This is an extract from chapter two of The Future King: Logres, Book Two. The book itself is out on May 5 2020 and is available to preorder from Amazon.
Gwenhwyfar stood in the middle of the living room, her eyes flitting across the destruction around her. The front door hung from its frame, a half-severed limb, and the broken glass of her mother’s favourite cabinet frosted the carpet. The vase that had sat on display lay on the floor among the shattered ornaments, its interior cracked open and as pale as bone.
‘Llew—?’ She waited, but no whine or whimper answered her call. There was nothing to indicate his path besides a few spots of blood leading beyond the threshold. The sound he’d made when he’d been hit with the butt of the New Moral officer’s gun reverberated in her mind. ‘Llewellyn!’
Nothing. Time ticked prominently to her racing pulse. They didn’t take me. Why? She sank down into the sofa, her eyes fixed to the carpet. A deep chill gripped her and suddenly she was shaking violently.
They’ll come back. The New Moral Army had accidentally arrested her parents. It was a misunderstanding, something crazy she could tell her friends about in school on Monday when her mother and father were home again, when this had all been sorted out.
Disappeared. That word had been echoing at the fringe of her vocabulary, and now it was frighteningly real. But her parents hadn’t vanished; she had seen the New Morals take them. She was the one who was Free Countries. This is about me.
The packing passed in a blur. Llew was nowhere to be seen, inside the house or outside of it. She grabbed the essentials—water, money, a torch and something to eat—yet was mindful of her need to pack light. She was stuffing the last few items into her rucksack when headlights scanned the living room. Car doors slammed and footprints crunched across the gravel towards the house. Gwenhwyfar froze, her heart lodged in her throat. She still had time to run, could slip over the garden wall before they realised she was missing. She zipped her rucksack up in a hurry.
‘Police!’ The front door rattled against her makeshift barricade as they attempted to gain access to the property. ‘Let us in!’
She ran into the kitchen, her shoes crunching over the broken sugar pot scattered across the tiled floor. A momentary glance to the pictures stuck to the refrigerator stopped her, her gaze caught by a photo of their last family holiday. Her parents were smiling before a blue seascape, her mother sunburned and carefree, her father windswept and darkened by the Mediterranean sun. She stood with them, short and petite; her brown hair tousled and bronzed, her skin tanned like her father’s, her eyes green like her mother’s.
I can’t run, where would I go? It was impossible to just disappear. And what about her parents? The only people who knew where they had been taken were the ones who had taken them. Abruptly she removed her rucksack and pushed it into the nearest cupboard. A moment later she was at the front door. She began to clear the barricade.
‘Police!’ they yelled. ‘Open up!’
‘I’m in here!’ she shouted. ‘Help me!’ They redoubled their efforts to get in. Soon the furniture was gone and the front door was propped up in the hall. ‘They took my parents!’ Gwenhwyfar exclaimed. She gazed up at the two police officers imploringly. With them was a plain-clothed woman. ‘They just came in and broke everything!’
The woman eyed her pityingly. ‘Miss Taliesin—’
‘Where are they? Where have they taken them?’ She appealed to the shorter of the two police officers. ‘You need to fix this! Why won’t you help me?’
‘I am here to help you, Gwen,’ the woman said calmly. A beaked nose crowned her thin smile, and ash blonde ringlets curtained her long face. ‘My name’s Victoria, I work for the New Morals. I’m here to bring you to see a colleague of mine.’
Gwenhwyfar sensed that she shouldn’t go anywhere with this woman. Despite Victoria’s motherly tone there was something patronising in her eyes—contempt that she failed to cloak. She took an involuntary step back.
‘Please, we can talk about your parents as soon as we get there,’ Victoria continued. ‘We’ll sort all of this out.’
‘I can’t leave,’ Gwenhwyfar protested. ‘My dog’s missing. He’s hurt.’
‘What does he look like?’ the shorter police officer asked.
‘He’s a Catalan sheepdog. He has long fur, looks quite scruffy. His name is Llew.’ She turned to Victoria accusingly. ‘One of your New Morals hit him.’
‘We’ll find him,’ the taller police officer assured her. ‘He won’t have gone far.’
‘Come,’ Victoria urged. Keeping her distance, Gwenhwyfar followed the woman onto the driveway and headed towards the single patrol car. ‘No, not that one,’ Victoria said.
Thrown, Gwenhwyfar followed her off the drive to an unmarked car. The moment she was shut in the back of the vehicle she realised she couldn’t see out through the windows, or who was driving.
‘Fasten your seatbelt,’ Victoria ordered, climbing in from the other side. She shut the door and the locks clunked as they pulled away from the kerb. Gwenhwyfar’s stomach lurched, fatigue pulsing through her limbs. Victoria presented her with a bottle of water. ‘Here,’ she said. ‘You need to stay hydrated.’
‘Drink it. It’s a long drive.’
