Series: Mist and Mercy (Book 2)
Author: Susan A. Howard
Format: Paperback and ebook, 216 pages
Imprint: Starmaker Books
Publication date: January 1, 2019
Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
Weight: 11 ounces
The glow of the bonfire frolicked over their eerie faces. Like gargoyles, the bounty hunters chuckled at Waljan’s fate. Their distorted orange faces fit the sinister mood of this chilly fall evening.
Waljan of the Realm, famed Knight of Abidan, felt more like Waljan of the Fools, Snared Rabbit. He’d been snared before. But since the Battle of Centennial Court, he’d ridden high on the gratitude of the citizens of Mortinburg, and things more often went his way.
The prickly rope chafed Waljan’s wrists. Lashed to a rough pine, he struggled against the restraints. The knots only tightened. At least the numbing cold dulled his pain. As his captors rested and discussed his fate, Waljan thought, Some hero I’ve turned out to be. I can lead a successful battle against corruption but can’t free myself from a small band of half-wits!
After expelling the manipulative Judge Asmodeus and his goons from the city of Mortinburg, Waljan had enjoyed his status as resident hero. At first, celebrity fit him like the boots of a much larger man. But he grew into it quickly—or so he thought. After all, it was celebrity and heroism that led him to his current dilemma. Now all he could do was sit, wait, and hope.
So he sat. He sat as he had for hours, studying his captors as they ate, laughed, and told tall tales. One particularly irksome fellow tossed around a smooth opalescent stone he’d taken from Waljan’s pack. Mack, as his gang called him, recounted an old myth about Maweth, the Shadow Assassin. It was clear to Waljan that the man made up the entire story just to belittle him.
“Maweth, in his fury,” Mack said with deliberate suspense, “conjured up the malevolence contained in his ghostly death stone.”
“Oh for pity’s sake, it’s a speaking stone, you witless lump!” Waljan murmured as if arguing with his own flickering shadow.
The man continued, “Unseen, unheard, undetected, the malevolence seeped from the death stone and crept through the land. One by one, it turned Maweth’s enemies to dust. With each offense, it gained strength, leaving no traces of the assassin’s evil acts. Justice could never touch him. Until today, eh, lads?”
The men broke out in cheers and laughter. They taunted Waljan, “How’s it feel, Maweth, to finally face justice? Ha!”
“I have told you,” Waljan spewed. “I am Waljan of the Realm, Knight of Abidan. Free me now or suffer the wrath of the king!”
The men laughed all the louder as Mack shouted orders for more ale and rapped a tin cup against a rock….