Marcael: A Terraneu Novel, Book Five, page 1
(A Terraneu Novel, Book Five)
Copyright and Disclaimer
Copyright Pending, Stormy McKnight
Cover Art by Brandi Doane McCann
Published by Stormy McKnight
Marcael is the fifth book in the Terraneu series. I would advise that the books be read in order, to enhance the experience. However, I do try to write them as stand-alone as possible.
Marcael is a work of fiction and the characters, events, and dialogue found within the story are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, either living or deceased, is completely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced or shared in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including but not limited to digital copying, file sharing, audio recording, email and printing without the permission in writing from the author.
Table of Contents
Copyright and Disclaimer
Chapter Twenty One
Chapter Twenty Two
Chapter Twenty Three
Chapter Twenty Four
Chapter Twenty Five
Chapter Twenty Six
Chapter Twenty Seven
Chapter Twenty Eight
Chapter Twenty Nine
Keep Reading for an Excerpt
Another Surprise Excerpt
About the Author
The great city of Hedal
The King was winding his way through the streets of Hedal on his way home. It had been a futile endeavor to try to talk with the ambassador of Aekaetum without the Queen present. The latest skirmishes on the western border needed to stop. The people of Aekaetum must not care that they were allies now. Sighing the King realized the Aekaetum were a stubborn people and their leaders would not listen to reason. Though the two countries were bound by marriage, it seemed not everyone was willing to recognize the alliance.
Coming around a corner the King and his entourage stopped when their path was blocked. He recognized the square they were in, the Palace was straight ahead, and this was one of the more popular market areas. At this time of day, it would be busy but not completely blocked.
“Thaylen can you see what is happening?” He asked the head of his guard.
“It appears to be street beggars fighting my King.” His guard replied.
Sighing over the negative changes in his beloved city since the alliance with Aekaetum, the King moved his mount until he was able to see the skirmish. To his amazement there was a smaller boy standing in front of five others, his arms were out to his sides as if to protect them. He heard the boy’s voice call out.
“You will have to go through me to get them.” The poor thing could not be more than nine or ten years. His voice had not even changed yet! In answer to the boy’s threat a brute of a fellow across from him laughed.
“That will take about one second you gutter rat.” He strode forward with his weapon drawn, his gang spread out to stand next to their leader. “After I gut you like a pig, I will take your girlfriends that are hiding behind you to sell in the slave pits of Aekaetum.”
At being called ‘girlfriends’ the boys started to protest, but the little fellow stopped them with one flick of his hand. The King was impressed the boy had not let the taunting sway him from his purpose. The little fellow just stood there waiting to see what move the others made. The lad did not have long to wait. The King watched as the leader jumped at the boy, swinging his sword and yelling. One second the man had his weapon, the next he was holding his own guts as he fell in the dirt. The King had been watching and still could not believe his eyes. The boy had bent backward farther than a body should be able to bend, then spinning and hitting the other fellow had forced him to drop his sword. Picking it up and killing, the fellow had only taken five seconds.
Before the gang of bullies could react, the King ordered his men to clear the area.
“As you will my King.” Thaylen slid to the ground, the King’s guard following him. They did not have to say anything, their armor, and cloaks proclaiming to all who they were. The merchants and citizens of Hedal that had been standing by watching took a knee as his guard worked their way to the fight.
“We will gut all of you for that little pig.” The self-appointed new leader of the gang snarled at the boy.
“No. You won’t.” Thaylen drawled as he hit the fellow over the head with his sword handle. “That should shut you up.” The other gang members had turned when Thaylen made his statement and when they saw whom they were facing a few tried to run but were rounded up by his guard. “Take them to the city hold and let the Magister decide what to do with them.” Thaylen ordered his men then turned to see what his King required.
The King noted with surprise that the boy and his friends did not try to flee. The little fellow had moved to stand protectively in front of the others yet again. For the whole of the fight, the King realized the boy had not moved from in front of them. Even when he had grabbed the sword to kill the brute bullying them, he had managed to stay in front of his fellows. Sliding to the ground, he made his way to stand in front of the boy. As he approached, they just stood in the same spot, their faces impassive. When they did not take a knee or make any kind of move the King just laughed. “Do you know who I am?”
“Judging by your clothes I would say some kind of High Lord.” The boy answered back, his brown eyes flashing brightly in his gaunt face. Long black eyelashes fluttered against high cheekbones when the boy blinked away the dirt flying about the market.
Not minding the impudence in his answer the King asked instead. “What is your name?” Now that he was close, the King could see that the boy was extremely dirty. His shirt was about three sizes too big, his pants a few sizes too small. Torn, dirty, and frayed the King was amazed it was wearable.
