The King Will Make a Way – Chapter 13


A hawk swept over the village. The sun hadn’t peeked over the horizon yet, but light was beginning to fill the expanse of the sky. Farmers were tending to their animals. Babies cried for milk. Children rolled over and snuggled into their blankets. A long, thin black dog sniffed his way through the streets searching for a discarded treat. A calico cat walked a fence rail. It was Sunday.

Gabe and Angela had slipped from bed when it was still dark. They sat with a candle beside them, casting both light and shadows on the words of the King’s law. Reading those words was all they could think of to help them prepare. They felt as if they were headed into a dark tunnel with no light yet showing at the far end. They didn’t know what the day would bring. They didn’t know Percy’s plans. They didn’t know what Vulpine would do. They didn’t know what would happen to people who didn’t show up to sing in the Square. People like them.

A jarring sound clashed with the early morning tranquility. Whack. Thwack. Tap. Tap. Tap. Whack. Thwack. A hammer pounded a code that echoed off of King’s Hill, delivering the message to the inn. What did it mean? Angela and Gabe wanted to know and raced each other down to the Square. Watching from afar, they crouched in the shadows of the Assembly Hall.

They couldn’t make out what they were seeing, but it certainly was altering the appearance of the Square. Two men knelt on a wooden platform. What they were pounding on was lying flat. Shortly the workers stopped and together raised the first form.

One man leaned on the frame while the other started hammering again at its base. The wooden form had an upright post, shorter than the man holding it, and a cross bar making it look like a squat capital letter T. The beam across the top had three holes cut in it, one large in the middle, two smaller ones at either side.

Feeling that this was important, they patiently waited for the workmen to finish. The seconds felt like minutes and the minutes like hours, but they watched as the workmen secured another wooden frame to the platform. And another. And another. And another.

Gabe and Angela weren’t sure what they were looking at but knew it was unlike anything they had seen before. An ominous feeling tied Gabe’s stomach in knots. “Let’s get out of here.” Angela didn’t need more. They wouldn’t have run faster if a black bear had been chasing them. They tumbled into the inn and into their father.

“Where have you two been?”

“Down to the Square. There are men constructing something. I don’t know what it is.” Gabe proceeded to describe it.

“They are a punishment for criminals,” Father explained. “The neck fits in the larger hole and the wrists in the smaller holes. That top bar opens. The criminal is put in place and then the top is locked down. He’s has to stand out there all day in front of everyone. You’re sure they built one of those down there?”

“They built five.” Gabe delivered the bad news to his father.

Father looked down the road. “I’m going hunting this morning with Percy and some others. Tell Mother not to expect me home until evening.” Father was distracted and left without saying goodbye.

After watching Father leave, Angela turned to Gabe. “Ten hours of hunting? What’s going on?”

“They’re using it as an excuse.” Gabe fixed his gaze on King’s Hill. “They will all be gathered with their weapons in hand. Maybe they are planning to attack Vulpine today. Maybe they just want to be prepared in case Vulpine does something drastic. Father hasn’t said anything. I don’t know Percy’s plan, but we know he wants to fight.” Gabe looked at Angela. He had to look up a little as she had sprouted before he had. “There’s nothing we can do. Let’s just act like it’s any other day.”

Angela opened her mouth to speak, but she closed it again seeing Gabe turn his back to her and head calmly into the kitchen. They set about doing their chores.

Brad Winsley finished up his own chores in the barn and struck out with his father. He had made them each a set of bow and arrows. Having bonded over target practice, Marcus was proud to have his son in step with him. They smiled at each other knowingly as Marcus patted the dagger in its sheath under his vest. Gabe’s father strode up alongside them, but they didn’t greet each other. Their pinpoint focus was at the top of the hill.

The dozen men arrived in installments—a few here, a few there—each disappearing into the pines and then reconnecting at their designated meeting point. Gabe’s father reported what he had learned from his children. Then Percy laid out the plan.

“We’ll spend some time this morning hunting in two groups. We’ll keep close and maintain contact. We’ll work our way up the hill throughout the morning. We will be all together at the upper edge of the forest on the left flank before midday. When we hear the bell stop ringing, we’ll attack the guards. With Vulpine at the ceremony and expecting there might be trouble, there shouldn’t be more than a few guards. We’ll outnumber them and take them easily.” Percy was feeling cocky.

“Then we can take turns sitting on the throne.” He laughed out loud and put the men at ease, all but Gabe’s father. He couldn’t stop thinking about seeing his son standing in front of everyone the night before, reading from the King’s law. For some reason he couldn’t remember the words.

Those same words permeated Gabe’s mind. He replayed the night over and over, setting his jaw to hide the heartache each time he thought of his father leaving the meeting. What is he doing now? 

Mother noticed Father’s absence right away. Gabe gave Father’s message with such sadness she couldn’t help but feel nervous. She hummed to herself as she peeled apples to try and not think about it. She would just be glad that her children were there with her.

Angela was putting Tabitha’s hair in braids, singing silly songs to escape her worries. When their mother called, they came promptly and sat at the table for breakfast. No one noticed if it was good or not. Mother jabbered on about the Griver’s chickens running loose, about the size of the pumpkins at the market and how she had heard the Henkin’s boy had almost set fire to his family’s barn. If you had asked them afterwards, not even Mother could have told you what she had mentioned.

When the children pushed back their bench to rise from the table, she grabbed Gabe’s arm. “Listen, I know we think differently on some things these days, but I am your mother, and I want what’s best for you. I don’t know what’s going on, but I can feel in my bones it’s no good. Your father has himself mixed up in a fine mess I’m afraid. I’m so glad you two are not out with him. But later today, I will be in the Square with Tabitha, obeying our king. I hope to see you there. Vulpine is our king,” she repeated for emphasis.

“We won’t be there, Mother,” Gabe answered sullenly.

“Then don’t go for King Vulpine. Go for the sake of the village,” Mother begged.

“We don’t serve the village either. We serve the King. We can’t go to the Square today. I know you don’t understand. Punish us if you must, but we can’t go.”

“I wash my hands of it. I won’t feel guilty for whatever becomes of it. This is your decision. You will take the consequences.” Mother stomped out of the kitchen.

“What are we going to do?” Angela was the one searching for answers this time.

“I don’t want to be around here. Let’s go to King’s Hill. It’s the most peaceful place I know.”

“Gabe, what about Father and the hunters?” Angela shook her head in disbelief at his suggestion.

“We’ll stay near the bottom of the hill. I don’t want to be here.” His sad eyes stared at the door where their mother had just left the room.

“All right, let me say goodbye to Tabitha, and I’ll be ready.”

In the forest Gabe and Angela made a nest of pine needles for a place to wait out the morning. Their father, Percy Katrid, and almost a dozen other rebels were gathering at their meeting point and inching their way to the uppermost edge of the forest where General Writ and his men guarded the throne room.

Nearly twenty rebels were in the Square, hidden among the waiting crowd, while the rest were either behind or inside the Assembly Hall. Phineas was on the steps of the Hall speaking with the villagers. Vulpine was just inside the Hall doors waiting to be announced. His guards were stationed at intervals around the Square, each standing in front of a shop with a lantern hanging out front—the lanterns were lit by order of Vulpine.

The midday sun continued on its arc, rising to the highest point in the sky.

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