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The Renegade Apprentice

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A desperate breakout. A perilous life on the streets. A fight to the death.

Evren’s life as an apprentice priest is an endless torment, until he seizes the chance to escape his slavery. But his freedom, and his life, may be cut very short because the dark alleys of Vothmot hold their own dangers...some deadlier than others!

Click now to read the thrilling Heirs of Destiny prequel novella! Find out the secrets of Evren's grim origin--it's a gripping, heart-pounding ride...

Fight club
Street thief
Brothers-in-arms


The Renegade Apprentice

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“The two of you ought to be ashamed.” Lectern Tinis’ pudgy lips pursed in disapproval as his mud-colored eyes darted between the boys before him. “Your service to the Master is one of learning. You will one day be scholars, men of learning and refinement. Not the brutes and thugs I see before me.”

Evren wiped the trickle of blood from his mouth. His knuckles ached, but Verald’s jaw would ache far worse for far longer. That alone was worth a busted lip and a black eye.

“As Lecterns-in-training, you are to use words to settle your disputes, never your fists.” Lectern Tinis folded his hands over his heavy gut and reclined in the over-stuffed armchair behind his ornate desk. “Those pendants you wear mark you as servants to the Master. Do I need to remind either of you what the words inscribed thereupon say?”

Evren resisted the urge to touch the platinum crescent moon that hung around his neck. He’d thumbed it so many times the words “Servitude, Humility, Concord” had faded.

The Lectern leaned forward, and the table creaked beneath his weight. “Have either of you ought to say for yourselves?”

Evren shot a glance at Verald, who sat stiffly in the hard-backed wooden chair beside him. Neither of the two young men spoke—Lectern Tinis’ punishment would only worsen if they offered excuse or justification.

“So be it.” Lectern Tinis gave a dramatic sigh and waved a fat hand toward the door. “To your cells, the both of you. Remain there until Lectern Uman comes for you.”

Evren clenched his fists, but he couldn’t stop the shudder from running down his spine. There was no worse punishment than this.

“I warn you,” the Lectern said, leaning forward in his chair, “resist the urge to pursue whatever grievance exists between you. Our service to the Master consists not only of seeking his holy wisdom but aspiring to follow the example of virtue and nobility he has set for us. A day of abstinence from food and water should suffice to remind you of your duties to our god.”

“Yes, Lectern Tinis,” Evren and Verald intoned in unison. Together, they bowed to the Lectern then turned to leave.

As always, Evren was struck by the richness of the Lectern’s rooms. Tapestries worked with gold and silver thread hung from the white marble walls, and the suite adjoining the priest’s office held a massive four-poster canopied bed, a plush divan, and a shelf laden with rare volumes—no doubt “borrowed” from the Vault of Stars.

The halls outside Lectern Tinis’ rooms were equally adorned with valuables: bronze vases, prized Fehlan ice candles sitting in brass candlesticks, teak furniture, and gold and silver statuettes worth a fortune. No outsiders ever visited this section of the temple, so none but the Lecterns knew the full extent of the wealth housed in the Master’s Temple.

That wasn’t the only truth known exclusively to the Lecterns. These halls concealed more dark, twisted secrets than the rest of Vothmot would ever know.
He and Verald walked through the lamp-lit corridors toward the staircase that descended five floors to ground level. The two apprentice Lecterns remained silent until they left the ornately decorated High Lectern’s floor behind.

“You bastard!” Verald growled in a low whisper.

“Coward,” Evren retorted without looking at the apprentice. “Picking on those weaker than you.”

“You watch your back, fifth-year.” Verald’s voice was quiet but thick with menace. “The temple’s got too many shadows. Never know what’ll jump out at you when your back’s turned.”

Evren’s fists balled, but before he could whirl on the boy, a pair of green-and-silver-robed Lecterns appeared in the stairway below them. The two apprentices bowed as they made way for the priests to pass, but the Lecterns paid them no heed. The youths were beneath their notice until they were accepted as full-fledged priests in service to Kiro, the Master. Only the handful of Lecterns—including Tinis and Uman—tasked with training the apprentices even spoke to them. Conversation had no place in a life spent in meditation, silent study, and chores.

“You know where to find me,” Evren snarled when the Lecterns had disappeared around the bend in the staircase. “Don’t think just because you’re a sixth-year that won’t stop me from giving you another beating.”
Evren stepped close and stared into Verald’s eyes. At thirteen, Verald was a year older than him and nearly a hand taller, but his rail-thin arms couldn’t drive a punch with enough force to slow Evren down. He’d taken far worse knocks from the eighth-year apprentices.

“Verald!” A hard, angry voice echoed through the stairway.

Verald blanched and turned toward the speaker. “Dracat, I—"

“Shut up!” Dracat, a dark-haired ninth-year and captain of Grey Tower’s fighters, stalked up the stairs toward them. “I hear you two got caught fighting?”

“I-It was nothing, Dracat,” Verald stammered.

“Nothing?” Dracat loomed over Verald, his face a mask of rage. “Tinis is giving you the hunger treatment, right? Locked in your room for a day?”

“Yes, but—"

Dracat slapped him, hard, and the crack echoed off the dark stone walls of the hall. “No buts, Verald. I don’t give a rat’s arse if you’re kept out of the matches, but I had four imperials riding on Evren here getting laid out cold in the third round.” The older boy’s eyes went to Evren. “All of Grey Tower’s been looking forward to watching Engerack beat the snot out of you. Too many of us lost on your bout with Warner to let that go by unpunished.”

Evren gritted his teeth. Engerack was a seventh-year that weighed nearly as much as Lectern Tinis, but years spent mucking the stables had turned his body to hard muscle. He doubted he could have done more than stunned the larger seventh-year, and he’d resigned himself to a few weeks of painful recovery. Lectern Tinis’ punishment almost came as a reprieve—until he remembered Lectern Uman would be paying him a visit. He’d take a year of Dracat’s bare-knuckled fights any day.

“Don’t think this gets you out of it,” Dracat snapped, his teeth bared in a snarl. He bent low and whispered into Evren’s ear. “I might just have to put you against Oldsek for this.”

Evren’s gut clenched. Even Engerack feared Oldsek—the wiry eighth-year hadn’t lost a match since he bit Vorth’s nose off.

“Let’s go, Verald.” Dracat seized the fifth-year by the collar and dragged him down the stairs, then shoved him down a side hallway that led to Grey Tower, one of the four minarets rising from the Master’s Temple. “We’ll be waiting for you,” he called over his shoulder. “I just hope starvation and thirst doesn’t weaken you too much.”

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