Unleashed Excerpt Two
“What are you so afraid of, Lord Athra?”
He glanced at the bulky young man beside him and shook his head, refusing to play this game. What was he afraid of? The question was absurd! Did they not see the army of men controlling them? Did they not hear the whips crack? He had brought them to this place. His arrogant uprising had broken the treaty. He had provoked the giant and the giant had crushed them. His failure was a heavy burden.
“I know the situation seems hopeless,” Benyamin’s steady voice carried across the open space, “but Levi’s right. We cannot give up the fight now.”
“We have lost!” Athra smashed his fist onto the stone floor. “Our women are gone. Our children are marching to a wretched fate. We are being forced to destroy our own city. We have nothing left to fight for.”
“We have everything to fight for,” Benyamin countered. “We have loved ones to save. We have a city to protect.”
“We have no queen. We have no prophecy. Our future is black. The darkness has won!”
His shout was feeble, but it did silence the quiet murmurings in the room.
“The darkness cannot win,” Levi whispered. “The sun rises each morning, filling the earth with light.”
Athra gazed down at the boy, remembering Aunt Daniella’s words. Levi’s brown eyes brimmed with belief. Athra wished he could match it, but his aching body and pounding head would not rise. His shattered dreams were still too fresh, his weary soul beaten.
“You must let the boy try,” Varon said.
Horrified, Athra turned to look at his father. “He will die. Even if he could escape, he’ll be captured. He…” Athra looked across the room, straining through the darkness. “Uncle Ben.” He pointed. “Uncle Ben, surely you don’t approve. He’s your son! Your only living son.”
The words were a deep wound. Athra winced as he felt the pain radiating from his adored uncle. After what seemed an age, the man cleared his throat. “Jethro may be dead, but I refuse to believe that Oron has abandoned us. If Levi does get out of these walls, then yes, it’s a risk, but it’s also a chance.”
“I agree. We need to form a plan, find a way and gather some help from the outside.” Varon nodded.
Athra gritted his teeth, shaking his head to counteract the varied nods around him. Hope sparked among the men. In spite of its futility, Athra wanted to snatch it up. But how could he? He had fuelled these men’s hope before and utterly failed them. He would not do it again.
“You take charge, Father. You were the queen’s right-hand man.” Athra’s voice shook.
“Then why did she appoint you king?”
“What?” Athra’s stomach clenched.
He heard a whisper of a smile in his father’s voice. “Before the black army arrived, she had the documents changed. When she dies, you will be crowned king.”
“But what of Kyla?”
“Whether she is dead or alive, you are still the next king of Taramon.”
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