Skip to product information
1 of 1

Monarch's Mission: Death's Disciple Book 0.5 (Ebook)

Monarch's Mission: Death's Disciple Book 0.5 (Ebook)

Regular price $2.99 USD
Regular price Sale price $2.99 USD
Sale Sold out

 As a squad leader who frequently rides a ferocious war dragon into battle for the nation of Laria, Yala is used to narrowly escaping death. Her sole objective in war is get her team back home in one piece, and she’s never had cause to pay attention to the gods or the Disciples who wield their power.

Until, that is, her monarch sends her team on a covert mission to seize control of a mysterious island. At first glance, the island contains nothing but the ruins of a long-abandoned temple, but a closer look yields a shocking discovery. The temple belonged to adherents of the god of death, Mekan, the one deity whose power is forbidden in Laria.

Trapped and surrounded by the forces of the dead, Yala soon finds herself fighting for her life amid the ruins. Even if she pulls off a miracle and gets her team out alive, nobody walks away unscathed from the god of death…

This prequel is available for free for subscribers to my VIP mailing list ( ), but if you don't want to sign up, you can buy the novella here on the store.

FAQ: How will I get my ebook?

After you purchase an ebook, you'll receive an email from with the link to download the ebook. This will be sent to the email account you used to make your purchase, so make sure you check the right inbox!

If you still can't find the email, check your spam folders (or promotions tab, if you're using gmail).

If you have any trouble downloading or finding your ebook, you can contact Book Funnel's customer service team using the email address above and they'll be happy to help you out.

FAQ: How do I read my ebook?

Book Funnel is compatible with every e-reading device and app, and you can choose to download your ebook or send it directly to your e-reader. As a bonus, every ebook and audiobook you've purchased through Book Funnel will be stored in your account, which can be accessed through their free reading app.

Read a sample

Yala approached the war drake, and the beast growled, a low rattling noise audible through the muzzle covering its sharp teeth.

“It’s nice to meet you, too,” she said. “I’m Yala. We’ll be fighting together today. That means you keep me alive, and I’ll do the same for you. Deal?”

The beast gave another growl, unimpressed, raking a clawed foot through the sand. A heavy chain wrapped around its scaled neck, the other end of which Yala held. Around her, more war drakes stood at intervals along the wide stretch of beach, facing the glittering ocean.

“I take that to mean yes.” Yala moved closer to ensure the straps on the armoured plate covering its vulnerable neck and belly were secure. While the drake was equipped with natural armour in the form of the thick scales covering its back, the enemy would be attacking them from below, and losing her mount would mean plummeting to a watery death.

Regardless of the risks, one drake was worth a hundred soldiers, and its teeth and claws could tear through flesh like a knife though a piece of fruit. Yala couldn’t help thinking that there’d be fewer causalities within Laria’s military if they found a less perilous manner of confronting their enemies across the ocean, but it wasn’t her job to question orders. This was her seventh year as squad leader and her tenth in the sky, and the six members of her team had put their lives in her hands.

Her war drake growled and shifted its feet when she checked to make sure the leather bag containing her spears was securely attached to its side, at such an angle that it didn’t impede the beast’s ability to fly while allowing her easy access to her weapons.

“Behave,” she muttered, tugging on the chain until the beast’s claws stilled on the sand. “You’ll get to feast on the flesh of your enemies soon enough, but not if you take a bite out of me first.”

She wouldn’t be the first to lose a limb to a war drake. Few volunteered to serve in the elite ranks for that very reason, but Yala’s experience raising raptors on her family’s farm had given her a leg up over the other recruits, and she was not skittish when handling beasts that retained their wilder instincts despite being bred in captivity. Even when those instincts were directed at an enemy, accidents happened in the throes of fighting that were more likely to end fatally for the rider than for their foes. Rafragoria favoured beasts of the sea, which were reportedly easier to tame, but the monarch of Laria had never been content to take the easy route.

