Book 2: Preview

The Sword of Galithonel

Chapter 1

A low tree limb slapped Elayna in the face as she ran through the cold, dark night; rocks and spurs and needles cutting and scraping and poking her bare feet. Her long, red hair, bouncing like silky flames, hungrily licked at her slender hips. She spurred herself onward, her legs aching with the effort. How long had she been running? She dared not stop. They’d find her. They’d catch her.

They had come to her room, the three of them. Grabbing her arms and legs to cart her right from her bed! She’d fought hard, jerking convulsively and kicking with all her might, until the man at her feet could no longer hold. She slipped from his sweaty grip, swinging her legs around to kick the men at her wrists until they were spewing the vilest curses, yelling at each other to grab her tighter. Hit her – stop her! But she jerked and writhed and kicked like a mule gone mad, pummeling them with blows from frantic feet, until they, too, let her slip through their fingers. She leapt through the window, running into the night without shoes or coat or underthings.

Elayna ran and ran, then ran some more; her breath making frightened puffs of steam in the air as she went. Her lungs burned, her ribs ached, her heart pounding so hard it nearly bursting from her chest. Still, she heard nothing. I’ve made it… Dared she hope? Had she actually gotten away? She slowed, then wound to a stop; hands braced on knees, panting, as she scanned the surrounds warily. She tried to walk, but taking even one more step seemed such an impossible burden. She hobbled off the trail, bracing against a tall pine as her breath slowed and, finally, her heart as well. She dropped to the ground and, leaning her head on the tree, drifted into troubled sleep.

The sky was gray, and lacy mist danced along the path like a lonely wraith when Elayna awoke two hours later. Muscles she hadn’t even known she had ached and, upon trying to stand, screamed their protest. She looked about, but saw nothing. Nor was there any sound, save the morning chirps and quiet scuffles of forest creatures rising to go about their feral day. She paused, listening for many a heartbeat. Then hope slipped gingerly into her breast, apparent by only the faintest of smiles touching her lips. She had made it! She was free! The smile widened.

But wait! What was that?

Thunder?

She gazed to the sky, seeking signs of impending storm, but saw only a depressing, dull gray blanket of low-hanging clouds. More fog than anything.

The sound grew, louder still, and the earth began to tremble beneath Elayna’s feet. She lowered her face from the sky, her eyes darting up the path from whence she’d come.

Then she saw them….

Copyright 2008 Ashandra-Aah

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