She tried to warn them. They wouldn’t listen.
As a child, Terrin of Xell barely escaped a spirit from the Dark Forest. She knows better than to rely on magic. But with her schoolmate Chris accused of a magical crime he didn’t commit, she couldn’t let him face banishment alone.
So Terrin gets caught up in Chris’s quest to recover an ancient relic, with only magic to guide them. Naturally, everything goes wrong.
What lurks in the shadows, hunting Terrin and her friends? Or did the magic itself turn against them?
Hunted: The Riddled Stone Book Two is being serialized freely on this website at the pace of one chapter per week. You can buy the full novel at my publisher’s store or in ebook or paperback format at your favorite online retailer.
The wraith turned away from Chris, and Terrin pulled back another arrow. Even as the beast charged, she forced herself to take a second to breathe. Focus. Release. The arrow struck just above the wraith’s right eye.
The creature pulled up short, throwing its head back. Rising on its hind legs, it howled.
Terrin quickly nocked another arrow. This time, she struck just where the beast’s leg met its body.
The wraith quickly flattened itself, then hissed as the movement drove the arrow in deeper. She heard the shaft snap and began to nock a fourth arrow. Yellow eyes glared at her for a moment, then the beast turned and ran, staggering each time it landed on the wounded leg.
Smiling, Terrin turned her bow to where two more wraiths were circling an older man.
“Hey!” she shouted.
Both wraiths spun toward the sound, and she released her arrow. The point only nipped her target’s ear, but the beast stepped away from the man, hissing.
And bounded towards Terrin, stretching up to full height as it did so.
Chris watched as Terrin released another arrow, which struck the hard scales and deflected. Then he heard Thomas give a small cry. He turned and saw the older man still in battle with one of the monsters. Bright red scratches streaked his arm.
Chris jumped up and ran towards him, looping out of reach of the beast’s tail. He came in from the side and struck its flank. The blow was too weak to break the armored skin, but the wraith turned to face this new attacker.
Thomas darted forward, slashing at the side of its head. The creature pulled back, hissing, tilting its head from one man to the other. Then, as Chris stepped forward to strike again, it turned and fled.
Chris couldn’t help giving a long sigh of relief.
What about Terrin? He turned, raising his sword for one more fight.
She had circled around the third wraith and crouched only a couple feet from the cliff’s edge. She slipped her bow around her quiver without looking away from the charging beast.
Chris froze. He would never get there in time.
Then Terrin moved. Just as the wraith took its final leap, she dove sideways, rolling smoothly and bouncing back to her feet. The wraith landed and slid, scrambling for purchase. Then it went over the edge. Its scream fell away into silence. Terrin stood and stepped back to the cliff, looking down after it.
Chris let out another sigh, and moistened his lips. Then he knelt to clean his sword before sheathing it.
When he stood, he saw Terrin still standing at the cliff’s edge. She was swaying slightly, as if in a trance. She shivered, and then she put out one arm as if to catch something.
“Uhm,” said Thomas softly from behind him. “That doesn’t look like a good idea.”
“Terrin?” Chris called.
As soon as he spoke, it was as if something snapped. She spun around to face him, all traces of the trance gone.
Chris was staring at her, and Terrin couldn’t help glaring back. She hated the tingly chill of magic, and she was slightly in shock — not from the fight, but that she’d just reenacted her dream. She could still feel prickles from the four spirits below.
She glanced around the clearing. The old man was also staring at her. A dented pot lay several yards from the dying fire.
“Where’s the other wraith?” she asked, throwing off the last effects of the spirits’ magic.
“Gone.” Chris waved his hand vaguely toward the forest. “Are you okay? Why are you here?”
Terrin’s lips quirked into an almost-smile.
“Apparently I’m here to save your life. But don’t suppose I expect any thanks.”
“Er, thank you, Miss, uh, Terrin?” said the older man, glancing between Terrin and Chris.
Terrin almost laughed at his confusion.
“But why were you here in the first place?” Chris said, frowning. “You’re not supposed to be here.”
“You are so…” Terrin pulled in a deep breath.
Then she crossed the clearing in a few long steps. As she took the final step she pivoted on the ball of her left foot, tightened her right hand into a fist, and struck Chris hard across the jaw.
He stumbled back automatically, raising his hand to rub the spot, and winced.
Terrin stood there breathing heavily for a second, until Chris met her gaze.
Then she finished her sentence.
“…frustrating! Entirely and completely frustrating. And irrational, and stupid and—”
He dropped his gaze.
“—bratty and childish and, and, and—”
“I’m sorry, Terrin,” he said.
Terrin glared at him for a moment longer, but her mind had suddenly gone blank on insults. So instead, she hugged him as tightly as she could.
Copyright © 2015 by Teresa Gaskins
Published by Tabletop Academy Press.
Cover and layout copyright © 2016 by Tabletop Academy Press
Cover Photo Credits: “Girl with bow” by Yeko Photo Studio via DepositPhoto.com and “Forest, untagged” by Lukasz Szmigiel via Unsplash.com.
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.