Division of the Marked (The Marked Series)

BOOK: Division of the Marked (The Marked Series)
8.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Contents

Title Page

Copy Right

Dedication

Map

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty One

Chapter Twenty Two

Chapter Twenty Three

Chapter Twenty Four

Chapter Twenty Five

Chapter Twenty Six

Epilogue

About the Author

End Notes

DIVISION

OF THE MARKED

March McCarron

DIVISION
 

OF THE MARKED

Copyright © 2013 March McCarron

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Cover art by March McCarron

Edited by Alexis Arendt

In loving memory

of my Uncle Joe,

who ever encouraged

and valued imagination.

Yarrow ran his fingers along the raised mark upon his neck, as if hoping it would rub away. A ridiculous notion—it was as much a part of him as the nose on his face.

His ma, walking at his side, slipped her hand into his own and squeezed.  He could not bring himself to look at her, nor at his siblings, for fear his mask of bravery might crack. Fourteen-year-olds did
not
cry. 

Instead, he trained his eyes ahead of him, towards his destination.  He forced his boots to tread onward, further down the cobbled road, into the weak morning light. 

Sodden streamers and confetti still littered the road and sidewalk, remnants of the Da Un Marcu celebration three days past. The sight set Yarrow’s pulse thrumming in his ears. He pulled his gaze up, to the houses where curtains stirred in windows, barely concealing the prying eyes of neighbors. With ten brothers and sisters milling about him, all with the same curling brown hair, he comforted himself that he might, at least, be difficult to spot.
 

As the Lamhart family promenaded further into town, several of Yarrow’s younger brothers found their feet were hitting the ground in unison; they gleefully began to chant, “left…left…left, right, left,” slamming their boots in the semblance of a battle march, sending plumes of dust in the air with each impact. The rest of the children laughed with delight and joined in. Little Anteen, barely three, squealed as he unknowingly stomped the wrong foot on each beat. A small smile crossed Yarrow’s lips, but he could not bring himself to take part in the fun. ‘Marching to battle’ sounded too ominously on the nose just at that moment.

The row of identical brick houses—lines of bay windows, peaked roofs, and immaculate front porches—gave way to the businesses and shops of downtown Glans Heath, all achingly familiar to Yarrow. He regarded each with nostalgic eyes—Stillworth’s Clothier, The Tea Room, Nerra’s Bakery—but none more so than the general shop his own family operated, a workaday yet welcoming property just on the corner of Broad Street and the Main Avenue. He had spent countless hours there, restocking merchandise, tending the cash box, minding that his siblings didn’t pull all the goods from their shelves. He wished, just for a moment, to halt and memorize the place. To take in every missing slate from the roof, every chip in the white paint. But time had grown short. He strode past.

Ten-year-old Allon leapt in Yarrow’s path, his hands pressed together in the shape of a gun. “In the name of the Pauper’s King and the people of Trinitas, hand over all your marks.”

Several of the other boys formed and pointed their own imaginary weapons, splitting themselves into constables and highwaymen without discussion. As always, the stand-off instantly yielded to a firefight—the road ringing with the pew-pews of phantom bullets and the shrieks of Yarrow’s younger sisters. Allon jerked dramatically, as if shot in the chest, and threw himself onto the road.

“Boys…” Yarrow’s father said, the rebuke rather unconvincing given his half-stifled smile and twinkling eyes.
 

Ree came to Yarrow’s side and grasped his other hand. She leaned in close, eyes wide, and in a carrying whisper asked, “You don’t think you’ll really be waylaid by highwaymen, do you?”

“Of course not,” their mother cut in, her voice uncharacteristically shrill. She squeezed Yarrow’s hand tighter. “He’ll be perfectly safe.”
 

“Besides,” Rendal, Yarrow’s eldest brother, said, “he has nothing worth stealing.”

Yarrow snorted. True enough.

The family made its way to the post station. A small crowd had already assembled, forming a sea of bonnets and top hats. The mayor and the constable stood above the gathering; the former had arranged his rough features into something stately and ceremonial, while the latter unabashedly picked his nose.
 

