"Lia, who's at the door?" Wel leaned forward in his chair and squinted into the entryway.
"It's the king's guard, Uncle Wel," Lillia said.
"So? What do they want?" He didn't understand the fear he saw in her face. Irrational. Lia had no reason to fear the king's guard.
"They want--." Lia paused. "They say that they're here to arrest me."
"Arrest you? No, girl. Don't be foolish." Wel pushed Lillia gently aside and took her place in the doorway. He studied the two BlueVests standing on his porch. "You're giving my niece a scare," he said. "Tell me. What can I do for you?"
"I'm sorry, old jonn," the guard said, "but the woman heard me correctly. We're here to take one Lillia Brushmery into king's custody."
"Wha-- Lillia? Why?"
"Theft," the BlueVest said. "She was convicted this morning."
"Theft? The girl has never stolen a thing in her life!" Wel let out a grunt of protest as the BlueVest took him by the shoulders and shifted him to one side. Then the guard walked through the front door --Wel's door!-- and into his house. What in Galerie was going on
here? Wel looked at Lillia, his eyes wide. What kind of ridiculous mistake was this?
"You need to come with us, Miss Brushmery."
"Wha--? Wait!" Wel said. He darted forward and put a hand on the BlueVest's arm. "Wait just a second there, young man. You're not taking my niece anywhere!"
"I'm sorry, she must come with us to the palace." He turned toward Lillia. "Come along, Miss. It's--"
"No, no, no!" Wel said. "You listen to me, boy. I worked for the kingdom for thirty years! I'm a loyal subject and this is a law-abiding family, and I'm not going to let you come into my home and drag Lia off to The Burrows because of some idiotic mix-up!"
Wel glared at the young guard. The boy frowned and motioned for his companion to join them. The two loomed side by side in front of Wel. They were huge lads but Wel wasn't going to be threatened.
"Uncle Wel, please."
He turned to face her. "Do you know anything about this?"
She shook her head. "No. I don't know anything about a theft." She glanced at the guards.
"You see?" Wel turned to the head guard. "She doesn't know a thing about it!"
"Uncle Wel." Lillia put a hand on Wel's arm.
"Just a second, Lia. Let me talk to them." He turned to the head guard. "What in Galerie is going on here? You can't just convict somebody without a trial. We have rights!"
"Uncle Wel," Lia repeated. "Stop it, Uncle."
Wel turned to her. "Stop what? Stop trying to keep these idiots from dragging you off to The Burrows?"
"It looks like they're set on it either way," she said. "I don't want you to get into trouble, Uncle Wel. Please. I'll go with them tonight and you and Keltin can get this straightened out tomorrow."
"No, Lia. This doesn't make any sense."
"It's okay. Really. It's just one night, I'll be fine." Her smile was thin.
"But…" Wel sighed. But what? The girl was right; there was nothing he could do now.
Lia turned to face the guards, eyes narrowed and shining with tears.
"Well, what are you waiting for? Don't I look ready for my hanging?" she asked. Her voice was harsh, angry. The head guard reached for Lia's arm and she jerked it away. "What, your beloved king didn't ask you to put me in irons?"
What was she talking about? The guard looked as puzzled as Wel felt.
"Lia, what's all this about a hanging?" Wel asked. "You don't have to worry, sweetheart. We'll get this taken care of tomorrow."
"I know, Uncle Wel. I guess I'm just scared." She continued in a broken voice. "Please go down to the brewery as soon as you can and tell Keltin what happened. Tell him… tell him he was right. And that I love him, and I'm sorry I couldn't say goodbye. I love you, UncleWel."
"I-- I love you too, Lia. Keltin and me, we'll take care of this in the morning. Don't be scared."
Lia nodded, spilling a tear down her cheek. She straightened her shoulders --so slim next to those two giants-- as the BlueVests flanked her. Wel stood in the doorway and watched as they lead his Lillia out into the clear spring night.
It's not zippy writing in that we don't feel much urgency, but it's not overladen with description and backstory. I'd give this one some more pages because I liked the idea in the hook, but I have a feeling this is in that dreadful category of "nothing wrong but not enough right" which is just impossible to critique.