Sweat pouring into his eyes, Terris heaved himself up over the rock ledge, jagged edges biting into his fingers. His palms stung, reddened with scrapes from the climb. Moss waited there at the top for him, wings whirring, her hands signaling frantically. He couldn’t figure out what she was trying to telling him. Then, she turned and pointed out toward the other end of the ledge. There he saw the man who had been hunting them, lying down, his back to them, staring intently over the edge.
Crouching, Terris gathered himself together, his terror of what he was about to do keeping his movements absolutely silent. Looking down, he carefully pulled his knife from his belt, and tested the edge against a dirty fingertip. Taking a deep breath to fortify himself, he looked up at Moss and signaled her to wait.
Jiggling up and down, eyes gleaming and teeth bared, Moss was unable to contain herself. A ferocious, miniature scream ripped from her throat and she arrowed straight for their adversary.
Terris stood up, horrified, then charged forward with his own scream of defiance. The man rose with agile grace, and turned to face them in fighting stance, knife drawn.
Terris skidded to a stop, his battle cry tapering off into something more like a whine. What am I doing? Thoughts clattered about in his head. This man has twice my reach and look at those eyes. A shiver ran up Terris’s spine. What am I going to do?
Moss leapt at the man’s face and landed to do battle with his nose, grabbing and leaning in to bite.
The man, looked cross-eyed for a moment as he focused upon his tiny adversary. He took a step backward and slapped her to the ground. With a squeak of pain, she landed hard, one wing bent at an impossible angle.
Terris looked at Moss’s unmoving figure and gave up questioning himself. Angry and dripping sweat, he circled, looking for a way to come at the man. His adversary stood motionless, eyebrows arched, a look of invitation in his eyes.
It was then that Terris knew what he had to do. A calm resolve filled him. He would do this to save his friends. He dropped his knife and stood up, hands out.
Why the little creeper. He’s giving up without even a fight. The Hunter stepped forward to grab the small man just as he lunged into him. Powerful shoulders hit the Hunter in his midsection and knocked him backward. Muscular arms locked around him, travel-strengthened legs thrust the Hunter back, back, and further back into… nothing.
The Hunter’s thoughts were calm, precise. This creeper has teeth. His body flailed for survival, arms pinwheeling through the air, then grabbing onto this small man he’d thought no match for him. As both men went over the edge, the Hunter thought with an odd sort of relief, finished, the hunt is over. His lips curved upward into a smile.
Tim ran, strong, young legs pumping hard. He had to get to the Hunter and stop him. Surely, because he had been the one to hire him, he could stop him.
He didn’t understand how Fal could want to harm this beautiful creature of the One. It was so wrong. His legs moved faster still as his heart filled with fear for the small Guardian. She loved him. He had seen it in her eyes in that one glance. She knew him. He was certain. He had to save her!
With the agility of youth, he leapt over a fallen log and kept running, his thoughts racing alongside him. In all those towns he traveled through on his search for the Hunter, it had felt so good to see the respect in men’s eyes as soon as he said he spoke for the Fallen. He had come to look for it, even crave it. It was a feeling like none other in his young life. He was even able to ignore the small voice in his mind that told him what he did was very wrong.
Now that small voice was screaming at him, and he understood that what he thought was respect was only fear. I never wanted that. Now he knew that nothing was more important than saving the small, loving Guardian.
Running hard, Tim heard a faint roaring coming from the direction of Fal’s cave. He slowed. Fal is so angry. He could feel it clawing at his stomach. His breath came in great gulps as his feet found roots sticking up from the ground and he stumbled to his knees. The roaring grew louder and then louder still, as a great shadow passed overhead, tracing along the brown earth before his stunned eyes. One forbid! He thought. Feeling Fal's rage flood through his gut and send jolting currents down his arms and legs, he pushed himself up with his hands, leaping to his feet. Desperately he ran, moving ever faster. He had to get there in time.
In case you missed a post, or if you've just tuned in to Lisle's story,
here are links to previously posted chapters to save you scrolling all the way through.
Introduction Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13
Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 Chapter 28 Chapter 29 Chapter 30
Chapter 31 Chapter 32