Kevin James Breaux
(Soul Born Saga #1)
Publication date: November 15th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
All Opal wanted was to be respected as a wielder of magic, but her teachers passed her over time and time again. When a mysterious warlord embarks on a conquest to destroy the lands of Illyia, Opal seizes the opportunity to step out from the shadows of her instructors and take her rightful place among them. Tala, an alluring young elf, was banished from her tribe, hunted and nearly killed by the beasts of the deep forests, but more than anything else she is a survivor. Joining forces with an ancient elemental power, Tala finds herself in the center of an unrelenting human war. Flesh like leather and bone as strong as steel, Karn, a veteran from the first kingdom to fall, is fueled by vengeance. While pushing headlong into battle Karn begins recalling memories of another life: ghosts that haunt his dreams. Through death of soul, their new world is born.
nside the large throne room of Weiden’s Rise Castle sat the warlord known as Mustaffa. The warlord was a tall and muscular man—a commanding presence that his troops feared and respected. If it were not for the lines in his face and his receding hairline, few would have guessed he was in his early fifties.
He had dispatched his army ahead of him, eager to draw one specific man back into a trap: Morwik, brother of Lord Garik, the former ruler of Weiden’s Rise. Mustaffa had ordered his men to search the dead and throw each corpse into a pyre at the far end of town. When the last body was piled upon the heap and the brother of the monarch had not been found, Mustaffa’s need for retribution became an obsession. He had killed each member of the royal family himself—queen, prince, princess, and king—yet it was the brother, Morwik, who had escaped and took Mustaffa’s left eye with him.
The warlord stroked the stubble of his unshaven face as a group of guards entered the room. Between him and the guards was a collection of beautiful slave girls, all adorned in colorful silk wraps.
Mustaffa prided himself on his ability to keep the most exotic women of each land he subjugated. His hobby began with the first empire he had conquered many, many summers ago. It was an ancient desert empire that had suffered from both a devastating plague and the inevitable civil unrest that followed. When he vanquished that monarchy, he took sovereignty over its lands and much more; he also took the deceased leader’s youngest daughter.
Now the oldest woman in his harem, the dark-skinned beauty was still as lovely as the day he stole her from her dying family. Mustaffa looked across the room at her; her body was slender and smooth, toned and without flaw. His eyes slid down her long form to her right hand, where it rested on her hip. She was missing her smallest finger, his standard mark of punishment and a clear identifier to all that she was his property.
Mustaffa smiled; it was through her that he had learned how to tame all his future slaves.
As the guards walked through the sea of languid, perfumed women, they held their heads high and kept eye contact with their lord. When they reached Mustaffa, they bowed and held silent until the captain delivered a note.
“Well, well…” Mustaffa laughed.
“What is it?” asked the large man, covered in animal hides, who stood before Mustaffa asked.
“Shadow elves, always seeking a new way to capitalize, Vuk.”
He nodded and then answered. “You are right. Filthy shadow trash. Always got their hands out, sir.” Vuk exhaled fully. “Sir, I’ve always wanted to hunt one. If you’re dissatisfied with the offering, maybe I could… make better use of him?”
“Ears or teeth, Vuk?” Mustaffa asked. “Of which do you collect from elves?”
“Both.” Vuk smiled.
“Sir,” the man who handed Mustaffa the note spoke up. “I’ll tell the shadow elf to dispose of his prisoner and be gone. I did not wish to interrupt your business with the general here.”
“No-no. On the contrary, Captain. Bring him and his captive to me,” he commanded. “Vuk, this hunt will have to wait. I need you to take your men and move forward; forge our path, General.”
“You’re will be done.”
Vuk turned and left. Once he was gone, the captain bowed and signaled to a pair of guards who stood at attention in the doorway. They bowed back and swiftly exited the room. It was a few minutes before those guards returned and ushered in another man under watchful eye: the shadow elf in question.
The shadow elf wore black leather armor and a black robe. Combined with his deep tan complexion, his somber clothing made him a shadowy form. When he approached Mustaffa, he did so with an air of insolence, his thumbs tucked into his sword belt. Mustaffa knew that the elf’s face, although hidden by the cloak, wore an arrogant smile.
“Vorlick,” Mustaffa stated. “They said a shadow elf caught a woman outside of my town. They neglected to tell me it was you—my very own private assassin.”
“Your humans lack the attention to detail they need to protect you, my lord. That’s why you need more of my kin in your ranks.” The elf’s response was enough to make one of the younger guards grumble.
“We shall see.” Mustaffa ignored the elf’s contemptuous manner. “So, tell me, what have you brought me today, Vorlick?”
Mustaffa’s face clouded. Vorlick stepped back as the warlord rose.
“Bring it to me now!” he commanded.
Vorlick bowed and waved his hand to the guards that stood at the entryway. Orders were exchanged, and soon two more guards entered the room, dragging a young woman by her armpits. Her red hair snapped like a fiery whip as she kicked and struggled, but the woman could not free herself.
“Let go of me, you bastards!” she screamed.
Whispers crawled across the throne room before Mustaffa spoke again.
