Every quarter I host a short-story contest to encourage writing and creativity. Every quarter I am blessed with some truly amazing stories. This quarter was no different. I've posted the rankings as well as the winning short story below. To see the contest rules, which dictate your overall score. CLICK HERE
Top Seven entries
Winner: Treachery Lies in Wait by Janae Keri
Prize: Exiled prize pack -signed copy of the book, signed poster, $30 winner's choice at The Never Chronicles store, $25 Amazon gift card
Runner up: The Talisman of Power by David Green
Prize: Exiled prize pack -signed copy of the book, signed poster, $20 winner's choice at The Never Chronicles store
3rd place: Emily V (awarded Most Potential)
Most potential Prize: Signed copy of Exiled
4th place DARK BEGINNING by: Samuel López
5th place The Tracks by: Janelle Benny
6th place Melena by: Nina Fröström
7th place Schizo by: Nina Fröström
Treachery Lies in Wait
By Janae Keri
September 21, 1646
The servants have their own stories to tell. I listen to their tales as I work, doing odds and ends. I admit I feel pretty useless. I’m a klutz with the arm I have.
I was chopping firewood one-handed today. I need to strengthen my arm in case of an attack. I stole back my sword; it is hidden under my bed, along with this journal. I practice swinging it in my room at night. The sword is weighty; I previously wielded it with two hands. Since I don’t have two hands anymore, I will have to do it with one. It will take time.
September 25, 1646
The pieces of my old life are hidden under my bed. I remember the luxuries of my old life—the food, the clothing, the feather bed. Now I serve those that were my friends. I make their food, brew their ale, and heat their rooms. These luxuries are not to be mine.
Selene sits at her food, among the rest of my family. I feel no pain for what has happened to me, or at least that’s what I tell myself. I know, somewhere deep down it still hurts, but life goes on.
September 28, 1646
My arm is getting stronger; now I feel that I could defend myself, if need be. Today one of the other servants, William, discovered my practices. He offered to help.
The good side of being a servant is that you can hear everything that is going on about the palace. I heard that my beloved horse, Zephyr, was sold to a faraway king. Selene is to be married off this summer. I know I won’t be invited to the wedding. The people are worried about the King’s age and how inadequate my younger brother is. I should have been King instead of him. I knew that people had always liked me better, but now they thought me dead or captive. I don’t know what my father told the Englishmen. I know that I will never be King. I will serve Rathbourne, the King, at my father’s death.
October 12, 1646
Today at dinner, something interesting happened.
I was serving ale to my father’s men, and I overheard a plot to kill my father. I personally did not know the men. I came back a bit later to replenish their supply, and I heard the time and place of a future meeting. The two were going to meet in the church to plan the death of their King. They decided to meet at midnight tomorrow.
That night, I took my findings to Rathbourne. I felt that this was a justifiable reason to break my secrecy. I told him everything I heard, including the meeting time and place. He told me that there was no threat to the King. He dismissed me in seconds, and threatened to tell Father about my presence. Contempt was barely masked on his face. I left, feeling absolutely crushed. My brother hated me.
I decided that something had to be done about the traitors.
October 13, 1646
I am ready; dressed in shadows and sword strapped to my side. I plan to spy on the two men, listening from the shadows of the church. Maybe Rathbourne will believe me then.
October 14, 1646
Last night, I stood in the shadows of the church, listening to the meeting. They prayed for wisdom and discussed their methods. They decided on silencing him with his favorite pillow and slitting his throat, after he went to bed. I knew that I couldn’t let this be done to my father.
October 15, 1646
I again approached Rathbourne. I told him the plot, all that I knew. He dismissed the thought of danger to the King once again. “Fine, if you don’t believe me, wait until you find him dead in his bed!” I said, stalking out. He yelled after me, more threats. I don’t understand how he can reject me that quickly. I’m still his brother!
I’m so alone.
October 16, 1646
The approaching conflict will be dangerous. No doubt about that. I feel, however, that I am prepared. I beat William today in practice, something I haven’t managed before. God be with me as I go to protect my King.
October 18, 1646
Tonight I go to face these traitors! It is my duty to protect the King. I lie on my bed worrying about the coming hours. I plan to hide in a shadowy corner within the servants’ quarters. They knew that this would be the easiest way into the palace. I will ambush them there.
October 20, 1646
I am glad to be alive. I faced the traitors in my black cloak and my sword. I waited in the shadows of a doorway, watching for movement.
The assassins stole away, silent like the shadow I wanted to be. They walked past my doorway, not pausing. I let out a breath and readied myself, drawing my sword, just a shadow. The traitors turned, hearing something. I was hard to miss, standing in the middle of the hallway.
They drew swords; lunging in unison. I dodged, hefting my blade. A few random thoughts run through my head: ‘Two armed men against one? That’s fair!’ Then I was battling them single-handedly.
I couldn’t strike, too many were the blows of my attackers. My arm tired quickly, blocking each stroke. Soon, my guard would slip; the end was near. I took an all-or-nothing shot, aiming for one man’s legs. I was hoping the other would see his accomplice fall and pause to help him. Nothing ever works out the way you think. Even as I swept my blade for one man’s feet, I saw the other’s sword singing toward mine. I feel the sharp burn as the blade cuts deep and I hope mine did the same. The pain comes over me in a wave as I topple backwards. I lay in a heap, staring up at my to-be killer. My sword is gone from my hand; his sword is resting over my frantically beating heart. I have no hope.
A new shadow emerges as I lose consciousness. It attacks my attacker; he crumples down…
I wake up the next morning in Selene’s rooms; my wounds are bound. She seems to have learned much of medicinal skills since she accidently shot me. I ask her what happened. She said she took a frying pan to the heads of my attackers. She called a servant to help carry me upstairs.
Selene told the servant to tie the two men to the doors of the Great Hall. The King would be the first to see them.
October 23, 1646
Today I was called to my father’s courts, for the first time in two months. Several men carried me; my wounds still unhealed. I sat on a bench in front of my father. He was very blunt.
“Son, what you did a few nights ago appalled us. You put your sister’s life in danger and you murdered two men. Explain yourself!”
I replied, explaining how I had overheard the plot to kill the King. I told him how I warned my brother; how he had dismissed it.
Rathbourne denied it coldly.
“Son, you kill my men and claim it was in defense of me?! You are a murderer of innocent men!” To his servants, he explained the charges. I knew. Death.
I am writing this in the final moments of my life. Hopefully, Selene will convince people of my innocence with this journal. Thank you, sister, for everything.
October 31, 1646
Somehow, I am still alive. I am forever in debt to Selene. She rescued me from my cell, right before my execution. She fled with me to the forest; she showed me a cave where I could live. She promised to check up on me once in a while. She’d keep my ink flowing and my sword by my side.
I can’t see how my relationship will ever get better with Father. I’m a hermit in the forest, all alone. Now I truly have been banished from my home.
As always, find interviews, writing samples, videos, contests and more on my website.