Genre: Sci Fi/Fantasy / Action & Adventure / Folklore & Legend / Fantasy & Magic
Sever all ties.
Lucy is a pawn. A dark means to a deadly end.
An enemy, burning with centuries of betrayal, has made the opening move to shatter an already divided empire. His first step, the slaying of one of Lucy’s guardians. Broken with grief and compelled by rage, Lucy embarks on a journey of vengeance to the shadowed and forgotten corners of the five lands. With those she has left by her side, sacrifices will be made to bring her closer to retribution but only if she doesn’t succumb to the manipulations of a ruthless enemy first.
“Can I help you,” Felix paused and I felt my pulse quicken, bracing my nerves for Vienna’s familiar, brash tone, “gentlemen?”
A sigh rushed out of me and I melted into my chair in relief.
“I don’t see how a seed head can be much help to anyone but for getting strung out for the washerwoman to hang her kit on.”
With those words, any relief I had experienced reversed and my heart climbed my ribs and took up residence in my esophagus. I felt my face burn with fear and try to quench itself with a cold sweat. Worst of all, I found myself unable to move, unless you counted shivering in fright. The man’s slanderous reference to Felix’s existence as a Dru Elf, and not a mere employee of the library, indicated that he had the vision of a Herald. The accent was similar to the Troll’s who had accosted me at the zoo, and by his petulant tone, it was obvious he was one of the ones who hadn’t let old animosities toward the Elves go.
“And yet you had the decency to speak to me.” Felix responded in the snarky tone that he reserved for teenagers who gave him problems with their time online or making too much noise. “How kind.”
“You got a smart mouth on you, boy.” A different voice, same accent so clearly a Troll, spoke up and it dawned on me that Felix had said gentlemen, not gentleman. I felt my limbs start to come back under my control when I reminded them of the trouble they had given me dealing with the last Troll; and it had only been one Troll. I slid from the chair and stood in the middle of the room, still outside the line of sight from Felix’s desk, fighting with myself whether I should just start running now or wait and see how many I would have to run from.
“If you think my mouth is smart you should see my–.”
A sickening crack erupted in the near silence of the library and being unfortunately familiar with the sound of a fist meeting a face, I lunged forward to the edge of the room to check on Mr. Page. Capricorn! Four large Trolls stood before the desk, one of them rubbing his knuckles and watching Felix press a shaking hand to a split lip.
“Enough of this.” The Troll who seemed to be in charge grabbed a handful of Mr. Page’s hair and vines. “Where’s the girl?”
I threw myself against the wall and willed myself to turn invisible. It took only a second to realize that was stupid and instead wished that Frankie was there, or would get there very soon. With help.
“What are you talking about?” Felix asked, his words slurred from his damaged lip. “We get girls in here all the time.”
“We were told that she would be here.” The Troll barked, but thankfully didn’t add more violence to his words. “She’s meeting a friend.”
The way he said friend read as anything but friendly.
And who does that remind you of, cool logic spoke up with just a touch of attitude. Vienna. She set me up! I felt my hands clench into fists and my jaw twinged with the pressure of grinding my teeth in a rage. It all seemed stupidly obvious now. Invite me here to meet her and get nabbed by her Troll cohorts. Not bad after her first attempt ended in failure. She probably killed that Troll so he couldn’t talk and tell us who he was working for. Anger was quickly burning away fear and I nearly stepped out to confront the men head on, hoping that they would take me right to that little traitor so I could deal with her betrayal. My arms shook with such furious energy that I couldn’t stop them from thumping the wall at my back.
“What was that?” Another Troll voice called out. Having foolishly exposed my location, fright was quick to remind me that I was still in real danger. I pushed it aside and clung to anything that resembled an intelligent thought. It came to me quickly as I was looking right at a window cracked open to let in the cool breeze of the afternoon. I dashed for it and just got my hands on the frame when I heard the Troll, much closer now, exclaim his discovery. The old wood frame was sticking and I strained my arms to pull the sash up. I felt the floor thud with the heavy footfalls of the Troll as he rushed across the room and I gave the window one last jerk while I tried to resolve myself to the inevitability of the big man grabbing me. Surprise and joy filled me as the window at last yielded and flew open. And something flew in.
