In the Double Agent's Service Annals of Alasia Book 6 by Annie Douglas Lima Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure
Erik would give his life to protect King Jaymin. However, when an old enemy shows up with new schemes, that may not be enough.
Anya longs to be noticed by the king’s handsome bodyguard. But as she finally gains Erik’s attention, the notorious spy and double agent Dannel blackmails her into fulfilling a favor she has owed him for years. Anya is forced into a terrible choice: save Erik’s life, or protect her homeland.
Can Erik and Anya thwart an assassin and prevent a war before Dannel destroys everything that matters to them and to the kingdom?
The smell of dry dirt.
A hard, gritty surface beneath his cheek.
Erik mentally catalogued the sensations in order of their intensity. He opened his eyes, blinked, and added another to the list.
Darkness. Where am I? He struggled to sit up, and his pulse spiked at the realization that he couldn’t use his hands or feet. His ankles were bound together, and his wrists were tied behind his back. What’s going on? Erik forced himself to a sitting position, noting the dirt floor beneath him, a rough wall at his back. Brushing his fingers over what he could reach of it, he discovered that the wall seemed to be made of the same hard-packed earth as the floor. Am I underground? Though not completely smooth, the surfaces were too flat to be natural. Not a cave, then, but perhaps a cellar of some sort.
Or a cell.
He held his breath, straining his ears for any sound in the darkness. “Hello?” he whispered.
There was no response.
“Hello?” he said, a little louder. The acoustics hinted that he was in a small room. His head, already sore, throbbed anew at the sound of his own voice.
Erik leaned against the wall behind him, trying to keep calm. What happened? And where’s Jaymin?
King of Malorn
Annals of Alasia Book 5
Life as the king’s younger sister should be exciting.
Not for Princess Kalendria. She’s sick of the dissent and of constantly having her family undermined by those who think they could rule Malorn better than King Korram.
Hoping to lighten the mood in the palace, Kalendria plans a ball to celebrate her seventeenth birthday. It doesn’t hurt that their handsome Alasian ally King Jaymin has promised to attend, and she’s been waiting for him to notice her for as long as she can remember.
But unfriendly forces have their own party plans. When Kalendria, Korram, and Jaymin barely survive an assassination attempt, their only recourse is to flee into the wilderness. Tracked by unknown assassins, they must figure out whom they can trust and who is behind the plot. Can Kalendria help her brother reclaim his throne – oh, and catch Jaymin’s attention while she’s at it – before they are all killed and war destroys both kingdoms?
“Refreshments for their Majesties.” The servant’s voice quivered a little.
Perhaps he was simply nervous about waiting on his king and the royal guest. But Erik recalled seeing this man before on Jaymin’s other state visits to Malorn. He wasn’t new on the job. Could he be sick?
Well, he carried no obvious weapon, and his physique didn’t indicate he’d be much of a match for a bodyguard trained in unarmed combat. Erik stepped aside and let him in, closing the door behind him. The servant bowed awkwardly to the roomful of royalty, balancing the tray in shaky hands.
“Put it on the end table there.” King Korram pointed. The wine sloshed as the man set his tray down with a thud, barely rescuing the pitcher before it tipped over.
Palace servants weren’t usually so clumsy. Something was definitely wrong. Why is this man at work if he’s unwell?
“Sorry, your Majesties.” The servant dabbed at a few spilled drops of wine with a napkin.
The princess was watching him, obviously puzzled. “Are you all right?”
“I — well, I — no, your Highness, not really.” The servant swallowed and his face contorted as though with a spasm of pain. Everyone stared at him as he bent double and gasped, clutching at his midsection.
The Malornian king rose to his feet, taking the man’s arm. “Sit down a moment. Here, there’s a chair right behind you. What’s the matter?”
“I don’t — oh, it hurts.” The man gasped again, seizing the arm of the chair as he sank into it, still doubled over in agony.
“What have you been eating or drinking?” King Korram’s voice sounded angry, but Erik suspected he was just concerned.
