Book: Empire of Jackals
Series Name: Chrysathamere Trilogy Book 2
Author: Morgan Cole
Find It: Amazon
The war with Tyrace is over.
It was supposed to be a time of celebration. Of triumph. But for Marilia Sandara, hero of Chrysathamere Pass, the cost was too high. After watching he childhood friends slaughtered before her eyes, all she wants to do is sail back to Svartennos and try to forget the price she had to pay for her victory.
But the peace isn’t long to last. After Emperor Vergana makes a shocking announcement—that he means to disinherit his true-born son, Rufyllys, in favor of his adopted child, Prince Ilruyn—the seeds are sown that will plunge Navessea back into war. This time, Marilia and her twin brother, Annuweth, find themselves on opposite sides of a conflict that threatens to undo all they fought for. By the time the dust settles and the killing stops, only one of the children of Karthtag-Kal may be left standing.
The Story So Far
Marilia, bastard daughter of a prostitute and a deceased war hero, fled her mother’s brothel in the kingdom of
Tyrace, along with her twin brother, Annuweth, in order to escape a life of slavery. She made her way to Karthtag-
Kal Sandaros, Prefect of the Order of Jade, the elite knights who serve the Emperor of Navessea, Moroweth
Vergana. Due to his friendship with Marilia’s father, Karthtag-Kal adopted the twin children as his own and
brought them to his home, where he raised them and trained them; under his care, Marilia studied his books of
history and warfare and impressed her father with her skill at Sharavayn, a strategy game that young Navessea
noblemen play. Karthtag-Kal’s growing affection for Marilia created a rift between her and Annuweth, as her
brother became jealous of her abilities.
While living in the capitol, Marilia became friends with the emperor’s daughter, Petrea Vergana, and learned
of her animosity towards the emperor’s adopted son, Prince Ilruyn Ikaryn-Vergana.
After she turned sixteen, Marilia was married to Kanediel Paetos, a lord of an island province of Navessea
named Svartennos. Annuweth, meanwhile, joined the Order of Jade and eventually became Captain of the
Dragonknights, the Emperor’s personal guards.
Marilia lived with him and his sister, Camilline (for whom she began to develop strong feelings) until the
island was invaded by the army of Tyrace. Svartennos’ leader, Ben Espeleos, was taken prisoner in a surprise
attack, leaving the island’s army under Kanediel’s command. After Kanediel was killed in a duel, Marilia convinced
Svartennos’ Elders that she was the answer to an ancient prophecy that stated that the spirit of a long-deceased
warrior queen would return in the form of another young woman when the island stood in danger. The Elders put
Marilia in command of the defense of Svartennos, and she achieved an incredible victory against overwhelming
odds, crushing the Tyracian army.
Marilia and the army of Svartennos joined with the rest of the Navessean army (including her brother,
Annuweth) and sailed south to attack the capitol city of Tyrace, hoping to end the war. Though the attack was a
success, many soldiers in Marilia’s army—encouraged by the Graver, commander of the legion of a nearby
imperial province and the man who killed Marilia’s father, long ago—pillaged the city and slaughtered many
civilians before Marilia could restrain them, including most of Marilia’s childhood friends from her mother’s
brothel. In order to save one of those friends from murder at the Graver’s hands, Marilia and Annuweth engaged the
Graver in a duel. Marilia was victorious, leaving the Graver badly wounded, but Annuweth was also sorely wounded
in the exchange.
With its capitol city conquered, Tyrace surrendered. Impressed by Marilia’s victories and her role in ending
the war, Karthtag-Kal offered to ask the Emperor of Navessea to name her the new Prefect of the Order of Jade upon
his retirement. However, Marilia declined, sick of war and the empire’s habit of venerating conquerors and warriors.
Plagued with guilt for her brother’s suffering, she also lied to Karthtag-Kal and to the Chronicler who had come to
write the story of the war, telling them that Annuweth had helped her create the strategy that led to Tyrace’s
Part I: Annuweth–Chapter One
Annuweth lay on a bed in a Tyracian villa. The sheets smelled of dried sweat and the coppery stench of his
own blood. It was a smell that not even the garden breeze through the window could hide.
Inside, his body raged, at war with itself. His lips were chapped, and he felt a dry heat racing through him like
the fury of the desert winds. His mouth was thick and gritty as if choked with sand.
He felt much like he had all those years ago, when he’d lain weak and shivering after Tyrennis Castaval had
tried to beat him to death. The fear crept in on him along with the darkness that always seemed to be gathering at the
corners of his eyes, a darkness that might have been the beginning of sleep or the beginning of death. He was afraid
that the darkness would claim him for good. He was afraid that even if it did not, he would not get better; afraid that
his body was broken.
He needed his body; he wasn’t like his sister, whose greatest gift was her mind. His greatest gift was his
sword hand. His speed, his strength. Without all of that…he wasn’t sure what he was.