“This is your mage, Vorlick?”
“Yes, sir. I watched her use her powers to enchant a horse outside the forest.”
“I’ve seen many mages, Vorlick. This woman, she does not resemble their kind,” Mustaffa rumbled as he sat. “Does she, my friends?”
Several of his guards spoke right up, agreeing with him just as he knew they would.
“Do you seek to fool me, Vorlick?”
“I know better than to lie to you, my lord.”
Mustaffa grunted. At first, he looked away, but soon he returned his gaze to the woman in a long stare.
“Look at the way she glares at me.”
“Peasant!” A guard screamed in her ear. “Look away!”
“Would you like her blindfolded, sir?” another guard asked.
“No. Just…just remove her rags,” the warlord said with a lazy wave of his arm.
One of the guards took her wrists in his hands and raised them above his head. He was a large man, tall enough that he lifted her to her tiptoes. She fought for her footing, but her toes danced on the slippery marble floor.
“Hurry,” he ordered.
The guard that stood to Opal’s left, an older man with a deep scar on his chin, stepped in front of her. His breath smelled sour, but that was not what made her wince; it was what he held in his hand that scared her: a long, shiny dagger.
Opal continued to squirm. I must free myself. I must escape…
Opal struggled as the man sliced the clothing off her, yet when the blade scored her thigh, her muscles tensed so tightly they quivered.
“That’s right, you hold still and be good. Let me do my job,” the guard whispered while he sheared off the last pieces of her clothing while he took every opportunity to fondle her.
“Bastards,” she whispered back.
When released by the large guard’s vicelike grip, Opal dropped to the ground, her feet slapping the hard, glossy stone floor. Powerless before her enemy, fear squeezed Opal’s breath from her lungs. She stood, nude and motionless, held in Mustaffa’s unrelenting gaze.
Opal huffed like a frightened animal, in and out with short and shallow breaths. I feel so weak… So strange… The elf poisoned me. I need to heal. I need to cast a spell—escape.
Whereas her magic once overflowed from her, she now felt empty. All she could do was stare in disbelief at the one man she hoped to never face in her life.
Although afraid to look at him, she was more afraid to look away. Opal took in the details of the man, first following the wavy, shiny patterns of the formal armor that covered his arms down to his bare hands. Her fear receded briefly as she noticed red splotchy marks on the warlord’s left hand.
Burns. The sight of his wounds distracted her, but when Mustaffa spoke again, the reality of her circumstances crashed back down upon her, full force.
“You are no mage,” Mustaffa concluded after he looked her over again. “The mages of Illyia wear a crude tattoo of interlocking circles, one on top of two. You, peasant, bear no such mark.”
The guards may have taken her clothing, but Mustaffa had stripped her of her confidence. His words—or is it the poison?—made her nauseated. Opal may not have wanted to look guilty, but she had to know, so she turned her head and stole a quick peek at her arm. To her surprise, the tattoo that had been a part of her body for so long was gone. Her mouth fell open, but she shut it with a snap. No. No matter what, do not say anything.
“Mage or not, she’s quite stunning.” Mustaffa gave her a lascivious grin. “Vorlick, you were right to bring her to me. She’ll make a fine addition to my collection.”
“Lord, what if she uses her magic against you?” he asked as he stepped forward.
Opal gripped the cold marble floor of Weiden’s Rise’s throne room with her toes as the flat side of the shadow elf’s long, thin blade pressed across her throat. Slowly, he turned the dagger’s edge over and slid it gently side to side. Her heart seized, and her vision darkened. All she could see now was the shiny blade.
He’s going to kill me and there’s nothing I can do to stop him.
“Even if this beggar or whore was a mage, Vorlick,” Mustaffa boomed, “she would be powerless before me.”
Mustaffa reached underneath his chest armor and retrieved an amulet. Its ruby-encrusted design sparkled even in the dim room. Opal watched Mustaffa admire it. He ran his fingers over the oval gem and down the back side of the basket-like base.
“You see this fine ornament?” Mustaffa held it for Vorlick to see. “A mage fashioned this for me a long time ago. It dispels magic in my presence. So, I assure you, my friend, with this in my possession, no user of magic can raise a hand against me.”
“I didn’t know, lord.”
Opal’s stomach churned, ice filling her belly. Does the Council know of this amulet? she wondered. Was this one of the reasons why they didn’t want to risk a direct attack on the warlord? She looked at her arm again, relief mixing with her fears. If Mustaffa’s amulet dispelled magic, the tattoo which marked her as a mage was also hidden; the amulet had just saved her life too.
“Leave me to my work!” Mustaffa commanded.
Vorlick exited the throne room, followed by Mustaffa’s guards; Opal was alone before the warlord and his harem.
In that moment, more than escape, Opal wished she could cover herself. Scared out of her wits, she dared not even budge.
Opal tried to focus but she couldn’t. In all her time as a healer in the kingdom of Weiden’s Rise, she had never once set foot inside the throne room of the castle. To her surprise, it was much larger than she ever would have guessed.
“I’ve had enough of her for now. Take her away!” he shouted to his guards.
