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My Sparkling Misfortune (The Lakeland Knight series, #1)
My Sparkling Misfortune (The Lakeland Knight series, #1)
My Sparkling Misfortune (The Lakeland Knight series, #1)
Электронная книга166 страниц1 час

My Sparkling Misfortune (The Lakeland Knight series, #1)

Автор Laura Lond

Рейтинг: 4.5 из 5 звезд

4.5/5

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Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle readily admits that he is a villain and sees no reason why it should stop him from being the protagonist of this book. After all, Prince Kellemar, an aspiring hero, has defeated him in a rather questionable way. Bent on revenge, Arkus attempts to capture a powerful evil spirit who would make him nearly invincible, but a last-minute mistake leaves him with a Sparkling instead—“a goody-goody spirit that helps heroes, watches over little children, and messes up villains’ plans.” Bound to Lord Arkus for five years of service and sworn to act in his best interests, the Sparkling is not easy to get rid of, and of course his understanding of “best interests” is quite different from what Lord Arkus has in mind.

ЯзыкEnglish
ИздательLaura Lond
Дата выпуска19 янв. 2011 г.
ISBN9781458015815
My Sparkling Misfortune (The Lakeland Knight series, #1)
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Laura Lond

Laura Lond is an internationally published author of several novels and a collection of short stories. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. Having worked for 2 years at a literary museum, Laura entered the world of business, working for large international corporations like Xerox Ltd. and Fluor Daniel. After moving from Europe to the United States, she has been self-employed as a freelancer.

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Рейтинг: 4.473684210526316 из 5 звезд
4.5/5

