Froi of the Exiles

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta Read Free Book Online

Book: Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta Read Free Book Online
Authors: Melina Marchetta
Tags: Juvenile Fiction, Fantasy & Magic
Tesadora was out of the room for that piece of information.
    ‘Quintana of Charyn also claimed that she was the chosen vessel after her thirteenth birthday. And that only she was meant to carry the
first
in her belly. Aboy child. A King and cursebreaker fathered by her betrothed, Tariq.’
    ‘At thirteen? Betrothed?’ Lucian asked with disgust.
    ‘Your
yata
was betrothed at fourteen, Lucian,’ Finnikin said.
    ‘Quintana claimed that the birth of the child would take place before she came of age and if any other male dared to break the curse with a lastborn female, the goddess of fertility would set Charyn alight.’
    ‘She’s obviously mad,’ Finnikin said. ‘And those who believe her are just as mad.’
    ‘As mad as a Queen who claims she can walk the sleep of her people?’ Rafuel said boldly. ‘As mad as those who believe her?’
    An intake of furious breath sounded off the walls. Lucian grabbed the Charynite just as Froi was about to fly across the room and land a fist to his jaw.
    Finnikin stayed calm as he walked towards Rafuel of Sebastabol.
    ‘I’d really like to know what took place, Charynite, and I’d hate to have to kill you before that moment. So perhaps you can refrain from bringing up my queen.’
    Rafuel of Sebastabol had the good sense to look contrite. After a while, he nodded. ‘Next month Quintana of Charyn comes of age. The lastborn male from the province of Sebastabol will travel to the Citavita, the capital, and he will bed the Princess in an attempt to plant the seed. One lastborn from each of the provinces has done so for the last three years. Before that it was her betrothed, Tariq. But when Quintana was fifteen, he was smuggled out of the palace by his mother’s kin after his father mysteriously died. He is the King’s cousin and only male heir.’
    ‘Are they gifted, the lastborns?’ Lucian asked.
    Rafuel was amused by the question. ‘They are actually quite … useless. They were precious to us and some were spoilt as children and others stifled. Most fathers feared the worst for their sons and they were kept out of harm’s way. It’s hard to find a lastborn male who can use a weapon or ride a horse. The daughters are confined to the home. Some are the most frivolous girls you will ever meet, while others are the most timid and shy. I would say most of their kin are about to send them underground for fear of what will take place when the Princess comes of age.’
    Finnikin rubbed his eyes, shaking his head. After a moment he said, ‘A sad tale, Charynite, but I still don’t understand why you’re here.’
    ‘Because you have a lad who speaks our language, who is of the same age as a lastborn, and who is not so useless. More importantly, he is trained as an assassin.’ Rafuel’s eyes caught Froi’s. ‘Yes?’
    No one spoke. Froi stiffened, his eyes locked with the Charynite’s. Froi could see the man was hiding something. He had been trained to notice the signs.
    ‘Gentlemen, your kingdom or mine could not have asked for a more perfect weapon to rid ourselves of this most base of kings. Your lad from the Flatlands is our only hope.’

Chapter 4
    I n Isaboe and Finnikin’s private chamber away from the prying eyes of their people and the world of their court that forced them to be polite and restrained, they spoke of Charyn and Froi and Rafuel of Sebastabol and curses and lastborns and Sarnak, and then Charyn again and taxes and empty Flatland villages, and then Charyn again. When all that talk was over, they stood before each other ready for the mightiest of battles, which they had saved until last.
    Finnikin would describe the situation as tense. Isaboe didn’t describe situations. She described how she was feeling during the situation. Then they would argue about what was less important. Facts or feelings. Tonight it was about both.
    ‘How do you expect to rule a kingdom and be so weak in this matter?’ he said, trying to keep censure out of his tone. He saw

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