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King Maker

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King Maker

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Author: Maurice Broaddus
Publisher: Angry Robot Books, 2010
Series: The Knights of Brenton Court: Book 1

1. King Maker
2. King's Justice
3. King's War

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre Tags: Urban Fantasy
Avg Member Rating:
(5 reads / 3 ratings)






The King Arthur myth gets dramatically retold through the eyes of street hustler King, as he tries to unite the crack dealers, gangbangers and the monsters lurking within them to do the right thing. From the drug gangs of downtown Indianapolis, the one true king will arise. The King Arthur myth gets dramatically retold through the eyes of street hustler King, as he tries to unite the crack dealers, gangbangers and the monsters lurking within them to do the right thing. Broaddus' debut is a stunning, edgy work, genuinely unlike anything you've ever read.


Prelude: The Fall of Luther

Indianapolis, Indiana. Back in the Day.

The streets have their own legends, their own magic, and for a brief moment, Luther White was the heir apparent to both.

"Listen here, keep that motor running." Staid snorts of smoke poured from Luther's nose and mouth like a dragon's exhalations as he puffed on a cigarette. Cutting his eyes at CashMoney's rayon shirt as if he were ashamed to know him, Luther slid along the gray vinyl car seat with the coolness of shadow. His twin Caliburns glinted in the moonlight as he tucked them into his waistband.

Everyone knew there was a street tax to be paid if they wished to operate in Luther's neighborhood. If rent wasn't paid, he came a-calling with his Caliburns. Costing a fortune, the 9mm Springfield Armory custom-ported stack autos - with the frames, slides, and some other parts plated in 24K gold, with gold dragons rearing up along the contrasting black grips - were his trademark. He rarely had to do more than brandish them for his point to be made. Tonight a stronger counter argument was called for.

CashMoney drummed his fingers along the steering wheel of his Chevy Nova. He wore what barbershops called the Perfecto cut, his hair like sculpted topiary with its precise parts and molded crown. His drawn face held an air of sadness, his brim pulled low on his head to shade his dull brown eyes. The car's cassette player was broken so he rolled the dial on the dash, getting mostly static. As if there were any other choice for music other than WTLC, unless you wanted some of that easy listening rock garbage.

Luther ground the cigarette out with his heel, the sparks skittering into the slight breeze. Little set the rundown four bedroom house apart from the other rundown homes in the neighborhood, yet Luther strode toward it with determination and purpose. His brown leather jacket remained opened enough to reveal the gold chain along his black turtleneck. Life was all about façades and impressions and Luther took extra care to make sure his appearance remained slick. His brown eyes brimmed with ambition. Sideburns, thick but tight, framed his wistful sneer. He could almost see his reflection in his polished knobs.

Fall Creek was a natural ley line that helped carve up Indianapolis, one of those tracks your mother warned you about that people crossed at their own peril. On one side were large historic homes, one-time summer houses for those who lived in downtown Indianapolis; the playground for old money. On the other, around 30th and Fall Creek Parkway, a neighborhood spiraled downward with streets which ought to be named after local reverends and civil rights activists. Luther knew nothing about ancestral memory, his imagination not given to neither fancy nor spiritual stirrings. The idea of ley lines or connecting high places of power or sacredness was the stuff of superstition. It definitely wasn't part of his world at all. His world was gray and concrete and real as the dollars that fueled it. Light from the open door of the old house swathed him and he disappeared inside.

Barely old enough to drive, though rumor had it that he was one of the best getaway drivers for rent, CashMoney viewed himself as half an apprentice to Luther. Truth be told, his admiring eye transparently masked a covetous gleam. Barely in his twenties, Luther had already earned the rep and done crowned himself king of the streets. He lacked the ruthlessness and deep hatred for women that made career pimps, but he loved the street hustle. His resume stretched back to his early teens when he ran numbers, setting up a string of pea shake gambling houses using his uncle's reputation for muscle.

CashMoney's less-than-ambitious thoughts idled around trying to figure out how to get Yolanda Jenkins to give it up. He squirmed uncomfortably in his seat, regretting his last three beers. Fishing a joint from his pocket, CashMoney kissed it and hoped they could stop off at Burger Chef later. A hot minute later, he butted the remainder as shots touted a break in the evening's festivities.