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  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    4/5
    My Sparkling Misfortune is a wonderful story about a villain who becomes a hero despite his best (or more appropriately, worst) intentions. A delight for readers of all ages.Received via Member Giveaway.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Book 1 of The Lakeland Knight seriesCastles, knights, kings, villains and heros - and humor?Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle is a known villain, his respected enemy is King Ramian and his son, Prince Kellemar of Dalvanna. Lord Arkus wants to capture a gormack to serve him. Instead he captures a sparkling, Tulip, who he renames Jarvi. Jarvi must serve his new master for a period of 5 years.Lord Arkus has only one fear - The Beast. His only safe spot is a white tower, the beast cannot harm him when he is near the white tower. Lord Arkus travels with Jarvi and comes upon a new land with a new king, his beatiful daughter and his son, Phillip. These people have no army, as they had not been attacked for many years. Lord Arkus somehow saves the princess (although his original plan was to capture her) and becomes their hero. No matter what he does, he continues to appear as a hero, not a villain as he truly is, even when all is revealed.Comical cast of characters, heros, villains, royalty, etc. Very entertaining reading, not the serious type of works usually written. Short time frame, easy to see how book 2 could be very popular to continue the story. A few spelling errors that could have easily been corrected, but overall a very good read.
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    4/5
    3.75-ish.This is...going to be a bit of a weird, catch-all review, because the fact is, I have never listened to an entire audiobook. I've tried, I really have, but generally the reader gets about 3 sentences out before I say, Um, no. The farthest I've ever gotten in an audio was about 1/4 of the way through The Forest of Hands and Teeth - and though I really actually did like the narration, the only reason I even picked it up was to refresh my memory on the story and style. So agreeing to review an audio was a gamble, as I let Laura know. And I'm going to try to address both the story and the audio aspect, but in the end, I feel like I can't quite separate the two, and couldn't tell you whether I liked the story because of the narration, or liked the narration because of the story.Because I did like it. There was a huge adjustment period, though. Probably the first 40 minutes was spent with me not being able to focus and finding that my mind had drifted and 10 minutes of audio had passed with out me really absorbing a thing. And I can't really blame that on the story or the narration, because I don't think either was to blame. It's just...I don't like being read too. I was the weird kid that didn't say "Read me a story" but said "I can do it myself!" My mom has this habit of bringing magazines or articles to my attention and saying, "Did you see this?" and proceeding to read them to me. I'm sure most people would find them endearing, but my mom should know better. She knows I hate being read to. I really, really do and I couldn't not tell you why. It just makes my brain feel...cluttered. And I'm sure part of it is some insane control thing, too. So yeah, like I said, this was a gamble. I process differently when I'm listening instead of looking, and it took my brain a bit to switch over and accept that this was how the story was being told. And if this wasn't for review, I probably would have given up. But I didn't. I had chores that needed doing, and where I normally listen to music while cleaning (because that is the only thing that gives me incentive to clean or *gulp* do laundry), I instead put in my headphones and settled into to listen to MSM. I was all prepared to slog through, and you know what? I instead found myself really liking it. I guess having mindless busy work to do gave me enough to focus on that my brain couldn't wander, and I actually started to absorb the story! I did more chores so I had an excuse to keep listening. Guys, this audiobook thing is genius.So once my brain switched over and I could actually listen to the story, I found I really liked it. It's not necessarily anything I'm going to rave about or push on all of my friends, but my friends with sons will probably hear about it. It's funny and fairly wholesome, and I was surprised to find myself actually smiling on multiple occasions. Smiling is not something that normally happens while I do dishes... Weirdly, I think that the audiobook helped in this aspect. With an audiobook you can't look ahead, even accidentally, so things do take you by surprise and catch you off-guard, and this humor that crept upon me actually made me chuckle as a result. And the voice acting was pretty magnificent. A.T. Chandler, who does the narration, reminded me a bit of Danny Elfman as the singing voice of Jack Skellington. (And I know, you're like, Why doesn't he remind you of Chris Sarandon, who did Jack's speaking parts? Is there singing in this book? But there's just a way that Elfman uses his voice, and though Sarandon does it too, I'm sure, it's most memorable and noticeable to me in Jack's songs.) Chandler did lots of different voices, and they all seemed seamless; I never had trouble knowing who was talking, because the voices were all distinctive and memorable. And he was good at accents and ages/sexes. The way he used his voice and the accents he used were part of what made me smile. I couldn't help picturing Jack, as I said, or Groundskeeper Willy, and a few other people. It was...neat. Where I generally have issues with the voices of narrators, I couldn't fault Chandler at all.And in the end, I did end up liking Lord Arkus and his journey. He's a fun, unwillingly round character, who grows a lot and hates every minute of it (he says), and it was pleasant. I most especially loved the symmetry between Arkus trying to be a villain and ending up a hero, while his nemesis is trying to be a hero and ending up a villain. It was a charming, fun story that I think will appeal to young boys looking for an adventure story, and mothers who don't want their kid's adventure stories to be gruesome or age-inappropriate.And it convinced me that audiobooks aren't the devil, so I have to give it points for that. :)
