Home > The Damning Stone (Tales from Summer #5)

The Damning Stone (Tales from Summer #5)
Author: T.J. Klune

 


About The Damning Stone

A year has passed since the Dark Wizard Myrin attempted to take control of the Kingdom of Verania. Though the scars of the final battle remain, Veranians have come together in unity in order to rebuild. Good King Anthony sits on the throne once more, with Morgan of Shadows at his side.

However, a king is not immortal. One day, Anthony will step down, paving the way for his son, Grand Prince Justin, to assume the throne.

And Justin wants anything but.

Unfortunately for him, he finds himself with bigger things to worry about than just becoming the ruler of a country. At the celebration of the might of Verania and its people, a delegation arrives, led by a man who calls himself a magician. This man represents the King of Yennbridge, who has come to claim what was promised to him years before: the hand of the firstborn son of the King and Queen of Verania.

With his ridiculous friends at his side—Sam, Ryan, Kevin, Gary and Tiggy—Justin sets out to make the visiting king’s life a living hell. Which, of course, backfires spectacularly, and when the dust settles, Justin finds his friends changed in ways he can’t expect, leaving him standing alone.

Except he’s not as alone as he thinks, given the King of Yennbridge will do anything to prove he’s worthy of the frozen heart of the Ice Prince.

Prince Justin has finally met his match.

Let the games begin.

 

 

PROLOGUE

Teachers Should Not Have Sex with Their Students

“AND NOW, I WILL TELL YOU of my plans to take over the kingdom,” the evil wizard and total douchebag Sam of Dragons said with a cackle.

“Release me now,” I snapped. “I am the godsdamn Prince of—”

“Silence!” Sam bellowed, eyes ablaze. “You’re my prisoner, and you’ll listen to my villainous monologue about how I have unresolved issues involving my father which led me down the dark path of no return.” He blinked. “Whoa. That came out better than I thought it would. Maybe there’s something to this after—”

“Boring,” the unicorn said, little sparks of pink and violet shooting from his flared nostrils. He stood next to me, all four legs bound by vermilion root. I was still perturbed by how much he’d groaned that the ropes needed to be tighter, Sam, honestly, this isn’t my first time being tied up, for fuck’s sakes, make me feel it. Unicorns were more trouble than they were worth. “Cupcake, we’ve talked about this. If you’re going to make a good villain, you need to be believable. It needs to be fresh and exciting. What’s the point of doing this if you’re going to rehash the same moments we’ve already lived through?”

Sam glared at him. “Gary, I told you—”

Gary coughed.

“Gary, would you shut—”

Gary coughed harder.

Sam threw his hands up in the air. “Fine.” He took a step further into the cave, his shadow dancing along the wall. “The Artist Formerly Known as Gary the Hornless Gay Unicorn, we agreed that you wouldn’t give me notes about my performance until after I was done.”

Gary batted his eyelashes. “There, that’s better. Was that so hard?”

“Yes,” Sam said. “It was. That’s a ridiculous name and you should feel embarrassed.”

Gary rolled his eyes. “You got to change your name. Twice, in fact. Sam Haversford became Sam of Wilds who became Sam of Dragons. You didn’t hear me complain about any of that.”

“Uh,” Sam said. “You did complain. Like, all the time. You complained on the way here. You said I was obviously confused about my identity, and that I really needed to pick one and stick with it.”

Gary sniffed. “Where’s the lie? And becoming the Artist Formerly Known as Gary the Hornless Gay Unicorn was something I’ve always dreamed about, ever since I was a young foal.” His eyes filled with tears. “Would you take that away from a poor, magical creature protected by an absurd number of laws? My word, Sam. That’s a hate crime, punishable by life in the dungeons. You know you wouldn’t do well in the dungeons. You’re too…well. Not pretty, but you’re identifiably human, which some people seem to like.”

“I have no idea why,” I muttered, struggling against the ropes encircling my wrists. Whatever else Sam was—a blight on the world, an annoyance capable of making even the strongest of men beg for the sweet release of death—he knew how to tie a knot. Perhaps I could finally be free of him if I was able to convince Dad to make military service mandatory. Sam would be shipped out to sea, working the decks so I’d never have to be pseudo-kidnapped again as part of his stupid drills.

“I’m delightful,” Sam said, pushing a lock of dark hair off his forehead. He’d allowed it to grow out longer, tips beginning to curl, tying it back with a piece of rawhide. It suited him, though I would never tell him as much, especially after he told me (apropos of nothing) that a certain Knight Commander like to pull on it when they were…ugh. Whatever. “Everyone thinks so.”

“I don’t,” Gary and I said at the same time.

Sam began to pace, his robe swirling around his feet. The cave was hot and humid, and I could think of at least a thousand places I’d rather be. Verania was in the throes of summer, and I was supposed to be in Castle Lockes, taking meetings with my father. In fact, I’d been heading toward Dad’s chambers when a half-giant of alleged ill repute had smiled at me, said hello, and then threw me over his shoulder, crowing as he stole me from the castle. No matter how many times I demanded he put me down, he hadn’t listened.

But then none of them listened, much to my consternation. What was the point of being a prince when my subjects refused to do what I told them?

“We have to be prepared,” Sam said. “Just because the Dark wizards are all locked away doesn’t mean there aren’t stragglers out there, preparing their revenge against our badassery in saving the Kingdom of Verania.”

“Let them come,” Gary said, tail swishing. “It’s been ages since I’ve stabbed someone with my horn.”

“You know,” I told him pleasantly, “after all the bluster and noise about getting your horn back, I honestly expected more from you.”

Gary turned his head slowly toward me, eyes narrowing. “What was that?” he asked sweetly, a sure sign I was treading on thin ice.

“Uh oh,” Sam said.

I shrugged. Gary was getting pissed off, and I’d been told time and time again that one should never upset a unicorn. But cave water had just landed on my face, and it smelled terrible. If I could get Gary going, maybe he’d go on a rampage and we could all go home. “I’m just saying. You got your horn back and what’s changed? You’re still pretty much the same.”

“Sam.”

“Yes, Gary.”

“Sam.”

Sam sighed. “Yes, the Artist Formerly Known as Gary the Hornless Gay Unicorn.”

“A question, if I may.”

“Keep it short. I still have a whole speech I have to give about—”

Gary craned his neck toward me. I didn’t flinch as his snout rubbed against my cheek, his massive horn brushing against the top of my head. “Isn’t it true that anyone who insults a unicorn is automatically earmarked for death?”

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