A Murder of Shadows by John Conroe

 A Murder of Shadows

A Murder of Shadows by John Conroe (Shadows of Montshire Book 1)
English | 2020 | Fantasy | ePUB | 2.8 MB

As the old saying goes: The First is the Heir, the Second is the Spare, and of the Rest – Beware!

Savid DelaCrotia is the third born son of one of the Kingdom of Montshire’s oldest and most respected High families. Cast aside by his father at an early age, it’s up to him to make his own way and create his own honor. With just his horse, his weapons, the clothes on his back and in his pack, and the education that his family provided he’ll have to go it alone. Luckily, he already has a pretty good idea of what he’s good at – fighting, and woodcraft —not to mention finding hidden and lost items.

It’s also handy that he already knows exactly how to honor his Kingdom– by serving his best friend, who just happens to be the kingdom’s scary smart princess. But what does a princess who already has everything need? How about her own Shadow?

The town of Brown’s Feld died loudly, fighting its demise with everything it had. Screams of terror, pain, and rage filled the night along with the bone-chilling roars of the village’s murderers. Bright fires, burning out of control, lit the night, throwing shadows of horrifying violence that matched the sounds of the community’s death throes.

Deep inside the mayor’s home, back in the kitchen, a single small child hid under a thick chopping block, her back against the stone of the outside wall. Dark-haired, dark-skinned, with deep black eyes much, much older than her face, she hugged herself and waited.

In the next room, the mayor’s wife was dying noisily, her body being torn apart by the horrid power of the beast that had sunk its claws deep into her torso. The enormity of the violence itself guaranteed that the death was quick. The woman’s screams ended suddenly, which was both a blessing and a curse to the little girl, because though the kind woman’s personal pain was now over, it left the girl herself as the next target.

The growls and snarls quieted gradually, followed by loud sniffing sounds. Then the click of clawed feet on wooden plank flooring, moving closer.

From under the butcher block, the girl could see two thick legs, covered in black-bristled fur layered over corded muscle, step into the kitchen. Then the two forelegs dropped down, five cruel claws on each front foot, as the creature went to all fours. A horrid odor wafted ahead of it, overpowering the already alarming scents of smoke and blood. It was a stomach-turning combination, reminiscent of a moldering midden pit mixed with the worst of an old outhouse.

Even on four legs, the body was too high off the ground for her to see any real detail other than black fur, twisted muscle, and long black claws. Something dripped onto the wooden planks right in front of her, a crimson mix of blood and drool. Then the legs lowered and the twisted creature descended into sight, the short, wide mouth unable to close because of too many teeth, above which were horrid red eyes that were bright with madness and sharp, pointed ears on either side of its head that flicked forward, listening.

The girl reacted not at all. She simply hugged herself and waited, a reaction most unlike every other victim the beast had come across. Despite its savage rage, it paused to consider, head tilted with unusual intelligence.

The little girl unwrapped one arm, pointing her finger and raised thumb at the beast. Then she dropped her thumb and made one tiny puffing sound.

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