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    4/5
    “My Sparking Misfortune” by Laura Lond is a fun action-packed book for kids where the main character (and narrator) is a villain! Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle (aka Arkus the Fearsome and the Dreaded Lord) is the narrator of this story. He tries to pass himself off as a meanie, but is he really? In order to defeat his arch enemy, Prince Kellemar of Dalvanna, Lord Arkus decides to capture a gormark, which is an evil spirit. Once captured, Lord Arkus would bound the gormack to five years of service. But, Lord Arkus actually captures a sparkling which is a spirit that “helps heroes, watches over little children, and messes up villains’ plans.” And thus we are off on an adventure where we try to find out if villains can actually have a heart.This book would definitely appeal to boys, but has plenty that would keep girls interested as well. I like Ms. Lond’s version of a villain. Lord Arkus is very humorous with a multi-faceted personality. This book shows that not everything is black and white, good or evil. Villains can actually be more sincere and honest than heroes and sometimes heroes aren’t all that they seem. There are lessons to be learned in the story about looking beyond the exterior and seeing what a person is really like on the inside. You may be surprised!
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Black River Castle resides in Arkusville. This domain is filled with goblins, robbers and various outlaws. It's dreary, dangerous and the home of a villain who is known as Lord Arkus of Black River Castle or Arkus the Fearsome or the Dreaded Lord. Take your pick. Either way the name is a good indicator he is no good. When the evil doer Arkus is visited by Prince Kellemar of Dalvanna, asking for a favor, starts this particular adventure.The Prince wants Arkus to wipe out the Dolmanians completely. And for payment he can take all of their plunder. When Arkus and his men draw out the Dolmanians and go after their treasure hidden away in a cave, they encounter a large lizard-like beast. It is the lizard sent after Arkus by Magner, a wizard he beat in a duel. Arkus realizes as he attempts to escape the lizard that he has been betrayed by the supposed noble Prince Kellemar. You see, the one thing that can keep Arkus safe from the lizard is these white towers that have been strategically placed throughout the land. They protect Arkus from the lizard, and the Nobel Prince has destroyed them.Arkus must now figure out a way to survive the oversized creature and regain his dastardly reputation of being a villain. In order to do this he must capture a gormack, a powerful spirit that he will be able to command. Instead, Arkus captures Tulip, who happens to be a good-goody sparkling. The two, now bound together for the next five years, begin plotting, planning and adjusting to what makes each other tick.Readers will find themselves inside the head of this hilarious dastardly dude as he fumbles his way into figuring out if he is a villain or a hero. The fantasy story has everything readers long for in regards to kings, gold, beautiful damsels and dragons. The book ends with readers longing for the next adventure. This quick and easy read is a great target for middle grade boys who would love a great adventure.About the author:Laura Lond is an internationally published author of several novels and a collection of short stories. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. Having worked for 2 years at a literary museum, Laura entered the world of business, working for large corporations like Zerox Ltd. And Fluor Daniel. After moving from Europe to the United States, she has been self-employed as a freelancer.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    I really enjoyed this new perspective into villainy. It kept my interest until the end, with twists and turns that are a great surprise as you watch Lord Arkus slowly turn into a hero. In the end, you are hoping for him to vanquish his former evil friends, the villains that take advantage of his new heroism. Overall, I think children or children at heart will love this new take on good vs. evil, esp. since it’s such a good tongue and cheek adventure. Boys and girls will be cheering for Lord Arkus by the end, even if he doesn’t want it. This is a definite add onto any reading list.
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    4/5
    What a great, twisted, fun book! I absolutely adored it. I think seeing things from the villains point of view had me see a whole new perspective. It was nice for once, to see it this way. I have always wondered what goes through a mind of a villain. For one, the plot was great. I loved getting in to the storyline and reading about the villain. We as reader, always dislike the villain. We never really give him or her a chance to see who they really are. I also like how to mishap of this villain lead everyone to believe he is a hero! I was laughing my head off. I love his snarky comments and attitude. My favorite character was the sparkling. The sparkling is a magically creature that helps out heroes. I really liked how they became more than partners but true friend. You see even the villain has a heart. It just takes someone to take down the walls and see him.The characters in the book I adored as well. As I said before, I loved the sparkling. He was super funny, super sweet, and did all the right things. He always made me smile and laugh. Overall, this book is great for kids who want a good adventure but with a twist!
