TITLE: THE FATAL CROWN
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Tied to a chair, Taela is being held prisoner by the renegades because she tried to kill their leader, Hawke. One of her captors, Kalen, has brought her something to eat.
Kalen strolled over to the table where Egan had set up his arrows. He picked up an unfinished shaft and started to wind string around the fletching.
“So what are you and your friends planning to do with me?” Taela asked around the bite of snarerabbit.
He turned his eyes to meet hers, then let his gaze slide away. “Hasn’t been decided yet. We don’t want to harm you, but we will to protect Hawke.”
A pulse drummed at Taela’s temples. “What else could I expect from a gang of ruffians?” she murmured.
He smoothed one of the feathers between his fingers. “If you promise to leave Hawke alone, we might let you live.” He glanced over at her, as if to gauge her reaction.
She spooned another bite of meat into her mouth. So that was his plan. He was trying to frighten her. He didn’t understand how determined she was. She raised her chin, covering her trepidation with bravado. “I’ll never give up.”
Kalen tossed the arrow back onto the table and shifted his feet. “You’ll get yourself killed for nothing.”
“Justice for my sister isn’t nothing.”
A brisk wind blew outside, rattling the walls of the tent. The midday sun shining through the tree branches made moving shadow patterns on the canvas. He hooked his thumbs into his trouser pockets, walked over and leaned on the edge of Egan’s stool. “Don’t you know there’s no honor in revenge?”
“As if you knew anything about honor. Should I be like you? Follow a traitor and betray my king?” She knew she shouldn’t antagonize him, but she couldn’t help herself. He had no right to lecture her.
He crossed his arms, drawing back his sleeves, revealing tanned forearms beneath. “If you had any sense, you’d realize Hawke is fighting for the good of the kingdom.”
“Maybe If I believed that. But I know that Hawke only cares about himself.”
“He’s risking his life.”
“Too bad he didn’t do the same for my sister.”
Kalen looked down and dug a boot heal into the dirt. “He wanted to.”
She dropped the spoon into the bowl, spattering gravy on her jacket. “Well, he had the chance. Why didn’t he?”
“Because he—. He couldn’t.”
“Because he’s a coward.”
“No. Because —” Kalen closed his mouth. He ran a hand through his hair, looking as if he wanted to say more.