“Nothing, Sire. I don’t — I mean — well, I only had a little. Ahh!” He rocked back and forth. Oh, no. Erik had a very bad feeling about this.
“You had a little of what? Answer me!” Seizing him by the shoulders, King Korram forced the man to look up at him.
“The wine, Sire. I — I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have. It just — it looked so — ohh ….” He grimaced again. “It was — only a taste before I brought it up here.”
Erik exchanged an alarmed look with Jaymin. They all turned to gaze at the pitcher on the tray, its bright red contents sparkling in the lamplight. King Korram bent over the writhing servant once again. “Who prepared the wine? Who else had access to it? Tell me.”
But the man slipped off the chair and crumpled to the floor, crying out in agony. He rolled over once, twitched, and then lay still. His face froze in a mask of pain, mouth and eyes open, one hand still gripping the red-spotted napkin. His skin was so pale it might have been made of paste.
Silence filled the room for a full five heartbeats. They were all on their feet now, staring in shock at the motionless figure before them.
Erik stepped forward and knelt beside the body, feeling for a pulse in the neck and placing his ear over the man’s mouth and nose. As he had suspected, there was nothing. “He’s dead.”
The Nameless Soldier Annals of Alasia Book 4
What do you do when you’re the only survivor?
Nineteen-year-old Tarvic bears the name of a mighty hero from Alasia’s past. However, the young soldier feels anything but heroic when he regains consciousness to find himself the lone survivor of a brutal attack by invaders from the neighboring kingdom.
Forced to leave his identity behind, Tarvic is thrust into civilian life in the role of protector to three war orphans. When the four of them encounter a mysterious stranger, he must choose between keeping the young girls safe and taking on a mission that could help free his kingdom. Can Tarvic live up to his noble name and find a way to balance his duty and his dreams?
The Nameless Soldier is the fourth book in the Annals of Alasia, but the first four books can be read in any order, and each one can stand on its own.
Tarvic woke to the sound of a distant yell, abruptly silenced. He pushed his blankets aside and sat up, puzzled, but heard only the light patter of rain on the canvas. “What was that?”
Drevel, his roommate in the barracks and tentmate out on campaigns like this, stirred and rolled over. “What?”
“I heard something. Someone shouting.”
“It’s probably just another drill.” But Drevel sat up too, shoving his own blankets away, as Tarvic crawled over and untied the tent flap.
A blast of wintry air and raindrops greeted him as he leaned out, peering across the tent-studded hillside. Clouds hid the moon and stars, and on every side the thick dark of the forest leaned in from the edges of the large clearing. But the telltale flickering light of distant torches sent shadows leaping over tents and across the open spaces between them. Why would someone be using torches out here? Any soldier in camp had easy access to lanterns among the supplies.
Something was wrong. Very wrong. Tarvic pulled back into the tent and yanked on his breeches and jacket.
They both heard the next yell, closer this time, and then the unmistakable clash of swords. Both men snatched up their own swords, jamming their feet into their boots and fumbling for shields. From all around them, shouts of alarm erupted as men in their company woke up.
And then the enemy was upon them. Horses exploded through the camp, trampling tents and the soldiers just crawling out of them. Riders leaned low off their mounts’ backs, swinging swords and waving torches.
Halfway out of his tent, Tarvic threw himself flat on his face to avoid a slash that would probably have decapitated him. He scrambled to his feet, only to be knocked off them again by a blow that he barely caught on his shield.
Light, shadows, horses, blades, rain. Chaos raged through the clearing to the sound of crashing metal, pounding hooves, shouts of challenge and desperation. Tarvic regained his feet and fought as best he could from the ground while enemy riders thundered around him. Dodging and ducking, he aimed for the men’s legs and tried to keep out from under their horses’ hooves. With no idea who he was fighting or why, his only goal to stay alive for the next heartbeat, he dodged and darted through the tumult looking for spots where horses and enemy swords weren’t. All around him, men fought and ran and crumpled to lie as limply as the trampled tents.
