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.
“That way. We’re almost there,” whispered Ceianna, pointing off slightly to the left. “Just through those trees.”
Arnold gave a short nod and held up his ha — stump to signal the others to stop as he reigned in Rich.
“Get off now,” he said. “If there’s a fight, I don’t want you to fall off Rich.”
“Of course,” she said, relief obvious in her voice.
She quickly slipped off and put nearly two yards between her and the horse. Rich exhaled loudly, his muscles relaxing. Arnold couldn’t help agreeing with the sentiment. Ceianna had been as tense as a scrunched spring — Arnold was pretty sure he’d have bruises in the morning from her crushing grip around his waist.
“If Terrin’s not here,” he said, meeting Ceianna’s eyes.
All signs of her recent anxiety were gone, and once again her eyes were like stone.
“As I told Chris, this is where my grandmother would have brought her,” she said.
Arnold nodded, wrapped his reins loosely about his saddle’s pommel, and drew his sword. As he did so, Chris passed him, and urged Marc into a fast trot towards the trees Ceianna had indicated. Arnold signaled with his legs for Rich to follow. Behind him rode Thomas on his horse, and then Nora on Minty, leading Terrin’s horse Leaf.
Arnold was enveloped with the warmth of the afternoon sunlight as he rode into the clearing and stopped beside Chris, sword raised, ready for anything.
The clearing was empty.
Arnold looked expectantly to Chris, but his friend was silent, his back rigid.
“Ceian—” Arnold began to say, but Chris cut him off.
“No, this isn’t her fault,” he said. “Terrin was here, but she left, trying to escape. We’re too late.”
Chris shut his eyes. How would they find her now? What if they couldn’t? Terrin had only told him the gist of her dream, but now he needed details.
Which way had she run?
“Terrin!” shouted Arnold.
Chris’s eyes jerked open, and his attention turned to Arnold. The knight had let his sword droop, but his face was livid as he opened his mouth to shout again.
“Wait,” said Chris.
“Do you have a better plan?” Arnold snapped.
Chris thought for a moment, then nodded. He turned Marc to face Ceianna, who stood just outside the clearing. Her head was bowed and her hands curled into fists.
“Ceianna, how good are you at tracking?”
She raised her head, and smiled slightly. “Poor, but I have a friend who will be able to find Terrin in a jiffy. He should be near here.”
Chris raised an eyebrow, but instead of questioning her, said, “Go find him, then.”
She turned and disappeared into the forest.
“Chris, can’t you track?” asked Arnold. Beneath him, Rich pawed the ground.
“Barely,” said Chris. “The forest here is thick, and I’d lose the trail pretty fast. I know you’re impatient to find Terrin, but trust me. This will be quick—”
“Look!” gasped Nora, dropping Minty’s reins to point up into the trees. Her other hand held Leaf’s lead rope, and at the end of it, Leaf was nodding her head and whickering.
Chris turned to look, and his jaw dropped, then he smiled. Moving through the tree branches, as if she’d been born there, was Terrin. She reached the edge of the clearing and stopped, beaming down at them.
“You came!” she said.
Then, beneath her, a wraith burst into the clearing, followed by two more. The beasts glanced at Chris, and while one of them snarled, they stayed under Terrin’s tree.
Then another wraith entered the clearing at full height, and on its back rode an old swamp woman.
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.