The room was a shambles. In the middle of the floor lay the
once-priceless painting depicting Arturius and his knights. Its frame
was shattered, the painting torn. A chair, missing one leg, leaned
drunkenly amid the splintered remains of a table, while another was
wedged in the narrow embrasure of the window.
Deep chips and scars in the stonework of the walls gave testimony to
frenzied sword strokes, and the bolster of the bed was slashed and torn,
its stuffing strewn all around.
Broken mirrors and shattered glass crunched beneath the queen's shoes.
Sprawled on a chaise lounge was Aldivon. Unkempt, his hair a disheveled
mess, he lay there clutching a wine skin, face red, eyes bloodshot.
“Get out!” he staggering to his feet and his sword slid from his lap
and clattered to the cold stone floor. He stumbled to one side clutching
at the chaise to steady himself.
“I had no choice!” Maugause made her way further into the devastated
room. “She betrayed me, betrayed us! Is such self pity the way to deal
with it?” The queen’s voice was scolding. “What is happening to
you, Aldivon? Where is the mighty general my late lord and I respected
so much? Why abase yourself so?”
Aldivon reached for the fallen sword and stood up, using the blade as a
prop. He swayed uncertainly before drawing himself to his full height.
“I was in love with her! Two more years…” He took an unsteady step
forward. “You raised her as your own. Trained her! Why kill her now?
Gods, how could you do it?”
“It is regrettable but her betrayal was unforgivable. She would have
grown to be powerful, Aldivon. Maybe more powerful than I. I’d labored
hard to hide the power from her but she had it, and by aiding
Guenevere’s escape she made her allegiance clear. Your infatuation
with her clouds your mind. I did what was necessary.” Her voice rose,
taking on a sharpness of tone that cut through the drunken fog of his
mind like a knife.
“It’s time you did the same. Look at you! You’re a disgrace, my
He opened his mouth to speak but could think of nothing to say. He ran a
hand across the stubble on his face, then rubbed ineffectively at his
Morgause walked to the window and with surprising strength pulled the
heavy chair from the embrasure in which it was wedged. She looked out
into the chill pre-dawn sky and pointed at a particularly bright star.
“Mars rises. We are but months, Aldivon—months, from the alignment
and you waste time wallowing in pity over a girl? If we are to achieve
success in this cycle we must find the rod and remove those who oppose
He sagged back on the divan head in his hands.
“What more can I do? My men hunt for this ‘supposed’ resting place
of Arturius, and the Cùra dubh again search Invalone. We have lost all
trace of the wizard, and now the boy. You should have given him to me
when I asked.” He grinned suddenly. “But have you not reminded me
countless times that we have forever? In fact why rush now? If we wait,
wait for the next cycle, we can use what we have learned to our
advantage, and Naveena would be alive…”
“Aldivon. Things have changed. Never before have we been this close to
achieving our ends. Myrthinus is doing all in his power to prevent
detection; he has gone to ground, the boy with him. You know as well as
I he prepares the boy to seek the crown.”
“You know this?”
“Think man! They know we need the rod of Dardanos to complete the
portal's key. It rests with Arturius—of that I am certain. The book
states Arturius sleeps, suspended outside of time. To recover the rod he
must first be awakened, and only the crown holds the power to do
Aldivon turned to watch the queen as she paced the room, picking her way
through the debris of his rage. “So where is this crown?”
“I don’t know.”
Aldivon tried to push the fog of alcohol to the back of his mind. “You
have the book—surely it tells where Arturius is and where the crown
pieces are placed?”
“The book makes no mention of his location. As for the crown, it says
nothing more than it was broken into six pieces. A fragment given to six
of the kings allied with Arturius.” She laughed, but the sound lacked
any mirth. “How many of those kings have we already overthrown?” she
said. “Who can tell where those pieces now lie? There are twelve
possible kings, Aldivon, twelve! It is there Myrthinus has the
advantage. We are forced to search all locations, but he knows! Only he
knows to whom he gave them.”
Morgause turned sharply to face him. “And every hour you wallow thus
buys him time!” Her voice climbed an octave. “Time we do not
He hung his head at the rebuke.
She looked around the room at the scattered medallions, and spying one
near her foot stooped to retrieve it. Blue sparks crackled weakly in her
hand as she stroked the pewter dragon with a thoughtful finger; the red
center stone seemed to pulse with an energy all its own. She cast a
disdainful look at Aldivon who blinked red-rimmed eyes, unable for once
to hold her gaze.
“Sober up and rejoin your men. We need but one fragment of the crown
to thwart them, Aldivon. One! Track down every king and descendant
thereof from the old alliance and surely a fragment will be found. See
“And what of the boy?”
“Worry not about the boy. I have already taken steps against him. He
will not escape me twice.”
Excerpted from "To Raise a King (The Broken Crown Book 1)" by Justin Orton. Copyright © 2016 by Justin Orton. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.