I finished my second novel at the end of May. This book is raw, completely unedited, and needs a ton of work, but the basic story is complete. Now the fun part begins.
I’m ridiculously excited about it and I want to share part of it. I warn you, no editing has actually taken place yet. Still, leave a comment and let me know what think!
“Hello, care for some companions?” A man materialized out of the trees, stepping toward Kyra and her Father. The two of them had been trying to track and study the Malic’Uiel for the past few days. They had learned nothing.
The man’s demeanor was inviting, his body relaxed and open, and he had a smile pasted on his face.
Kyra didn’t trust him.
“No,” she answered. “We’ll travel alone.”
“Thank you,” Em said. “But she’s right. We travel alone.”
The man didn’t hesitate. “I did once too, but I’ve learned there is safety in numbers. Believe me, the only time you want to be alone is if you’re dead. Why don’t you travel with me?”
Em hesitated. There was wisdom in his words; Kyra had been alone when she’d been attacked. “Where are you going?” he finally asked.
“Wherever safety is,” the man answered. “Honestly, I’m just trying to keep myself alive.”
The man chuckled. “Those that are already dead, I suppose.”
Kyra frowned. Something was wrong with him. Maybe it was his callousness. Whatever the reason, she didn’t like him.
“I don’t think we should,” she said quietly to Em. “We’ll make better time alone, and it’ll be easier to study the Malic’Uiel undetected.”
“You’re right.” Em extended his hand to the man. “Thank you for the offer, but we’d rather stick to ourselves.”
The man shrugged. “No problem. Good luck.”
Em nodded, turning away and continuing a brisk pace forward. Glancing back, Kyra saw the man standing still, watching them, his face a mask impossible to read. Her stomach lurched, but she shook her head, forcing the feeling away. Whoever he was, they’d never see him again.
Hours later, as they were preparing to bed down for the night, the man reappeared. He had a torch with him and was followed by three men. He flashed a triumphant grin.
“There you are! I couldn’t let you leave, knowing how dangerous it is out there. My friends and I,” he waved the torch behind him, “We came to get you.”
Em faced the man. He wasn’t holding a weapon but Kyra recognized his stance. He was preparing for a fight. She silently reached for her bow and notched an arrow onto the string.
“We told you we’re not interested. We’d rather travel alone.”
The man’s friendly demeanor changed. “That doesn’t happen here.” He waved the other men forward, surrounding the two of them. “You see, out here…” he crouched down and began placing wood to form a fire. “You have two options. The first is to join me and my little band. You’ll be safe enough with us. And the second…” He touched the torch to the wood; the flames quickly engulfed the dry bark. “Well, let’s just say you don’t want that option.”
Em didn’t relax his stance and Kyra didn’t relax her bow. “I suggest you let us pass without interference,” Em said quietly.
The man chuckled. “And why would I do that?”
“We are not defenseless, and I swear to you that I am protecting far more than you. If you choose to fight us, you will lose.”
The man stood. “Maybe. But so far nobody has come up against me and won.” He held his arms out in front of him, palms facing forward, appearing defenseless. “Maybe you’ll be the first.”
The other three men laughed. “Don’t bet on it,” one of them called out.
Em backed toward Kyra, keeping his body between her and the predators.
The leader added more wood to the fire, creating a huge blaze that lit up the night. “That’s better,” he said, smiling at his work. “That should be plenty.”
As if on some silent signal, the three of them began slowly closing in on their prey. Em’s sword was too far away to be of any use, but in one swift movement, he had his dagger out, ready for the attack.
It came without warning, two of the men barreled toward them while the other forced them to defend themselves against a rain of small knives that he flung with expert movements. One of them embedded itself deep in Em’s thigh, the others missed by mere inches.
“Kyra!” Em yelled. “Stay behind me!”
“No.” She ducked around him and released the string, praying that the arrow would reach its target. It didn’t. The man throwing the knives ducked while the arrow sailed harmlessly over his head. She immediately released another, chasing his movement with her own deadly barbs. Eventually the weapon struck home, piercing the man’s side. He stumbled, dropping to the ground while screams and curses fled from his lips.
Kyra didn’t have time to assess the damage. She quickly turned to the other attackers, who were trying to make it past Em’s defenses. The dagger was his strength, and they were struggling to find a way in. Every move was counteracted with a thrust from the weapon. Every attempt to exploit a weakness was parried with a swift, calculated movement. The injured leg did little to slow him down.
The leader watched the battle, an amused expression twisting his features.