“I am called Marcael.” The boy answered.
“Where are your parents?” The King asked even though he knew the answer he wanted to see what the boy would say.
“I have no parents.” The boy did not cry or tear up, “They are dead to me.” His voice was emotionless when he made that statement.
“Ah.” The King let out a breath. “That does say a lot.” He smiled down at the boy.
“What does it say?” The boy snarled up at the King.
Thaylen moved closer his hand going to his weapon. He would never interfere with his King. He was only moving closer to protect him in case the little scamp attacked. The King waved his hand and Thaylen moved back.
“You said they were dead to you.” The King replied, “Not that they were dead.”
The boy’s eyes narrowed on the King, his mouth opened then closed against what he would have said.
The King laughed, he really liked this boy. “How would you like to
With total disdain the boy said, “I know what old Lords like you want with young boys. I would not do that for all of the food, clothing, and training in all of Hedal.”
The Kings eyes widened and then he burst out laughing. He laughed so hard he thought his sides would split. The little beggar had just accused him, the King of Hedal of either buggery himself or perhaps wanting this little fellow to sell into buggery. The King had not had a conversation this entertaining in a long time.
When he was able to catch his breath he said, “No boy I am giving you a chance to leave the streets and come to the palace to train.”
“I was told they only accept noble boys into the palace for training.” The boy looked at him suspiciously.
“That is not true.” The King smiled kindly. “Would you like to come or no?”
The boy looked at him for a second longer then turning to look behind him and back. “I will only go if we are all allowed this chance.”
The King burst out laughing again. The little imp was bargaining for all his friends too. That showed true loyalty and intelligence for one so small.
“I agree to your terms.” The King said, “Would you like to know my terms?”
“We are to train to be warriors. Our loyalty will be to our King, to do as he commands us in all matters. To protect those who are weaker and to give our lives in the service of our Kingdom if that is what is required. To honor our King we should value what he values: honesty, loyalty, and valor.” The boy bent his knee, and his friends did the same. “Is that not close to the vow your warriors take, my King?”
Astounded again the King bit back his laughter. “You are going to be entertaining.” He turned to regain the saddle. “Thaylen make sure the boys all have a ride. I will take Marcael with me.”
“As you will my King.” Thaylen made sure that everyone mounted with a boy in front of him.
“You will ride with me Marcael.” The King held his hand out for the boy. Seeing uncertainty in the boy’s eyes for the first time was a surprise. “I do value honesty, loyalty, and valor above all things.” He told the boy. “But you forgot one thing in your vow that I value even more...family.” The King smiled again, “By blood or by choice I value those I call family.” Grabbing the small hand in his the King helped him into the saddle. “I have sons by birth, five strong boys who are training for their duties. However, I also have sons by choice. The men of my guard are such sons. You will be one of those Marcael.” Holding the boy steady against his armored chest he whispered, “You may even earn the right to be my Knoet’un.”
“The King’s First Knight?” Marcael whispered. “I vow I will my King. I will be your Knoet’un.”
The King wanted to laugh at the fervor in the boy’s words, but when he saw the glowing certainty in the boy’s eyes, he just smiled instead.
Marcael would go on to be the youngest Kings Knoet’un in the history of Hedal. He had many titles by the time he was done. Legendary warrior, faithful Kings Guard, traitor, infidel...murderer of the last great King of Hedal.
“We have completed the scans my King. We are not finding any life signs on this planet.” He spoke softly.
“Scan again.” The gravelly voice snapped out, “I know they are hiding on this fucking rock somewhere. Tomorrow we send scouting parties and you will join them. Start with the most habitable regions.”
“Yes my King, as you will.” He bent at the waist and hit his fist against his chest. It was the salute of the Hedal guard to his King and he had been doing it for thousands of years. He turned to leave but the King’s words stopped him.
“Oh, and Marcael...do not fail me this time.” Marcael looked back into the mad, glowing eyes of his King. “I can smell them down there. I will have my reunion with my loving family after all of these years.” The mocking laughter of the King grated on his nerves. “If you manage to find them, I might even reverse the sexual block you are under as a reward.”
“As you will my King.” He spoke the words because he knew that it was what Knuan wanted to hear. “By the Gods and Elyon I shall prove successful.”
“Yes, by the Gods.” Knuan’s eyes lost a bit of their intensity, “You are excused.”
Marcael turned and left his Kings command chambers. Turning this way and that down the ships hallway, he found his way to his quarters. Just as he was reaching for the console to let himself in he heard a soft, feminine voice.
