Hunted Chapter Thirty-Four

Hunted-600

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.


PART THREE

Click here to read from Chapter One. Or go back to the very beginning in Banished: The Riddled Stone Book One.

Chapter 34

Brayden

“The ambassador—” King Orin paused shortly, then moved on, “—ors from North Raec may now speak.”

Brayden sat next to Gillian Fredrico, the original ambassador. Of course, Gillian was still the official ambassador. But it would seem odd if the prince, after coming all this way, didn’t meet with the king.

Gillian stood and bowed.

“M’lords,” he began. “There has been a great tragedy. A party of North Raecan merchants was attacked and slaughtered. In their investigations of the scene, our officials discovered evidence that there may have been South Raecan involvement.”

Gillian managed to cover his anger, to a degree, but Brayden knew that everyone present could hear the tightness in his voice. There was a moment of silence as the king and all present mulled over this. Gillian’s eyes remained locked on the king.

Brayden would have found the situation unbearably intense, had his palms not decided to start itching. Nervous energy. After a minute of resisting the urge to rub his hands under the ornately carved table, he began to wonder if he should say something.

Orin finally made a response. “Are you suggesting something, Ambassador?”

The king’s tone was lower than it had been all day, and that sent more tingles through Brayden’s hands.

“Nothing at all, King Orin,” said Gillian smoothly. “We merely wish to inquire whether you might know anything of the situation.”

This time, the tingles went through Brayden’s spine.

One of the younger lords stood. The man had been alert since the king announced that it was the North Raecans’ turn to speak. Now he slapped the table with both hands.

“How dare you imply that His Majesty’s court had anything to do with this attack?”

“I only stated that a South Raecan insignia had been found at the scene. We are not implying anything.”

“You’re right. You practically shouted the accusation in our faces. As if we would waste our time with your people. I bet you’re just dying to draw us into a fight, hoping to grow rich on plunder.”

“You say we’re eager to start a war?” Gillian leaned toward the young lord, his knuckles white where his fists pressed against the table. “Who was it that attacked first?”

Brayden’s hands had stopped itching. His eyes were turned towards Orin, who was watching the two younger men face off. A frown etched itself deeper and deeper into the king’s face. The other lords were either leaning back to stay out of the way, or leaning in, ready to join the argument.

Brayden reacted almost without thinking. He stood and grabbed Gillian’s shoulder. The ambassador was almost ten years older, but Brayden was nearly as tall, and the movement caught Gillian by surprise. He stepped back.

The South Raecan lord froze, staring.

The king spoke, one eyebrow slightly raised. “Prince Brayden?”

Brayden swallowed, fighting to keep his voice calm.

“We are not accusing anyone, sir,” he said. “Nor do we want a war. It never entered our minds that the nobles of South Raec had known of the attack.”

Ignoring murmurs around the table, he fixed his attention on the king. “However, since the rogues appear to have come from your land, King Orin, we were hoping to gain your assistance in tracking them down before they cause further trouble.”

He spread his hands in a gesture of peace. “We are not trying to incite a war. We’re trying to prevent one.”

Brayden took a deep breath and sat down, making sure that Gillian came with him. The ambassador looked just as stunned as everyone else at the table — except for Orin, whose face had become unreadable.

Brayden waited, surprised that his voice hadn’t been squeaky.

The king coughed.

“Baron Torc,” he said, “please be seated.”

The young noble jerked backwards out of his stupor and sat down hard. Brayden could see a light blush beginning to brighten the man’s cheeks.

Orin stood, turning towards Brayden and giving a slight bow.

“Prince Brayden, I’m sure that what you say is true. I shall, of course, tell my men to discretely search for any rumors of such a renegade force. I hope I may soon have news for you to take back to your father.

“While you are here, I would like very much to discuss some terms of a treaty I’ve been considering, which I hope your father will agree with. A treaty that will bring both Raecs great prosperity and peace.”

Brayden stood and bowed deeper.

“I would be greatly honored to talk of such a treaty—” he paused, feeling Gillian’s gaze. “But, ah, I feel it would be best if I consult with advisers before entering any negotiation. I had not intended to stay very long, and I may not be able to change my plans.”

“Of course.”

Brayden sat, and the king moved on to the next order of business. After a minute his hands started itching again, and the restless tingle spread to his neck and back. He could feel Gillian’s glare. Not that he could blame the ambassador. He was sure that his father’s letter had said Brayden was not to interfere.

Perhaps his father hadn’t known about a particular young, volatile baron, or about the tension within the South Raecan court.


To be continued…

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.

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