TITLE: The Price of Mercy: Book One of the Lokana Chronicles
Dirty tears carved grooves through the layers of grime on the poor farmer’s face as he fought and lost the battle for his dignity. “Please, your Highness, have mercy. I beg you.”
Toqarnna Vegin sympathized with the man, whose pitiful appearance was exaggerated by the colored light filtering through the stained glass windows lining the gallery. But drought or no, he still had taxes to pay; surely he had other ways of obtaining the necessary funds. Even if he didn’t, was prison really the most suitable penalty? How could he ever hope to earn what he owed if he was stuck in a prison camp? But he couldn’t simply let the man go, either.
As Vegin opened his mouth to speak, the room’s heavy wooden door burst open. The prince flinched as his father stalked into the room, the queen trailing behind him. Kintarnna Tol swept his gaze around the room as the court fell to its knees before him. The guards scattered about the room stood at attention, ready for anything. The pathetic heap of a peasant trembled, prostrate, before him. The prince, out of habit, stood atop a dais in front of two intricately carved thrones, and froze the king in place with the sternest gaze he could muster.
“Vegin!” Tol’s voice boomed through the chamber, commanding attention. “If you’re not going to sentence this man, I’ll be more than happy to do it for you.”
The prince’s eyes narrowed. “That’s really not necessary, Father.”
“Oh? So you’ve sentenced him, then?”