With her steed restrained, Yala moved down the line of her squad members. Saren, who’d stayed past his mandatory service to avoid poverty, the same as her. Viam, of noble birth and lacking for nothing except affection from her family. Machit, who’d tried to run away twice before Yala had convinced him that she was her best shot at keeping him alive. Vanat, always ready to charge into the fray. Temik, stoic but loyal and devoted. And Dalem, the rope that held her squad together when all else failed.

“Everything in order?” she called, and six voices answered in the affirmative. They were clad in the same gear—trousers of woven drakeskin to protect the insides of their legs from the beasts’ sharp scales, and light tunics to prevent sunburn and ensure they didn’t collapse from the heat. Sweat already pooled at the base of Yala’s neck and between her thighs, and the sun had yet to reach its highest point in the sky. 

“Where’s King Tharen?” Dalem asked. “Shouldn’t he be out here?”

“Isn’t he?” Yala looked up and down the beach but saw no signs of the king’s retinue or the golden-crowned war drake he rode. The monarch’s role in the battle was chiefly to intimidate the enemy, and his life was never in any real danger, but his presence was also a reassurance to his soldiers as they flew into danger. “Maybe his war drake’s throwing a tantrum.”

“Might be.” Saren ran a hand through his long, dark hair that he’d secured behind the nape of his neck to avoid it getting in his way. “Wearing a heavy crown can’t be enjoyable, even for a beast of that size.”

“I wouldn’t mind one,” Machit quipped, his mouth curved in its customary grin. “It’d be extra head protection.”

“If you don’t mind painting a target on yourself,” added Saren. “The only reason the king isn’t the first person to be knocked out of the air by a spear is because the Rafragorians are scared of the Disciples.”

Dalem blanched. He’d come close to becoming a Disciple of the Flame himself, and while only a handful of Disciples were honoured by being chosen as the monarch’s personal bodyguards, Yala knew he didn’t enjoy being reminded of the life he’d willingly turned his back on. Whether Rafragoria really was afraid of the Disciples was debatable; they had Disciples of their own, after all, who adhered to the same treaties forbidding them from participating in combat.

When Yala finished checking on her squad, she ascended to the top of a dune to see why the monarch’s retinue was taking so long. While she saw no signs of the king’s golden-crowned mount, she did see a man approaching along the beach. He didn’t wear armour, not even the lighter garb her squad wore to avoid impeding their range of motion while in the air, and the gleaming insignia of the monarch on the broach affixed to his woven tunic painted him as one of His Majesty’s messengers. Why was he getting so close to the battlefield?

Yala descended the sandy bank to meet him. “Can I help you?”

“You’re Captain Yala?”

“That’s me,” she said. “Is His Majesty ready to give the order?”

“He would like to speak to you first.”

“The king wants to see me?” She frowned, having assumed he’d be preparing to take flight in pursuit of their foes, not sending messengers on last-minute errands.

“I believe he has a special mission for your squad,” he said. “He wishes to speak with you alone.”

A special mission? That was irregular, no doubt, but Yala was more confused by his request to speak to her and nobody else. Didn’t he want to talk to the other squad leaders at the very least?

“Please, I would ask you to hurry.”

“Give me a moment.” Yala climbed up the dune behind her war drake, whose chain she’d left in Vanat’s hands. The muscular man could easily hold two chains at once as long as the beasts remained docile, though the messenger shrank back when he saw the war drakes. As well he should. He’d remain safe on dry land while her squad fought for their lives in the sky and over the sea.

Vanat caught her eye as she signalled that she was going to follow the man, and he responded with a jerk of his chin that asked if she wanted him to accompany her. She shook her head no, as the messenger watched their wordless communication with puzzlement. Evidently, he’d never tried shouting orders while flying on the back of a ferocious beast; it hadn’t taken long for Yala and her team to develop their own variation of the system of signals and gestures shared within the flight division.

