The Ballad of Penumbria I: A King's Ransom by Ronald Patterson
Approx. 93,300 words.
Published on July 3, 2012.
The kingdom of Penumbria is a hopeless land, where every citizen is a slave, and the regent, Duke Botewulf Blagden, rules with unpredictable cruelty.
A young serf-turned-thief named Dava finally despairs of life and seeks to end his misery in the sterile desert of the Endless Emptiness. But a seeming chance encounter with three strange travelers sets him on a path from the gutter to the throne.