European Historical Fiction
OldEarth Melchior Encounter Excerpt
Our Natures That Deceive
In the fifth book in my OldEarth Encounter series, OldEarth Melchior Encounter, a European Historical Fiction book, Melchior was a man torn by choice. His son is accused of murder, his daughter is forced to marry a brutal king, and his sister is driving him mad, but a prophetic vision saves him from despair.
King Radburn waved Lord Gerard’s comment away. “I accept your offer, good Father. I know that once you hear all the facts, you will see fit to punish the guilty and free the innocent. I have no other interest in my mind.” The king smiled benignly.
The widow snorted this time.
Harold smiled and settled his stance into a comfortable position. This ought to prove interesting, if nothing else.
It took the better part of the morning for everyone to have his say, recalling events as they knew them. Father Neumann listened carefully and interrupted several times to ask detailed questions.
Though he had not been near the actual scene, Harold could soon imagine the series of events in vivid detail.
Servants slipped in twice, offering food and drink. No one ate, though many accepted drinks.
In the dwindling afternoon heat, Wilfred was finally allowed a chance to give his account of what happened. His summary sounded like the desperate pleas of an already condemned man. “Everyone was screaming and shouting. I didn’t know what to do, so I ran!”
Harold furrowed his brow, perplexed. Though it seemed clear to him that Wilfred did not kill Lady Nadine, it was equally obvious that no one else in the room had either. Too many witnesses testified that everyone in the room had been somewhere else when the deed was done. Still, something about Lord Gerard’s testimony did not add up, and Father Neumann’s frequent glances at his brother priest hinted at his doubts.
In red-faced passion, Lord Gerard stood up, pointing his finger at the boy and shouting, “You little liar! You arranged to meet my daughter outside the hall, and when Lady Nadine found you, she tried to stop you, and you—like the coward you are—stabbed her!”
Grasping the edge of the table for support, Wilfred’s face drained of all color. “I didn’t! I swear it! I was going to meet your daughter, that’s true, but we never saw each other. I heard someone calling, and I became frightened, so I hid. I saw Lady Nadine come forward, a-a-and-I saw her fall into your arms.”
Everyone stared at Lord Gerard, who had grown pale in turn. “How dare you accuse me? I’m not the one on trial!”
Nolan climbed to his feet. “You, as well as anyone, had a good reason to kill the lady.” He leaned over the table and looked meaningfully at Lord Gerard. “Melchior told me about Wilfred.”
Widow Brunswick wavered to her feet, strands of hair flailing like naughty children from the crooked bun on her head, and pointed a shaky finger accusingly. “Yes, he certainly did have good reason to wish his wife dead and this boy to take the blame! His wife hid the fact that she had switched her living son for a dead one, and Wilfred was really her own. How long have you known the truth, Lord Gerard?”
Lord Gerard fell heavily back onto his chair. “By the gods, I didn’t know. Not until the king told me yesterday.”
All eyes swiveled toward the king.
Widow Brunswick let out a cackling, half-mad laugh. “He has his own secrets to keep, so he thought to cover them with other men’s tales. He killed his own son yesterday, though he professes he knew nothing of the matter.”
Father Neumann gasped.
The widow wagged her head. “We are not among angels, Father.”
A. K. Frailey is the author of 17 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
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“OldEarth Melchior features many of the best aspects of both historical and science fiction.” ~Reedsy/Discovery
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