Lady Renee de Winter turned her back to the parlor, where her father’s clerk counted gold crowns into the visitor’s waiting palm. The coins’ melodic ring turned her stomach.
“Please thank my lord Tamath de Winter for his donation,” the visitor said, bowing. “His generosity keeps the roads well guarded.”
Renee wondered how long the man practiced that sincere voice, or how her father’s clerk tolerated the farce. For that matter, whose benefit was the show for at all? Calling extortion “charity” fooled no one.
She knelt on the carpeted floor and opened her travel trunk. With luck, the visiting thief would see her Academy of Tildor uniform packed inside. Once she graduated, these Family thugs would think twice about making their demands on the de Winter estate. Or on any other estate.
“Your pardon, my lady.” The approaching maid wrung her hands and waited until Renee shut the wooden lid. “Your father wishes for you to address the tenants tomorrow.”
Renee closed her eyes. He knew she was leaving for the Academy today, just as she had done at the end of every summer since turning ten. Renee wanted to protect Tildor, to serve its people and the Crown. Her father wanted her to stay home and count goats. In gods’ names, they had discussed it—again!—over breakfast that very morning.
Blood boiled beneath her cheeks as she stalked down the wide hallway to her father’s study and slammed the door hard enough to topple accounts books from their shelf. “The Family’s demands will only grow if you keep indulging them, my lord.”
Lord Tamath dipped his pen into the inkwell and continued writing. The dark wood of his furniture matched his strict woolen tunic. “With a mere boy now holding the throne, the danger to us doubles.” His pen scratched over parchment. “It costs less to give coin than to lose wagons. A fact of which you, of all people, should be well aware.” He didn’t look up, didn’t even acknowledge the sting of his words.
Ten years ago, a Family-rigged accident crushed a wagon carrying Renee’s mother and older brother to a market. It would have carried Renee instead of Riley, had she not fallen off a horse that morning. The scar on her palm pressed her to honor their memory; Lord Tamath honored it by feeding their killers.
Notes: This scene is the reader’s first introduction to Renee. It was absent in the original draft, but came into the story to offer a taste of both Renee’s background and Tildor’s problems right off the bat. Here we have a sixteen year old Academy student who is defying her father’s wishes because she wants to be part of the solution. A group called “The Family” is extorting the de Winters (as well as others) and Renee disagrees with her father’s submission to the demands. The situation is not black and white. While everyone will agree that extortion is bad, most would also sympathize with a victim’s fear of consequence in refusing a demanded tribute. With a new, inexperienced ruler of the throne, it is difficult to predict what the future will hold. (The ambiguity of whether the government or a crime group is a more reliable “business” partner is of course common in history with political change.) This concept of situations being multi-sided was very important to me in writing CADET. The moral, legal and ethical dilemmas are fun for me.
Although I did not include it here, the scene at this point zooms away from the large scale problems of the country, to Renee’s immediate issues. She wants to go the Academy, her father does not want her to go. Worse, he has some ammunition to support his point - the Academy may not want Renee either. THE CADET OF TILDOR is, at its core, about the characters. They are the reason I started writing the book and it is my hope that they will stay with you long after you finish reading it.
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Scavenger Hunt Schedule:
M 11/5 - Marieke @ www.mariekenijkamp.com - Girl Power post
M 11/5 - Jessica @ http://ireadtorelax.blogspot.com - Trailer post w/reaction
T 11/6 - Yiota @ http://splashofourworlds.blogspot.com - Annotation
T 11/6 - Ashley @ http://firestarbooks.blogspot.com - Trailer post w/reaction
W 11/7 - Candace @ www.loveydoveybooks.blogspot.com - Annotation
W 11/7 - Lena @ http://ilovebooksclub101.blogspot.com/ - Interview w/Trailer Actors
Th 11/8 - Frankie @ http://frankieblooding.wordpress.com - Girl Power post
Th 11/8 - Ntzee @ http://maybethisbook.blogspot.com - Interview w/Trailer Actors *giveaway*
F 11/9 - Frankie @ http://frankieblooding.wordpress.com/ - Review
S 11/10 - Jessica @ http://ireadtorelax.blogspot.com/ - Guest review/interview *giveaway*
Su 11/11 - Ashley @ http://firestarbooks.blogspot.com/ - *giveaway*
M 11/12 - JoAnne @ www.thefairytalenerd.com - Girl Power post
M 11/12 RAFFLECOPTER CLOSES