Well for 5th Day of Christmas we are sticking with the fantasy genre, but we are switching authors to Penelope Wallace and an extract from her debut novel, We Do Not Kill Children.
We Do Not Kill Children – An extract
Dorac had always hated being stared at. He stood, flanked by guards, in the centre of the White Hall in Stonehill Castle. Around three sides crammed men, women and children. Most though not all he knew, and every eye was fixed on him.
Fifteen years ago, he had sworn his oath to King Arrion’s mother in this hall. Since then, he had received orders here, and delivered reports, and greeted new brothers and sisters. It was the centre of the life of the King’s Thirty.
The long whitewashed walls glared in on him.
Before him on the left was a table with the holy gospel, on which the witnesses swore. The priest, a short scowling woman, stood by, and the King’s Questioner, Lady Kara. On the right, another table with that cloak, his cloak, stiff with blood. The witnesses sat behind. Cremdar looked troubled, Arvill looked distraught, and Braf looked like nothing.
The eyes burned into him, and raised sweat.
He answered what turned out to be the last question, and was told to step forward and take the oath. His right hand on the open book, hearing himself stumble over the words, he swore that the evidence he had given was true. He knew that no one believed him.
The eyes shifted away, and he was cold. Everyone looked – Dorac looked – at the man sitting on the dais at the north end. King Arrion, his lord for nine years. His lord, his friend, his brother. Everyone else had been staring at him because they believed him guilty. The King looked away for the same reason.
“Your Grace, do you wish to retire to consider?” asked Lady Kara.
“No. But he may sit down.” So someone brought him a stool, but he ignored it. He waited. Fought the knowledge of doom coming. All around the walls, a hiss of talk. Dorac could not hear words. He could guess.
(“He murdered three children, and thought the King would approve. One of the Thirty! Why is it taking so long? What is there to decide?”)
The King stood up. Silence beyond imagining.
“Dorac Kingsbrother, I find you guilty of the murders of Ilda aged twelve years, Gascor aged nine years, and Filana aged five years.”
It still seemed impossible.
Hands on his shoulders, pushing him to his knees. Blood pounded behind his face. Possible and actual. At least he would soon be dead.
“You have served my mother and me and this land with great loyalty for many years. I do not doubt that you thought what you did was for the best. Words were spoken at Council that may have helped you to believe this. But whatever your motives, it was an abominable act.
“From this day, and forever, you are exiled from this land, and from the fellowship of the Thirty. If you are still within the realm one week from today, or if you ever return without the King’s word, your life is forfeit.
“I take back your companionship, I take back your land and your gold to comfort the bereaved, I take back your horse and your armour.” He paused. “Your sword you may retain. Go from here, make a better life, and may God forgive you.”
We Do Not Kill Children
“We do not kill children; we do not commit rape; we do not take pleasure in torment.”
Dorac Kingsbrother was one of the King’s Thirty in the kingdom of Marod. That was before he was found guilty of the murder of Lord Gahran’s three children. Though Gahran was a traitor, his children were innocent. The code of the King’s Thirty leaves no room for such a barbaric act, and for this heinous crime Dorac faces a life in exile.
The shame of such a sentence is something that Dorac can’t brook, and so he sets off on a journey to the Old Stones, the place where those that seek death meet their end. Followed by Gormad, a child in search of adventure, Dorac is not alone on his final journey.
But not everyone believes that Dorac is guilty. Gemara Kingsister, head of the Six, investigates the murder of Gahran’s children; though there is more at stake than the life of a lone warrior in this, the first of the Tales from Ragaris.