Home > Captive of the Horde King (Horde Kings Of Dakkar #1)

Captive of the Horde King (Horde Kings Of Dakkar #1)
Author: Zoey Draven

Prologue

 

 

It all began with a burning field.

Black plumes of thick smoke rose high above our village, cries of horror lifting with it. Higher and higher, black against the backdrop of the grey sky. A dreaded beacon. A mistake. Because no one in their right mind would ever willingly signal the Dakkari, to bring their wrath on us all.

Bile filled my throat and I dropped my basket and ran to the fields, as others did. Because somehow I knew. I knew who was responsible.

When I reached the fields, a group had formed. Water was rushed out in steel buckets to suffocate the blaze that had spread wildly. It was hot. So hot, but it didn’t stop me from running towards it, from forming into the line as water passed from villager to villager.

I watched my younger brother at the end of the line, watched him desperately throw the much-needed resource onto the flames. A waste, but a necessary one. In between bucket passes, I saw the way his face was drawn tight. And I knew.

Fury and fear filled me.

It squeezed my chest, making it hard to breathe. My hands trembled as I passed more buckets down the line.

When the fire had finally been extinguished, silence filled the air, thick and heavy, like smoke that still lingered. There were at least twenty villagers in the line, with at least twenty more watching in horror from the edge of the dead, now burned, field. The intelligent ones were probably already preparing to hide because they knew what would happen next.

They’d all heard the stories, the rumors. It was only a matter of time, only a matter of which Dakkari horde was closest to them.

I broke the silence with that fury and I rounded on my younger brother, stalking towards him.

“You fool!” I hissed, useless tears filling my eyes before I blinked them away. I was five years older than Kivan, but he still towered over me. I pushed at his broad shoulders. His cheeks were blackened with ash, from his latest ‘experiment.’ “What have you done?”

“I—I,” he stuttered, his gaze darting from me, to the villagers watching, to the blackened field, a field which hadn’t produced crops in at least five moon cycles. “I was just trying to…to…”

He was always just trying to.

My gaze flashed to the sky, seeing the smoke. It could probably be seen from the Dakkari capital. I looked at the field, at the darkened, destroyed earth, my throat tightening.

“They’ll kill you for this,” I whispered to him, to myself, filled with fear so potent it made saliva pool in my mouth, made nausea churn in my belly. I had heard they’d killed humans for less.

Because they would come.

The Dakkari would come…

They would demand retribution.

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

I’d seen the Dakkari twice before in my lifetime.

The first time, I’d been a child, no older than six or seven. Our mother had still been alive then.

A horde had passed directly next to our village, but didn’t step foot inside. The memory of them, though I’d been young, was forever imprinted on my mind. From afar, the Dakkari horde had seemed like a black cloud passing over the land. As they’d grown closer, I’d discovered that they were similar to men, to us, though so very dissimilar at the same time.

I remembered the black-scaled beasts they rode, gold paint glittering in the sunlight across their flanks, beasts that sometimes traveled on two legs, or sometimes utilized all four. Beasts that looked like monsters to my young self, that gave me nightmares until I woke screaming.

My mother had dragged me away from my spying place before I could take a closer look at the Dakkari males riding those beasts. We’d hidden in a corner, wrapped in fur blankets—my nervous mother, a crying Kivan, and I—until the horde passed without incident.

However, my curiosity about the Dakkari’s appearance would be assuaged years later when they came to our village for another purpose.

I’d been fourteen at the time. Part of the horde had broken off and walked through, leaving their black-scaled beasts at the single entrance to our walled village, while the rest waited on the peak of a nearby hill. They’d come upon us so suddenly that for most, there had been no time to hide.

It was then I’d gotten my first real look at a Dakkari.

Up close, they were massive beings. When one passed me, I’d only come up to the center of his bared waist. They wore hides and furs to cover their bottom halves, some in pants that encased their legs, others in small pieces of cloth that revealed the expansive muscles of their thick thighs. My mother had told me the Dakkari hordes were nomadic warriors serving their king…and they looked like warriors. Primitive warriors so strong and big that no one dared to breathe in their presence as they walked through our village.

Unlike the other alien species that were spread out on the surface of Dakkar, the Dakkari—the native species, the species whose will they all had to obey—had a similar skin color to humans. Like darkened honey, tanned from the sun from their nomadic lifestyle. Golden tattoos across their flesh flashed as they walked, their long, black, coarse hair swaying around their waists as they inspected the village. Behind them, a long, flexible tail flicked as they walked, slightly curled so it wouldn’t drag on the ground.

Their eyes were like black pools, their circular irises a golden yellow that contracted and widened with light. They had no whites in their eyes like us. It was eerie, spine-tingling to look into them. But a strange part of me had been fascinated. A strange part of me had thought them beautiful.

That day, a day that had started out like any other, had taken a shocking turn when one of the Dakkari males saw Mithelda—a young, timid blonde, eight years older than me at the time, who’d always been kind—and, promptly, taken her.

He’d captured her, tore her away from her aging parents and young sister, and the Dakkari had left as quickly as they’d come.

No one spoke of it. No one in our village saw Mithelda again, though news from another human settlement, four days travel away, had seen her with a horde as they’d passed, riding one of the black-scaled beasts, in the lap of a Dakkari male. The human settlement had reported she’d looked beaten, abused. Yet, no one dared to interfere.

From that day on, if the lookouts saw evidence of a horde approaching, all women in the village donned cloaks and hoods, to conceal our faces. Just in case.

Which was why, on that evening after the burning field, after a lookout had come running into the village with news of a horde approaching fast, I put on my thick cloak, tied back my brown hair, and pulled up the hood.

Kivan watched me, his fingers fumbling nervously.

“Luna,” he said, his voice trembling. “I—I just want you to know that I—”

“Shhh, Kivan,” I said, going to him. He was seated at our modest table, rocking the broken chair back and forth on its three legs. Crouching in front of him, so that we were eye-level, I squeezed his shaking hands and said, “I will always protect you. Mother made me promise, remember? You have nothing to fear.”

“I was only trying to bring life back to our crops,” he explained, as he had a thousand times since that afternoon. “I heard that on Laperan, they burn crops to—”

“We are not on Laperan,” I replied gently, squeezing his hands, meeting his eyes. “We are on their planet. We must respect their ways. And today, we did not.”

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