The lords of blood and h.., p.1
The Lords of Blood and Honey (The Kingdom of Honey), page 1
The Lords of Blood and Honey
Published by Arganite Bay
Ilfracombe, Devon, England
First published by Arganite Bay 2017
Copyright © 2017 David Gardner-Martin
The moral right of the author has been asserted
All rights reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright above, no part of this book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
‘The Lords of Blood and Honey’ is the first fantasy book by British author David-Gardner-Martin.
David lives in Devon, England.
For more information
To be informed when David’s next fantasy book in this series,
‘The Lords of Blood and Crystal’
is released, please email: [email protected]
Cover artwork and design by Hannah Baker
For my wife, Annette
Once sweet, now pure
Once liquid, now ethereal
Once living, now life giving
Spoken words of Jasmine Parthanter, Honeyist Martyr
Proprietor, Pooter & Co, Chartered Accounters
Pooter child, aged 5
Pooter child, aged 4
Pooter child, aged 2
The Pooter’s adopted son, aged 8, Adopted Eject
Numberer, Pooter & Co, Chartered Accounters
Mr Royspark Badger
Owner, Crastwick Stoneworks
Bookkeeper, Crastwick Stoneworks
Acquaintance of the Pooters
Acquaintance of the Pooters
967th Keeper of the Royal Honeybees, Eject
Duke of Thistlebergh
966th Keeper of the Royal Honeybees
Hardknot's personal bodyguard
Master of the Infusion Chamber
Breed Drollups in the Deep Hives
Female Ejects, taken to the Deep Hives
Holy Church of Afterwards
Primate of the Holy Church of Afterwards
Principal of the Council of Yesses
Senior Bishop & Scholar
Relical Pater Bartolamy
Relical and Mesharist
Lady Allessia's teacher in Holy Indoctrination
High Commander Sideswipe
Commander of the Holy Guard. aka 'Old Two Grins'
Sisters of St. Salacious
Order of Sexual Companionship
Offspring of Sisters of St. Salacious
Male Ejects taken to the Hellholes
Female Ejects taken to Deep Hives
Duke of Westnaine
Palace Overlord, Noble conspirator
Mascone, Noble conspirators Nominate for the crown
Lord Eaglett Rootsby
An ageing Noble, recently returned to the City
Noble conspirator, Lady Allessia’s father
Lady Allessia’s mother
The Rumball’s daughter
Palace spy for Lord Hardknot
Mascone, Cardinal Oblong’s Nominate for the crown
Commander of the King's Army
Commander of the Palace Guard
Sir Horace Underworth
Commander of the Castell Florret
King’s Nursekeeper, Eject
Femone, Vessel of Prime Integrity
The Rumball’s Cook
Daughters of a King and a Femone
Sons of a King and a Femone
Femones, given birth to a Femone or Mascone
Fatherless offspring of a Queen
Board of Doings
Prince of Dealmakers
Assistant to Ramuth-Pro
Pooter's Toothless Grinhound
Created in the Deep Hives
Famed warrior race, mercenary
Vulfking fighting beasts
The man sensed his ghostly companions as soon as the richness of his cloak became lost beneath a dense canopy of trees. Knowing their heritage, he rested his hand on the hilt of a blade until he cleared the last vestiges of the forest. Such beings would not follow him into daylight.
He climbed the nearest rise without a backward glance, and on reaching the summit he sat upon a rocky ledge to catch his breath. The combined rays of light from the Green, Red and Blue Suns, brought form to the hills that rose and fell before him like a sea. Beyond them, the Northern Wall of the City stood proud, as if a cliff of granite guarding a distant island.
