She tried to warn them. They wouldn’t listen.
As a child, Terrin of Xell barely escaped a spirit from the Dark Forest. She knows better than to rely on magic. But with her schoolmate Chris accused of a magical crime he didn’t commit, she couldn’t let him face banishment alone.
So Terrin gets caught up in Chris’s quest to recover an ancient relic, with only magic to guide them. Naturally, everything goes wrong.
What lurks in the shadows, hunting Terrin and her friends? Or did the magic itself turn against them?
Hunted: The Riddled Stone Book Two is being serialized freely on this website at the pace of one chapter per week. You can buy the full novel at my publisher’s store or in ebook or paperback format at your favorite online retailer.
“This is the chance to prove you are not a total klutz. Don’t waste it.” The words of his tutor rang through Brayden’s head.
He had realized about four years ago that Mason really did want the best for him, but sometimes that fact was hard to remember. And, of course, what Mason thought was best, and what Brayden thought was best, were often two very different things. Now, though, they were agreed. Brayden had a chance not only to prove himself, but also to prevent a war. This trip could save lives and keep the peace his father and grandfather had worked so hard for.
When the king had announced that he would not be sending his eldest, but instead his youngest, to speak with the South Raecan king, Brayden had been ecstatic. He wasn’t sure what had led his father to that decision, though Duke Grith had been the only noble who’d seemed at all pleased by the situation.
Outside a carriage awaited to carry him to the river where a ship would take him post-haste to South Raec.
Where the ambassador would no doubt order — unofficially, of course — that Brayden remain unobtrusive for the entirety of his stay.
Not that I care, Brayden told himself, tossing a simple white shirt into his bag.
He grinned. Had Mason been present he’d have scolded Brayden for not calling a servant to do ‘such a menial task.’ That was definitely a place where they disagreed — how much he should do for himself, and how much he should have servants do.
He quickly scanned his room for anything else he might need. Then he hoisted the bag onto his shoulders and walked out into the hall.
Where he nearly collided with Tyler.
Both the princes quickly moved back — Tyler with a single long step, whereas Brayden hopped back quickly, banging his elbow against the door frame. He gripped his elbow, grinding his teeth.
Tyler took a short breath and started talking as if nothing had happened. “Are you sure this is wise? If the South Raecans are planning to attack us—”
“Then they will not want to be rushed into it by killing me or the ambassador. It would be nigh impossible to keep news of that sort from getting back here.”
“But they will want to be pushed into a treaty even less. If they were to break a newly-signed treaty, then even their closest allies would be reluctant to offer friendship.”
“Neither will they dare to kill me in cold blood. If they are trying to start a war, they will either declare it openly or send me back without agreeing to anything.”
“Tyler, please. I want to do this. It’s what is best.”
“It’s what you think is best, but if you die…”
“Which I won’t. Unless, of course, I catch some sort of exotic disease.” Brayden tilted his head, letting his eyes glaze over, and considered this for a moment before continuing. “I suppose that is possible, since Colyth does quite a bit of trading. Do you think I’ll have much time to—”
“It’s not funny.” Tyler’s brow creased, and his hands gripped the edge of his shirt, rumpling the cloth.
“Tyler, please. If war breaks out, many will die. At most, I’m risking my freedom. And if I have a chance to stop a war, I don’t mind risking that. If my trip turns out for naught, if the Raecs fight anyway, and … and Father dies—”
Brayden swallowed and started down the hall.
“I’m done arguing,” he said. “Everyone is probably thinking I’ve fallen down the stairs and am out cold. I know you care, but this is good for me.”
Tyler shook his head and followed.
“I want peace as much as you,” Tyler said, “but this isn’t the only way. Probably not even the best way — You’re only sixteen, Brayden. Don’t act like you know what’s best.” His voice was rising.
Brayden ignored him.
Tyler followed behind, but before he could come up with another argument, they were interrupted. Earl Diard Fredrico rose from one of the small benches placed sporadically around the castle. As soon as he was up, he bowed deeply, and Brayden nearly missed seeing the paper he held.
The two princes bowed their heads in return. Then Tyler spoke. “Earl Fredrico, how nice to see you.”
Brayden repeated a similar greeting.
“I had not expected the honor of meeting both of you, my lords,” said Diard. “I, uh…” He glanced at the elder prince, then carried on. “I merely wished to wish you good luck on your journey, Prince Brayden.”
“Thank you,” Brayden said, smiling at the Earl.
“I know I shouldn’t ask, but the current ambassador is one of my sons. And I was wondering if you could pass along my greetings?”
Brayden realized the Earl had intended to ask this favor privately, not in front of the crown prince. And the boy couldn’t help but notice him fidget with the paper.
“Of course. I’d be glad to deliver that and any other message you might have for him.”
“I do happen to have a letter. I had meant to send it on the next mail carrier, but if you’d be willing … I happen to have it right here.”
Beside Brayden, Tyler gave a slight twitch. Brayden sent a quick glance at his older brother out of the corner of his eye, and was not surprised to find him smiling.
“Of course, Earl Diard,” Brayden said. He accepted the letter with a formal nod. “Would you honor us with your company down to the courtyard?”
Of course the Earl could not refuse, and the three set off again. Now there was silence except for the tap, tap of Brayden’s boots against the stone floor. The others wore soft leather shoes that made barely any noise.
Copyright © 2015 by Teresa Gaskins
Published by Tabletop Academy Press.
Cover and layout copyright © 2016 by Tabletop Academy Press
Cover Photo Credits: “Girl with bow” by Yeko Photo Studio via DepositPhoto.com and “Forest, untagged” by Lukasz Szmigiel via 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.