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 four companions rode in silence. No one knew what to say. They had turned south the first chance they got, about two hours ago. Arnold squinted at the sky. The sun had nearly reached its peak.
Yesterday had been a whirlwind of preparation. Now that they were on the road, he had time to think, and he began to wonder why they were going with Chris. They couldn’t let him go alone, of course, but it felt wrong just to leave — like giving up without a fight.
If only they could prove that he was innocent. What would Chris want with a Shard? The whole thing was ridiculous.
But where had he gone, the night of the dance? Or had he been there, in the ballroom, the whole time? Arnold’s memory of that night was a fog of confusion.
Finally he turned to Chris and asked, “Where are we going?”
Chris didn’t even bother to look up as he spoke. “Diamond Isles. It’s the best spot, I think. Since I’ll have to take a boat to get anywhere.”
The Diamond Isles. One of the most active trading ports, and the most peaceful country Arnold knew. Wasn’t that where Lady Joline was from? She had been a star example of why he’d never been interested in the Isles — friendly and very pretty, but oblivious to the world at large and the dangers it held.
Chris was his best friend. Arnold couldn’t abandon him when the whole world seemed against him. But eventually Chris would settle down, and then what? What could a knight do on the Diamond Isles?
He glanced around. They were still on the plains, but to the east he could see a woods not far off, and beyond that the mountains of Scar Range. No, the Isles wouldn’t be the same as Raec. They would all miss their homes. And what would their families think of them trekking along with an earl’s banished son? Nora was a Yorc and so was protected, at least a bit. Her family would always be glad to welcome her home. But what of Terrin? Or himself?
He heard Terrin call, “Hey, Arnold! Wrong way, silly. Aren’t you paying any attention?”
He looked up and realized Chris had turned off onto a side road, and, deep in thought, he had kept riding straight on.
Scowling, he turned Rich around to follow them.
“What’s wrong with the main road?” he asked. “It’s safer than going through the mountains.”
Terrin shot him a blazing look, and he had a feeling that in a different situation she would have kicked him. He realized that Chris didn’t want to be recognized, and on the main road there was always the chance of meeting a noble.
So much for his knowing Chris better than anyone.
Terrin pulled Leaf up to ride beside him. She had on her sternest face, and her prominent cheekbone made her expression look even harsher. He looked away. When she got angry, Terrin was scarier than any dragon.
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
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