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The Queen’s Assassin (Queen’s Secret, #1) by Melissa de la Cruz Read Online (FREE)

The Queen's Assassin (Queen's Secret, #1) by Melissa de la Cruz

Read The Queen’s Assassin (Queen’s Secret, #1) by Melissa de la Cruz online free here.

PROLOGUE

 

Renovia

 

IN THE TIME OF KING ESBAN

 

AFTER THE BATTLE OF BAER

 

“THE KING IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!”

A frail elder from the village of Nhainne began the chant from where she stood, hunched at the back of the crowd, her left hand grasping a worn walking stick. She raised her free hand to point one crooked finger toward the palace and shouted again, louder this time, voice scratchy and breaking from the effort: “The king is dead! Long live the queen!” At first the others gathered were afraid to speak of the sovereign’s death prematurely, as to do so had been a treasonous offense under former monarchs, but the old woman had weathered too many seasons to fear the truth. She lifted her stick and brought it down with a bang as she said it once more, with all the breath she could muster: “The king is dead! Long live the queen!”

A small child joined next, and the crone’s words began to spread the way wind gains force in a storm. Faintly and then all at once, until all the people around her were shouting: “The king is dead! Long live the queen!”

It became a demand. The people of Renovia wanted answers.

Villagers had flocked to meet the Renovian army—what was left of it, at least—as they dragged themselves on the dirt roads toward home the evening prior, ragged and barefoot, shoulders slumped despite their success, often with a fellow soldier in even worse shape hanging on beside them. The soldiers confirmed that, yes, their beloved king, who fought by their side in battle against the Aphrasian monks, had indeed been killed.

 

AND SO RENOVIANS BEGAN to gather at the perimeter of Violla Ruza soon after daybreak, a scattered few at first, then more and more, waiting for an announcement. But the sun was already high in the sky and still they heard nothing. Surely, the palace would issue an official statement, as was tradition when a monarch passed, or at least give some indication that the rumors were true—and that the kingdom was secure. A Montrician invasion was a Renovian’s greatest fear, although an attack from Stavin or Argonia was not incomprehensible. Peace treaties were often broken.

But their hopes were met with silence. The white stone palace and its jagged turrets loomed over them, still and eerie, and the royal banner of Renovia flew high over the tallest spire long after the sun dipped behind the building and below the horizon. It was never lowered. Nobody knew quite what to make of this—was King Esban actually alive, or was his queen simply unable to accept his death? Or worse—had the Aphrasians seized the crown?

The next dawn arrived and there was still no word. Yet news of the king’s demise and the Aphrasians’ defeat continued to travel from town to town, swelling the crowds gathered around the palace. The hordes began at the grand iron gates and overflowed into the surrounding fields as the mourners grew by dozens, then hundreds. Some rode in on horseback or on bumpy harvest wagons filled with family and neighbors. Others arrived on foot. They tied scraps of white and purple cloth to the castle gates and carried baskets of freshly cut flowers from their gardens—lilies for the queen and lilacs for the infant princess—which they arranged in bunches along the edge of the grounds. Their king’s sacrifice had given them the dream of a better future, free of the Aphrasian order; all their hope now lay with the regent queen and his heir.