Gwenhwyfar accepted the bottle and held it in her lap. Victoria pulled another one out of the compartment between them and took a sip. A few moments later Gwenhwyfar did the same.
‘What took you so long?’ she asked. ‘I’ve been alone for hours. Is this what you usually do? When you abduct innocent civilians?’
Victoria produced a touchscreen tablet from the nearest seat pocket. Lazily she waved it on. ‘You have an aunt and uncle who live in the area,’ she stated. ‘Can you stay with them?’
‘Why would I need to stay with them?’ Gwenhwyfar eyed her with mistrust. ‘I thought we were going to sort this out.’
‘This won’t be resolved overnight,’ Victoria said. ‘You’re a minor, so you’ll need to stay with a suitable guardian. I expect your parents have a living will detailing who should be your carer in the event of their incapacity.’
‘Why don’t you just lock me up?’ Gwenhwyfar bit. She felt light-headed and her carsickness was getting worse. She took another sip of water. ‘Isn’t that what you do? Abduct people and throw them in a cell?’
‘You must know what we are.’ Victoria was observing her with amusement in her cold eyes. The corner of her mouth curled with a smile. ‘The New Moral Army is an anti-extremism cell, Gwen. What do you think that means?’
She didn’t know, couldn’t fathom it; was trying to ignore the unsettling sensation that ballooned within her and pushed her to lethargy. ‘I don’t feel so good.’
Victoria’s smile widened. ‘It’ll be all right.’
‘No, something… something’s wrong.’ She looked down to the water bottle in her lap, and then at Victoria’s, comprehending. She fumbled to open the car door but the lock was unresponsive. Tears sprang to her eyes. ‘What have you done?’
She was hushed. ‘Rest, Gwen. It’s a long drive, and you need your sleep.’
Victoria touched her hair and caressed her lolling head. Ink blotches picked away her vision, obscuring the water bottle that lay in her lap until darkness rolled across her eyes. All sound was indecipherable to her, and then there came night without time, without beginning.
* * *
Gwenhwyfar felt something cold pressed against her cheek. The angle of the wall seemed familiar in the low light, and for a moment she thought she was back in Swansea in her old bedroom. She half recalled a dream: light burning into the back of her corneas, questions, someone else giving answers through her own lips. As her senses returned she realised she was flopped over in a hard chair, leaning against a metal table. Her face ached as she struggled to sit upright, and she looked around.
The room was windowless, the smooth concrete floor punctured by a single drain. The beady red eye of a camera gazed at her from the lofty ceiling. To her left was a large mirror and a closed door with a dim bulb fixed overhead. She found her feet carefully, holding onto the table as the walls turned around her. The door flung open and the room was flooded with light.
‘You’re awake!’ a man barked. Slamming the door behind him he strode into the room. ‘I was just about to rouse you. How are you feeling?’ He offered her a crinkling smile that made the whiskers of his beard bloom. ‘I’m Richard. Richard Morris. I’m here to talk to you about your parents. Won’t you sit?’ He slapped the paper file he was holding onto the table between them. ‘I imagine you’re in shock. We had to chase your father into the garden. Did you know he had a plane booked to Mexico? From there he intended to go on to South America—to start again, I imagine. He was trying to flee with his own passport. Though, I don’t know, perhaps he was headed somewhere else. Perhaps South America was just a ruse. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.’
‘Where is he?’ Gwenhwyfar sat down as Richard did. The metal chair was still warm.
‘I can’t tell you that. Why do you think the New Moral Army arrested your father? Where he is now, is a matter of national security.’ He cupped his hands together and leant towards her. ‘Do you know where you are, Gwen? Do you know what you’re doing here?’
She watched him closely. His brown eyes were fixed on hers, his crow’s feet wrinkled with curiosity. Despite his amiable expression, Gwenhwyfar felt as if she was pinned in the gaze of a dangerous predator. Her heart pounded in her chest. Fight or flight. With nowhere to run, she had only one option. She drew a preparatory breath.
The gripping second book in The Future King series. King Arthur meets high-school drama in this near-future dystopian depiction of the Arthurian legends.
The ruling party, New National, is expanding its power. Their new anti-extremism cell, The New Moral Army, threatens all who stand in opposition to the regime. Under the guidance of Marvin, self-proclaimed Merlin, afterschool club The Round Table is about to fight back. The year is 2053, and Britain begins to darken.
Teenager Gwenhwyfar must discover why The New Moral Army has taken her parents and what she can do to save them. Meanwhile, rival Morgan struggles to find her place among her peers. With Bedivere’s life hanging in the balance, a conflicted Arthur does what he can to keep the The Round Table alive.
Knowing that her only chance to save her parents is to discover more about the terrorist cell Free Countries, Gwenhwyfar searches for their leader. She must also navigate new dynamics: her wish for Arthur and Lancelot to make amends may soon one she regrets. With the New Nationals infringing on rights and a general election fast approaching, this is the thrilling second book to volume one of The Future King series.