Day of the Horn
Chris J Edwards
Publication date: October 15th 2020
A kidnapped princess.
A reluctant mercenary.
A shamed prince.
Far in the west, isolated from the weary world beyond, lies the sylfolk kingdom of Céin Urthia – a woodland realm of ancient forests and sunlit meadows. But this kingdom cannot remain secluded forever; for Princess Dawn, heiress to the throne, has been
mysteriously abducted. Not even her kidnapper, a mercenary battle-mage, knows who ordered it – or
why. A fevered pursuit begins as the High King commands every servant of the crown to rescue
her, even the disgraced and imprisoned Herace the Shamed. But even as he and his companions follow in wild pursuit, Princess Dawn herself must decide – does she even want to be saved?
Meanwhile, powers beyond the sight of the court plot under cover of darkness – for not all wish
to see the princess safely home…
As civil war darkens the horizon, will Princess Dawn save her beloved home, or will unseen enemies win the day?
Gentle sunlight glowed upon the faun’s face. Willow branches cast their slender shadows onto the grassy banks of the spring, shading us from the gilded morning light.
She looked peaceful there as I knelt over her; she was asleep, head nestled in the dewy grass. I had heard so much about this Princess Dawn – and now I was finally seeing her.
I had heard she lived in a secluded kingdom, somewhere bright and beautiful. A realm of vibrant flowers and alluring aromas, quiet green places latticed by cool, meandering streams. A perfect place, as perfect in its natural beauty as it was in its isolation.
And I heard that, on a perfectly calm morning in this perfectly nestled kingdom, the child that would be called Dawn was born in the idyllic splendour of the realm’s very heart. That she was raised in seclusion, away from the evil and want and sadness of the world beyond that verdant countryside.
I heard that her parents, the rightful king and queen, ensured she live a honeyed life. That Dawn would never have to experience the meanness, the savagery, the brutality of the world beyond. That hers was a youth of sweet smells and pleasant breezes and laughter under the greenest bowers of the kingdom of Céin Urthia.
One could certainly envy Dawn, her happy youth, her blessed inheritance, the Sacred ground of which she was one day to be sovereign.
I, however, did not envy her.
I did not envy Princess Dawn. Not as I knelt over her, not as she lay enchanted beside her private spring, beneath the sightless gaze of the royal keep.
I looked up to the surrounding garden and waved my riders over; as silent as prowling cats the uyrguks slunk out from the brush. I gestured to the sleeping princess. Wordlessly they bound her, picked her up.
I cast a gaze up to the keep. No curtains in the windows stirred; no guards looked down from the battlements. There was nothing to fear; Naraya was safe. Naraya was the capital. And the princess could look after herself.
I smiled. My, had they been wrong.
The uyrguks carried the princess through the garden and slung her over the back of my horse. Then, after a moment lingering in the garden as all was still and the sun was rising, I followed after them.
Steam plumed from the horses’ nostrils in the cool spring air. I was cold too; my clothes were damp from the morning dew. It had been a long, long night of lying in wait.
I mounted up and my riders did the same. I surveyed the garden, the private spring, the imposing shoulders of the royal keep. Still no one stirred; clearly my careful preparation was paying off. No guards, no handmaidens, no attendants… the perfect kidnapping.
I looked back at Princess Dawn, slung like a slain deer behind me, antlers and all. The perfect kidnapping.
I smiled to myself, relieved that my task was coming to fruition, my debts that much closer to absolution.
Then I looked up to the sun crawling steadily over the teeth of faraway mountains.
The princess was mine. It was almost all over. The cool sense of relief that washed through me matched the crisp spring breeze.
I spurred my horse and rode away.
Chris J Edwards is a Canadian author of fantasy novels. Formally educated in history, informally educated in poetry, Chris now spends time writing fiction.