Book Debut: Palace of the Three Crosses by Christina Weigand
Brandan and Joachim have returned from the brink of Hell, but everyone questions if they are truly healed and one with Asha.
As each prince tries to readjust to life, they must face the funeral of their father and their missing mother.
They each take on the responsibility of ruling a country with new wives by their sides, but can they and the countries survive the trials that will ensue because of their choices?
Outside the chapel, Waldrom, Brandan, and Joachim stood in a triangle. Waldrom laughed. “So nice to have you two in one place, makes my goal so much easier to achieve. Now I have both of you. Oh, did you know your mother rejoined me.”
Derdrom walked forward leading Lilia in chains.
“We could have been one happy family, but now, I have to kill the two of you along with Lilia. You brats have put me in disfavor with Sidramah, and the only way to regain his favor is to get rid of all three of you. I had hoped to spare at least one, but alas, that is now impossible. The only question is…who’s first? The time has come for a decision.”
Brandan stood beside Joachim, his face working with barely controlled rage. Brandan lunged toward Waldrom.
Waldrom sensed the presence of magic and glanced behind him. Rupert and Lukan stood behind him. He grabbed Lilia and pulled her close, placing his short sword at her throat. “I suggest you stop, or I will cut her throat,” he warned Brandan. To emphasize his point, he pressed the sword against her skin puncturing her flesh.
Brandan, with sword drawn, took another step.
“I wouldn’t do that, unless you want your mother's corpse on your hands.”
Brandan advanced, as Waldrom muttered a spell to compel the king to keep moving and cut a little deeper drawing blood. He felt Lilia quivering in his arms.
A woman stepped out of the chapel, carrying a sword covered in blood. “Brandan, what are you doing? There’s a battle being fought. Why are you out here and not inside helping me?”
Waldrom glanced at the new arrival. He did not recognize her and turned his attention back to Brandan, who was still advancing. “Well, I see you’ve gone and made yourself right at home. You even found a strumpet to help warm the place up. I should have known you wouldn’t waste any time. Sorry to break up this little party, but it’s still my kingdom. I would greatly appreciate if you would all leave. But, since you won’t go, I’ll have to remove you myself. Where were we? I was deciding which of you to kill. I see, though, a few have been added to the numbers. All the more fun for me. Although it may be a little more painful for you, but that doesn’t matter. Should Lilia remain my first choice?”
* * * *
Magda grabbed Brandan's arm. She recognized Waldrom and had as much against him as Brandan and her father. “Wait, Brandan, I will deal with this.”
She moved toward Waldrom, but a voice in her head cautioned her. “Don’t reveal yourself. This is not our battle. Walk away. Let Waldrom do what he will.” She glanced around. Whose voice did she hear? It sounded like Melvane, but he was nowhere in sight. Upon further consideration, she realized this wasn’t her battle. She had every reason to want Waldrom out of the way, and if she let him get rid of these humans and the Kningrad, then she could deal with him at my leisure.
The voice spoke again. “That is right, let Waldrom do what he may, and then we will take care of him.”
Magda dropped her sword arm. “Brandan I don’t know what’s going on here, but I don’t want any part of it.” She turned and walked back into the chapel. “Hurry up and finish out here. I’ve taken care of those in the chapel so we can begin the joining once you’ve ended things. we’ve a joining to conclude. I’ll be waiting.” She slammed the door behind her. Waldrom’s voice followed her into the echoing chamber of the chapel.
Waldrom laughed. “Brandan, I would say you haven’t made a very good choice. You should be grateful I am going to end your life so you don’t have to put up with her much longer. Now where was I?”
* * * *
Joachim wanted to run to Lilia, but his head whirled. Stars floated in front of his eyes, their motion making him sick with dizziness. He stepped up to stand beside Brandan. “Waldrom, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. First, you are seriously outnumbered. Second, what makes you think you can use Mother to blackmail us? Such childishness, using a woman to negotiate, instead of dealing on a man-to-man level. Let her go, and we will discuss your surrender. I don’t want to kill you.”
Brandan pushed Joachim aside. “You may not, brother, but I do. He will stop at nothing to destroy me, and I can’t let that happen.”
A group of Brandan's personal guard came charging down the hall. Waldrom pushed the sword point a little further into Lilia's throat. “I see you boys still don’t agree on anything. I suggest you stop the group of soldiers from attacking me. Rupert, I know you’re back there, trying to form a spell to stop me. That wouldn’t be a good idea either.”
The tableau unfolded before Joachim's eyes. Waldrom, in the center of the circle holding Lilia with a short sword slicing her throat and Brandan, his long sword drawn, advancing on Waldrom. Rupert and Lukan stood motionless behind Waldrom. Lukan had his sword drawn. Conflicting voices rang in Joa's head. “Kill them all. You don’t need them.” Other voices calling, “Joachim save them. They need you.”
Lukan yelled, “Sire, watch out behind you.”
Joachim started and turned as a Mantion rushed at him. He pulled his short sword from his scabbard and stood before the coming onslaught. As the attacker reached him, he swung his weapon cutting and angering the Mantion. The foe sliced at Joachim's knees with his knife, leaving a gash in his thigh. When Joachim doubled over in pain, the Mantion leapt on his back and pummeled the king. Suddenly, the weight of the attacker lifted from his back. Joachim fearfully turned his head, expecting to see the Mantion standing over him ready to deliver the kill stroke.