Vanat understood her, certainly, but he gave the gesture a second time, and she shook her head again. He might have shared in her unease at the strange invitation, but Yala suspected something other than camaraderie underlaid Vanat’s concern. He’d approached her during their last break between missions—when the other soldiers generally disappeared into pleasure houses or into one another’s bunks to make the most of their time off—and while she’d turned him down, the question of what if lingered in the background like the scent of an unpicked bloom. The thought had never crossed her mind before, but if Yala had to pick anyone as a lover, she’d pick a squad member. Her life offered no time for close relationships outside of her squad, and she had no desire to let anyone else into her bunk, but the strain it might have placed upon the rest of the squad had compelled her to say no. She would have to revisit the thought when their feet were back on the ground. 

Leaving her squad on the beach, Yala followed the messenger until they came within sight of the king’s tent. Golden fabric stretched between two wide-leafed trees, providing shelter from the heat that the rest of the army rarely had access to. Yala’s already deeply tanned skin had darkened to nut-brown in the long hours she’d spent training outside during the hottest months, and she gladly entered the shade of the makeshift tent.

Inside, King Tharen stood between his closest advisors, who were clad in the pale orange robes of Disciples of the Flame. Her monarch had the tawny skin of a northern Larian who’d spent his formative years in the shade instead of out in the fields. His hair was neatly tucked beneath a helmet studded with jewels, while his usual embroidered robes had been replaced with drakeskin clothes suitable for riding.

Yala’s skin prickled as she walked past the Disciples clustering around the ruler. Due to some decades-old treaty, Disciples were prohibited from direct involvement in warfare, so they would be left on the ground while His Majesty and his guards took flight. Probably, that was for the best, since their flames would be as likely to hit their fellow soldiers as they were to strike down the enemy. Instead, squads like Yala’s were the primary fighters, wielding spears instead of flames, and the king’s current bodyguards waited by the sturdy tree trunk to which King Tharen’s war drake was chained. Strange. Weren’t they supposed to be ready to join the rest of the war drakes in the air? 

In truth, Yala wasn’t entirely sure why the king was sending his entire flight division into battle over a small island that would hardly be missed if their neighbours seized it for their own, but she wasn’t the one who made the decisions. Halting before His Majesty, she knelt upon the hard sand.

“Rise, Captain Yala,” he said. “I have a request for you.” 

Yala lifted her head, meeting his gaze. “What is it, Your Majesty?” 

He surveyed her with deep brown eyes. “You’re aware of the reasons for our conflict with Rafragoria, are you not?”

“The reason we’re going to war?” Was this a trick question? “Yes. They seek possession of an unclaimed and unmanned island, and you desire to claim it first.”

“Correct,” he said. “However, my consultants have informed me that Rafragoria has already broken our agreement. It seems Rafragorian forces are on their way to the island, intending to stake their claim while our backs are turned.”

Her mouth parted. “You want my team to stop them? Is that what you’re asking?”

A smile curved his full lips. “Yes, Captain. I am glad I chose wisely when I picked your team for this task.”

Had he made the decision, or his advisors? Yala had never been particularly fond of the Disciples of the Flame, nor had she been adept at concealing her dislike. They had not treated Dalem with kindness, and Yala did not forgive anyone who mistreated one of her squad members. For all she knew, they’d volunteered her squad for a suicide mission to pay her back for taking away one of their acolytes.

She didn’t smile back at the king. “What if Rafragoria’s squad is already there?”

“If they are, then it shouldn’t be any trouble for you to chase them off,” he said. “Kill them if you have to, though I’d advise you to leave one or two alive to take word home to Rafragoria that the island is not undefended.”

“What if they have another team waiting as backup?” There were a hundred ways this might go wrong, not least of which was that her team’s expertise lay with fighting in the air rather than on the ground. The island was reportedly not a large one, but what if their foes had already set up defences against their inevitable arrival?

“That’s why I would like you to guard the island until my own team arrives,” he said. “We won’t be long.”

