Something woke Theo before the sun—perhaps it was a bad dream he’d already forgot. He couldn’t sleep, and wandered from his bed chamber into the dark corridors of the palace. Light was coming from Losik’s partially open chamber, but when Theo pushed inside Losik wasn’t there.
In the center of the chamber was a huge trunk. It meant Losik was leaving for Ironhead. Theo smiled. He had a brilliant idea. Without brainstorming it further, he opened the trunk, pulled piles of clothes from inside, and shoved the clothes under Losik’s bed.
Theo hopped in the trunk and shifted around, finding a place amongst the garments. He pulled some of the clothes over himself and evaluated his hiding place. It would never work. Theo was lean, but still cramped in the small space. And he’d taken so much clothing out, Losik was sure to notice.
“The trunk is in my chambers,” said Losik from the doorway. “I expect it loaded onto my carriage before I arrive.”
“Yes sir,” said one of the palace servants.
Theo stayed still, but he wasn’t sure whether that was due to fear or resolve. The lid closed and the trunk lifted from the ground. It slowly sunk in: he was leaving the palace. For the first time in his life, he was going to be outside the walls.
Although whale oil and muskets have replaced torches and swords, an ancient way of thinking still prevails. Men kill other men for the entertainment of thousands and a chance to be king, but does a god control the outcome? While armored soldiers fight blood magic warriors, she secretly seeks to manipulate those who truly influence the world.
Theo couldn’t imagine the consequences when he stowed away. His freedom from Losik wasn’t worth war, but he didn’t know magical forces were waiting for him. His empathic power lies untapped, but the rage and terror inside him can obliterate the Drasque Empire—if war doesn’t first.
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An emerging figure in contemporary prose, Troy Clem was born in Orange County, California, in the late 1980s. He was raised on a steady diet of science fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, and pop culture, which has calcified his unique writing aesthetic. He relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area after graduating with a Film degree from San Francisco State University, and lives there today with his wife and two children. Having written throughout his lifetime for various journalism, film, and online ventures, The Kingmaker Contest is Troy’s first commercial novel.
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