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Excerpt - Casting Shadows

Good morning, everyone! As promised, I am putting in an excerpt from my new book, Casting Shadows. I might add another to the blog, I might not. But I hope you all enjoy this! Thank you for your continuing support.

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It’s what they teach us as princesses and princes.

Mercy is when one shows forgiveness and compassion to someone who has hurt you. It’s within your power to use it. It lies between life and death and can give a ruler fear or respect from their people.

It can be used as an expression of surprise or fear or it can be used as a blessing. It’s not just limited to leniency and pity. People have called upon mercy to help them. Oh, mercy me! Help!

But there’s always a line somewhere. A ruler must realize where it is, use it accordingly and hope that it is the wisest course of action. Most of the time, rulers are praised for their mercy. Some of them give quick executions to the worthy ones. Others forgive rebellion and send the people on their way home, with promises to reform the kingdom.

There is always one hard case that a ruler faces and this one is no different. It teetered between life and death. I consulted my councilors and railed at them for their complicated choices. My husband heard my torment daily and held me as I cried on his shoulders. The children suffered from my sulky behavior and sought to stay away from me. I had to pray long and hard and reach deep into my heart until I made a decision and waited for the appointed day.

I mean, it’s not everyday that a queen has to sign her own sister’s death warrant and watch her die.

It is a cool evening, the night before the execution. I cannot sleep. Instead, I decided that sitting by the window and watching the sun rise is a better idea.

I can imagine my beloved sister, Jayne, doing the same thing as she waits for her time. I know she is in comfortable quarters in her prison, with all of her needs met and a priest to stay with her all night. She’ll be sitting right by the window, eying the guards outside and wishing upon a shiny star that she will live and possibly go to a convent. She might be thinking about the last-minute act of mercy I might give, just as the sword is about to hit her neck, and cursing me.

Jayne had always been about appearances. She’ll be thinking about her performance tomorrow, for this is what it is to her. It’s some act that she has to perform and her audience has to be entertained that her blood will be spilled. Bringing that gift of life will be the ultimate climax to the story…and I won’t do it. Tomorrow, she will bow down for the last time.

She couldn’t possibly think that what she did was wrong. Jayne did not want to believe the truth. She is not the true queen. She will never marry the prince of her dreams and be the darling of the court. She’ll be hoping for nothing more than eternal sleep.

I know that Jayne would have done the same thing to me. If I was her, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to raise that army. She’d see the treason too and sign my life away immediately. She’ll watch me die and make sure it was long and agonizing. She would not like to see me suffer so swiftly like I am doing with her. She’d order me burned, like a woman should be when she commits a heinous crime, and spit on the ashes.

Jayne always despised what she always called my passive nature. Possibly now, she’ll be thinking about how she’ll use this weakness against me. It’s possible her last moments will be spent mocking me.

Eleanor, stop. You can’t imagine childish things forever.

I had to chide myself. Jayne always brought out the worst in me and made me return to old resentments. I sighed and looked over to my sleeping husband. While he too experienced sadness over this decision, he could sleep on it. His mind would not be swirling over a childhood full of hatred and greed. He never cared for Jayne to begin with. He would have signed the order anyway.

But it’s a tough thing, you see. It’s so tough being a merciful queen.

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