joined our party with that of the Jebais. In the end,
I
am
responsible for the safety of everyone present, even Lady Shiela. It would be
very poor protection, indeed, if she were to end up slaughtered on the deck by
my own hand.”

Tieran ran a frustrated hand through his hair. “I suppose
that does make sense.” He performed a slight bow toward the captain and said,
“I apologize, Captain Jimson. I was out of order. I did not realize you were
not the commander of this party.” Jimson nodded his acceptance, and Tieran
looked back at Rezkin. “I apologize to you, as well, Rezkin. I realize, now,
how absurd my fears were. But, seriously, you are kind of frightening
sometimes.”

Rezkin laughed as he placed a hand on Tieran’s shoulder and
guided him away from the relieved captain. Rezkin remarked, “Tieran, sometimes
our instincts warn us of dangers our consciousness does not perceive. Other
times… we just die.”

Tieran looked at Rezkin askance and then laughed. “That was
not comforting at all, Rezkin.”

“Hmm, no it was not, was it?” Rezkin replied with a grin,
managing to calm the young lord and keep him on edge at the same time. Jimson
shook his head both in admiration and aversion. Rezkin truly was a master manipulator
of the truth.

After nearly a week, the ship’s captain announced that they
would be stopping over in the riverside town of Teurning. Teurning was a
moderate-sized logging town in the Barony of Fendendril that most people simply
called Fenden. The baron and his son were also traveling to the tournament and
would be boarding the ship. The weather, so far, had been ideal, and despite
the earlier mishap, the ship was more than a day ahead of schedule. The crew
would be able to make necessary repairs, and it was the perfect opportunity for
some much-desired shore leave for the passengers.

Pride was especially grateful for the respite from his
confinement aboard the ship. He was restless during the best of times, and he
was becoming positively unruly as time passed. Rezkin decided to take the
stallion for a run along the forest road. When he mentioned his plans to the
ship’s captain, one of the deck hands overheard. The man, originally from the
town, indicated the location of a scenic spot, complete with waterfall and
crystal pool, which he should take in along the way. Hearing this, Frisha
decided she needed to see the place. Since Frisha desired to go along, Tam,
Jimson and his soldiers were obliged to go as well. Not to be left out, Reaylin
demanded a place among them.

BOOK: Reign of Madness (Revised Edition)
5.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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