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    4/5
    what a delightfully charming book. I loved the way the book begins, a very enjoyable storytelling style. Though coming from the genre of fantasy and fairy tales but it kind of catches off-guard with its simplicity and honesty. Once you start, you would want to finish it in one go, just the way i did. Like any other fairy tale - there's a hero, a villain, a good king, a princess in distress, magical creatures, monsters wrecking havoc (on the nerves of the villain here), lots of trials and tribulations for our dearest villain. There is drama, anguish, comedy, action, thrill. Everything you would love. I would recommend everyone to take time to read this. I would love to read more about the adventures of Lord Arkus and his sparkling. Hoping for more such interesting stories from the author's kitty.
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    4/5
    This was a very cute little read. My main complaint is that it's too short! It was a great story about an evil lord who seeks to capture an evil spirit to do his bidding, but ends up capturing a good spirit instead, inadvertantly forming himself into a hero. I thought the main characters were great, but could have used a little more substance. I would have liked to see a little more back story too, as well as some more descriptions of Lord Arkus' adventures. But other than wanting more, this book was an enjoyable, quick read.
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    4/5
    What goes around, comes around. For the villain Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle that may have been what brought on the beast that had been trying to get him for so long. Only living near and hiding in the great white towers that he had built in secret around his own castle had saved him from death so many times. Finding that someone had been destroying those safety towers left Arkus with few options, he could not defeat the beast, but the fairy realms Gormacks (evil by nature) might be able to. Catching a Gormack was tricky, it would take timing and strength. With a twist of fate, the one that he captured and bargained with, ended up being a Sparkling named Tulip. Having a Sparkling bound to him might not be such a bad idea either, but that name, Tulip, bothered him enough to make him change it. Getting away from the beast one more time, Arkus and Tulip (now known as Jarvi) ran to hide in the land of Ulkarian. Befriending King Osmund and Prince Philip after playing the part of the hero, Arkus (now known as Sir Lakeland Knight) just wanted to be left alone so that he could get back to being a villain, if only Jarvi would let him. And then there was still the feud with Prince Kellemar of Dalvanna. So much was packed into this short story. Fun and fast paced with several twists and turns, some expected and some not so much. Took a while to really get into the story, the characters were slow to grow on me. Found the villain turned hero to be almost natural - oddly enough. Wanted to like the Sparkling from the beginning, struggled with that until almost the end. Enjoyed Arkus the best, try to not like him, it won’t last. The addition of a former co-villain and a hero want-to-be makes the transformation of Arkus obvious and even more fun. Only one down side, it was too short, there was still more I wanted to know about Arkus, the original Jarvi and even Tulip-Jarvi. There was so much that could have been added to the end. The last paragraph was a let down. I wanted more (don’t know if that should be taken as good or bad).
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    4/5
    (read in e-book format) A very engaging and quick read. Great story, well thought out, and an imaginative twist. The main character is a self-proclaimed villain who mistakenly captures a benevolent spirit to be his slave. The spirit, unfortunately, is incapable of allowing his master to perform an evil deed. This book seems to be aimed for children, but the concept and the main character are better suited for an adult or young adult book.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    After reading "My Sparkling Misfortune", I can only say that I am left begging for more! This children's, fantasy novel is creative, imaginative, and overall a very fun read. The relationship between Lord Arkus and Tulip remind me of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza being filled with humor but sincere loyalty. This novel is perfect for both young and adult readers who are looking for a quick read with an archetypal hero story perspective. I loved the quick wit humor the author excels at throughout the story and can't wait until a sequel is made.
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    4/5
    This is a a truly funny and lovely fantasy story for children and while I'm not a child anymore, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. In one go, which is always a good sign.Focusing on the villain Lord Arkus, this book doesn't offer the typical good vs. bad stereotype. After all, even villains can do good and heros can do evil, and I find this to be a great way of teaching children that things are rarely (if ever) black or white, through this wonderful, engaging story. With a fresh and often hilarious sense of humor, especially when it comes to the dialogues between Arkus and his "good spirit", this was a fast and much too short read. You'll find a great plot and morals, could anyone ask for more? I guess it's safe to say a sequel is in order. In short: Just the kind of book I would have loved to read as a kid!
