Authors: Adam Dreece
Tags: #Emergent Steampunk
Book 3 of
THE YELLOW HOODS
All the King’s-Men
An Emergent Steampunk Series
by Adam Dreece
ADZO Publishing Inc.
Copyright © 2015 by Adam Dreece.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator” at [email protected]
ADZO Publishing Inc.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Printed in Canada, United States, and China
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Dreece, Adam, 1972-, author
All the king's-men / by Adam Dreece.
(Book 3 of the Yellow Hoods : an emergent steampunk series)
Issued in print and electronic formats.
ISBN 978-0-9881013-6-4 (pbk.).--ISBN 978-0-9881013-7-1 (pdf)
I. Title. II. Series: Dreece, Adam, 1972- Yellow Hoods ; bk. 3
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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 2015-04-01 71,149
To my daughter who is my muse,
To my wife who is my rock in the windstorm,
To my sons who reignite my
imagination every day,
To the incredible people who have become fans of the books and encourage me to keep going…
“All The Awesome.”
Cartographer: Driss of Zouak, 1793
Created at the behest of the Council of Southern Kingdoms
Head and Heart
“I’m coming with you,” said Richy adamantly. “Bakon and you are family to me. I’m coming.”
Egelina-Marie smiled proudly at the yellow-cloaked young man. It seemed like an eternity ago that he’d come running up to her in a flash of yellow on her first day of guard patrol. He’d been so nervous and desperate when he’d asked for her and the sergeant’s help to save Nikolas Klaus. Her smile grew as she remembered taking the leap of faith to follow him, and how her superior threatened to shoot her for it.
That scared boy, who had quickly become a haunted teen, now stood before her as a young man of conviction. His electric blue, almond-shaped eyes and yellow, hooded cloak contrasted sharply with the old brown ledger under his arm and the Ginger Lady’s decrepit house behind him.
Egelina-Marie stared at the ledger. How could so much ill have come from such an old thing so quickly, she wondered. “I can’t begin to imagine what that moment was like for you.”
Richy folded his shoulders in and tucked his head down, as if bracing himself against the icy-cold truth that threatened to hit him again. “It…” He paused, lost for a moment. “I’m glad Bakon was there.”
“I should have been there, too,” Eg replied. “I can’t—”
“Honestly,” interrupted Richy, an awkward expression on his face. “I think it was easier for me to just be with Bakon. To have him be the one to tell me that ten years ago I was sold to the Ginger Lady, to help me understand that for two months I lived in a place like that... it made it easier for me to hear it from him. Is that wrong?”
Egelina-Marie gave him a hug and kissed him on the forehead. His words lightened her emotional burden. “Did you have any sense from him what he was thinking? That he suspected that maybe he and his brothers were in those ledgers somewhere?”
A look of guilty disappointment stared back at her as she released him from the hug. “I couldn’t think straight. He was my anchor. I—”
“Hey,” she said, wiping the fledgling tears from her eyes. “You are amazing. Don’t forget that. I don’t know what I would have done in your situation.” She’d seen something in Bakon’s eyes when she’d arrived with his brothers to pick up him and Richy. She should have suspected something when he’d insisted on catching up with them, rather than leaving with them immediately for Mineau. She was disappointed in herself for letting the man she loved run into the arms of his greatest insecurity alone.
A gunshot startled Egelina-Marie back to the present.
“What was that?” asked Richy.
Eg scanned the forest and clearing, finding nothing. Remembering a trick her father had taught her, she closed her eyes and turned her head slowly, trying to remember where the sound had come from.
Another shot rang out and Egelina-Marie pointed sharply. “There,” she said, opening her eyes. “I’d guess that it’s at least two parties shooting at each other. We need to check it out.”
“Are you sure?” said Richy, willing to back her, but nervous.
“For all we know, this whole area is about to get overwhelmed with more foreign soldiers. Richy, can you find us a ladder to a canopy bridge to take us toward the shots?”
“Yeah, I’m on it,” he replied, pulling his hood down and running off to study the surrounding trees in detail.
Egelina-Marie quickly walked her horse over to a tree and tied it up. She freed the repeating rifle from its saddle strapping and checked it: there were only two shots left. “Richy?” she called out, glancing around.
“Over here!” he yelled, a surprising distance away.
As she approached the tree, she marveled at how hard it was to see the ladder carved into the large tree’s trunk, even up close. The bark had regrown over it perfectly, and though it had clearly been used recently, it looked perfectly natural.
When she arrived at the top, Richy pulled one of the two levers and a walkway expanded out from their tree through the canopy to another tree in the direction Eg had requested.
“Are your shock—” she started to ask.
“Charged and ready,” said Richy, smiling and tapping the hidden pockets of his cloak. “Let’s find out what’s going on.”
Eg stopped herself for a moment. “What did you do with the ledger?”
“I dropped it by my sail-cart,” replied Richy. “Why?”
“Don’t bring it with us when we go, okay? I don’t want any part of this cursed place coming with us.”
Richy nodded. He could see something in her face, and felt the same way.
Two shots snapped the air in rapid succession.
“Let’s go,” commanded Eg.
A minute later, as they were halfway across a second canopy bridge, they caught sight of the scene. A wounded soldier was stumbling through the forest, clutching his right side. Two other soldiers were chasing him with their rifles drawn, all of them dressed like the ones they had encountered earlier in the day.
“There,” said Egelina-Marie, taking the rifle off her back and going down on one knee. “Are you sure no one can see us up here?”
Richy nodded. “Even if they knew what they were looking for, they’d have a hard time finding us.”
“Good,” she replied. “Now we just need to figure out what’s going on. I wish we were closer.”
The wounded soldier slumped against a tree a hundred yards away. He gestured feebly, yelling something at the other two.
“Hmm,” said Egelina-Marie, squinting and trying to glean any detail that she could.
“Should I get closer? I think there’s another bridge right over them,” said Richy, eager to help.
Eg leaned against the metal, crisscross-barred side of the walkway. “Those riflemen are reloading.” She put her rifle back up against her shoulder and got into position. “We’re going to have to guess. What’s that expression? The enemy of my enemy is my friend?”