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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Young Knights of the Round Table: The King's Ransom #Excerpt by Cheryl Carpinello #Tween #Adventure


The late afternoon sun still held the day’s heat. Philip set the ax down and wiped his brow before getting a drink of water. Across the valley, the walls of Pembroke Castle rose. Its gates stood open, although they were heavily guarded. Come dusk, those gates would be closed, and more than the usual number of knights would be on the parapets. Rumors had spread of the murder and theft this morning.

Since then, the village had been on edge. Farmers didn’t stray far from their fields and kept their children close to home. Additional knights patrolled Pembroke village and the surrounding lands.

Philip had watched the king and his knights ride out this morning. Gavin hadn’t been among them. They had returned just a short while ago. If the shouts from the castle were any indication, the murderer had been caught. The villagers would rest easy tonight, but the guard wouldn’t be dropped. Until it was known for sure that the culprit had acted on his own, King Wallace would keep extra knights on duty.

Philip had never spoken to the king, but he admired him. The people of Pembroke had not turned him away that cold winter day a year ago. Instead, they offered him shelter and protection. With the consent of the king, the friar gave him a home in the church. In return, Philip helped the friar in the fields and with other chores, grateful for a safe place to stay.

Looking at the stack of chopped wood, he smiled sadly. Two years ago he would never have dreamed he’d be here, chopping wood for food and a dry place to sleep. He shook his head at his thoughts, his shaggy, ill-cut black hair falling unevenly across his forehead. Two years. It seemed like forever.

Two years earlier, he had lived with his parents and baby brother on their small farm up north. His parents worked hard to put food on the table and to pay off the farm. Philip’s main job was to watch baby Benjamin while his mother helped his father in their small field. When Benjamin fell sick, Philip helped his father clear the old stalks and rocks from the soil while his mother nursed the baby. He helped his father carefully plant the winter wheat and barley for harvest in the spring.

As autumn slipped into winter, Benjamin hadn’t gotten better. His tiny body burned with fever. Those last few days when Philip held him, the heat coming from Benjamin threatened to slowly engulf him like the embers of a dying fire.

Then one day, the heat drained from Benjamin’s body, and cold took its place. Philip didn’t understand at first why his mother and father cried. For days they’d waited for the fever to leave, and finally it had. Then he noticed the stillness of Benjamin’s body. His small chest didn’t rise and fall; he wasn’t breathing. Along with the heat, life had also left the tiny body.

They buried Benjamin under a layer of straw in the small ditch next to the cottage, dressed in his little clothes, his body wrapped tightly in a blanket. Philip wept openly beside his parents, not ashamed to show his grief. Unknown to him then, it was just the beginning.

*****

Philip struggled against the hurt and the memories. He stared out past the abbey, knowing that if the Wild Man had shown up, he would have helped keep his memories at bay. His absence fueled those memories, allowed them to surface. Philip had become attached to the man’s gentle voice, so like his father’s, at once.

With the Wild Man, he forgot, even for a short time, the guilt that engulfed him, that threatened to drown him like the cold murky waters of the northern marshes. His father had told him of men who dared to tread through those marshes. If they missed a step, they plunged down into the darkness, no saving breath possible, just a brief struggle before life left their bodies.

Philip felt like that when the grief overtook him, unsure if he would or even if he wanted to survive the next minute, hour, day.

He should have refused the Wild Man’s help and his company when he’d arrived in Pembroke. It had been a relief, though, to find a friend and a place to call home, even if it never would be.

The Wild Man had introduced him to young Prince Gavin, as alone as he, but in a different way. Gavin feared disappointing his family, failing them by showing cowardice in battle. Philip had formed a bond with Gavin those first weeks that helped them deal with their fears and doubts.

In time, Gavin introduced him to Bryan, the blacksmith’s apprentice. Bryan, sent away by his family to learn a trade, longed to be a knight, but he lacked the money and stature that would make it possible. And so Bryan dreamed of a life he would never have, could never have. He labored in sadness and silence.

Indeed, they all had their demons.

And Philip? While he had found a new family in his friends, he had chosen not to confide in them, yet. He was afraid of again losing those he had come to care about.

Young Knights

Action Adventure Kindle Book

Three Friends. Three Quests. Three Mysterious Predictions.

At Pembroke Castle in medieval Wales,11-year-old Prince Gavin, 13-year-old orphan Philip, and 15-year-old blacksmith's apprentice Bryan, brought together in friendship by the one they call The Wild Man, embark upon a quest to save The Wild Man's life when he is accused of murder and robbery. If they have any hope of succeeding, the three will have to confront their fears and insecurities, and one of them will have to disclose the biggest secret of all. But it is the arrival of King Arthur and what he reveals that surprises characters and readers.

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre - Tween Adventure
Rating – G
More details about the author
Connect with Cheryl Carpinello through Facebook

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