The sweet scent came to him upon the breeze, stirring long-forgotten memories. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply to savour its many gifts. When he opened them again a lone hunting jawbeak flew by, as if guiding his vision to the still familiar skyline. He saw the Dome of St. Vacant’s Cathedral, the heart of the Holy Church of Afterwards, silver in the pure white light. Challenging it for attention, the Grand Hive, towering like a dagger over the Hivedom of the Royal
The individuality of more modest buildings was lost in all-pervading greyness, for it had been many years since Cardinal Oblong, driven by his hatred of the outlawed Honeyist faith, had banished all flowers and blossoms from the City. Only the Hivedom of Lord Hardknot, much to Oblong’s rage, was still permitted to cultivate the pollen and nectar necessary for the wellbeing of the Royal Hives. But for how long?
As for the inhabitants of the sprawling City, be they Noble, Clergy, Proletaire or Downcast, at such a distance their movements could not be seen.
He stared further still and into a distant haze, imagining the flat grazing lands and grain fields that fed the City. Only those who tended livestock or harvested crops, were ever permitted to visit these furthest boundaries of life.
This then was the Kingdom; vast, ordered, contained, and utterly self-sufficient. As if a gigantic beehive left within a wilderness for an age of time.
He drew the air within him once more, the sweet scent now tinged with the unmistakable perfume of Royal Clover. But deep within the beauty, as if a trace of smoke upon a breeze, there came the perception of evil. There was no time to lose.
The Green Sun fell towards the horizon; her sisters, Red and Blue, painted the sky with ice-cold magenta. He stood, pulled his cloak tight to guard against a stiffening wind, and walked briskly down a roughhewn track. He had been in a different time and place for very many years; now he was returning on a matter of the utmost importance.
By the time Mr Punsworth Pooter forced his way through the carnival atmosphere in Pumpkin Square, the Green Sun could no longer be seen above the Inner-City walls. Brilliant purple streaked the sky, the high cirrus clouds specked with jawbeaks on the lookout for a meal. Several people in the square, mistaking his dress for that of a noble, delayed his progress to inquire after the King’s health. For the first few interruptions Pooter delighted in playing along with the masquerade, even taking it upon himself to provide a brief prognosis of the corporeal presence, but by the fourth such interruption he grew tired of the distraction, and merely stated curtly as he hurried by that; ‘The King is as well as can be expected.’
‘And the Queen?’ a voice shouted after him, a question answered only by Pooter’s sparkling blue wig disappearing from view.
Abather, his Toothless Grinhound, stood guard before his office in Hexagonal Place, a series of friendly gruffs greeting his arrival. Her ferocious bark had softened somewhat of late, whilst her large emerald eyes were now dimmed. A day was approaching when the expenditure on a replacement would have to be endured, guard dogs of such a highly-regarded pedigree being far from cheap. But over the years Pooter had become inordinately fond of Abather, and when the time came to replace her, had already decided she would follow him home to a well-earned retirement.
‘Good girl,’ he said, patting her head, a familiar action that brought a predictable wagging of her two long tails.
Entering the hallway, he noticed an unfamiliar cloak hanging on the hat stand, its rich colours clear to see even in the half-light. No entries had been made in his diary for his day at the Palace, and yet voices echoed from his office. He had an unexpected visitor, and in Pooter’s world of dates and times of appointments, this was most unusual. More than that, it was a further distraction to a day that was already fast disappearing. He removed his irritating formal wig and tight-fitting ceremonial shoes and walked quietly down the hall to the door. One voice was recognisably that of his numberer, John Cabble, whilst the other was not in the least familiar. He pressed his ear to the door but still could hear only an occasional word. With the illness to the King well-known, these were uncertain times, and there was every possibility that an unexpected visitor might wish him harm, financial, physical, or otherwise. He formulated a plan and walked softly back down the hallway.
Abather furrowed her brow as Pooter closed the door behind him and rang the bell. It was her duty to give all visitors a gentle growl, but her master ringing his own door bell was more than perplexing. Pooter winked, Abather responding in a confusion of growls and wagging of tails.
As he had hoped, Cabble left the office to answer the door, Pooter pulling him outside with a hand across his mouth to silence any exclamation of surprise.
‘Who is in my office?’ whispered Pooter urgently, and then removed his hand.
