The Kingdom of Broclarre
halia of Broclarre struggled against the guards, her movements as useless as a sparrow in the mouth of a cat. Her shoulders burned, and tendons stretched to the limit threatened to rip from her bones. These men cared less if they tore her arms from the sockets. The hard-faced soldiers, gripping her so cruelly, were unfamiliar and not the usual palace protectors. These men wore the uniform of the king’s elite militia.
“I banish you from the Kingdom of Broclarre, never again to set foot in my kingdom by threat of death.” King Garro lifted his chin, sitting back on the golden throne. “As I have declared this day, so shall it be done.”
In the hallway, an angry crowd had gathered to hear the king’s proclamation. The masses had fallen silent to stand waiting like buzzards over a dead lamb. One of the guards restraining Thalia swore under his breath, and dug his strong fingers cruelly into her arms.
She yelped and turned to face her father.
“Banished?” She stared at King Garro. “Father … please… What have I done to displease you so?”
“Speak no more, witch. Think not to cast a spell over me for I know your wickedness.” King Garro struggled to his feet. His hand rested on the hilt of the gold dagger at his waist. “I took you into my house, treated you as my own, and you repaid me with death.”
Aghast, Thalia gaped at her father in disbelief. “Is that what you believe…? That I had a hand in killing the queen?” She stared at the king’s ashen face. The lines around his mouth cut deep, turning his expression bleak. Had he lost his mind with grief?
Beside him, the High Priest stood erect, his lips curled in a vicious smile. Thalia glared at the man in the crisp white robes. “Did you fill the king’s mind with these lies? I would never hurt my mother.” She met her father’s daunting expression. “I could never do harm to anyone. I am a healer. Ask anyone in the village, I help people.” She pointed at the High Priest. “There! There stands the evil in this palace.”
“To think my dear wife had compassion for your sorry soul.” Garro shook his head slowly. “Her belief a wholesome upbringing would prevent the evil magyck rising in a demon’s seed was the error of a gentle, childless woman.” The king ran a hand over his face. “And she paid with her life.” His black gaze traveled over Thalia, and he gave a snort of disgust. “No more will you breathe the same air as my people.” He punched a fist into the palm of his hand. “If I had not given my word to uphold Brea’s dying wish to set you free, I would have taken your head this day.”
Pain tightened in a wide band around her heart. Confused, she met the king’s enraged expression. The man’s piercing blue eyes looked on her with contempt, disgust, and hatred. The only father she had ever known curled his large hands into fists. This angry man had once loved her, taught her how to hold a bow, and to gentle a horse. Gods help me, now he wants me dead.