Slipping and stumbling in the mud, Tarvic felt a surge of satisfaction as his sword met flesh and an enemy yelled in pain. And then the man wheeled his horse and charged back toward him, and Tarvic turned to flee.
He tripped on something soft that groaned. Pain shot through Tarvic’s wrist as he caught his fall, and only a quick roll saved him from being trampled as the man’s horse cantered over him.
Its rider wheeled again, and Tarvic rose to his knees, barely raising his shield in time to protect his face. The force of the blow threw him backward, jarring his already sore wrist.
Another horse leaped over him, and Tarvic cried out in pain as a hoof struck him on the shoulder. He stumbled to his feet, ducking low to present as small a target as possible, and ran through the melee.
He saw fewer people on foot now, more obstacles in the mud. Was it cowardly to flee from a battle you couldn’t win? Nothing in Tarvic’s eight months in the military had prepared him for this. Not counting occasional minor border skirmishes, the kingdom of Alasia hadn’t seen an actual war in six generations. Besides routine patrols, city peacekeeping, and the frequent drills and training, the military’s primary duties involved escorting merchant wagons through robber-frequented stretches of rural highway and keeping an eye on the sections of coastline where seafaring raiders were known to attack. Tarvic had never fought in a battle that involved more than a handful of opponents at a time, and none of those opponents had been anywhere near this organized — or this deadly. If we escape, we can regroup somewhere safer and — A hard blow to the back knocked him to the ground again as another horse pounded over him. Giving up all pretense of courage, Tarvic scrambled to his feet once more and fled for the edge of the clearing and the relative safety of the trees beyond. I can’t do anything here. They’re going to slaughter us all!
He was practically there when another rider appeared in front of him, leaning low with sword outstretched. Tarvic almost impaled himself on the blade, raising his shield just in time. He fought back frantically as the man slashed, swinging his weapon again and again. I need my horse! Military training had included nothing about how to fight a mounted enemy from the ground. But Lightning was tethered in the row of makeshift stalls on the far side of the camp, probably prancing restlessly under his blanket and wondering why his rider didn’t come to spur him into battle.
Tarvic didn’t even see the blow that almost killed him. His ears barely registered the thudding of more galloping hooves from behind, nearly drowned out by the rain and the sounds of battle. But the world exploded in light and pain as something struck the back of his head harder than anything had ever hit him before.
He lurched forward, feeling his sword drop from limp fingers. Managing two steps before his legs buckled, he was just conscious enough to recognize the urgent need to crawl. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Or they’ll kill you out here. That was the only thought left in his mind as he pulled himself toward the concealing shadows behind the line of tree trunks. And then even that faded, giving way to darkness.
Prince of Malorn
Annals of Alasia Book 3
Prince Korram is heir to the throne of Malorn, but Regent Rampus is determined to stay in power. Can Korram find a way to overthrow him before Rampus strikes him down?
One major obstacle stands between seventeen-year-old Prince Korram and the throne that is his birthright: Regent Rampus. Temporary ruler of Malorn, Rampus has no intention of giving up his position when the crown prince comes of age – or of allowing the prince to live long enough to reach that age.
Desperate to build an army of his own to stand against the regent, Korram treks into the Impassable Mountains to try to recruit the one segment of Malornian society not under Rampus’s control. But can he lead a band of untrained hunters and gatherers to victory against the full might of the Malornian military? Or will they all be crushed by the grasping hand of the regent before the prince can claim his rightful throne?
Prince of Malorn is the third action and adventure novel in the Annals of Alasia fantasy series, but the first four books can be read in any order, and each can stand on its own. If you like superb world-building, finely crafted fantasy cultures, and gripping survival stories, you’ll love Annie Douglass Lima’s coming-of-age saga. Download Prince of Malorn now to start the adventure today!
