The Silent Shield (Kingfountain #5)

The Silent Shield (Kingfountain #5)

Jeff Wheeler



Ceredigion: Andrew and Genevieve (House of Argentine): the embattled young rulers of Ceredigion are in a desperate situation. The army of Kingfountain was crushed at the Battle of Guilme, and the king’s chief strategist and champion, Owen Kiskaddon, disappeared mysteriously right before it began. Nearly a year has passed since that fateful day, without any word from the lost duke. The ruler Gahalatine vowed to invade Kingfountain again one year after the battle, and the time draws near.

Brythonica and Westmarch: Sinia (House of Montfort) and Owen (House of Kiskaddon): the disappearance of Sinia’s husband has impacted her deeply. More secluded and reserved, she has pulled away from everyone who loves her best, including her own children. She is the king’s advisor, his Wizr, but has been long absent from the palace of Kingfountain in her solitude. Her son, Gannon, has taken his father’s title as the new duke of Westmarch. She has a new apprentice, Morwenna Argentine, whom she has been training in the lore of the Fountain-blessed.

North Cumbria: Fallon (House of Llewellyn): Fallon survived the Battle of Guilme. His rejected proposal of marriage to Tryneowy Kiskaddon has left him embittered and scarred but full of purpose. He is determined to win the vacant seat at the Ring Table known as the Siege Perilous and become the king’s new champion.

Brugia: Elwis (House of Asturias): after his father’s death at the Battle of Guilme, Elwis is a changed man, no longer full of the resentment and angst of the past. His renewed loyalty to the crown is reflected in his increased power in the court of Kingfountain. His kingdom is still vulnerable and lies in the path of Gahalatine’s mighty armada. The enemy still holds the city of Guilme as a strategic foothold. There are rumors at court that Elwis has turned away marriage prospects from many rich and powerful heiresses. They say his eye is favorable to the Lady of Averanche.

Averanche: Tryneowy (House of Kiskaddon): only the queen knows Trynne’s secret identity as the elusive Painted Knight, but the Lady of Averanche has openly turned her city into the main training ground for young women who wish to study the arts of war. Those who have taken up sword and shield to defend Kingfountain are known as Oath Maidens. Many knights of the realm resent that they will need to compete against female warriors in the upcoming Gauntlet of Kingfountain, but Trynne cares nothing for this rivalry. Her focus is on doing her queen’s bidding, finding her missing father, and preparing for the return of Gahalatine.

Chandigarl: Gahalatine (Emperor of the East Kingdoms and Lord of the Distant Isles): this charismatic ruler succeeded in usurping the empire from the grip of his father, his overreaching uncles, and the Wizrs who supported them. He has coalesced power throughout the realms on his side of the world and seeks to increase his hegemony by conquering Kingfountain as soon as the terms of his temporary truce expire.

I don’t know who I am or how I came to be in this dungeon. My face is covered by a mask of black velvet. My jailor has said I’m too hideous to look at. It is dark and the cell is cramped. The only light comes from a brazier or something burning behind the door of my lonely cell. Two doors guard my prison—my cell door and the one leading to this moldering dungeon. My jailor comes to see me but once a day, when he brings me food and that awful sweet-smelling drink that I know is poisoned. I don’t know how I know it’s poisoned. I don’t remember anything. Not my name. Not my childhood. All is lost to me.

Yet I know the door is made of iron and that the bottom hinges on the outer door are rustier than those on the inner door. I hear everything, from the scuttling of roaches and rats to the groans and cries of other prisoners. There are not so many of us. I feel loneliness and despair that I’ve lived in this cell for so long. I cannot remember anything before this smothering hood or these chains. My jailor says if I take off the hood, I will be executed. He says if I try to escape, I will be executed. I think I am mad or have done some terrible crime. The only things that soothe me are the pieces of broken stone on the floor. I stack them up in rows and then knock them down. I feel compelled to do this. If I keep doing it, maybe I will remember something. Or maybe I am truly mad.




Chandleer Oasis

Traveling the ley lines was like plummeting over a waterfall. It sent Tryneowy Kiskaddon’s heart racing whenever she stepped into a fountain in one corner of the kingdom, only to almost instantaneously appear somewhere else. In the past, that mode of travel had given her a strong sense of queasiness that would not dispel for hours, but she’d practiced enough that she no longer grew sick to her stomach. No, what was disorienting Trynne was the fact that she’d left Averanche in the morning and arrived at her destination close to sunset.

She had appeared inside a fountain at the front of a palatial manor. As the mist dissolved around her and she heard the bubbling of the waters, she was struck by an oppressive heat that nearly took her breath away. The location was foreign to her, and her eyes filled with wonder as she stepped to the edge of the stone lip of the fountain. She didn’t want to leave the protection of it yet, just in case her summons there had been a carefully laid trap.

With four equally sized quadrants, the fountain was designed to resemble a flower. There were glowing stones in the water—so curious to behold—which gave the water a strange aspect. She didn’t know what made the light, but she knew Chandleer Oasis was part of the Marusthali Desert, located along the major ley line going east and west. Her mother possessed a book of maps, which Trynne had studied all her life, imagining herself in places she’d only heard of by name.

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