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The Prince Of Carentan
Book One Of The Carentan Series
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-251-6
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Young Adult/Medieval
eBook Length: 235 Pages
Published: July 2015

From inside the flap

Gereinte Andolin, heir to the throne of Carentan is a sitting target since the death of his father. After several assassination attempts, he is abducted and sold into servitude to a rough sea-faring tribe called the Coustillers. During Gereinte’s time aboard the Skyelady brig, his family is plagued by endless plots to undermine their authority and subvert the rightful heir to the throne. After a year at sea and having earned his freedom, Gereinte returns to Carentan and is reunited with his family. His mother sends him on a Grand Tour to forge alliances across the Western Isles, during which time he procures a magical blue sword, rescues a princess and secures alliances across several countries. However, his trip is cut short by news of his mother’s ill health. The Kingdom of Carentan is thrown into a state of uncertainty and discontent and Gereinte is forced into a duel for the crown of Carentan. Will Gereinte finally prove to his peers and rivals that he is worthy of being king?

The Prince Of Carentan (Excerpt)


Chapter One

The blood pounded in Gereinte's ears. He sprinted away from the Tower, then chanced a glance over his shoulder. The older boy was gaining on him fast. Sweat beaded his skin. His hands tingled in the cold, damp air. Surely the castle guards would have seen him from their vantage point? He took a deep breath, put his head down and pelted for the forest. It would be too humiliating to be caught out in the open, in front of the men he would one day command.

His foot caught a tree root and he fell, protecting his face with his hands. His whole body stung, with the pain of the fall and the bitterness of knowing what would come next. The boy descended upon him and kicked him hard.

Crunch.

The blow to his side was excruciating.

Something cracked, a rib? The air was sucked from his lungs. He gasped. Each short, shallow breath punctuated the pain. He tried to roll onto his side, but a coarse leather boot pressed on his shoulder like a dead weight.

"Not so tough without Warmaster Alaric looking over your shoulder, eh?" the boy said.

He looked up the stocking covered leg; it was Drayton, squire to the knight, Fulk. Gereinte coughed, winced and a spear-like pain lanced through the side of his body.

He gauged Drayton's size. If he were to get out of this in one piece, he would have to be quick. Quick witted and as quick on his feet as his small, wiry frame allowed.

"Let me up and we'll do this man to man." Gereinte's voice sounded distant, as though it belonged to another person, someone strong and confident, not weakened by pain and humiliation. Drayton grinned. The weight lifted and Gereinte stole a short, pain-wracked breath. He rolled nimbly onto his side drawing his knees into his chest before thrusting out his feet as hard as possible into Drayton's chest. It was worth it to see the shock on Drayton's face; his eyes nearly popped out of their sockets and his mouth worked like a fish, fighting to catch his breath.

Gereinte knew he had only a split second to make his escape. He sprang to his feet, ignoring the burning sensation in his side, launched into a sprint and slammed straight into the body of another person.

First, he was relieved as he slumped to the ground; someone from the castle guard had been sent to find out what was going on. Then, crushing defeat as he realised he had run headlong into Drayton's training partner, Squire Charrock. Charrock loomed above him with a mean grin. Charrock and Drayton were given a wide berth by most squires or pageboys who had even the slightest instinct of self-preservation. It was well known that the duo preyed on the small and weak for sport, but they were subtle enough to get away with it. To top it, they were good, loyal squires and tipped for joining the Queen's Guard once they were knighted.

Gereinte backed away on his hands and feet. Drayton appeared at his shoulder and hissed like a snake. Gereinte looked up into unforgiving eyes, trying to imagine this pair of jesters in the Queen's colours.

"Purple wouldn't suit you anyway," he said to himself.

"What did he say?" Drayton said, still labouring for breath.

"Dunno," Charrock said, grinning. "Something about purple... how hard did you hit him?"

"Not hard enough," Drayton said, rising above his victim. Drayton's next blow caught him across the face, snapping his head back with the force. The salty, metallic taste of blood filled his mouth. Instinctively, his hands flew to his face. He had a gash on his upper lip and was sure to have visible bruising. This time, he had them. They couldn't get away with it, too much evidence. Charrock knew it too.

"What the darkness do you think you are doing? No marks, remember?" He stepped over Gereinte and pushed Drayton away. "Now what are you going to do about it? This was you, not me. Remember that when you are summoned before the Queen Regent," Charrock said.

"Whatever happened to 'we'll stick together, no matter what'? Got cold feet have you? Some friend you are," Drayton said. But Charrock continued to jab him in the shoulder to emphasise his point.

"If I get chucked out, my father will disown me."

"This is different." There was a look of delight on Drayton's face and Gereinte decided it was time to start inching away. He managed to roll onto all fours while the squires continued to argue and push each other. If he moved slowly enough, the noise of his escape might be muffled by the brawl going on.

Inch by inch, he sneaked away.

At two, three yards, he dared to look over his shoulder and saw the argument had descended into violence. Slowly, he stood up. Drayton aimed a punch at Charrock, who dodged it and slammed an uppercut into Drayton's chest, just at the spot he had been kicked. Drayton's face flushed red with rage and pain. Gereinte crept away. Light burst out of the clearing ahead. If he could just make it that far, someone would surely see him from the castle walls. Just a few more... wretched... steps.

His foot was wrenched forcibly from behind him and suddenly, he was being dragged backwards through the woods. Bits of stone, twigs and tree roots battered his hands and face, cutting little nicks in his skin. It was like he was lying still and the ground was being pulled from under him. He closed his eyes as dirt and debris filled his eyes, nose and mouth. The earthy scent of decay was overwhelming. Then, a sudden crack to the side of his head and the world started spinning. Nausea rose from the pit of his stomach. He opened an eye. A large oak tree blocked the path.

"Idiot. That could have killed him." Drayton's voice.

"I thought that was the idea," Charrock said.

"Not before I've had my fun." They laughed.

"This'll do," Charrock said. "I hope you brought some rope."

Rope? Gereinte panicked. He tried to get up, but his legs buckled.

"No you don't. You're not going anywhere," Drayton said, striking Gereinte's face again. An explosion of stars danced before his eyes. Drayton pushed Gereinte flat to the ground and held him there, while Charrock fumbled around by his feet. The rope was pulled so tight, his feet went numb. They yanked him up while the rope was tied around the tree. Then forced his arms behind him around the tree trunk, each wrist bound so tight, he could no longer feel his fingers. The boys took their time to forage around for the biggest sticks and branches they could find.

Gereinte let his head loll to his chest. What would his father have thought? He tried wriggling his hands and feet, but he couldn't feel them. Not much hope there. Never give up hope. His father's words drifted into his thoughts. Deep breath. Don't show them how much it hurts. Don't give them the satisfaction.

Gereinte Andolin, Prince Royal and heir to Carentan raised his head and levelled his eyes with his persecutors. Drayton's piggy black eyes stared back at him and for a moment, Gereinte indulged himself with imagining a large snout to replace that button nose. Yes, much better. He smiled. Drayton flinched, eyes widened with surprise. Gereinte had won on a different level, a level that these two were unlikely ever to understand. Drayton swung his stick with all his might and Gereinte was ready for it. The blows pelted him over and over. Drayton and Charrock swapped and changed; head, body, legs. All the time, he kept his gaze fixed ahead until eventually, he let his eyelids slide shut. His chin dropped softly to his chest and he slipped thankfully into unconsciousness.