Get Free Copy

99 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

Free copy left
You can read our best books
Marleigh John would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

The Knell

By Marleigh John All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy

Prologue: "What Should Never Be"

Fingers tangle into his hair, wrenching painfully tight as they snap his head back. His throat is exposed, open and vulnerable. His gaze is trained on the shocked and shifting crowd yards before him, dirty and bloody – the results of a failed rebellion that has led to this very moment. He searches through the faces, none nameless, all known to him, all familiar and friendly but none are those he wishes to see.

And that is a good thing. A very good thing.

Yet that does not mean he doesn't wish to see them, that he doesn't want some level of comfort during his last few breaths. He is scared. He is terrified. He doesn't want things to end this way – he doesn't want anything to end. But this is the way it needs to be.

His life for hers.

He'll give it willingly. Anything for her because he loves her, and he will always protect her. He just prays that this is enough; that she'll be safe after this. He hopes she'll move on. He wishes that she will leave, start over somewhere now, somewhere better.

"The Nobles will not be denied," a voice says evenly from behind him, loud but not overly so, attention grabbing but not seeking. It is smooth and cool. It is deceptive as it promises freedom so long as rules are obeyed; so long as the people gathered before him live their lives as the Nobles demand.


The voice is full of falsehoods and illusions.


"Let this be a lesson to the rest of you. Any further resistance and this will not be the end."

He is forced up from his knees, dragged across the cobblestones. He doesn't know where he is going or why until he is standing upon the harbor-master's platform, above the crowd, a spectacle they are all forced to watch.

The voice is back, whispering in his ear, hot and heavy like a muggy Summer's day. "One last chance, Child. Tell us where to find her and you can go free. You will live. All I need is to know where she is. . . . Is she really worth dying for?"

His heart thrums in his chest, a crescendo of blood and throbbing, beating in his ears until all else is drowned beneath. His breathing grows heavy, lungs straining. He really doesn't want to die. It's too early. He has his whole life ahead of him. It shouldn't be his time . . . but . . . "Yes," he wheezes. And then he works up his nerve, pulls a page from her book, and spits. "Go screw yourself!"

Eyes of frosted stone stare into his, penetrating and reading. It leaves him exposed, vulnerable – even more so than the position he is forced to kneel in. They barely react to the globule of saliva that trails down a smooth, blemish-free cheek, a thin finger rising to swipe it away. "Your decision is made?" the voice persists, as soft and calm as ever.

He leans forward, his scalp pulling tight at the continued hold on his hair. "Do your worst," he dares through his grinding teeth.

A bare shoulder rises in a nonchalant shrug. "Okay." The voice addresses the forced gathering, speaking as though this isn't a public execution; anything but what it really is. "Watch and remember what happens to those who defy the rule of the Nobles. Let this be a lesson to never disobey. . . . Heroism is overrated at any rate."

One last time he looks out over his home, along the faces he has grown up with. To the rear he sees pale hair and his blood runs cold.

No, no, nononono

A hand lowers to his forehead.

He flinches as a cool palm presses against his temple.

He screams as a pressure unlike any he has ever felt before compresses against each of his bones. It is agony; fiery, aching, overwhelming agony; the kind that steals the breath by forcing it from the lungs in a never ending shriek. He cannot escape it. He cannot do anything but writhe and scream as each of his bones snaps, one after another, from the ribs in his chest to the minuscule bones of his littlest toes.

It hurts. It hurts so badly that he wants it to just be over with.

He is doing this for her though. This is for her, he reminds. She's worth it. Don't break. This is for her. It doesn't matter as long as she's safe.

Above it all he hears his name being screeched.

"Get her!" a man orders.

His efforts will be wasted unless he does something. One last thing. For her.

With failing lungs, collapsing beneath the strain of shattered ribs, he forces out his last breath, hoping that is carries and that it is obeyed. "RUN!" Then his breath is gone, he is left suffocating, the pressure creeping into his spine. The last things he sees before his vision whites and darkens is the clear blue sky overhead that had once promised a bright, peaceful day.

His spine snaps and then everyone and everything falls away, lost in a never ending nothing that no one has ever come back from. Not even him.

Continue Reading Next Chapter
Further Recommendations

Felisa Yoder Osburn: I really enjoyed the story. Civil War stories are some of my favorites and the intertwining of the past with current times was wonderful. I look forward to reading the next stories.

Alice Liu: Whoa! I've been wondering how would the Maurauders react to Harry's life and here we go! YOU ARE THE BEST! All the characters are consistent with their personalities shown in the book! I love how you compare Lily with Molly and it's definitely true for her being a mother! I wish Peter comes have ...

dd1226: I love reading about other countries and I think this story about Cambodia after Polpot creates awareness of the tragedy that happened there and the actions of the U.N. to hold elections. The heroine of the story is easy to relate to, a modern, middleaged woman looking for an adventure, wanting t...

skippybash12: This story has engaging characters that you care about and a plot that is unpredictable and exciting. It is well written with a believable voice. Great weekend escape and if there was a sequel available I would buy it today -

Steve Lang: I thought this story was imaginative, and well thought out. I also think it was an original piece, and not a rehash of previous scifi stories I've read in the past.Thank you for the effort put into this tale, and I look forward to reading more of your work!

MegaRogueLegend666: I love this story so much. It's impossible to describe my excitement with each new chapter in words. The author has such a good writing style, very good descriptions of the fighting and character descriptions/emotions. the plot is also amazing! This fanfic could be a side anime show or novel ......

ernbelle: When I first started this story I was a little unsettled by all of the information that appears in the prologue, and wasn't sure if I would continue. However, I am very glad I did. The plot was very well thought out and really interesting. There were not any page breaks or markers to acknowledge ...

neil101: The best story I have read online in quite some time. The casual violence is tamed down with easy going wit. It reads like a Joe Abercrombie novel .Looking forward to more. Thanks.

CookieMonster911: The story overall was an adventure that is appealing to any age. The way the characters develop adds a more human characteristic to the novel. The writing style itself is amazing because you can learn every character's thoughts and emotions. The awkward love triangle and jerk moments adds to the ...

More Recommendations

Chris Rolfe: BOY!!! I sure love what Aer-Ki Jyr did with this series. IMHO he captured the essence of what stargate is all about. Thru out the Stargate stories Aer-Ki wrote Stevens and John Shepard some of the main characters in his stories are pursued by a corrupt I.O.A.. All the while Stevens is changing in...

John Reed: Seadrias masterfully captures the impressiveness and complex scope that a science fiction novel should provide while carefully crafting an entire universe that will leave a reader in awe from start to finish. The only flaw I could find is that I wish I could have read more. This book is certainly...

PurpleInkling: Hippocrite is spelt hypocrite.Also it is an awesome story! A good one after so long. I was hoping someone would write a good fanficiton playing off what Ron said at the station. You are doing a remarkable job. It would have been interesting if Albus had also ended up in Ravenclaw though that mig...

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral stories!

FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"

The Cyneweard

Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral story!

Ro-Ange Olson: "Loved it and couldn't put it down. I really hope there is a sequel. Well written and the plot really moves forward."