Korram saw the snowcat shift a little on the rock. Is it getting ready to spring? His heart pounding anew, Korram took a quiet step forward, and then another. He had to get closer, just in case.
Now he stood right at the bank of the stream, only about ten feet behind the creature. It was perched out in the middle of the water, maybe eight feet from the edge. What was he supposed to do? He supposed he could wade out to the rock it was on, but he didn’t fancy battling a powerful animal in the middle of a river, let alone at the brink of a waterfall. That scenario didn’t seem likely to end well.
The snowcat shifted again, gathering its hind legs under its body. Its tail, stretched out behind, twitched a little. Korram had seen Sir Fluffle gather himself just like that before he lunged at a squirrel in the palace garden. This is it, he thought desperately. I have to do something now! But he wouldn’t panic and throw his spear this time. Gripping the weapon with his right hand, he snatched up a loose pebble with his left and flung it at the cat, yelling, “Over here!”
The snowcat turned its head, saw him, and bared long gleaming teeth in a snarl. Korram felt a stab of guilt at the glimpse of a red stain on its chest, and knew the cat was indeed angry and in pain. He gripped the spear in a two-handed stance as he had seen Ernth do, bracing his feet. “All right, come on! Over here! Let’s get this over with.” He wasn’t at all sure which of them would survive the encounter, but he couldn’t think of anything else to do.
But the snowcat did not leap across the water to attack him. It turned its head once more to stare over the cliff, and Korram saw its muscles bunch and ripple as it shifted position again. It was going to leap over the waterfall! Ernth had said snowcats were clever. Apparently it had made the choice between the enemy who was ready for him and the one who was not.
“Hey! Hey! Over here!” Korram yelled again, dashing forward along the bank and waving his arms. But the beast paid him no attention, and Korram knew there was only one remaining course of action, one chance he had to save Ernth’s life. Without pausing to consider the consequences, he leaped into the water and splashed his way toward the rock where the creature crouched.
The streambed was slippery underfoot, and icy water rushed into his deerskin boots, filling them and slowing him down. The current was stronger than he had expected, and for a moment Korram was afraid he would be swept off his feet and over the falls. Desperately he braced himself against the force of the water and lunged forward.
He was only one step away from the rock when the snowcat sprang. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion as Korram saw its body lengthen, its forelegs reaching out and over. Desperate, he leaped too, spear extended. His other arm stretched out in a frantic attempt to grab, to hold the creature back, to slow it down, to somehow stop what could no longer be stopped. He felt the tip of his weapon strike flesh as he seized a handful of thick fur. The animal was still leaping, pulling him forward with it, but he was half on top of it now, and he could feel the bulging muscles of its haunches rippling beneath his chest.
It gave a strangled cry, half snarl, half scream, and whirled around, flailing its claws at him. Korram struck out with his spear again, still clutching a handful of fur. Then he felt his ribs hit the edge of the rock, and he realized that his head was lower than the rest of him and that the snowcat’s momentum was pulling them both over the edge.
He had a quick glimpse of Ernth balancing on a boulder at the foot of the falls, poking his spear through the curtain of water, and of the astonished expression on his face as he caught sight of Korram and the snowcat toppling over the edge toward him. Then there was no time to notice anything else before Korram felt himself tumbling through the air, still clutching the writhing animal, a curtain of water shimmering all around them.
In the Enemy's Service Annals of Alasia Book 2
Enslaved when invaders take over Alasia, ten-year-old Anya discovers ways to spy on the enemy and slip information to the resistance. But then she uncovers a disturbing reference to her own family and is confronted by a stranger who seems to know her secrets. Holding her life in his hands, he claims to have proof that Anya’s father was involved in the betrayal that led to the Invasion itself. Can Anya help save her kingdom without putting her father in danger … and can she learn the truth about what happened before it’s too late?
In the Enemy’s Service is the second book in the Annals of Alasia, but the first four in the series can be read in any order, and each book can stand on its own.