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    the only thing "negative" about this book is that it is too short!I really enjoyed reading, the interplay between the villain and the good spirit is hilarious - a very original idea!
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    My Sparkling Misfortune is a cute little children’s fantasy about a villain, Lord Arkus, who seeks revenge on a scheming prince. He hopes to capture and enslave an evil spirit to help him with his devious plan, but accidentally captures a good spirit (a Sparkling) instead. The Sparkling agrees to serve in Arkus’ best interest for five years. The result is a humorous escapade in which the unfortunate villain is stuck trying to compensate for the Sparkling’s idea of “best interest.” Although the reading level is about 4th-5th grade, this is a book that young-of-heart adults will enjoy, too. The story portrays good moral values and has no inappropriate violence or language (which is not the case for all children’s books these days). Therefore, I recommend this book to all (even the most cautious) parents.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    I was asked to review this and almost turned it down because it's aimed towards middle grade readers, but I was intrigued by the idea of a villain being 'assisted' by a spirit that can do only good. Knowing that I can be a kid at heart, I decided I was up to the task... and I'm glad I did.Children (and kids at heart) will enjoy this tale of a villain who isn't nearly as villainous as he thinks he is. Lord Arkus starts off as the typical fairy tale bad guy, spending his time thinking of dastardly deeds that will add to his reputation and his pocketbook...or perhaps 'purse' is the correct term for the setting.One of these plans goes wrong when a 'hero' does something decidedly non-heroic, and Arkus thinks up a plan that will affect the rest of his life. While trying to capture an evil spirit, he accidentally catches a good one instead. What Arkus doesn't realize is that just as he has plans for the Sparkling, the Sparkling has plans for him.I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this story. Even though it's aimed at a younger audience, the interesting characters and unique twists in the traditional hero/villain stereotypes made for an entertaining reading experience, and (like all good fairy tales) there's a moral to the story - For various reasons, people are put into tidy, labeled boxes, and we expect certain people to act a certain way based on the labels they wear. Why is a villain expected to act a certain way, but that same action is met with surprise when a hero acts that way? Maybe life is more about the actions that one performs, rather than on the labels applied by life and society; and perhaps a certain label doesn't have to apply forever. As Lord Arkus himself says, "I wasn't born a villain."The book ends with Arkus at a moral crossroad. Is he a villain or a hero? Perhaps he'll discover the answer in the second book of the Lakeland Knight series. I'm looking forward to seeing what he finds out.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    I was hoping for some lighthearted jokes at Edward Cullen's expense with a title like that. It just seemed like such a brilliant setup for one!I don't normally read mid-grade books, but when someone from Dream Books approached me and asked me if I'd like to review this one, it seemed intriguing enough that I thought I'd give it a try. As you can see from the 5-teacup rating, I have no regrets in doing so!My Sparkling Misfortune is told from the viewpoint of Arkus, the self-proclaimed villain with a wicked sense of sarcastic humour. Plagued by a rampaging monster and deceived by a prince a few kingdoms over, Arkus vows revenge and tries to catch himself a gormack, a spirit beast who would be bound to him for a time and who would carry out his bidding.What he got was a sparkling, a spirit that typically binds itself only to heroes. Needless to say, Arkus was not pleased.What follows is an incredibly fun and funny story of Arkus's adventures and misadventures with his new sparkling companion, whom he named Jarvi. Arkus finds himself having to cope not only with someone whose sense of humour is as keen as his own, but someone whose very presnece changes his reputation from that the villain to that of the hero, albeit a reluctant one.Laura Lond's beautiful sense of humour comes across so well in this book, and I found myself laughing aloud quite often. She's good at knowing what details are important and what can be left out what writing in the first person perspective, especially when one considers that this books is written for younger audiences. I suspect any kids reading this or being read it will be hanging on every word, wanting to know what befalls Arkus next.I was particularly impressed by the way some good themes are carried through the story without being hammered paifully home. The subtle differences between good and bad, the ultimate strength of friendship, that actions done against evil may in themselves be wrong. Some books try to accomplish this by practically having PSAs at the end of each chapter. Lond wove them into the story so well that they're most certainly there, but you're not being beaten about the head with them, and I find that tends to make for a lesson that stays around longer. Actions instead of words, deed over thought.Fantasy fans of all ages will find something to enjoy in My Sparkling Romance, whether it's the imagery, the humour, or the experience of reading a chapter to their kids at bedtime. Highly recommended, and I hope that I get to see more of Lond's writing in the future.(This book was received through Dream Books LLC, and I was not financially compensated for writing this review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