Opal’s heart jumped into her throat as she watched Mustaffa wave his hand toward a guard, the older man who had disrobed her. Before she could venture a guess as to what was going to happen, the old man grabbed her and dragged her from the room.
In the adjoining chamber, torchlight danced across the water of a fifteen-by-twenty-foot pool. Right after she caught the scent of lilac in the air, the old guard shoved her.
The shock of the cold water should have compounded her fear, but instead it enraged her. When Opal breached the surface of the pool, she was greeted with the hearty laughter of a room full of her enemies. She wanted to kill the old guard who pushed her in. She wanted to kill them all—but Mustaffa’s amulet still affected her magical powers.
Opal took her time swimming to the edge of the pool, all the while watching the old guard as he left the room. She pushed herself against the edge of the pool as several slave girls funneled into the room. They moved as if they were free to go wherever they pleased, but it was obvious by the number of guards around that they were not. One girl caught Opal’s attention more than the others by flashing a large smile. What does she have to be so happy about?
One woman moved straight toward her. She was very pretty, with delicate features. The closer she came to Opal, the more flawless she seemed. When she reached Opal, she knelt leisurely.
“I’ve been part of our lord’s harem for longer than I can count,” she said with a husky voice. “He treats us… He treats us well. I’ll fetch you something to wear. Please wait here.”
Opal tried once more to shut it all out and return to purpose. Karn… If I was so easily caught, then perhaps so was he.
“Wear this,” the slave said as she returned with a long silk garment.
“This? How is this any better than nothing at all?” Opal asked as she pulled herself from the water.
Just as they were finished wrapping Opal in silk, the friendly slave girl scurried off with a look of dread on her face.
From out of the milling women, a dignified and very beautiful elven woman approached. “You must be the new girl…you’re pretty,” she said. “Until you arrived, I was the new girl.”
“I’m not new. I’m trapped,” Opal whispered as she stared at the woman’s exotic blue hair.
“Mmm. Well, you may call me Raven, new girl.”
“You’re not listening, Raven. I have to get out—”
“During my first days here, I got in a fight with another girl. She was… yes… about your size.” Raven looked Opal up and down before adding, “I killed her.”
“What?” Opal gasped. “How? Why?”
“You have to take charge of every situation you face, pretty human.”
Opal’s eyes grew wide.
“Try not to worry too much. You’ll be fine.” Raven paused. “Tell me… how many summers are you?”
“It’s a good age for breeding, right? I’m told that those lucky enough to bear Mustaffa children are freed.”
Opal broke into tears.
“Easy, new girl,” Raven warned. “You don’t want to draw any more attention to yourself, do you?”
“No. You don’t understand. I came searching for—”
Before Opal could finish, Mustaffa entered the room. He whipped his dark blue cape around and faced them. His gaze traveled the length of Opal’s wet body. She knew that the damp silk clung to her curves, and she saw the look of lust in his eye. Mustaffa, our enemy. If I wished it, I could reach out and touch him. It was a fact that both excited and terrified her. After all the meetings, planning, and discussions she had had with her instructors, it was she, a student, who was close enough to the enemy to strike him down.
This close, his face showed much wear, with many distinct lines. His hair had receded to the top of his head, where short and coarse ones covered his crown. A black leather patch covered his left eye socket, but a jagged red mark peeked out from the top and bottom of it. The wound still heals.
Unable to take her eyes off him, Opal watched Mustaffa point right at her. His gaze held a certain seriousness, an icy blue stare that felt like death’s own.
“I was wrong,” he stated. “I have not had enough of you tonight. In fact, I have decided I want more, baby bird.”
Opal took a step back and shook her head.
“Wait, my desert sultan. I thought I was your favorite,” Raven called out to Mustaffa, who barely glanced at her.
“You’ve had many chances; now it’s time for my new girl,” he said as he continued to point at Opal. “I wish to see myself reflected in those pretty eyes as I conquer her.”
Raven slunk over to Mustaffa and pressed her thinly clothed form against his cold, hard armor. “Humans are so plain. I’m your exotic one.” She stood on her tiptoes so she could kiss and then lick the line of his jaw.
The warlord smiled as he reached to caress her. “How can I say no to such an eager participant? There will be plenty of time for the baby bird later.”
“Plenty of time.”
“Let us go.” Mustaffa wrapped his outstretched arm around Raven. “I need you now.”
“My lord has made another wise choice.” Raven nodded at Opal.
“You there, guard, make sure this new one delivers the prisoners their dinner tonight. I would not want them to starve.”
Opal stared in disbelief as Mustaffa and Raven walked away, both chuckling. What now?
Kevin James Breaux has written nine books and devoted the past twelve years of his life to crafting short stories and novels. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Paranormal Romance Guild, and other groups.
Breaux is always enthusiastic about the challenge writing presents. He lives by the motto “Write Makes Might!”© and sees each new page as an opportunity to improve and advance.
Breaux was formerly represented by Marisa A. Corvisiero, the founder of the Corvisiero Literary Agency.
a Rafflecopter giveaway