Teaser Tuesday – Alaric’s Bow

Hey! It’s election day, so I hope you’ve voted. Don’t need to know who you voted for…this is a politics free zone! LOL! Just hope you made sure your ballot was cast!

For Teaser Tuesday, I give you an excerpt from ‘Alaric’s Bow’!

Kai stuck to the shadows, avoiding the revelry of the wedding feast. A sense of dread had encompassed him since the arrival of the bridal party the day before. Something was wrong, but he couldn’t put his finger on what.

Kaerdan and his new wife, Jenny, sat at the head table, their fathers flanking the happy couple. Her blonde hair shone in the candles illuminating the hall. Kaerdan did have a preference for fair-haired ladies. In that, he would be happy.

It was his mother, however, that drew his attention. She rarely left her rooms any more, claiming illness. Tonight, though, no sign of sickness decorated her pale face. If anything, it glowed in triumph. And why shouldn’t it? Her firstborn married, ready to continue the family name. Soon, he would be King.

His father rose from his place, chalice in hand. “Today was a glorious day! A wedding, a new treaty, and a successful hunt! Kaerdan is truly gifted and his prize sits radiant beside him. To the happy couple!”

Kai shifted through the people near him. Gifted, indeed. The only thing his brother had ever been able to do was take credit for someone else’s deeds.

He needed air. The hall was nauseatingly sweet, between the overabundance of the beeswax candles to the boar—his kill—roasting on the spit. Winding his way through the drunk wedding guests, he made his way to the upper gallery. Outside would’ve been preferable, but he knew better. At some point, he’d be expected to go forward and pledge his loyalty to his father and brother. Not that the words meant anything to him. He stopped believing in the vow after seeing how little they meant to Kaerdan.

“Where’s the Historian?” his father’s voice boomed through the arched hallway. Kai smiled a little. The recitation of the family line would take a good deal of time. Tradition, yes. But it also gave him enough time to breathe some air not saturated with sweat, ale, and food.

“Kai,” Holly whispered from a recessed doorway. “Do you trust me?”

He blinked at her, puzzled. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I? It’s not like you can lie to me.” He flinched at the anger that flashed across her face. She didn’t need the reminder of her status.

“You need to come with me. Now.” Reaching out, she pulled at his hand. Her voice tumbled over the words.

In the back of his mind, he heard the Historian drone on. He was covering the family fast. The old Amari had been with them since he was an infant, and was tasked with remembering each birth and death. Every family on the island kept a Historian to prove noble birth.

“Holly, I can’t. As soon as Old Josiah is done, I have to go down and make my pledge. If I miss that, Father will have my hide.”

She licked her lips, her gold eyes darting past him. “Kai, there won’t be any way around that. Once Josiah is finished, things are going to go bad for you. Quickly.” She pulled on his hand once again. “Please, I beg you. Come with me now while you can still run.” Her eyes welled up with tears.

“Run? What am I running from?”

The hall below became silent. Too silent. He heard his father’s massive oak chair slide across the floor. “Josiah, you forgot one of my sons. Why did you not add Kai to the list?”

Tearing his arm from Holly’s grasp, Kai turned and looked down. Something knotted in his stomach. Whether it was fear or apprehension, he didn’t know.

“I am Amari,” the old man croaked. “I cannot lie. You asked for a recitation of the legitimate line. I have given you that.”

Susana, his mother, spoke across the chamber. Her voice snapped with irritation and fear. “No, Josiah. Kai is true born. He should be on your list.”

“Prince Kai is son of his Majesty, yes. But not by you, my Queen. He was begotten on an Amari brought over after a raid. You traded your own stillborn son to his mother so he might live. His only saving grace being his eyes were that of his father, not his mother. Kai is half Islander, half Amari.”

The assembled guests broke out in a fury of voices. Kai staggered back against the wall, stunned. He was half Amari? Kaerdan’d have him in chains the moment he saw him.

Something pulled at his wrist, hard, insistent. He looked, afraid it was a guard. Already he could hear his brother demanding both Kai’s attendance and a blacksmith. Holly stood next to him, her face full of compassion. “Kai, please. We have to get you away from here, now. Before it’s too late!”

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