This time I actually managed to not post two chapters four months apart, which is good and possibly a first. However, you might not have read Chapters 1 and 2, or need a refresher. If you’re willing to take a little more time, the links to the full chapters are below. Or you can just read the summaries of each chapter.
Chapter 1 summary (click to expand)
Teya Redstone is the royal executioner/assassin for the medieval fantasy country of Tharland. She loves drawing and was raised with her older brother, Rian, by a maid named Emme.
Rian committed a crime that is unclear in Chapter 1, and has been sentenced to execution. But that means Teya faces the choice of executing her brother… or being executed herself for a job badly done.
During the execution, Rian chooses to be executed by bow and arrow, an unpopular choice among criminals. Teya has been driven to near insanity with the decision, but finally releases the bowstring. But she misses by inches at the same time that Emme runs in and tries to convince the council (this country’s version of a royal family) to spare Teya the burden of executing her brother. Her argument fails, and she and Rian are sent to the dungeon. Teya is confined to her small bedroom, where she stays up late into the night and makes an escape plan.
Chapter 2 summary (click to expand)
While Teya is escaping, she runs into Remmon, a servant she grew up good friends with who was in love with her but worked nights, so they never saw each other. He gives her food and money to bring. As Teya, Emme, and Rian are running from the castle, Remmon catches up with them and insists on coming. He has brought a bow and arrows for Teya.
Finally, they escape the search of the guards and walk for hours until they come to the border of Eparia, the neighboring country. They were not going to be let through, but a woman in armor came over, claiming to be the new recruit, and let them through. They later discovered she was a “forest girl” and her name was Marisa. Emme didn’t want to trust her, but Teya convinced the group to let her join them.
After losing all their food to a swarm of biting bugs, Teya happened to shoot an arrow at a hidden large fruit in a tree. They passed it around, glad to have food again, until Marisa got a better look at it and realized… it was deadly.
Everyone sat in silence. The fruit’s aftertaste lingered bitterly in Teya’s mouth. All that work, escaping, running away, getting past the border… and they were going to die because they ate the wrong fruit. How could she be so naïve? This was all her fault — she was the reason they had to escape in the first place, and she had shot an arrow at the fruit and drunk it first.
At least she could spend her last moments with the people she loved. Teya felt bad for Marisa. Did she have any family? Anyone she would rather be with?
“How much time do we have left?” Teya mumbled.
“I think a few hours,” said Marisa.
Nobody cried, they all just waited. Waited quietly for it to happen.
It was funny, death had always been something scary for Teya, despite her bringing it to people every day. But now that she knew it was coming, she had come to terms with it as she lay in the grass with Remmon, Rian, Emme, and Marisa.
Without warning, Marisa shot up. “There is a cure!”
Teya sat, pulled out of her trance. “What?”
“There’s an antidote! Right here!” Marisa pulled at a plant she had been twiddling in her fingers. It had minuscule spring-green leaves sticking out. “The green star cures the white star. I remember! I know about every plant in this forest!”
They had already accepted their fate, so it was hard to believe. “We won’t die?” Emme whispered.
Marisa didn’t respond. Her back was to the group, hunched over the plant. “Marisa! Are we going to live!?” Teya cried.
She spun back around, five stems in her hand. “Yes!”
Rian, as usual, didn’t smile. Remmon reached for one of the stems, but Marisa snapped her hand back. Then, she stood up and passed one to each of them. “Eat it, quickly!”
The plant was the worst thing Teya had ever tasted, but she shoved it into her mouth and swallowed. “Are you sure this will work?” said Remmon.
“Oh, it will work.”
Emme sighed and squeezed Teya. After brief hesitation, she did the same to Rian and Remmon. Marisa sat awkwardly, then stood up and scaled the tree beside her.
They cheered and hugged until a voice from the tree called, “I have more good news!” Marisa flew to the ground. “A town is near. Just another few hours of walking.”
“We should sleep first,” said Rian.
Everyone agreed, so they each removed the sticks and rocks from an area of grass and lay. Teya watched the trees’ slender branches tickle the clear sky, not a star or moon visible. She wasn’t sure if she was the first or the last to fall asleep, but the clear sky faded away and she was at the castle, reliving the worst moment of her life. Against the wall was Rian, and in her hand was a bow and a single arrow. Or was it Rian? The next time she looked up, it was Remmon, then Marisa’s fierce eyes burned holes in her. Teya dropped the bow. She couldn’t do this. She turned back toward the council, preparing for her death, when…
Her eyes inched open. It was even darker than before. Sitting beside her was Remmon. He turned pale and immediately collapsed on the ground, pretending to sleep. Teya drew her hand and felt the back of her head—her hair was neatly braided.
She smiled and tried not to laugh. “Remmon,” she whispered, shaking him.
Remmon opened his eyes and seemed to think he had gotten away with it. “What?”
“I cannot sleep.”
“Me neither. I was just… lying down.”
“Remember when we would put Trina’s clean dishes back into the sink when she was not looking?”
Remmon laughed. “And she would keep cursing and washing them again.”
“I can’t believe we never got caught. She was so gullible.”
“Yes. And I remember when I stole food from the kitchen for you.”
“You have done that twice now.” Teya leaned her head on his shoulder.
Before he could say anything, Remmon gasped sharply and clutched his stomach.
Teya sat up, confused as to whether this was a joke. Unable to stand, Remmon leaned against a tree, yelling in pain.
“Wake up, everybody! Something is wrong with Remmon!” Teya shouted. The other three awoke, hair frazzled and eyes half-open.
In agony, Remmon gripped Teya’s shoulder, his fingers digging so hard she knew they would leave bruises. She looked around, frantic, unsure of what was happening or what to do. “What is wrong with you!?” She thought they were safe. Marisa said they were safe.
He tried to answer, but couldn’t force the words out. “I– I–” His wide, fearful pale-blue eyes locked with hers. Then he turned as white as the crisp paper in Teya’s notebook and his eyes relaxed, not breaking from her stare.
And Remmon collapsed to the ground, lifeless.
Emme gasped. “Remmon!” sobbed Teya. She listened for his heartbeat and was met with the worst silence she’d ever heard.
Remmon was dead.
Lanky, red-haired Remmon was never to be seen again. She would never pass him waking up on her way to bed. She would never laugh with him again. Never play tricks with him again like they did when they were little. Never make Trina clean the dishes over and over again. Never tie the servants’ shoelaces to the table leg. Never chase each other in the halls. Never share another starless night with him.
And there was nothing she could do about it.
There was so much he would never do. He died too young, and it wasn’t his fault. Teya’s tears left dark marks on his uniform. She could not grasp the fact that he was gone. He wasn’t coming back. And she realized that was what she had been doing to people and their families for years.
Teya reached to hold the braid he had made just then for just an ounce of comfort. For a reminder that he was still there in her memory. But in the commotion, it had come undone. It was gone forever, just like the person who made it. In a rush of sadness and anger, she gripped the knife from the cart and sawed at her waist-long hair until it dropped in a pile, leaving uneven, prickly hair falling down to her tear-striped cheeks.
Emme knelt beside her and wrapped her arms around her. Rian just stared, emotionless as usual. Teya knew he was feeling something on the inside, she just wasn’t sure what.
There, hunched over the one who stole her food, who was always kind to her when no one else was, Teya had a sudden instinctive feeling. She had no proof, but she knew.
Teya wiped her eyes, scooped up the bow, and fired an arrow straight through Marisa’s neck.