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  • L.L. Stephens

Excerpt: The Kheld King

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

This passage features Rheger and Elhanan, father and son. Their bloodline, the Malyrdeons, is bound to the Wall Entity and they possess Highborn gifts -- but being Highborn provides little protection from a dismissive and suspicious King. Receiving a communication from that King's hated enemy isn't a welcome development... but neither is the prospect of Dorilian coming into his power.


Teach me.” Elhanan looked up from the paper in his fingers. “He offers the Wall Stone in return.”

“He is forcing my hand. It’s just that—” Rheger shook his head. He leaned against the stone fence near which they had dismounted and on which Elhanan now sat. He was happy to be back in Dannuth at his own estate. Stefan had tired of displaying them. After witnessing the predictable behavior of Essera’s nobles, the King had released both Highborn princes to return to their previous habit of seclusion. Elhanan was to depart in a week for Stauberg. And then, two days ago… this. Details had filtered to Kyrbasillon since: Attack by lr weapons. A Rift storm. The Gracious Hierarchessa’s treason.

That Dorilian was under assault on all sides was clear.

“He’s powerful.” Their horses grazed nearby, bridles clacking. Here in the park, with only late summer grasses to witness or overhear their conversation, Rheger felt free at last to speak. “What can I teach him that will not introduce more danger? Not just to the world, but to him? I am not trained in how to teach a Sordaneon, someone whose gifts are keyed to that Entity. Enreddon was supposed to be the one to take on that challenge.”

“Tell Dorilian your situation. Put the risk in front of him and teach him only what you do know.” Elhanan lifted a loose rock from the wall and placed Dorilian’s message on the stone beneath it. He then ground the first rock atop it, crushing and rending until the paper was shredded to bits, the writing destroyed.

Rheger could only sigh. “What I know? That would be next to nothing. I can translocate, if I use a powerful enough device. Dorilian… has the Rill. There is no more powerful device.”

“But can he use it?”

How much to tell him? Rheger nodded. “Yes. He can. I am very certain the Rill is how he translocated on the day of the Demise. Quirin believes he used the Rill Stone and maybe the Wall Stone, but—”

“You don’t think he used those?”

“No.” He gazed around the meadow, with its blanket of cornflower blues punctuated by vivid yellow daisies. “A talent like his… he’s impulsive, intuitive, quick to anger. He is as likely to harm himself as gain an advantage.”

“I think you are forgetting something. Someone. Two someones.”

The reminder pulled Rheger’s head up and gave him something more to consider. Sebbord and Marc Frederick. Yes, those affiliations… mattered. Marc Frederick had taught Dorilian a thing or two about consequences. Sebbord, however, had been among the most skilled of their kindred. He had to have taught his young grandson the fundamentals of their native abilities, especially if…

“Dorilian is covalent with the Rill.”

Elhanan ceased grinding the rock and snapped a look of surprise. “Are you telling me he and the Rill share a tangible connection?”

“I detected it years ago, when I did a favor for Marc Frederick. The connection I detected was beyond merely tangible. It might even be the first stages of integration.”


Rheger smiled at the ironic expletive. “The point being I cannot address such a bond or the kind of power it can, potentially, tap into. But maybe Sebbord”—he sighed—“maybe Sebbord anticipated his grandson’s ability and instilled some tools, the kinds of mental and neural constructs Dorilian would need to develop and contain his powers. I cannot believe Sebbord would leave a Sordaneon heir unequipped to wield his own abilities.”

“If Dorilian opened the Rill at Hestya—”

“There it is. Sebbord had to have trained him for that.” He clapped his hands together. “Enough to work with, I suppose. We certainly have no choice. He said it clearly enough: he is through with waiting. Wall Stone or no Wall Stone, if we do nothing to teach him, he is going to attempt to teach himself.”

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