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.
Click here to read from Chapter One. Or go back to the very beginning in Banished: The Riddled Stone Book One.
As soon as Brayden and Gillian had returned from the castle, the ambassador had begun lecturing. It hadn’t helped when partway through, the prince had remembered the letter from Gillian’s father. Gillian read it in a pensive silence, and after that he railed on Brayden even more zealously — all about how he was sent only as a messenger, and what did he know about politics?
Words he would never have dared to say to Tyler.
With a huff, Brayden rolled over in his bed and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to sleep. Eventually he dozed, but he woke again at the slightest creak.
Giving up on sleep, he rolled to stare at the ceiling.
The curtains of the north-facing window rustled in a breeze that made him shiver. He would have shut the window, but then the room would be too stuffy, so instead he had worn his socks to bed. Now he pulled his blankets tighter.
There was another creak, closer this time. He sat up, staring towards the door.
It’s probably nothing, just the house groaning, he told himself. Nonetheless, as he lay back down, he grabbed the dagger that rested on his bedside table and turned so he could still see the door. The clouds shifted. Reflected moonlight spread across the floor, lighting the handle just in time for him to see it start to turn.
He shut his eyes and forced himself to breathe deeply and evenly — both for the sake of feigning sleep, and in an attempt to steady his pounding heart. He gripped the edge of the blanket in his left hand.
He didn’t hear the door swing open, but he heard the soft click when it shut.
He forced himself to wait the count of three. Then he tightened his grip around the knife and flicked the blanket to the side, springing from the bed.
He briefly registered a man standing a couple yards from the bed.
With another flick of his wrist, Brayden hurled the blanket at him. The man blocked the blanket and flung it aside with his sword arm, and as he did so, Brayden heard a small ‘swish’, and saw the glint of moonlight on metal.
He jumped backwards onto the bed, then dropped down on the other side, the thump of his landing muted by his socks. He dropped to a fighting position. The attacker followed, springing across the bed and landing in his own fighting stance. The man raised his blade, a wickedly curved knife, then fell on him with a flurry of blows.
Brayden deflected the man’s blows with his own knife. He never thought he’d be grateful for those endless swordplay lessons.
The man knew what he was doing. No sooner had the prince survived one blow than he had to block the next.
Gritting his teeth a bit, Brayden darted to the side, hoping to slip around his attacker. But the man spun and pressed his attack, driving him toward the wall. The prince threw himself backward on the floor and felt a swish of air as the man’s sword passed above him. He swept his leg up, kicking hard at the side of the man’s knee. The man buckled and fell, but landed on his hands and started to roll away.
Brayden leaped to his feet and dove onto his opponent’s back. He dug his knee into a kidney while he brought his knife to the man’s throat.
He tried to keep from panting as he hissed through his teeth, “Who sent you?”
The man twisted himself sideways, his knife slicing at the prince’s arm. Brayden jerked back, and his dagger slipped, sinking into the man’s throat.
The man fell limp, and Brayden scrambled away, mouth hanging wide. A drop of sweat drizzled into his eye. He blinked it away, and then wiped his brow with his sleeve. Another breeze blew through the window, and he shivered.
I killed someone, Brayden thought, still gaping at the man.
Someone tried to kill me!
He pulled himself to his feet and staggered towards the door, still watching the body.
Then he stopped as a horrible, cold thought occurred to him. What if Gillian was involved? Or one of the servants?
No, the only reason for someone to kill him now would be to start a war. Gillian, though he perhaps wasn’t trying too hard to stop the war, certainly didn’t want it that bad.
Still, if he told Gillian, the ambassador was likely to lose his temper and start the war anyway. As long as there was a chance for peace, Brayden couldn’t allow that.
He fell to his knees and covered his face with his hands.
Someone tried to kill him to start a war, and if anyone found out, the war would start anyway. So now he had a dead assassin on his floor, and he couldn’t tell anyone.
Great. Just. Great.
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.