Tonnis wasn’t sure at exactly what moment he first awoke. For a long time his dreams had been disturbing: full of shouting and running footsteps and the clash of swords. He had dreamed there was a battle going on down in the palace courtyard, and in the distance people were screaming, “Help! Help!” Afterwards he could never be sure just how much of that was actually a dream.
The first moment he was certain he was awake was when a hand shook him roughly by the shoulder. An unfamiliar voice shouted, “You! Doctor! You are the doctor, aren’t you? Wake up, man!”
Tonnis opened his eyes and squinted into the flicker of torchlight. It was not the first time he had been awakened in the middle of the night for a medical emergency — the clinic door was kept unlocked for that very purpose — but even in an emergency, most people were polite enough to knock before barging into his bedroom.
Who were these two strangers? Beside him in bed, his wife Eleya clutched the covers to her chin and stared at the men, equally confused.
“Get up! Hurry!” a second voice demanded. “You’ve got patients in bad shape waiting downstairs.” Is that a drawn sword he’s holding? Tonnis fumbled for the dressing gown that hung from the peg beside his bed. Shivering, he stuffed his feet into his slippers as Torch Man shoved him in the back to get him moving.
The front room of the clinic was full of people, some sitting or lying on the benches, some milling about talking excitedly. Several held torches, and Tonnis, squinting again in the brighter light, noticed something puzzling. These weren’t palace workers, or they would be dressed in blue and white. Soldiers, perhaps? They all held or wore swords, but their uniforms weren’t right for that either. What was going on here?
Prince of Alasia Annals of Alasia Book 1
Twelve-year-old Prince Jaymin, heir to the throne of Alasia, barely escapes with his life when invaders from neighboring Malorn attack. Accompanied by his young bodyguard, Jaymin flees to a nearby town to live in hiding. There, surrounded by the enemy soldiers searching for the missing prince, his life depends on his ability to maintain his disguise.
As the danger intensifies and the Malornians’ suspicions grow, Jaymin seeks desperately for a way to save his kingdom and himself. Then he stumbles upon a startling discovery that will challenge his assumptions and forever change his view of Malorn and the events that altered his life.
Prince of Alasia is the first book in the Annals of Alasia, but the first four in the series can be read in any order, and each book can stand on its own.
No matter how old he lived to be, Jaymin knew he would never forget that terrible night.
He was sound asleep in his room in the palace when Erik, his bodyguard and closest friend, shook him awake.
“Jaymin! Jaymin, wake up! Something awful is happening,” Erik hissed in a frantic whisper.
Groggy and disoriented, Jaymin sat up in bed, clutching the heavy woolen blankets to his chest. At first he couldn’t understand what Erik was talking about, and then from somewhere in another part of the palace he heard muffled shouts and the metallic clash of swords.
Fighting? In the palace? Suddenly wide awake, Jaymin shoved back the blankets and sprang out of bed, fumbling in the chilly near-darkness for his clothes. The fire in the grate across the room had died down to glowing embers, and at this time of year the air had a bite to it, even indoors. He shivered as he snatched up the garments a servant had laid out for him the evening before.
“Hurry,” Erik whispered, yanking a coat on over his night clothes and gliding over to listen by the door. Outside, the sounds of battle were growing louder. Why hasn’t anyone come to tell me what’s happening? Jaymin wondered, tugging his tunic over his head. Where were the guards who always patrolled the corridor at night? “Guards!” he called out just in case. He jammed his feet into his shoes. “Guards?”
“Shh!” Erik gestured frantically at him to be quiet, his ear still glued to the crack by the door. There was no other response.
Annie Douglass Lima considers herself fortunate to have traveled in twenty different countries and lived in four of them. A fifth-grade teacher in her "other" life, she loves reading to her students and sparking their imaginations. Her books include science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students' poetry, Bible verse coloring and activity books, and now a cookbook. When she isn't teaching or writing, Annie can often be found sipping spiced chai or pomegranate green tea in exotic locations, some of which exist in this world.