If William Loch only knew how many lives were depending on him… Born on the tiny northern island of Carraig, he is a skilled sailor, scholar, and gentleman, with a uniquely analytical mind. And everything is fair game when it comes to surviving encounters with vicious marauders, vile corruption, and violent storms at sea. William, along with his ambitious twin brother James, seek to build their fortunes by leveraging their father’s growing shipping company, turning it into a powerful business empire. Opportunity abounds, but the twin’s rivalry fuels an invisible danger that threatens to destroy not only their family but the entire nation.
Defending the Kingdom – Published in December 2020, is a high adventure philosophical thriller written and illustrated by author C.S. Robadue.
Print Length: 257 Pages
Ages: Recommended 12+ (Young Adult)
Available in paperback as well as kindle e-book. Featuring original black and white chapter art illustrations throughout the book. It is a story suitable for advanced readers in the young adult category and beyond.
Author’s Note: Defending the Kingdom marks a turning point in my writing, as it is the first story I have written that was intended to be a standalone novel. Whereas my earlier two published works originated as screenplays that I later adapted to be illustrated books. This change has opened up a new creative process and resulted in a much more cerebral finished piece that asks more of the reader, but offers a rich reward in return.
Classic literature has long been a staple in my personal treasure trove of beloved books. I have always enjoyed a well-crafted adventure story with romantic ideals and noble deeds. In many ways this book is a tribute to the stories I grew up loving, as I think it is as true now as it has ever been, that we should strive to find that which is honorable and heroic within ourselves.
Proceed boldly and may fortune forever favor you fair reader!
~ C.S. Robadue
Defending The Kingdom
Flames swiftly consumed the bones of the building, like a cancer, gutting it from the inside out. Heat rippled through the air, with the focused intensity of unbidden rage, crippling the will of anything in its path. While great open plumes of black, choking smoke and ash, rose billowing into the darkness, lost in the night sky. Wood and steel crackled and screamed within the inferno, fueling the growing horror, as the structure risked surrender.
Weathered cedar shakes transformed, turning to glowing embers, before they twisted crisply into nothingness, from the overwhelming fire. No quenching water reached the eaves or brought relief to the oxygen hungry elemental blaze, as it grew unchallenged. There were no hoses, no ladders, no firefighters, nor any bucket brigade to combat the scene at hand.
A docile crowd of onlookers formed. Hiding their naked shame, they slunk on the fringes, merging with the shadows. While a handful of wayward souls, drunk with a sadistic grim satisfaction, chose to brazenly linger on within the flickering light. The deed had been done.
Against the thundering of the blaze and of his own heart, one man desperately kicked at the front door to the house. He launched himself again and again at the unyielding portal, furiously fighting the heat and escaping smoke that choked his lungs and stung his eyes. Covering his hands in a torn shirt, he frantically tried once more to turn the doorknob and force it open. But it would not budge, the doorway remained blocked from within. His rising panic forcing deep breaths of horrid air, as he reeled back in a fit of coughing and hopelessness.
He glanced skyward at the upper windows of the house, tears streaming down his face, converting his anguish into a fierce resolve. He rushed to the nearby wooden rain barrel, drenched his jacket in the murky water, and wrapped it thickly over his head. Precious seconds passed, while he sprinted back towards the violent inferno. His muscles strained, as he picked up speed, his lungs burning from the smoke and effort. Faster and faster, he flew towards the house.
Bypassing the door, he launched himself through the large bank of ground floor windows. The glass shattered as his body hurtled into the dancing light of the fire within the home. He landed in the fiery foyer, lost from the vision of the cowed spectators outside. The fracturing glass and force of the impact breaking against the hardwood floor brought the man out of his emotions and into the harsh reality of the moment. Stumbling to his feet, disoriented in the hell realm around him, he ignored the peppering of bleeding cuts and open stinging wounds all over him.
The familiar steps to the staircase seemed foreign and out of a toxic nightmare, as he limped towards the stairs. The thick, oppressive smoke forcing him to his knees, as he struggled to breathe and keep moving forward. His sturdy hands and lanky form maintaining only the loosest bit of balance, his undying will, urging him on past the pain.
He ignored all reason, pushing upwards into the deepening haze of choking smoke, unaware of the shouting outdoors, all caution lost in the adrenaline stim surging through his system. Clawing at the wooden steps, one by one, he made his ascent, blindly moving, spitting out the building grit from his mouth, and cursing his inability to push himself any harder.
A canopy of fire met him at the top of the landing. With the hallway swept up in a whirling wildfire of caustic flames, turning his beloved childhood home to smoldering dust.
Screaming in agony, he let out a haunting guttural bellow with what little remaining air his lungs could summon. No human reply came from the bedrooms, where his family had slept. Instead, a series of ominous booms blossomed in his ears as the beams supporting the ceiling in the hallway collapsed, crashing through the floor to be engulfed by the raging bonfire below. Stepping forward, only the lashing flames warned him that another blast of heat and fire had readied itself to bring down more of the structure around him.
In a cacophony of broken and shrieking terror, the wood underneath him split wide open, sending him freefalling into the fierce blaze below. Searing, white-hot pain, everywhere, so intense he retracted from the world, as his hands and arms were pulled back out of live flames. Waves of billowing thick smoke rushed to force out any hint of light, surrounding him in the eternal gloomy depths that had taken the rest of the household.
Against the desperate hour and ferocious furnace of the raging fire, all was pain. More pain than anyone could imagine, overwhelming the senses, with numbness of spirit and soul taking over. They were gone, all was lost. Hope now only existed in another life, as every last bit of goodness had been choked, burnt, and snuffed out of this one.
Darkness rose. Voices in his mind, voices other than his own. Those of whom he loved, but could not save. Pain, so much pain. Was he still on fire, was this all there was? Failure had never been a friend of William Loch, his long, wavy, brown hair singed and pressed against his face, his deep brown eyes hidden from the stinging smoke and ash. A tortured mind, unable to escape the recurring vision of the burning second-floor hallway, no matter how much he might wish it.
Legs unwilling to move, oxygen all but gone, the smoke filling up his lungs denying his futile, final gasps for breath. Consciousness slipped away, sight turned to memory, sounds became more distant, obscured and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of particles from the burning pine and oak. It was all being unwound, as his senses returned to obscurity.
From nothingness he had come to nothingness he would return. Thoughts became unreliable, forming incoherent muted circles. William fought to maintain himself in the void. It was not to be, oblivion took him.
“Why?” croaked William, as the last of his consciousness was inhaled by the abyss.
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