Crystal Storm (Falling Kingdoms #5)

The guards moved forward without hesitation.

“Kurtis,” Magnus said, his eyes glancing between the kingsliege and the approaching guards. “You think you’ll kill me here today and no one will know about it?”

“Today? You think I’ll kill you today? No. Your death should take quite enough time for you to suffer very nicely.” He nodded. “See you soon.”

Magnus swore to himself that he wouldn’t beg. He wouldn’t plead.

But Kurtis had been right about the screaming.

? ? ?

When Magnus opened his eyes, he could see a sliver of the moon above him in the dark sky. Consciousness meant he was alive, but it also brought with it ceaseless pain from the injuries inflicted upon him by Kurtis’s sadistic orders.

Where was he? Outside, yes. He was outside if he could see the moon. And he was still in Paelsia, since the chill in the air matched neither the bracing cold of Limeros nor the warmth of Auranos.

He realized that he lay in a box made of wood. “What is this?” he managed.

“You’re awake,” Kurtis said, and his loathsome face appeared above Magnus. “You do sleep very soundly. Like the dead, I might say.”

“I . . . I can’t move.”

“I would imagine not. You’re in terrible shape, my friend. Strong, though. I’ve watched that kind of torture as it killed men and women alike. Well done.”

“You are a lord and a kingsliege, Kurtis. A born Limerian. You’re also a pathetic, weasely little shit, but you have to see that what you’re doing is wrong. There’s still time to stop this.”

“All these compliments, Magnus, they’re going to my head. I never liked you, but I tolerated you because of your father’s power. Now that is gone, along with my hand. All for following orders.” Kurtis’s eyes bugged as his face reddened. “Tell me, is the rumor true that you have a fear of small, enclosed spaces?”

“No, that’s not true.”

“I imagine it will be true soon enough.” Kurtis smirked. “I’ll cherish this moment for the rest of my life, my old friend. Farewell to you.”

Magnus tried to sit up, but pain flashed through him, blinding him like lightening.

And then the moon, the night, and Kurtis Cirillo all disappeared as a wooden lid came down on top of him.

A coffin. He had been put into a coffin.

Nails were hammered into it. Magnus felt airborne for a split second, and then he landed hard, his back slamming against the wooden bottom.

Then came the scrape of shovels and the soft thud of dirt filling the grave as Kurtis and his loyal guards buried him alive, deep in the Paelsian earth.