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My Sparkling Misfortune (The Lakeland Knight series, #1) - Laura Lond

My Sparkling Misfortune

Laura Lond

Book 1 of The Lakeland Knight series

Published by Laura Lond at Smashwords

Copyright 2011 Laura Lond, Second Edition

Cover design and illustrations by Alla Alekseyeva

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Praise for My Sparkling Misfortune:

An incredibly fun and funny story. -- Tea and Tomes

Interesting characters and unique twists in the traditional hero/villain stereotypes made for an entertaining reading experience. -- Dark Wyrm Reads

One of the reasons the book is so enjoyable is because you never quite know where the plot is going. You are continually surprised. -- The Literary Lioness

What a nasty, dreadful, and cruel villain Arkus is. Oh, and don’t forget funny. Yes, I said funny! With author Laura Lond’s crisp, wry sense of humor, you’ll be laughing right along with the scoundrel on almost every page. -- The Feathered Quill

The author manages to pack in an epic’s worth of action, adventure, and humor. … It is one of those rare, great stories when you find yourself rooting wholeheartedly for the villain of the piece. -- A Myriad of Books

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

A personal message from Lord Arkus to readers!

Sneak peek into Book 2, My Royal Pain Quest

About the Author

Chapter 1

[Back to Table of Contents]

I was understandably surprised when Shork, my lackey, announced that I had a visitor…

Oh, wait. You know nothing about me yet, so you would not see why I was understandably surprised, right? Hmm… Perhaps Korvaleus was right, writing a book is not so easy as it seems, and I shouldn’t have, uh… Oh well. He’d deserved it, anyway.

All right then. I’m not going to rewrite anything, I like my opening line. I’ll just introduce myself here, it should explain things: Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle, also known as Arkus the Fearsome and the Dreaded Lord, at your service. I spend my days scheming, plotting, attacking, invading, killing, plundering, kidnapping, collecting ransom, and having other types of fun. I’ve done a few backstabbings as well, but only returning the favor; I do have some manners.

Yes, you have guessed it: I am a villain. What? You wanted a noble hero? Well, tough. You’ve got the wrong book then. But let me tell you something before you put it down: there are no heroes without us villains. They’d have nothing to show off against. Besides, goody boys do some wicked tricks as well, as you will see if you keep reading my story, and it takes some heroism to be a villain at times, too. I suppose you already know it though, if you’re smart, which you have to be, because I’m not writing this for silly people.

So, with that out of the way, let me get back to the story. I had just finished my rather bland tasting dinner (it turned out to be a real headache to find a decent cook after old Mr. Flamm thought he could serve me chicken five nights in a row), and, as I said, I was understandably surprised when Shork announced that I had a visitor.

Nobody visits Blackriver Castle out of their own free will. And if somebody wanted to, for whatever strange reason, it is unlikely that they would safely arrive at my doorstep: Arkusville, my domain, is filled with goblins, robbers and other assorted outlaws. It’s a dreary and dangerous place. I take good care to keep it that way. Heroes occasionally still come to fight me, of course, but they don’t count as visitors, and they do not take the trouble to be properly announced.

Yet Shork was insisting that someone had come and asked to see me. And not just someone—Prince Kellemar of Dalvanna himself. Yes, the oldest son of noble King Ramian, my respectable enemy. A proud young man with a cute face, brave in battle, and of course with aspirations of becoming a hero. Preferably at my expense. He came alone, imagine that, without his bodyguards.

Naturally suspecting some kind of a set up, I told Shork to invite him in and to immediately alert my army and watchmen.

The prince entered with a defying look on his face, obviously rehearsed for villains like me. If it was supposed to make me tremble inside, let’s just say it did not work.

You are a brave man, Your Highness, I greeted him. What brings you here, and what makes you think that you will make it out of here alive?

Arkus, you are despicably wicked, he began.

Blatant flattery, I noted. He wants something from me.

But even you, he continued, would not dare to harm me now and face the wrath of my father when he returns.

I have faced your father before, many times, and stood against him quite well, I replied. So what stops me from taking you captive and getting a nice chunk of ransom money, as I believe I have already done in the past?

