The Lion’s Pride
By Natalie Crown
‘She is the reason your friends are dead. She should pay the price for that betrayal.’
Not long ago Kammy had led a simple existence, stuck on an island, with only her Gran and Jamie to care about. Now she knows she is half Semei and of royal blood, in possession of an item that could bring about a war that would destroy the world, and so the worlds within it. She cannot go back and, despite everything, she does not want to.But she is haunted by the man – the king – that shadows her.Bagor and
his army wait. In three days he will march into Emire and he will take everything.Kammy and her friends have one hope. They must find Danorrah; a cursed city, lost to the memory of all. Bagor will hunt them, every step of the way, determined to claim the Key and to claim her. It is all well and good that Kammy does not want to go back to her old life, but she will need the blessing of the Mother if she is to elude Bagor and hang on to her new one.
Extract from Chapter Three
Kammy rolled the chunk of bread across the plate. She had spent the last few minutes slathering it with the Semei's salty butter in the hope that it might appear more appetising. No such luck. She forced the bread to her mouth and took a bite, chewing slowly. It tasted like nothing and stuck to her teeth, but she knew she had to eat. She did not want to be weak when she faced whatever horror was in store for them next. It was the second morning since Bagor's ultimatum; surely something horrible would happen soon.
She sighed and her eyes shifted towards the bed in the corner. She wanted to curl up beneath the sheets and sleep for days. Her body ached whenever she moved and her eyes fluttered closed with increasing frequency. But, staring at that bed, she remembered when Fii had told her a story about the Mother and Kammy had thought it sounded like a fairytale. Kammy looked away quickly. This world had come to mean so much to her in such a short time, but it was no fairytale.
Fii had come back for her and Fii had died. Many others had died too, but the memory of Fii's blood would not release Kammy. She could still feel it on her skin, clinging to her. How long had Bagor been watching? Had he been there when the first arrow had fallen, enjoying the chaos? Had he followed Fii, and then waited until she was dead so that Kammy was alone? Had he been at Kammy's shoulder, close enough to touch, the entire time?
Kammy forced down another bite.
Would they be shunned? For it was their presence that had summoned Bagor. Shunned or not, it would be humans that were vilified. With every strike from Bagor, the resentment would grow. Seeve would not be able to bury it, respected as he was. The people would hate Bagor, but they would fear him more. Humans would be the scapegoats for their bitterness, Kammy knew. She only wished she could make them understand that if the humans were threatened, they could hurt the Semei in more terrible ways than Bagor could even dream.
Kammy's gaze fixed on nothing, but her mind soared over the town and beyond the walls. He was out there, but he could also be anywhere, and that uncertainty made her skin tingle with trepidation.
Except, that fury wavered. It did not lessen but it jerked sideways into a confusion that sickened her. Kammy gave up on the bread and slumped across the table with a groan.
For whatever twisted reason, Bagor showed her kindness and she wanted him to stop. She did not want to have to wonder why he treated her so. Come with me, he had said and for one horrible second she had considered it. It did not matter that she refused him in the end; she would never forget her moment of cowardice. Because cowardice was what it was. If she had gone with him she would be safe. If she were in Alashdial, she would not have to see more blood
or watch more death. She could hide away with all the material comforts that the palace held. She had hoped that he was her father, just so she would have an excuse to be so weak.
But she had not gone with him. Kammy closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She would see more pain and sorrow, there was no doubt. She would do what Fii would have wanted, what she hoped her mother would have wanted, though she could not be sure; Marianna Simbassi was as much a mystery to her as Bagor, it seemed. For all Kammy knew, Mary Helselth had been little more than a shade of an entirely different woman.
Kammy rubbed at her eyes and shook herself. Not long ago she had led a simple existence, stuck on an island, only caring about her Gran and Jamie. Now, she was half Semei and of royal blood, in possession of an item that could bring about a war that would destroy two worlds. But she could not go back, and regardless of her fear and confusion, it was a relief to find that she did not want to.
There was a knock at the door and before Kammy had a chance to lift her head somebody pushed inside the room. Kammy twisted in her seat to look over her shoulder.
Tayah stood in the doorway with her arms folded. Her braid was immaculate and her eyes wide with energy. Kammy stared at her in wonder. She wished she could be so put together in the face of such tragedy.
'Come on,' Tayah clapped her hands, 'Seeve is ready to meet.'
Kammy nodded and stood. She ran a hand through her hair and decided that she didn't particularly care what it looked like. In the great scheme of things, what did it matter?
Kammy grabbed her belt, checking for the familiar weight of the Key. 'Let's go then.'
ABOUT THE WOLF’S CRY, BOOK 1 OF THE SEMEI TRILOGY
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I grew up in a village called Swilland, in the countryside of Suffolk, England. There wasn’t much around, other than farms and fields, but for the most part I loved it, and I still do. I’m a passionate person by nature. I don’t just LIKE things, I LOVE things. Whether it’s a book, a film, or a sports team. Once I decide to enjoy something, I enjoy it to the MAX.
I’m a terrible cook. I prioritise essential social media work over keeping my flat tidy, because I know best. I
Onto my love of reading and, consequently, writing – it was my dad that played a big role in encouraging me to read. He didn’t push me towards books necessarily; he simply read a lot himself. Then I would pick up his books and read them after him. I was reading high and epic fantasy from a very young age. I guess that might explain why I have always loved adventure stories with magic and intrigue and princes and princesses in.
I was aware that I wanted to ‘be a writer’ from a very young age. I was convinced I would be the first best seller that hadn’t reached double figures in age yet! I wrote about the Danshees, furry creatures that lived through a mirror. I wrote about a Sand Bottle that transported a boy into a world of magic. I wrote about a sick girl finding a music boy that healed her, but transported her back in time. (Wow, I always have loved alternate universes…)
When I was eight I wrote my first novel called The Land of No Return. Despite the title, I am determined to return to it one day. I feel like I owe it to my past self. So, as you can see, I have always been writing. There have been times when I have gone weeks without scratching down a word. Then there are days where I churn out multiple chapters and only my body’s silly desire for sleep and/or food can stop me.
I write because I enjoy it. I write fantasy because I enjoy it. I try my hardest to put something of myself into my writing. I like to think my characters have depth, I like to think that my fantasy worlds reflect upon the real world in some way. You guys will be the judge of that but even if you don’t agree I know that I at least try and I can do no more than that.
These days I live in North London and I love it. I work full time and London is a hectic city. Juggling work, writing and a social life is tough but nobody is forcing me to do it so I can’t complain. The dream is that writing will be my career one day but it doesn’t matter if I never quite make it. I love writing too much to ever pack it in.
I am desperate to get a dog. My mum suspects I miss my cats at home more than I miss her. I am a devout Arsenal/Ferrari/Rafael Nadal fan. I get all mad when confronted with a case of social injustice and then I get all mad when people take the fight for social justice too far. I mostly keep those thoughts to myself and simmer with rage. I watch good TV and bad TV, because I can. What I can’t do is enjoy bad books (subjective opinion of course). I just can’t.
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