“Here they are, here they are,” the mayor announced in a booming voice, quite unnecessarily. The Lamhart family, in all of its shabbiness and magnitude, could hardly go unnoticed. Their relative poverty appeared greater at that moment, as the townspeople had dressed in their finest—the satin dresses greatly outnumbering the cotton, and the vast majority of men sporting the wide-cuffed, caped, and fur-lined overcoats so lately in style. Yarrow’s attention swept quickly past the crowd and gazed down the parkway. In the distance, he caught sight of the cloud of dust that foretold the coming of a carriage. His pulse quickened.

“Come up here, lad,” the mayor called to Yarrow, gesturing him forward with a motion of his beefy hand. The heads of the crowd wheeled round, eyes latching to his face, accosting him with their curiosity. His cheeks burned and he took a small step in retreat.
 

When it became evident that he would not move of his own accord, his mother released his hand and gave his back a gentle pat. “Go on, son.”

He shuffled forward, gaze resolutely downcast, until the mayor pulled him up to the loading plank.
This must be a day for hand-holding
, Yarrow thought idly, as the mayor grabbed his fist and raised it in the air.

“Three cheers for Yarrow Lamhart, the first son of Glans Heath ever to be marked!”
 

The town applauded and hooted. The praise rang dully in Yarrow’s ears.
 

The mayor thrust his chest out. “This is a day of—”

“Look!” several people called, pointing at the approaching carriage. Yarrow watched the nearing conveyance with a growing sense of dread.
 

“Do you mind if I say my goodbyes now?” Yarrow asked the mayor.
 

The gentleman looked disobliged to have his speech so unceremoniously cut short, but said, “Of course, lad, of course.” He offered Yarrow a kind look and a pat on the shoulder. “Make the town proud.”

Yarrow, the marked boy, navigated through the crowd back to his family. His mother came forward and gave him a fierce hug, her hand running through the dark hair at the base of his neck.

“You be a good boy, now,” she said softly in his ear.

“I will, Ma,” he replied, throat thick.
 

His mother pressed a handkerchief into his hand—a beautiful thing from her younger days, with her initials embroidered in elegant, curving letters. Yarrow clutched the fine fabric in his fist as he heard the unmistakable sound of hooves beating against the road, devastatingly close.

His father shook his hand. “Don’t be forgetting you’re a man of Glans Heath.”

Yarrow nodded, but could think of nothing to say.

“Keep your chin up and your feet flat.”
 

“Yes, Da.”

His father, too, held out a token for Yarrow—his own pocketknife. Not a fancy thing, but a well-loved, oft-used staple, given to him by his own father long ago. Yarrow took it gravely and tucked it, along with the handkerchief, into the pocket of his trousers.
 

The hoof beats grew louder as the coach pulled into town, and softer again as the horses slowed and halted. Yarrow had never seen such a fine carriage before—a large and stately barouche led by four towering black horses. As he looked it over, he thought he caught a glimpse of a pale face in the window.
 

With no time wasted, the driver hopped down from his seat. He had a great sandy mustache and a navy top hat, which he removed with a flourish as he bowed to the assemblage. He then straightened and made a quick scan of the crowd, before planting his attention on Yarrow’s father.
 

“Mr. Lamhart?”

Yarrow’s father bowed in acknowledgment.

The mustached man smiled, hand outstretched. “I am Mr. Paggle, official Chisanta Coachman.”

Mr. Paggle, official Chisanta Coachman, then surveyed the mass of Lamhart children until his gaze settled upon Yarrow—or, more specifically, Yarrow’s neck.

“And this must be my charge,” he said.
 

Yarrow inclined his head and resisted the urge to pull his collar up over the mark below his left ear—the evidence of his differentness.

“Well then, let us load your belongings and be off,” Mr. Paggle said. He produced a gold pocket watch from his waistcoat and must not have been pleased with the time, as he clicked his tongue and began to move with impatience.
 

While Mr. Paggle and his father loaded his single trunk of belongings onto the barouche, Yarrow turned to bid his siblings farewell.
 

Rendal, as the eldest and most distinguished, came forward first and held out his hand. “Best of luck, brother.”
 

BOOK: Division of the Marked (The Marked Series)
8.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Lady Miracle by Susan King
For Time and Eternity by Allison Pittman
Treva's Children by David L. Burkhead
The Scent of Murder by Felicity Young
El caballero del templo by José Luis Corral
Ivy Takes Care by Rosemary Wells
Messing With Mac by Jill Shalvis