“Is there anything my Lord Marcael desires?”
Turning at his door, he saw a STARR or Sexually Trained Authentic Recreational Robot. This one was exceptionally pretty, with dark black hair that flowed to her waist. Her eyes were a mix of blue that flashed to gold as they shrank to the pupils. Almond shaped and framed with black eyelashes so thick and long to be un-natural and eyebrows that formed a perfect arch. Her cheekbones were high, and her nose was pert and turned up at the end just a little. Her lips looked bee-stung and cherry red. He managed to keep his eyes on her face, which was saying something since the STARR units were always unclothed. Knuan declared it a waste of resources to provide them with clothing when it was their job to be naked. He knew this model well, had enjoyed her company many times in their years in space. She was tall and lithe, with small perky breasts and legs that seemed to go forever.
“No thank you. Remember I am just Marcael.” He turned back to his door. The smell of perfumed skin wafted to his nose, just before she pressed into his back.
“It is the King’s request that all his commanders be addressed as Lord.” She pressed her perfect artificial body into his back and he felt every inch of her heat against him. The STARR’s features were realistic enough to make you think you were getting the real thing. Only they never said no, never got a headache, never had a reason they could not be in the mood, and they did not have a single thought in their heads besides what their programming told them to do. “Is there anything STARR can do to make my Lord Marcael change his mind?”
Marcael sighed, “As I said STARR not today.” Gently taking her arms from around his torso, he moved her away. He had never harmed a female, real or robotic, and he would not start now. No matter how frustrated he was, no matter how much he felt that life was spinning madly around him, he would maintain his control.
Entering his room, he paced madly around like a caged tiger. His six foot two frame took him quickly from one side of his quarters to the other. They had found the Princes. He felt it as deeply as Knuan had that this was the correct planet. Striding over to get some water, he caught a glimpse of himself in his mirror.
His thick black hair was longer than he usually wore it, down past his shoulders. He made a note to get it cut. Fingering his face he grimaced at how pale he was, he figured he was somewhere between pasty white and sickly white. The men on the Elyon varied in their complexions, but they were all some form of “pale”. Marcael’s eyes were the cobalt blue they had been since the genetic change. His cells used the energy the Elyon provided to regenerate, the aftereffects of which were his eyes turned a deep cobalt blue, he only consumed water…not food and he could live for a very long time.
His current body was only twenty-three years old however, since his failure on his last mission and subsequent punishment. Marcael had been killed for losing two men on an away mission, and then cloned with no sexual responses. It was supposed to be a form of torture. What Knuan did not know was that it was not so tortuous. A man loyal to him had been in charge of his cloning, and he had made it to where Marcael could not function sexually as the mad King required, however he had modified the procedure so that Marcael would not feel frustrated the way Knuan wanted him to. He did not feel anything when the STARR had pressed her perfect body against his.
Making up his mind to go train instead of pacing aimlessly, he turned and left his chambers. Winding his way through the corridors, he arrived at the training facility. He hurried inside his eyes sweeping th
“I feel like training.” He was stripping out of his shirt. It was basic white, with only a few buttons at the top for closure. “Tomorrow I will assign groups to search this planet for the Princes.” He had turned to his men. “We need to train harder for the mission to come. I will accept no excuses for failure.”
Without waiting for his men to acknowledge his words, he turned to activate the Combat Aptitude Battle Bot or CABB. They only had one on the Elyon so his men moved out of the way to make room on the mat. Training weekly with the CABB was required for all of the men. The CABB was to utilize the deadliest setting to give them a challenge. Knuan felt that if you were not facing real death in training you would become weak. If the CABB managed to kill you then you deserved to die. Your fate hinged on what kind of mood the King was in at the time if you would be cloned again or not.
Stretching to warm up his muscles Marcael recalled the first time he had faced a CABB on Hedal. He had been in the King’s palace for months taking lessons in things he found a waste of time. History, numbers, reading, and writing. What were these things to a warrior he had wondered at the time. He wanted to be learning how to defend his King and Kingdom. What was he going to do, bore his enemies to death with a History of Terra? He had asked his instructor that very thing.
“What good is ignorance young warrior?” His instructor was a gnarly, old stooped figure. “You think that the muscles you are building on your body, here.” He had slapped a stick against his back. “And here.” He had used the stick against his chest. “Are more important than here.” The old man went to slap it against his head, but instinct caused Marcael to grab it. Worried that this action would justify punishment he stonily bowed his head and waited for additional hits of the stick. To his surprise, his instructor had laughed again.
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