Here’s an excerpt from the revised version of King’s Warrior – coming soon to a bookstore near you (hopefully)
Kamarie, Oraeyn, and Darby meet Yole for the first time in the Mountains of Dusk:
“What is your name?” she asked gently as she walked towards him with an outstretched hand.
The boy shrank from her hand as if it were deadly poison. He glanced up at her and their eyes locked. A shock went through Kamarie as she felt a recognition of something long forgotten shoot into her. The youth seemed to experience the same thing, for he went rigid, and he looked at her sharply. His face suddenly looked too old, too wise for his apparent youthful age.
“My name is Yole,” the boy said hesitantly, “who are you? I didn’t know there was anyone else in these mountains.”
“I am Kamarie, and my two companions are Oraeyn and Darby,” Kamarie said, still puzzling over what she had seen in the youth’s eyes. It had seemed as though she was looking through a window and seeing a very different world than the one she had expected. There was something strangely familiar about this youth, like a part of a dream that has faded with time but was never completely forgotten.
Oraeyn stepped forward, “What are you doing out here alone?” his voice was concerned, and a little bit suspicious.
Yole glanced at his feet, “I was working for a man in the village of Peak’s Shadow.”
Kamarie’s eyes met Oraeyn’s in startled recognition; he nodded and touched the hilt of his sword as if expecting an attack. Yole continued without noticing their reaction to the name that he had uttered, “I fell asleep while I was watching the herd, I know I shouldn’t have, but I was listening to the other shepherds’ playing their pipes and the music just made me feel drowsy and tired and I couldn’t help but fall asleep.
“The next thing I knew, Brant was waking me up and telling me that I had to leave, that I should be more careful around people. I think he was accusing me of stealing sheep or something, but I didn’t. I don’t have any use for sheep of my own. I wouldn’t know what to do with them. I certainly don’t have any place to put them,” Yole’s tone was open and slightly confused, “I’ve been wandering through these mountains trying to find my way out for a long time now. I don’t have any food left, and I think I’m lost.” He sniffed, and wiped his nose with his grimy hand.
Kamarie winced and said, “We have some food.”
At the same time, Oraeyn asked, “Did you say Brant?”
The boy looked at Kamarie gratefully, then turned to Oraeyn, “Yes sir. The man I worked for was named Brant.”
“Well, now, that’s just the man that we need to find, isn’t it?” Darby said, causing them all to jump. It was sometimes fairly easy to forget that Darby was even there she spoke so little.
“Yes, Darby, it is,” Kamarie said, surprised that she had not been as quick as either Darby or Oraeyn to make that connection.
“He’s a good man,” Yole said quickly, darting a look at them as if he thought they would start accusing him of being ungrateful, “looks out for his people, he’s not really the leader of the village or anything, but everyone looks up to him. Whenever there’s trouble, it’s brought to Brant, and he deals with it, never saw anyone more fair in his treatment of others. And his family is nice too: kind, generous people. I don’t hold a thing against them. I don’t know what I did, but I know I probably deserved to be kicked out, because Brant wouldn’t ever issue a punishment if it weren’t deserved.”
“Does he still bend knee to his King?” Kamarie asked thoughtfully.
Yole stared at her, “Of course he does!” He exclaimed. “I told you, he’s a good man, follows the rules. Fair. Of course he bends knee to King Arnaud, he thinks very highly of him, he always speaks of the king with respect and admiration. He’s a man of character, Brant is, loyal to the end.”
“Alright, alright!” Kamarie held up her hands, “I was not questioning his character. We just have to be careful in these difficult days.”
The defensiveness went out of Yole’s eyes, “I’m sorry too, but Brant, he was good to me. Paid me more than I deserved, sent me out with plenty of food, well, it would have been enough food if I hadn’t gotten lost. Most of the other people I worked for used whips when they sent me away. I was chased out of one town by the villagers, they threw rocks and threatened to kill me if I ever came back.”
Oraeyn stared at him, “What did you do?”
“I don’t know, really,” he said, “but it must have been something awful.”
“Did you ever consider, young man,” Darby suddenly spoke up, “that perhaps they were in the wrong?”
Yole’s eyes got big, and he looked scared, “No! Never! I wouldn’t even let the thought enter my head. I just broke some rule and had to be punished for it, that’s all.”