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James Scott DeLane
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An immortal beauty charms a dying king. A bargain is struck; in exchange for her gift of life he agrees to travel the world collecting her debts. Adventures unfold in a land of magic and fantasy. The king learns of a world he never knew. The beauty learns to rely on him until at last she opens her heart.
I am known by many names. Some call me a butcher, others a demon. Those who speak of me say my heart is black and my eyes are cold. Storytellers enchant their listeners with vivid tales of my adventures, never failing to stress my cruelty. I donâ€™t deny Iâ€™ve done horrible things and my purpose in telling this story is not to apologize or explain. Perhaps I am by nature a heartless person, perhaps I donâ€™t feel and see things the way others do, but that doesnâ€™t mean I feel or see nothing. In my long life I have seen and felt many things which have never been told. Now, while I am still able, I shall tell of my life and the unusual woman who chose me above all others.
I was born in the year eight hundred and seven, in the rich lands of Aros near the Capian Sea. My mother named me Stephan, in memory of the great ruler of generations past. My father always called me Oran because my eyes were green as emeralds.
My mortal life was one of extravagance. Normal hardships and difficulties faced by others were unknown to me. Mine was an ancient patrician family whose wealth was limited only by our desire to expand it. My every need was attended, my every wish granted. I was pampered, protected, and cuddled by my parents and countless servants. It was only natural that I became arrogant and intolerant.
My mother sang to me and taught me how to sketch. I spent far too little time with her. My father never ceased lecturing about my responsibilities and my place in the world. He had such grand plans for me.
"Power is built on knowledge,â€ he constantly preached.
No expense was spared in my education. My father assembled the finest teachers, musicians, orators, and poets. I was well tutored in all the arts and sciences. Special attention was paid to the skills needed by a prince. My father understood the importance of seeing into the false promises of others. To master the arts of intrigue, I received private instruction from an old man who had mentored many powerful rulers.
Lucilus was his name and he developed a particular fondness for me. He, more than others, appreciated my capacities and he took a very personal interest in my education. He employed his influence to mold and shape me. Into my open ear he would often whisper, "Strike firstâ€¦ Power seeks the ruthless and rewards the cunningâ€¦ Many battles are won with a lieâ€¦ Crush your enemiesâ€¦ You have no friendsâ€¦â€
Lucilus taught me what my father never learned. Real power is built on terror.
"Those around you should tremble,â€ Lucilus would say. "For fear of what you might do next.â€
The gods were generous with their gifts. Physically, I was quick, strong, and unequaled in agility. Mentally, my tutors were amazed at the ease with which I grasped the complex. Subtleties of reason and logic, lost on most, I quickly understood.
"Born under a lucky star,â€ everyone agreed.
As time passed, hints of my destiny were revealed. I was a natural leader and an adept warrior. By the age of fourteen, I mastered the sword, the bow, and the ax. By sixteen, I fought and easily defeated grown men. By day I relentlessly practiced with all manner of weapon; by night Lucilus and I studied in detail the campaigns, tactics, and mistakes of great warlords past. I often lost myself in grand dreams of battles, future conquests, and all the glory which awaited me. Lucilus stoked my growing ambitions by assuring me the world was mine, if only I had the will to seize it.
While I slept, Lucilus sat near my bed and softly whispered in my ear: "Trust no one, my young prince.â€
I currently have four books with Wings: The Debt Collector, Twisted and Other Tales, Mythradies Boutique, The Blue Orchid and Other Tales, and I currently have one soon to be released science fiction novel: Iceworld
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 450
Paper Weight (lb): 18.6
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