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.
Chris looked around, surprised to find himself beside the gazebo in his father’s garden. Nora motioned for Chris to follow her. He took a step after her and almost stumbled.
Glancing down, he saw the path ended in a steep cliff at his feet. He reached out his hand towards Nora as she disappeared behind the hedge.
She was calling his name.
Then the ground crumbled. He tried to step back, but he couldn’t move.
Chris gasped and opened his eyes. Nora was shaking him. She turned and called, “Terrin, he’s awake. Really, for someone who is so determined to find this place, he sure is lazy.”
For a second he couldn’t understand what had happened, and then he realized he’d been sleeping. Rain plastered itself to his face, and he shivered. He pulled himself out of his soaked blanket.
Nora took his blanket and handed him a small bundle. “The rain started around midnight. Terrin was right: We’ll have some treacherous footing today.”
“Unfortunately, I don’t want to risk losing sight of the river and getting lost,” Chris said. “We’ll just have to lead the horses.”
He unwrapped the bundle to find one of the flowers. They had stocked as many as they could for the trip, but the harpies were right. Already the sweet taste seemed almost to burn. But it was still filling, and when he let it soak in the rain, it seemed to taste a bit better.
They hiked all morning along the edge of the trees, as close as they dared to the rushing waters. The river had, predictably, flooded, and the horses were obviously restless. As they stumbled through the mud, Terrin ended up walking beside him.
“You know,” she said, “we sure picked a great time to be wandering around in the mountains. This is only the first of the rains, and who knows how long they’ll last?”
He scowled. “Yeah, yeah, I don’t need you to tell me that.”
“By the way, what was that this morning? I’ve never known you to sleep in.”
“Just a bad dream. It was… I don’t know.”
He frowned. Already the images of the dream seemed to be blurring together — parts of his past, events at school, the headmaster, the day he had met Terrin — but their details were fading. The one scene that seemed most real was something he couldn’t remember ever happening. He had never known Anthony to cry. It probably was nothing, but it had made him want to run. When he’d first woken, he had thought the wet rain was sweat.
Terrin looked at him for a second longer, then turned her gaze forward. “You should be more relaxed. Something about that riddle is getting to you. And I know this all probably has to do with the Riddled Stone, which has to do with the Shards, which has to do with why you were banished. But do you really think this will help?”
He tilted his head forward and murmured, “I can’t help but do this, Terrin. After all, I’m the one that can read the words.”
But he didn’t think she heard him.
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.