‘I am afraid I do not know, sir,’ replied Cabble, in a similar whisper and evidently relieved that his master had at last returned. ‘The gentleman will not give his name.’ He looked back down the hallway towards Pooter’s office. ‘All he says is that he has to see you, Mr Punsworth Pooter, on “a matter of the utmost importance.”’
‘Has he not said anything more on the reason for his visit?’
‘No, sir,’ replied Cabble shaking his head, ‘not another word. But he is a most interesting gentleman, for he has told me much about the ancient history of our Kingdom that I never did learn at school. But whenever I tried to get back to my books, as how you had firmly instructed, and suggested he might wish to come back another day, he would say once again in such a voice, “No, I must stay and wait for your master.”’
‘What of his dress?’
‘Bold shoes cut to the very highest degree, sir, though not the cleanest I have seen. And clothes of the greatest workmanship, though somewhat aged and torn in places. If I was asked, sir, I’d say he was well-travelled of late.’
‘But…why is he here?’ asked Pooter, as he tried to imagine who such a man might be.
‘He gave no reason for his visit, sir, none at all, other than he has to see you this very day.’
‘Is there anything else of note?’
‘Indeed there is, sir, for never have I seen a man with such eyes before. One minute as normal as can be, and the next bursting into life with such a display of colours that I can’t hardly describe.’
A gruff from Abather reminded Pooter that the visitor, whoever he was and whatever he wanted, was still in his office. There was time for no more questions.
For some strange reason Pooter felt compelled to knock at his own office door before entering. He had donned his wig and ceremonial shoes once more; as a newly Elevated Proletaire he intended to portray every possible advantage; and when he heard a low resonant voice say ‘Enter’, he took a deep breath and opened the door.
The visitor was standing by the window with his back to the room. Pooter considered his bearing in an instant, such a skill being second nature to a man in his profession. There was now no doubt about it; the person before him, despite the ravages inflicted upon his dress, was clearly of the highest nobility. The dreadful thought struck Pooter that he might have committed some crime against Palace etiquette that very day, many of which had severe penalties, but before he had time to give this any further consideration, the figure at the window turned to face him. As was required from a proletaire when meeting a noble, Pooter gave a deep formal bow.
‘Mr Punsworth Pooter,’ he announced to the floor, ‘of Pooter & Co, Chartered Accounters.’
There was a pause followed by the creak of floorboards as the stranger walked towards him, but no words were spoken. A dark fear fell over Pooter as he saw the shadow approach, but despite an urge to take flight, he knew that no movement from a formal bow could be made before the acknowledgement. Then to his relief, the stranger spoke.
‘Mr Pooter,’ they said, in a firm deep voice. ‘Rise and allow yourself to meet me. For I am Lord Eaglett Rootsby, the Seventy-Hundred and Twenty-Third.’
Pooter’s heart thumped in his chest. No less than a Lord in his office, and one clearly come on a matter of great importance. He straightened, there being no other choice, and looked into the face before him.
Whilst Lord Rootsby was clearly a man of advanced years, something about him conveyed a sense of extraordinary power. His features, though not severe, deman
His words died in the air as Rootsby’s eyes bored into his own.
‘You are late returning, Mr Pooter,’ said Rootsby.
‘I was delayed, My Lord. In, I mean by, the square. The people in it, that is.’
‘Ah yes,’ Rootsby acknowledged. ‘Always such curiosity for the affairs of the King.’ He walked back to the window once more. ‘A most uninspiring view, Mr Pooter, is it not?’ he said, and with such statement of fact that Pooter felt unable to reply. He did however feel moved to join the tall figure at the window, and as the pair studied the scene in silence, so Pooter’s heart sank with every passing second. It was true that his office was one of the most elegantly situated in Hexagonal Place, an office that had come with a price that regularly taxed his income, but seeing now as if with newly opened eyes the dull green gardens and drab grey buildings that lay before him, he wondered how he had ever been so excited by such a setting.
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