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.
Christopher, 14 years earlier
Chris wandered the cool stony halls, glad that the knighting ceremonies had finally ended and that his father had allowed him to leave. Of course, there was still dancing going on. Everyone was in the ballroom, leaving the halls empty, dark, and refreshingly peaceful. He still wore his party finery, and he pulled his brown woolen cape closer, wishing it had a clasp so he didn’t have to hold it.
As he approached a small balcony he heard voices.
“Do you promise to serve me with your life, bound as my servant?”
“Then be bound.”
There was a flash of red light.
Chris stopped, intrigued by the flash of light. He thought the first, deeper voice had been Duke Grith, his father’s friend who had come for the knighting ceremony. The second voice, though rather empty and barely recognizable, belonged to his eldest brother.
He had never heard Anthony sound like that before. Was his brother getting sick?
He looked around the corner. Anthony stood like a statue, staring blankly at the duke. The duke reached forward and touched Anthony’s brow, then quickly pulled his hand away as Anthony twitched and then let out a deep breath.
“What was that?” Anthony asked, swaying a bit.
“Just a check that we weren’t being spied on. I’m sorry, but it does sometimes have a fogging effect on people. Still, it proved useful.” The duke turned towards Chris with an intense scowl on his face. “Come here, boy.”
Chris back away fearfully, but the duke was quicker and grabbed him by his arm. Chris cried out, but it was quickly silenced as the duke touched his brow, and he found he couldn’t move.
The duke turned back towards Anthony, who gaped at his younger brother.
“What did you do to him, my lord?”
“I just wiped his memory. I don’t want him to tell anyone of this meeting. Don’t worry, he won’t be harmed by it. At least, not now. The memory might eventually return to him, but I doubt it, especially at this age.”
“But, but, but that would mean you were—?”
“Yes, I am a magician of some great power. Very few know, and I would like to keep it that way.”
“Of course, my lord.”
“Good. Now, you please me, Anthony. You’re ambitious, and, if I’m not mistaken, willing to do some rather — shall we say — unorthodox things to fulfill that ambition. I would like to think that you will be a very handy asset.”
“What do you mean, my lord? What is it you’d require of me?”
“Oh, I cannot tell you the full extent. Who knows what the future may bring? But I would find it rather handy for you to be well connected. And at the end of it all, it is possible that I’d be in a good position to make you — if you served me well — duke in my place.”
“But what of Eric, my lord? Surely you would want your son to be the duke after you.”
“Ah, but I plan something much greater than a dukedom for him.”
“You mean… Do you plan treason?”
“Let us hope it does not come to such harsh words as that. But tell me, are you willing?”
Anthony’s face twisted, and he glanced at Chris. And suddenly Chris felt fear for his brother’s life. Then Anthony turned back to the duke.
“I am willing, my lord.”
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.