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.
“Nora, we’re nearly there,” said Terrin.
Nora drowsily opened her eyes. A pale hint of dawn glowed along the horizon — not a rosy dawn but gray, as though even the sky was covered in mud. She could barely see Chris at the head of the raft, talking with Ceianna. She rose, pushing back her blankets, while Terrin moved on to wake the others. Nora popped her neck, watching Terrin prod Arnold, who seemed to be clinging to sleep with all his strength.
Terrin acted like she’d forgotten her near soaking. Before, she had seemed shaken, but now she moved with her normal smooth and controlled motions. There were also no hints of tiredness on her face, which made Nora feel a bit jealous. She herself had struggled to get to sleep, even more so after the incident.
Nora turned and rolled up her blanket, and then rechecked her pack. By the time she was done, Chris had turned to face them.
“Ceianna says we have half an hour to an hour before we’ll have to leave the boat. I’m hoping we can reach the horses by two, maybe three, this afternoon. But we need to know where we’re going after that. So now, it’s time to think about the riddle.”
He sat down and ran his fingers through his hair, but they didn’t get far before they were stopped by a knot. The others stopped working on their packs, and the five of them created a cross-legged circle.
“May I hear the riddle?” asked Ceianna, glancing back from where she remained at the front of the boat.
“Yeah, I should probably repeat it anyway,” said Chris.
“Air rushing, rushing by,
Faster, faster than the eye.
Far above the deep, deep blue,
Where water dashes at the rocks.
And higher still the great one flies,
Guarding hope as watchmen pose.”
When he finished, he looked around the circle, meeting everyone’s eyes for a moment.
“Well,” said Arnold. “This may be a stretch, but I think it might be a windy place.”
“Wow, Arnold,” Terrin said. “That was so insightful. I don’t know where these flashes of inspiration come from.”
“My mother’s side,” he said, grinning.
“I think,” said Thomas, “that it is also safe to assume it is next to the ocean…”
His voice trailed off as he grabbed his bag and pulled out a sheaf of papers. He selected one and spread it out on the boat, facing Chris.
“North Raec,” Nora said, recognizing the map upside down.
“Yes, this is my map of North Raec. One of the finest, if I say so myself,” said Thomas, smiling. “And here are the oceanside cliffs,” he added, tapping a few spots on the map.
Nora attempted to read the names of the cliffs, but they were written in a swirly but cramped text that she couldn’t read upside down in the scant light.
“Well, it sounds like there are a lot of rocks. But then, that’s true for most cliffs, isn’t it?” said Chris.
“Leastways, far as I know,” said Thomas. “Which leaves the great one and the watchmen.”
“Maybe the great one is a dragon,” said Arnold, grinning. “They’re pretty great.”
“They’re also pretty mythical,” said Terrin, rolling her eyes.
“You know,” Arnold said, “if you roll your eyes too much, they’ll stay that way.”
“That’s when you cross your eyes.”
“Oh,” said Arnold, stretching the word out for a few seconds.
“If we could take this seriously for a moment,” snapped Chris.
Nora looked up at him. There wasn’t even a hint of smile in his face. She noticed, now, the shadows under his eyes. The beard that had been growing since they entered the swamp added to his exhausted look. And she had thought she wasn’t getting much sleep.
“Well, the great one seems fairly obvious,” said Ceianna. “Eagles are commonly considered the grandest of birds.”
“Right. That makes sense,” said Terrin. “Are any of the cliffs known for eagles?”
Thomas shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Which leaves the watchmen,” said Chris, rubbing his eyes.
“I think I actually can help with that,” said Arnold, looking up. He pointed to some cliffs on the east side of North Raec, towards the south. “Here, Dawncliff. I don’t know much about eagles, but Dawncliff is known for the many boulders there which, at least in some people’s eyes, look like men gazing out across the ocean. I suppose they could be considered watchmen.”
“Well then,” said Chris, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, “to Dawncliff it is.”
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.