Read King of the Bastards Online

Authors: Brian Keene, Steven L. Shrewsbury

King of the Bastards

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WWW.APEXBOOKCOMPANY.COM

King of the Bastards © 2014 by Steven Shrewsbury & Brian Keene.

Rogan and all related characters created by Steven Shrewsbury.

The Thirteen and all related characters created by Brian Keene.

This edition © 2015 by Apex Publications.
Cover Art © 2015 by Daniel Kamarudin.
Cover Design © 2015 by Justin Stewart.
Typography © 2015 by Maggie Slater.

ISBN 978-1-937009-32-8

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced without written consent from the authors.

Apex Publications
PO Box 24323
Lexington, KY 40524
[email protected]

 

For our sons…

Acknowledgements

Both authors would like to thank Jason Sizemore, Lesley Conner, Maggie Slater, Justin Stewart, Daniel Kamarudin, Paul Goblirsch, Leigh Haig, John Foley, Kyle Lybeck, M. Wayne Miller, Mark Sylva, Tod Clark, and Stephen McDornell.

Steven Shrewsbury would like to thank Stephen Zimmer, John August Shrewsbury, and Aaron Shrewsbury.

Brian Keene would like to thank Mary SanGiovanni and his sons.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Dedication

Acknowledgements

The Saga of Rogan

Prologue Prelude to a Yarn

1. On The Horizon

2. Clash with the Corsairs

3. Misty New World

4. Totems, Visions, and the Dead Shall Rise

5. The Village

6. Prince of the Earth

7. Size Matters

8. The Ascent

9. Amazarak, the Doorkeeper, and She

10. At War With Meeble

11. Departures

Coda Epilogue to a Yarn

About the Authors

About the Artist

From the Book of the Yidde-oni

ROGAN WAS BORN
in a savage age before the great
flood. Cut from his mother’s belly by his father, Jarek, during a raid in
Larak, Rogan was raised into barbarism among the fabled Keltos folk in the
Caucaus Mountains, where violence was a way of life.

Roaming the lands north of the Black Sea, Rogan grew strong and
hard amongst his rugged kin. But he wearied of a life disrupting the obsidian
trade from the East, and raiding the great cities of Chanoch, Urak, and
Jericho. So Rogan journeyed west, crossing the land bridge at Bosporus. The
accounts of his adventures during this time have been lost in the deluge.

Eventually, he became a mercenary for King Akhensobek, ruler of
ancient Kemet. Rogan lead the king’s armies, until a tryst with the royal
daughter aroused Akhensobek’s ire. As punishment, Rogan was walled up alive
inside the great idol of the reclining cat god, Bastet. After a miraculous
escape, Rogan slew the King and returned to the primal kingdoms of the north.

Cutting a bloody swath through the lesser realms of Lascaux,
Agudea, and Gordes, Rogan became a leader in the revolutionary forces of
General Thyssen. The two men became great friends and comrades at arms. Thyssen
wished to oust Silex, the cruel ruler of the grand realm of Albion. The
revolution ended when Rogan seized the crown from Silex’s decapitated head and
placed it on his own.

Rogan’s rule of Albion was stern but fair. Thyssen was given
command of Albion’s military might. Border clashes with savage Prytens and
their savage Queen Tancorix kept them busy for decades. Rogan wed Thyssen’s
sister, Desna, and sired an heir, Rohain. Several more children followed and
Rogan came to know contentment, however fleetingly. After the death of Queen
Desna, however, Rogan grew weary of palace life and abdicated his throne to
Rohain.

Accompanied by his nephew Javan, the youngest son of General Thyssen,
and his two Alatervaeian bodyguards, Rogan journeyed across the western ocean,
discovering fabled lands and new cultures far to the south in the new world,
beyond the edges of scholar’s maps. There, Rogan set about adventuring again
with the aide of new friends from the mysterious realm of Olmek-Tikal.

But, as our story continues, Rogan soon learns that no matter how
far one travels, the past can still reach out to haunt the present…

 

“COME, YOUNG ONES.
You grow weary of our journey
across this endless sea? Sit down and I will tell you a tale of your
grandfather.”

Sweeping back his long black hair, the tallest youth looked at
his father and then at the waves beyond the edge of their craft. “You mean
Grampa, who tends the animals down in the hold and cleans the shit from their
stalls?”

“No, not him, Gomer! While a fine man, your grandfather down
below was not an adventurer. I speak of your
other
grandfather, the man
from whose seed your mother sprang.”

A second boy settled in on the deck. Unlike Gomer, his hair was
blonde. Despite the contrast, they were clearly brothers.

“Is it true he was a savage warrior?”

“Yes, Magog, that is so. Your grandfather was a man of great
power. He made himself into one of the most feared men of the olden realm. He was
a fighter and a king, a man who laughed at the birthplace of thunder and
lightning.”

Gomer did not look up from the rolling sea. “Was grandfather king
of the entire old world?”

“No, he ruled but a small part of it. But he was known, feared,
and lusted after throughout the entire old world. Kings, women, brigands, and
bards—all knew his name. It is whispered that he was known even in the depths
of Hell itself. Indeed, some say he was known throughout the Labyrinth.”

Many of the children blinked at this assertion, but Gomer
continued to watch the sea. Below their feet, deep within the bowels of the
ship, a horse neighed. The sky seemed to grow darker.

“It is too bad he isn’t here with us,” Magog lamented. He
followed his brother’s gaze, eyeing the waters surrounding the boat, hoping
that the others would not notice he was trembling. He feared the huge reptilian
shapes that reared up, watching them from afar with cold, obsidian eyes, before
vanishing into the depths again.

“It was not his destiny to live on this way,” their father
continued. “But listen now, and I will tell you of a tale late in his life,
when he too was on a long journey over the sea. Perhaps his courage will take
your mind from our plight. He too was nearing unexplored lands and mysterious places—far,
far beyond the edges of the maps of that time. He faced an uncertain future,
just as we do.”

The boys’ expressions grew troubled.

“Look out at those waves,” their father said. “Your grandfather
sailed and fought over this very same sea. Beneath us, the Earth twists on its
foundation, re-shaping, changing its face. In your grandfather’s day, it was
not such a cataclysmic time. Yet even then, things were never simple.

“Come, my sons, and I will tell you the beginning of the tale of
the bastards of King Rogan!”

THERE’S BLOOD ON
my hands and something is
coming for me…

Rogan, the former King of Albion, was used to both.

Having his hands sticky and slick with blood had never stopped
him from either holding a baby or taking a life. More blood ran down his palms
now as he squeezed his hands tighter. Memories, ghosts, and a nagging sense of
dread filled his skull. His fingers—fingers that had put out eyes, ripped open
jowls, and cleared the snot from children’s faces—burned. The sight of his own
blood reminded him of something deep, coarse, and primal in his nature. Be it
from the Magus whose head he caved in at age eleven (while using the stone
penis of the god Marduk as a club) or the King of Kemet who he slew ten years
later (after he hung Akhensobek’s one hundred and fifty children on the Avenue
of Obelisks), Rogan was used to bleeding himself to accomplish a goal.

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