Madness of the Horde King - Zoey Draven


The windows of the towering turrets looked like golden jewels, shining and glittering and beckoning me in the dark. I had never seen anything quite so beautiful. And the city had many, many turrets, some taller than the others, some wider, and some so narrow they seemed to disappear in the night.

I shivered, however, thinking that for all the city’s beauty, it resembled a weapon from a distance, with its spiked towers and glowing, welcoming light. A trap. Meant to lure in prey to devour it.

I was trembling again. I was gasping, wanting to vomit from what I was about to do. My aching feet felt like boulders encased in thin slippers, which were crafted from molted Ghertun skin. They had lasted me on my journey from the Dead Mountain, but now made crackling sounds that made my belly churn with revulsion as I stepped towards the walled, glittering city.

Tears were already pooling in my vision. My chest and throat felt tight, suffocating. The pleasant, cool night air did nothing to soothe my fear but I forced myself to remember something good. I reminded myself that at least the frost had passed, or else I would’ve died from exposure by now.

If I had emerged from the Dead Mountain a few weeks earlier, I would’ve been dead already, frozen and blue and alone. Now, I was only one of those things…but I wasn’t certain if I would’ve rather been the other two.

The entrance gate was a short distance away. It was made of gold, Kakkari’s gold. From the safety of the forest’s edge, which bracketed the wide road leading to the gate, I counted four guards, dressed in Dakkari armor of plated gold. I eyed the steel of their blades glinting in the moonlight, swallowed hard, and then retreated deeper into the shadow of the forest.

Coward, my mind whispered. There is much at stake.

My breath hitched and the tears began to slither down my cheeks. I was terrified but I would do anything for my family. Even if it meant walking to my death.

Following the small, trickling stream, I scanned the perimeter of the stone wall through the thick, black trees. It took me a while to find it, but eventually I spotted where the stream entered underneath the city’s walls. There was a small gate letting it pass inside, the bars barely big enough for a child to squeeze through.

Taking a deep breath, I stepped from the forest’s edge and darted quickly to the gate, crouching against the wall in the darkness, my heart booming so loud I was certain the guards at the entrance would hear it.

Then I squeezed through the bars, shimmying and wiggling my bones through, suddenly grateful I didn’t have the full curves of my sister, whereas before I had always been envious.

Taking mud and sludge from the bottom of the stream—though the stench was rotten—I coated my hair, darkening the color, scrubbing it into the roots, an old habit and an old fear from my mother’s warnings. Only when I was certain no white showed through did I pull up the hood of my heavy cloak.

I stared at the end of the tunnel as the water caressed my ankles. The glow from the city made the water up ahead flow gold.

“Into the belly of the beast,” I whispered, daring to speak for the first time in what felt like years, remembering a story Maman used to tell us as children.

I wanted to curl up right there in the narrow, dark tunnel and never move again. I imagined myself as bones floating between the bars of the gate and down the stream again.

Instead, I walked forward.

As I did, I realized it was quite possible I was the first human to ever step foot inside the Dakkari’s capital city of Dothik.

Chapter One

That darkened alleyway of Dothik felt like a reprieve.

Though the city was quiet that time of the night, there were still males and females alike stumbling around on brew, their drunken, boisterous laughter booming in the still air.

I gritted my teeth, leaning back against the wall of the alley, peering down the narrow entrance. The building of a brothel was to the left. To the right, a tavern.

Dothik was the last place I wanted to be but the Dothikkar had summoned us all now that the frost had passed. Frustration built in my gut. I had just led my horde east into ungira territory, where we would remain for a few moon cycles. Ungira were dangerous beasts, Copyright 2016 - 2024