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.
Click here to read from Chapter One. Or go back to the very beginning in Banished: The Riddled Stone Book One.
“I suppose we should be heading back,” said Magnolia, peering through the trees. “Pity. I had so hoped for some berries.”
Trill gave a half-shrug in answer, but kept her gaze to the south. Absentmindedly she smoothed her divided skirt over her leggings.
“Wait! I think I see something,” cried Magnolia.
This time Trill turned to look where the other lady was scrambling through the brush. Sighing, she followed. But still she felt that slight tingling sensation that had pulled her attention south.
The only thing she could describe it as, was magic.
Trill made herself ignore the feeling and attend to Magnolia’s discovery.
“Ooh, the others will like these,” Trill said.
She unslung a bag from her shoulder and started to open it, but stopped as she heard something snort. Magnolia opened her mouth, but Trill held up a hand to silence her.
A few seconds later, they saw a great, shaggy head break through the bushes.
A bear’s head.
Then the rest of the bear, as it rose and sniffed at the air. Its head tilted sideways, and it stared down at them.
Trill glanced at Magnolia, who was shaking like a leaf.
“Run,” Trill said.
Magnolia sprinted off into the woods, her split skirt twisting around her legs, snagging at the branches but being torn free quickly. Trill ran close behind her, glad they were in riding habits and not the long, courtly skirts.
The bear gave a roar, and soon the thumping of its great paws was nearly as loud as the sound of twigs snapping beneath her and Magnolia’s feet.
She shouted to warn the others: “Bear! Bear!” The two words were all she could manage.
A thorny bush caught at her skirt, pulling her back. She dove to the side, just as the bear crashed into it. She heard the rip of fabric as she wrenched herself away from the thorns and started running again.
The bear made a great swipe, and she felt the whoosh of its paw right behind her as she narrowly avoided another bush.
She swerved around a tree and found a log blocking her path.
Too high to jump.
She spun around. The bear had caught up and stood towering above her. Staring up at the beast, Trill caught her breath. It was huge.
Its mouth wrinkled as it snarled loudly at her.
Shutting her eyes tight, she pressed herself back against the rough bark.
Then she felt a surge of magic sweep past her, wrapping itself around the bear’s head.
She hadn’t done that.
She opened her eyes. The bear was slashing wildly at the air directly in front of its face.
She dodged around the distracted bear and ran a few steps, then pulled up short.
Eric sat on horseback in the middle of the bushes, with two of the knights who had come on the hunt. Magnolia sat behind one of the knights, hiding her face in his back. The three men were looking at the bear with shocked expressions.
Then Eric’s eyes met hers, and he quickly turned his horse.
“Trill, get on.”
She obliged, rushing forward to grab his hand. She almost pulled back, though, as their hands met and she felt a sharp zing of magic run through her.
It was him. He’d cast the spell.
He pulled her up behind him and lifted the reins. The horse turned sharply, and they burst into a gallop away from the bear, which seemed to be recovering from its confusion.
One of the knights blew a horn, and other horns responded in the distance. A few minutes later they passed the clearing where the hunting party had planned to meet for a mid-afternoon meal.
An uncontrollable light-headedness came over Trill, and she giggled.
“Bother,” she said. “Now we’ve missed lunch.”
Eric’s shoulders gave a twitch, but he remained silent.
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.