All Christopher Fredrico wanted was to be a peaceful scholar who could spend a lot of time with his friends. Now, falsely accused of stealing a magical artifact, he is forced to leave the only home he knows.
But as he and his friends travel towards the coast, they find a riddle that may save a kingdom — or cost them their lives.
Banished: The Riddled Stone Book One by homeschooled teen author Teresa Gaskins, is being serialized freely on this website at the pace of one chapter per week. The full novel is available in ebook or paperback format on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers.
The crowd milled around the courtyard outside the earl’s manor. Most belonged to the party Crown Prince Tyler had brought along, but there were others, too. They were all waiting for the prince and the earl to finished talking, waiting to hear Chris’s fate.
Terrin felt ready to punch something — the face of either the caretaker, the prince, or Earl Fredrico would have been fabulously satisfying. Especially the caretaker’s.
She glanced at Nora, whose expression looked gray and stony as she tried to keep from crying. Terrin’s eyes softened, and she took her friend’s hand. She saw Arnold, on Nora’s other side, do the same with Nora’s left hand. She turned her attention to the scene before them.
Two weeks had passed since Chris had been arrested. A small disk had been found in his room, and the caretaker, who was something of a magician, had claimed that it was a teleportation device, big enough for the Shard but not anything much larger. The guards and caretaker had checked everywhere they could think of, and had still not found the actual Shard.
Terrin cursed mentally. She was sure this was some kind of mistake, or a setup.
Finally the prince and the earl stepped out onto the veranda. The prince raised his hands, and the earl coughed a bit. The crowd fell silent at once.
“I have made my decision, and I have received approval from my father,” Prince Tyler began.
She pressed her lips together. Next to her, Nora shuddered and squeezed her hand. Terrin squeezed back, but kept her gaze on the prince.
He continued, “I have decided that as the Shard cannot be found, nor any traces of it, we cannot truly prove Christopher Fredrico guilty on the circumstantial evidence of a teleporter and a missing brooch. However, he has no alibi, and it seems certain that he is involved, so I have decided to banish him from the kingdom of North Raec until such time as completely solid proof for or against him is found.
“From this moment forward, Christopher is to have nothing of his father’s, not even his last name. He will be given only enough money for passage beyond our borders. If he is found within the territory of North Raec after this month is out, his life will be forfeit.
“If any of you find fault with my decision, speak now.”
The silence fell like a brick.
She wanted to yell that it wasn’t just, that Chris wasn’t a criminal, and therefore he should have no punishment. However, she held her peace and looked hard into Tyler’s face, as if trying to telepathically pass the message instead.
“Finally, I wish to add that any who go with him, or offer him assistance, will share his fate,” continued the prince.
Terrin raised her eyebrow a bit. So he thought some of them might choose to go with Chris? Or was this merely protocol, informing everyone of the exact rules? Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Arnold biting his lip.
“If no one has any comments, then you are dismissed. Christopher, I will grant you tomorrow to prepare, but you must leave no later than the morning of the following day.”
Copyright © 2012 by Teresa Gaskins
Published by Tabletop Academy Press
Cover and layout copyright © 2016 by Tabletop Academy Press
Cover art copyright © Anton Tokarev / DepositPhoto.com, and Christian Joudrey / Unsplash.com
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.