Luther backed out the doorway with as casual a stride as possible for a man as cautious as he. A high yella, stone-cold fox flickered into his peripheral vision. Her large breasts pushed her shirt straight out, exposing her flat belly over her tight jeans. With Asian eyes and long black hair, she would have stood out anywhere; however, here, she almost made Luther trip over himself. Their eyes locked on one another, her haunting beauty captured him in its spell. He shook himself to stay focused on business. Luther clutched the bag full of money and tumbled into the passenger's seat. Maybe he didn't have to push up on Green's people, but a message had to be sent.

"Floor this motherfucker."

Luther banged on the front door of the rowhouse apartment then stepped back. Cupping his hand, he blew into it to check for any telltale smoke or drink on his breath. Getting with one of these church girls required some effort; still, it was worth it to have the proper woman to raise his future. He'd changed clothes twice before coming over, because Anyay's mom was no joke. A serious Christian woman - in church every time the doors were open and was known for falling out with the Holy Spirit every Sunday morning - she wasn't about to put up with a trifling fool showing up on her doorstep. Her massive forearm shoved open the storm door, but she kept her other hand on the knob of the house door. A florid woman with a body more brick wall than brick house stood between him and the fresh face of Anyay who peeped from over her shoulder.

"Hello, Mrs Watkins. I was wondering if Anyay was in."

"She is." Mrs Watkins pulled the door closer behind her, further shielding her daughter from his gaze.

"Would it be possible to speak to her for a minute?" His voice strained with politeness, not used to asking for anything, much less the added tone of deference. He hoped the gesture would be noticed.

Tilting her jowly face at him, her expression locked in stony inscrutability, Mrs Watkins weighed her options. She had dropped her guard once around him before and Anyay had a newborn to show for it. The situation twisted her heart since she knew it wasn't right to keep a daddy from his own son. Too many men simply ran at the prospect of fatherhood and at least this boy seemed to want to put in the effort. Not that she'd give him an inch. Even the rakish angle of his cap screamed that this man-child was too cocky for his own good. When he relaxed, he favored his father, not that he'd know since he never knew the man. However, Mrs Watkins came up with the boy's grandma. He was four years old when he went to her, and even then she knew he had an anger in him only soothed by running wild. The poison of the streets sopped up into him like gravy into a biscuit.

"You ain't coming in my house and Anyay ain't leaving the porch. The baby's asleep and you got ten minutes."

"Thank you, Mrs-" he said to her back, the slamming porch door cutting him off.

Anyay lowered her head as her momma passed, hiding her excitement while appearing properly repentant for past indiscretions. The stairs creaked in protest as Mrs Watkins climbed them. "Ten minutes," a dismembered voice reiterated.

Anyay opened the door and slipped out.

"Girl, check you out. Your momma ever going to give you a break?"

"Not as long as we're living under her roof." Anyay leaned against the porch door. Her thin arms crossed in faux impatience. Her face caught the moonlight, rekindling her freshness, as if unsullied by his, or any, hands. Reddish-brown braids cascaded down to her shoulders, a T-shirt draped along her lithe body. Though longer than most dresses, she still had to wear pants around the house, much less to come to the door. Momma's rules.

"I'm working on that."

"I'm serious, Luther. We need a proper home. You need a proper job, not all this rippin' and runnin' you call a life."

"You knew I was in the game when you got with me, baby." Luther trotted out his tired defense. Tonight, with her looking as beautiful as she was, searching him for more, he knew she was right.

"I know, but still... we got responsibilities now." The glint in her voice matched her no-nonsense eyes. Anyay dared to dream of a better life for them, her words a fine razor of guilt. She had no interest in changing him, she only wanted for them to be a family. And get away from the streets.

"How's he doing?"

"King is great. Misses his daddy."

"Can I see him?" Luther's face lit up despite his cloak of cool nonchalance. Even the idea of the boy broke him down in ways he couldn't explain - not to CashMoney, not to his boys, and barely to himself. Good ways.

"Can you be quiet?"

"Ain't that how we came up with him in the first place? Your mom's at her prayer meeting, but decides to come home early."

"Guess the Holy Spirit was whispering to her that night," Anyay said, her large eyes glancing up at him as her head nodded down. It was a look, a meaningful gaze, reserved only for Luther. She was his in ways she couldn't explain - not to her momma, not to her girls, and barely to herself. Good ways.

"Yeah, the Holy Spirit's got a mouth on Him. But I wasn't 'bout to leave before I got done. Man puts in the work, he expects his paycheck."

"Luther..." she said in her "you're...

Copyright © 2010 by Maurice Broaddus


King Maker

- spoltz


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