Physicks came in and out. They pinched and poked and prodded and made the pain dance across his skin like
a wicked child skipping across the cracks in a broken road. They peered at his chest, at his side, at his broken nose,
at the gash across his face, and they forced water down his throat. They sewed him back together. That part made
him weep with pain, though it shamed him. He wished he could gather the tears back into his eyes. He wished he
could silence the sobs that racked his chest. Tears are the recourse of those who have no other weapon, Karthtag-
Kal used to tell him. Women and children.
The physick crept away, leaving him alone in the dark. His only tether to the world of the living was the
rippling, gaping pain that wrapped around him like a red scarf.
While he was awake, the pain held him and rocked him in its arms. When sleep finally came, his dreams were
He stood by the edge of a rushing river, the night around him darker than any he had ever seen. There were no
stars in the sky, and a single sliver of pale moonlight made the ripples on the black water shine silver like the toothy
grin of a razorfish.
Figures stood before him—the knights who had sailed with him and Livenneth in the Bay of Dane. The
children of Oba’al’s pillow house who had been his friends. Where their eyes had been were smoking holes; grave
beetles crawled from rotting gashes in their skulls. Annuweth tried to raise his sword to fend the monsters away, but
then he realized that his sword was just a broken stick.
From out of their ranks stepped the Graver. He grew giant, tall enough to blot out the stars. He took Annuweth
in his hands and crushed the life from him, squeezing until Annuweth’s bones came popping out through his skin.
Annuweth awoke with his mouth open, but his scream died soundlessly inside him.
The next day, Marilia came to him. Her blurred face hung over him like a half-finished silk tapestry distorted
by the wind. She laid her hand on his brow and whispered to him that he would be all right, that she was sorry. So
many things she whispered, on and on, until at last one of her men came to call her away.
He looked for sleep, but it would not come; it was stymied by the song that pounded through his head, over
and over. A song he’d heard once as a child.
The tiger lord of westerland stood gazing out to sea
Golden clouds and golden sun, my lady’s gone from me
No, he thought. Make it stop. By the gods, by the spirits, just let me rest.
Her hair was black as midnight’s cloud, her eyes like living flame
Now I wake weeping in the night; with tears I call her name
A hundred men my spear laid low, I sent them to the pyres
I turned their broken halls to ash, the brave sons and their sires
He closed his eyes. He drew one breath; another. That was all he could do—keep breathing. One in, one out.
On and on and until his broken body mended itself and he found the strength to stand again.
She lit candles for him. He wanted to tell her to stop, that the smell was too strong, that he was choking on
them. But he could not find his voice. The smoke tickled his face and curled in his hair like the fingers of his long-ago mother.
It wove shapes in the air.
How bright his future had seemed, when he’d first ascended the steps to Karthtag-Kal’s villa. How long ago it
felt now. How far away. It was this place, this city that had left him hollowed, that had placed its shadowy hand
upon him. A curse that began the day Tyrennis Castaval laid him low.
Annuweth had imagined at the time that his father’s spirit had saved him, that the prefect’s blood that flowed
in his veins had given him the strength he needed to recover from the wounds caused by Castaval’s wooden sword.
Nelos Dartimaos had saved him for another day, some other destiny that was waiting for him.
What if that destiny was only to die here in this room?
Again came the song, and he realized for the first time that it wasn’t only in his head—someone was singing
it, someone outside his room. The men of Svartennos, many voices raised as one.
The war was won, the battle done, the crown upon my hair
While in my gardens children laugh, and women’s voices fair
The western trees are tall and strong, the rivers bright and clear
Yet none of them so dear to me as my Chrysathamere
The Lady Chrysathamere. His sister. Once again, she had risen, and he had fallen. Now she had taken the
dream of his childhood—to defeat the Graver, to make things right and avenge his father’s death.
A new feeling flooded him. As hot as the fever, as fierce as the pain. His eyes opened; beneath the thin linens
that covered his embattled body, his lungs swelled with a new, full breath.
Fuck this city. Fuck curses. I’m going to live. I’m going to get better.
Let his sister have her moment in the sun. Let her enjoy it for all it was worth. He would lie here, and hurt,
and weep, and piss himself if need be, if that was what it took.
But when it was all over, he would walk out of here, his sword at his side, to fight another day.
Because he was Annuweth Sandaros, son of Nelos Dartimaos.
And this was not the end of his story.
The author will be raffling off a $25 Amazon Gift Card and an exclusive look at first few chapters of book 3 during the book tour!
About the Author
After being bombarded with one too many school motivational posters, I decided to “shoot for the moon” by pursuing a risky double-major in creative writing and history on the assumption that the worst-case scenario would be landing among the stars. I instead landed in long-term unemployment—and unpaid internships, let’s not forget the unpaid internships—in small-town Ohio. Eventually, after several re-writes and two unhappy years, my first novel (not counting a couple of incredibly pretentious high fantasy books from my high school and college years that have all hopefully been hunted down and burned) was picked up by a literary agent—and then put back down when it was determined it was not marketable to a young adult audience.
Eventually, I began making more financially sound life choices and now work as an attorney in the public sector while continuing to write on the side.
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