By the way, it’s true. I had captured him once, and the king paid.

Kellemar did not appreciate the reminder, of course; I could see it by how his jaws clenched. Well, I suppose I make some kind of a funny face, too, when I’m mad.

Meanwhile, Shork returned and communicated to me that everything was fine—no attackers, no spies sneaking in. Kellemar, indeed, came alone. I was getting intrigued.

Listen, Arkus, the prince spoke, I have certainly thought of what evil intentions my coming here like this, unprotected, will inspire in your evil mind. (He was trying to be eloquent, but I wouldn’t use the same word twice in a short phrase like this, even if it was such a nice word as evil. Wouldn’t you agree?) But hear me out before you start plotting. I have a proposition.

That perked my interest even more.

"Proposition? From you to me?? I couldn’t help getting a little sarcastic here. As in ‘deal’ or ‘agreement’? The honorable Prince Kellemar is offering me a deal, did I get that right?"

You can mock all you want. Yes, I wish to make you an offer. Will you hear me out?

Of course. I will die of curiosity if I kill you now without knowing what you had in mind. Go ahead, I am listening… Oh, wait: Does your father know about this?

The question irked him, as it was intended to.

He does not, Kellemar said through his teeth. But it does not matter. When the king is away, I rule in his stead, as you very well know. Whatever I say to you carries the same weight. Satisfied?

Quite. Now, go ahead.

Several of our regions have been attacked by the Dolmanians. Are you aware of that?

I have heard something, yes. My condolences. They are a pesky little tribe.

Well, we’ve been fighting them off, but I want to rid my land of them completely, once and for all. And I want your help to do it.

I almost fell off my chair. Wouldn’t you?

"You want my what?! Kellemar, that’s insulting. What kind of a ridiculous joke is this?? Did you happen to take a drink from Black River on the way here? Because if you did, well, that would explain a lot, and—"

Stop fooling around! I know you will not help if there is nothing in it for you, and I know your love of gold. I can tell you where the Dolmanians store their plunder. Would that interest you?

Oh, I see. Well, it might, but answer me a couple of questions first. Number one: Why don’t you take the plunder yourself and give it back to your people? And number two: Why don’t you call on your numerous allies who are supposed to help you out without getting paid?

The prince smirked.

Valid questions. I will start with the second one, if you don’t mind. I do not wish to bother our allies with this because I want to save their help for a more serious occasion. Like you deciding to attack us again, for example.

Shameless flatterer. And my first question?

Easy: I do not want to waste my men’s lives to capture stolen gold, only a part of which used to belong to my people. There will be no way to determine whose gold is where as people will unfortunately lie about it. And I do not wish to spoil them by dividing it all equally and sharing it.

Then why don’t you just take it for your treasury? I asked with an innocent expression. I already knew why: he didn’t have enough men. His father must have taken half the army with him (which would be nice to check, by the way).

Kellemar squared his shoulders. As hard as it must be for you to understand, I do not want their plunder. I’d rather use it to stop the raids. So you can fight the Dolmanians and take it. What do you say?

Well, let me think here… You want to build yourself some reputation by defeating the Dolmanians in your father’s absence, with only a half of the army…

Two thirds, he quickly interjected. I had to stifle a laugh.

Two thirds? All right, two thirds then, sorry for the assumption. Anyway, it is obviously not enough to completely destroy them, so if you manage to pull it off, you’ll be regarded a hero. And in order to do it, you offer me to take out the part of their forces that is guarding the plunder. Of course, no one will know about it. If word gets out that Lord Arkus attacked the Dolmanians, no one would think that we had an agreement about it and I was actually helping you. Evil Arkus went after the treasure, they’ll think. Am I following you?

Close enough. So what do you say?

I made an innocent face again. That’s not quite heroic though, is it?

My pun reached its target, I could see it. Kellemar clenched his teeth, but chose not to pursue the subject.

Let that not concern you. Do you agree to my offer or not?

For a moment, I wondered what he would do if I refused.

"It

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