Name: Kelly Barina
Title: THE PENDRAGON’S SON
Word Count: 94,000
35-Word Pitch: Seventeen-year-old Prince Vael has spent much of his life in isolation, but he befriends his long-lost brother. A man who is destined to destroy his entire kingdom. A man he may have to kill.
First 500 words:
As I hurried down the castle’s vast stone corridor to meet my half-brother for the first time, his name echoed around me, whispered like a curse: Mordred.
The vaulted doorway of the Great Hall loomed ahead. Pushing my shoulders back and making my spine straight as a sword, I marched toward the raised dais, careful to keep my pace steady. Calm and collected as a Prince of Camelot should be. My muscles strained as my legs urged me forward. Every step proved too fast, and yet the dais still seemed far away.
Armored knights and soldiers filled either side of the high-ceilinged hall. I passed them, focused straight ahead at the three thrones. Poisonous words infused the room, burning my ears and hardening my jaw.
“How is that bastard Mordred still alive?” one asked.
“Vermin never did die easy,” a knight to my right said, sneering.
I bit my tongue, not for the first time that day. Such disrespect, all because of an unfounded—and unreliable—prophecy made decades ago.
My steps clipped the stones, leaving the boorish speakers behind. No point in arguing with them; they’d not heed me, prince or no. In terms of garnering respect, Mordred and I stood on almost equal ground.
But all of the rumors were whispers on the breeze compared to this resounding truth—I had to meet him, had to know my only brother. Surely he’d understand me, a fellow outcast. A mere shadow in Camelot’s cold stone walls.
Light spilled through the arched windows lining both sides of the hall. The ornate tapestries hanging between the windows depicted the accomplishments of the Round Table’s most prominent knights. A stained-glass window depicting the image of a red, flaming dragon stood directly behind the throne, behind the mighty Pendragon himself—King Arthur.
His stern eyes didn’t meet mine once as I stepped onto the dais. I cast my gaze downward as I took the less decorated seat to his right, studying the tiled floors and struggling to maintain a detached expression despite my churning stomach.
Merlin, my mentor, strode through the Great Hall toward us, his blue robes trailing behind him. As he passed the bystanders, they bowed with respect.
Before he assumed his place beside King Arthur, the white-haired wizard approached me with a relaxed smile. “I trust you will be ready for training today, Vaeldhei? You’ve been unfocused as of late.”
Only since I received word of Mordred’s return. But I’d not let excitement prevent me from practicing my magic again. “Today will be different.”
“Indeed.” His smile faded and his voice dropped an octave. “We shall speak more later.”
Walking toward the throne, his steps slowed. He bent toward the king’s ear, and the two spoke softly. I leaned in—not enough to be obvious—but the murmurs of the assembled knights drowned out their words. Despite the relaxed expression that seemed permanently etched on his face, Merlin stood with his hands behind his back, clasped in an unnaturally tight manner.
I’d never seen him so tense.