A black blur clipped my arm and spun me about to face my Troll pursuer. Primitive reflexes made me throw up my hands as some kind of defense, but no assault came. The man had stopped in his tracks as a low growl made my insides struggle to hold their bodily functions in check. Between the Troll and I Boris stood rigid, his short hair standing on end. I couldn’t blame the man for taking a step backward and keeping his focus completely on my dog. I had trouble looking away from the frightening, protective presence of my pet. The three of us stood stock still, waiting for something to give. Fear or rage. So transfixed were we three on our situation that none of us, well maybe Boris because he crept back a step, noticed Mrs. Darren enter the room. We should have, as she was running full bore with her head down. The Troll turned slightly at the last, and worst possible, second and thick golden horns crashed into his chest. The collision sounded like a felled tree finally crashes to the ground: a ground shaking thump and a lot of cracking and popping. Mrs. Darren seemed to halt her rush a moment after impact and the Troll carried the momentum, horizontally, across the room to smash into a book shelf and slump to the floor.
Slowly Mrs. Darren turned to look at me and then at Boris who was still growling but not nearly as loud.
“No dogs in the library.” Was all she said, and the paralysis I had been experiencing finally broke.
“Sorry.” I didn’t know what else to say. It wasn’t enough, but the librarian seemed to accept it as she nodded toward the window. A shout from the other room was the last bit of motivation I needed. I crawled through the opening and after Boris leapt through after me, I ran. Making it to the intersection, I heard the sound of glass breaking behind me and felt the all too familiar sensation of being chased. I cautioned a glance backward and saw a skinny Troll racing to catch up with me, something he was doing with little effort. I was half tempted to sic Boris on him, but the thought left my mind when I looked forward and nearly tripped over the wagon of what was the only destitute person in the town.
Can Lady, as she was called, hardly reacted to my near collision with her overloaded cart of recyclables with anything more than her typical muttering. I didn’t waste energy on an apology because I couldn’t spare it and because she hardly ever took notice of the people or the voices around her. I just raced on and was both grateful and sympathetic when I clearly heard my pursuer fare less fortunately with the woman’s laden wagon. Can Lady’s muttering grew feverish over the rattle of her livelihood being scattered and I let my good fortune spur me for home.
It wasn’t until I could just see the familiar chipped and faded slats of home that I realized my mistake. In my rush to leave I had left my book bag behind. I didn’t care so much about the loss of the text books or the inability to do tonight’s homework assignments, but somewhere in that bag was information that would lead the Trolls straight to the front door I hurried to reach. It dawned on me a moment later how stupid that thought was because if I had been followed from the library, I was leading them straight home anyway.
A bark from Boris had me looking from the front door to the street where my Uncle was quickly pulling into the driveway in his ugly car. I could tell as soon as he got out that he knew exactly what was going on and for a split second I considered running back to the library. The Trolls hadn’t looked nearly as angry as my uncle did.
“What’s going on?” He demanded when I was close enough that he didn’t need to shout to be heard. I tried to answer him while catching my breath. Boris spoke for me by barking frantically down the street. I glanced back to see several Trolls rushing down the street. A lot more than I had heard in the library. “Inside!”
I didn’t argue with my uncle as he ushered me toward the front door. My tired feet hit the first step when a gunshot burst behind me.
Gus lives in western New York with his amazing wife and five four legged children. He decided he wanted to be a writer when he realized that he could never be a spy as good as Timothy Dalton’s Bond and that Hired Sword was not part of any growth industry. When he is not semi-busy writing, he spends his time pretending he knows what he is doing at a nine-to-five job and the rest of it complaining that it is taking way too long for them to start showing new episodes of his favorite cartoons. If you’re bored, or just a creeper, you can check out the insanity that doesn’t make it into his books on his social media outlets.