Hunted Chapter Forty-Eight


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.

Chapter 48


Terrin’s eyes swept across the shadowed forest. She leaned against a tree, and the bark pressed into her shoulder.

Behind her, Chris and the horses slept. Chris had suggested traveling through the night, but she had vetoed the idea — only partly because it was foolish to lose sleep on the slim chance that someone had followed them.

She pushed off the tree and turned, looking in all directions. Then she glanced down at Chris. As far as she could tell, he was soundly asleep.

She went to her saddle pack and knelt. She didn’t have to look hard to find the swamp woman’s knife. Its white blade shone dully in the moonlight. The wooden handle was smooth, with two ridges for her fingers to rest against. She took it, and with one last glance over Chris and the horses, she stalked silently into the forest northward.

About twenty yards from camp, she stopped. A stiff breeze swept past her, and she shuddered. She held the knife loosely, its flat side pressed against her leg.

This is stupid. You don’t know if the spirit will come. And if it does, the knife might not work. You only have the word of one crazy lady.

Terrin shook her head, dismissing the doubts.

She needed to figure out how to make the spirit come. The first time she’d seen the spirit, she had been near its territory. And it had been there when she’d saved Chris and Thomas by the cliff. But now the Dark Forest was miles away.

Still, the spirit had come yesterday, so it must have been close by.

What would draw it to her?

She’d sensed spirit magic many times. Never when she wanted to, though.

The baby fox. The spirit had come that night, hadn’t it? When she’d been trying to sooth the fox.

She shut her eyes and started to hum softly. Tuneless, at first. Her mind reached out, feeling for the tingling that signaled the spirit’s approach.

Then of its own accord, a melody started to emerge. The melody grew — and with it, a tingle in her spine. Her eyes flew open. She stopped humming. Her eyes flickered to and fro, searching the woods for the ethereal glow. She did not have to look hard. In the darkness of night, it was easy to see the glimmer of the spirit through the trees.

As it approached, Terrin could hear that it, too, was humming.

Soon she could see it clearly. Aside from the transparency and rose-colored hue, the spirit looked like a normal human woman. Its hair was thick and wavy, and it wore a long dress that trailed along the ground, passing more through the grass than over it.

Terrin had no idea how different one spirit might look from another, but she felt sure that this was the first spirit, from her childhood.

Her heart thudded in her chest.

Still several yards off, the spirit stopped.

She met its eyes, and the tingle ran sharply up her spine. Her breath caught in her throat, and for a moment she fought the urge to bolt, to flee the unnatural thing.

The spirit smiled. It held out one hand, palm up. Its humming grew louder.

Instinctively Terrin raised the dagger, holding it straight out. A beam of moonlight caught the white blade.

The spirit flinched back, dropping its arm.

The hum stopped.

The spirit turned to leave.

She lowered the knife and called, “Wait.”

It paused and looked back over its shoulder.

She raised the knife again. “I–I want answers,” she snapped.

It was a foolish request. After all, how could a spirit give her answers? It was a monster, even if it could talk — which she doubted — how could she trust anything it said?

The spirit hummed a quick, questioning hum, and met her eyes.

Terrin held its gaze, trying to hide her fear behind a stone face.

The spirit made a sound somewhere between a hum and a sigh. Then it hung its head, turned away again, and fled north.

And as it left, Terrin felt something cold settle in her chest. No — more than cold, it was empty. Her gaze fell to the wraith-tooth knife, its blade still gleaming white in the watery moonlight, and the urge came to fling it as far away from her as she could, to wail like a child.

She shook herself. That is a foolish thought, she chided.

But even as she returned to their camp and tucked the knife back in her bag, even hours later when she woke Chris for his turn at watch and laid down to sleep, the empty hole in her chest remained.

Still not the End …

The Riddled Stone is a four-book serial. The adventures of Chris and his friends continue in Betrayed: The Riddled Stone, Book Three. Look for it at your favorite online bookstore.

Or click here to read an excerpt.

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 and “Forest, untagged” by Lukasz Szmigiel via

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.


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