He made it sound simple enough, and Yala begrudgingly saw his point when she laid out the facts. Rafragorians fought in teams of five, not seven, which further gave her squad an edge they wouldn’t have in the chaos of open warfare—yet Yala couldn’t quell her misgivings at the notion of her team being separated from the rest of the army. Her shoulders stiffened when one of the Disciples of the Flame stepped forwards and held out a piece of parchment showing a roughly hand-drawn map.

“Is that the island?” She did not know the precise location of the island over which they would be fighting, but she was under the impression that it was a recent discovery on the part of the Rafragorians. Laria’s spies had brought word home to their capital, which had enabled their monarch to raise an objection to their claiming the territory, but neither had set foot upon its hidden shores.

“Yes,” said the king. “Commit the route to memory, if you will. We do not need to risk giving the enemy insight into our strategies.”

Rafragoria would have their own maps if they had a head start, but Yala’s gaze tracked across the scrawled lines of the map as she memorised the directions. “The terrain … is jungle, do you think?”

“I believe so, yes. There ought to be a beach you can land on, though it might be wise not to leave your beasts unattended.”

Noted. Yala took a sharp step backwards when flames began to lick at the corners of the page. Her attention snapped to the Disciple’s impassive expression as fire swirled above his palms, eating away at the parchment until nothing remained but ashes.

She blinked, trying to resist the urge to rub the sting out of her eyes. “Won’t anyone else need the map?”

“They will not,” said the king. “After we’ve secured the island, it won’t matter.”

Strange. He must have faith in her memory, unless he was worried enough about the map falling into enemy hands that he’d risk his own army being unable to find the island in the turbulent waters between Laria and their neighbours to the north. The Rafragorian sea was bisected by a chain of undersea volcanoes that occasionally erupted and caused new islands to rise from the serpent-infested depths, but she was unclear on whether this had been the case with their current target.

Yala shivered at the deceptively casual way the Disciple flicked traces of ash off his robes, as if he had not directed the sunlight to act upon his will, but she was careful to display no sign of her unease when she lifted her head. “I’ll do my best, Your Majesty.” 

“I expect nothing less of you.”

At any other moment, she might have flushed from the praise, but the fiery imprint of the map on her vision and the false smiles upon the faces of His Majesty’s advisors froze the expression on her face. Yala’s squad’s record was exemplary, but she could say the same for most of her fellow fliers. Why not warn them further in advance of the battle? Granted, the Rafragorians’ treachery was a recent development, but he’d adapted fast. Or his advisors had.

She bowed and left the tent to return to her squad. They gathered on the beach where she’d left them, no doubt waiting for her to give one of her rousing speeches to galvanise them before they took flight. 

Yala anticipated a generally positive reaction to her news; Vanat would be eager for the challenge, while Saren and Machit would be happier not to take a more active part in the fighting. Though their squad’s bond had been forged in the throes of battle, they would all retire from fighting in a heartbeat if given the opportunity.

“Where have you been?” Vanat stepped out in front of her, the sun elongating his broad-shouldered shadow on the sand. “Bad news?”

“Not quite.” She forced a smile onto her face. “I need to speak to the whole squad. We’ve been given a special mission by King Tharen.”

“Really?” His brows drew together in confusion. “I didn’t know he was changing his strategy.”

“Precisely my thinking.” Glad she wasn’t the only person with suspicions, Yala took the chain of her war drake from Vanat—prompting a rattling growl from the beast—and stepped out onto the sand.

“I have an important message,” she told her squad. “King Tharen has given us a mission that will take us away from the main battle with Rafragoria.”

“We’re not going to fight?” Machit tried and failed to look disappointed. “Pity.”

“Don’t get too excited,” she said. “We’ve been entrusted with securing possession of the island before the enemy does. It seems that the Rafragorian empress has decided to act with the intent of stealing the island while we’re occupied fighting at sea.” 

“The king is sending us to steal it back?” Viam’s brows drew together. “That’s … irregular.”

“That’s one way of putting it.” Saren snorted. “Do all nobles have a gift for understatement?”