The battle around Kyra grew more intense. Em was beginning to make mistakes, the injury slowly catching up to him. The attackers could see him losing strength; they doubled their efforts, each attack coming directly on top of the other, beating mercilessly against their targets. They were too close for Kyra’s arrows to be effective. She dropped the bow and yanked her dagger out of its sheath. If she lost this fight she was going to leave carnage in her wake.
She and Em fought back to back, a tight circle of defense against an unstoppable enemy. Behind her, Kyra heard a man groan, heard the sound of blade cutting flesh. Somebody was losing. She couldn’t risk looking behind her to find out who.
Her attacker was cunning, adapting quickly to her movements, trying to gage her next step before she took it, but she was just as skilled and the dance became violent as their bodies twisted in and out of danger, each narrowly missing the others deadly blade.
Suddenly, a ball of flame exploded at their feet. Kyra was thrown to the ground and she lay there, blinded and momentarily dazed. Within a few seconds she was scrambling to her feet, ready to face her attacker. But he was no longer attacking. He stood out of reach of her blade, his weapon dangling harmlessly at his side. The leader stood near him, his stance the same. The other two men lay bleeding on the ground. Em was at her side, facing the enemy as she was.
In front of them all, mere steps from the two of them, stood the Phantom, his eyes bright with triumph.
“You have found my prey!” he said, delighted.
The leader nodded. “As promised, we bring all travelers to you.”
“Well done. I almost lost this one.” He turned his gaze to Kyra. “I believe you’ve seen what I am capable of. Let’s not have a repeat of our recent experience together. It’s time you and your father came with me.”
“What do you want with us?” Kyra asked.
“You’re human. The Malic’Uiel want all humans.”
The Phantom shrugged. “You’ll have to ask them that yourself.”
“What about them?” Em asked, gesturing toward the men that had led the attack.
The Phantom smirked. “There is an order of things in this world of the Malic’Uiel. A circle of life, if you will. We provide humans to the Malic’Uiel, and these men provide the humans to us. You, of course, are both human so you will do nicely. In return for their services, we have agreed to let them remain outside the grasp of the Malic’Uiel.”
“You betray your own kind?” Em demanded of the leader.
“I may share the same cellular makeup as humanity, but I am not one of them.”
The Phantom laughed. “Your kind are nearly extinct. He has chosen life. Now,” the Phantom said. He opened his hand, turning the palm toward the fire. A tongue of flame licked toward his hand, burying itself under his skin. “You can come willingly or you can come with the flesh dripping from your bones. It matters not to me.”
Em gazed at the Phantom, then he slowly lowered his dagger to his side. “I will come with you,” he said. “On the condition that you leave Kyra be.”
“Chivalrous.” The Phantom’s lip twitched in amusement. “Fathers are always trying to protect their daughters. But I am not making deals. You’re both coming.”
“I’m afraid that is where you are wrong,” Em said. He launched his body toward the Phantom, the dagger outstretched, waiting for impact. Or so they all thought. Just as the Phantom vanished, Em changed course, back toward Kyra where he assumed the Phantom would reappear. He was right. The Phantom flashed into view by her side, hands grasping for her waist. Em’s momentum carried him directly into the creature, who hadn’t anticipated the changing of course. The dagger plunged deep in the Phantom’s stomach. Dark, sticky liquid stained the blade, dripping down the hilt.
The Phantom’s hand dropped away from Kyra, clutching Em’s neck instead. He forced his head up, dark eyes penetrating into Em’s. Slowly Em’s body rose as the Phantom pulled him higher. Within moments, Em was gasping, sweat dripping from the pores in his skin. The Phantom’s grip tightened. Suddenly, both of them began to flicker. Faster and faster they flickered. Kyra screamed, grasping for the shapes that moved in and out of existence. Her hand melted right through them. Within seconds, they were gone.
“No!” She screeched, her fingers grasping at nothing. She whirled around to face the men who had entrapped them. “You did this!” she screamed. She hurled her dagger into the leader, burying it deep in his chest. He dropped without a sound. She didn’t wait for his body to hit the dirt. She scooped up her bow and notched an arrow in one movement. The other man had enough time to turn and try to run before the arrow found a resting place in his back. He collapsed. The remaining men lay bleeding, their wounds too great to survive. She yanked her weapons out of the lifeless bodies of the men she’d killed in her anger and left the others to die.
She hoped their deaths would be slow.
And that’s it! It’s not exactly a short sneak peek, but this chapter was fun to write because I had no idea Kyra had that kind of anger in her. It was fun to see that come out. Again, let me know what you think!