Viam scowled. For reasons that Yala couldn’t fathom, the two snapped at each other like juvenile war drakes. Perhaps it was because they were opposites in most ways; Saren had come from the streets of Dalathar, like Yala, while Viam had grown up in the noble district. The former was acquainted with the bedchambers of half the king’s army, while Viam preferred spending time in her books when she wasn’t training. Even their appearances formed a similar contrast; Saren wore his hair long where Viam’s lay against her head in tight curls, and Saren’s uniform was always slightly askew when Viam’s rarely had a thread out of place. 

“Enough,” said Yala. “I’m surprised, too, but I got the impression His Majesty had to make a quick decision after his spies brought him the information. If we move fast, we can get to the island before Rafragoria’s squad does.”

“And if not?” Dalem queried. “If not, won’t we have to fight them on land?”

“That’s an issue,” she agreed. “That said, they’re not accustomed to the terrain either.” 

The Rafragorians fought best on the water, and to properly claim the island, they’d have to leave their sea drake steeds behind. Moreover, there’d be five of them against Yala’s seven—not counting their war drakes.

“Exactly.” Vanat’s face lit with excitement. “We can win that fight with our eyes closed.”

“The king said we ought to leave some of them alive,” Yala told her team. “To send a message to their monarch.”

“And then?” Temik stepped up to Dalem’s side. “What’re we supposed to do after we win? How long do we have to stay on the island?”

“Until the king and his guards arrive,” said Yala. “He seemed confident it wouldn’t take too long.”

Viam’s lips pressed together. “Once he flies to the island, everyone will notice. Is that why he’s sending us in first? To be discreet?”

“I believe so.” The way his Disciples had destroyed the map felt like an overreaction, almost, but could she fault him for that after Rafragoria had gone behind his back? “As discreet as possible, considering the circumstances.”

“Which is the exact opposite of discreet.” Temik pointedly lifted the chain in his hand that looped around the neck of his war drake. “I don’t like this. Right, Dalem?”

His friend inclined his head but didn’t raise an objection.

“We can’t approach on the water like Rafragoria did,” Yala pointed out. “Flying is our only way to the island.”

“Also, we’re less likely to get killed out there than on the battlefield,” Machit added. “We’re not going against sea beasts, just regular soldiers separated from their steeds.”

“Exactly,” said Vanat. “We’ll drive every one of them off the island.”

Yala didn’t quite share his confidence, but they’d need it, given the wariness on some of the others’ faces.

“Did the king mention what we’ll find on the island?” Dalem asked. “If it’s covered in jungle, we might have a harder time fighting from the sky if the enemy uses the trees for cover.”

“Fair point.” Yala acknowledged the nod of agreement from Temik. “If so, we also have the advantage in that the Rafragorians won’t be able to see our approach.” 

The map, with its minimal detail, hadn’t shown her any landmarks on the island itself. In truth, she wasn’t entirely sure why King Tharen had staked his soldiers’ lives upon claiming such a small sliver of land, except that the monarch of Rafragoria wanted it equally strongly.

“That’s too many uncertainties for my liking,” said Temik.

“Yes, but I’m not going to argue with the king,” said Yala. “Are any of you?”

She meant the question rhetorically, though neither Temik nor Dalem joined the chorus of ‘noes’ from the others and Viam scarcely made a sound. Yala found herself looking to Saren and Machit; unlike Vanat, they were the squad’s more level-headed members, and she could count on them to help her corral the others. 

“No,” Saren repeated. “We don’t have time to argue among ourselves. The Rafragorians already have a head start on us. The sooner we catch them up, the better.”

“Exactly.” Yala addressed the team. “I don’t know about you, but I want to win this war and get home as fast as possible, don’t you?”

“Right.” This time only Temik didn’t join the chorus. She’d have had a private word with him to assuage his doubts, but Saren was right—they’d lost too much time already. 

They would not fail this mission. Yala would see to it herself.

View full details