Three. More. Days.
I can’t believe it.
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Darker Stars Excerpt
I removed the travel glasses from my face to better see our surroundings. I couldn’t decipher any noise over the rumblings that announced our arrival. But by the time we’d finished grounding, a shriek erupted that made my skin crawl and tingle all over.
My gut reaction was to help someone who was in pain.
Javis held me back. “Silvie, no. Remember what the man in the tunic said about no one coming to visit him.”
“I know, but—”
“Let’s check it out, carefully. Maybe he’s out for a walk…” He frowned. “In the dark, with his creepy dog.”
“Then why would he be screaming?”
My question was answered a moment later when Javis and I stumbled upon the man and his dog. We’d been circling backward, staying covered behind trees and looking through them, instead of behind us. When we backed up, something caught my foot and I flew backward, landing on my butt.
The shrieking started again, only now it was directly in front of me.
Javis ran to my side and pulled me up and away from the man in the tunic who was lying on his back. He rocked back and forth and pushed at the ground with his arms, struggling to get up. His feet wobbled up and down in front of him, without bending at the knees.
Eurig, his dog, sat at his side. She turned to Javis and me, catching both of us with her glowing eyes, and whimpered.
Your earthquake made him fall. You should not have returned.
She broke eye contact with us more quickly than she had during our last visit. As soon as I regained my wits, I pulled Javis out to an open space where we could run.
“Our earthquake?” I mumbled. “She must mean the impact of our arrival.”
“Yup, let’s bail. We’ll come back at a better time, if such a thing exists.”
“Call for help, Eurig!” the man yelled. “Make sure someone catches them!”
I shuddered at the wolfish howl that followed—a deep growl that swelled an octave higher before scooping back down again.
“Okay, here,” I said, indicating an open space before us with plenty of room to gain momentum for travel.
I slipped on the travel glasses and squeezed Javis’s hand.
We made it three steps before a half dozen men wearing tunics closed in on us and pulled us to the ground. I clawed at them with my fingernails, kicking at them as they tied my hands behind my back. Pain flashed behind my eyes. They’d nearly dislocated my shoulders in the process.
Three of the men dragged me and three dragged Javis through the gate and into the house. Without the brightness of the world’s moon, it took me a moment to adjust to the lack of lighting inside the house. Flames from torches flickered along the walls, mingling with the light from above—chandeliers filled with lit candles.
The men said nothing to us the entire time, even when they dropped us on the floor in front of a chaise lounge. I wriggled my shoulders to relieve the stiffness that had set in since my hands had been tied. I looked up and scowled. The man in the tunic lifted his head from a pillow and rolled to his side, resting his weight on a propped up arm.
Eurig sat next to him, curled up in a sleeping position, her eyes closed.
Two more guards wearing tunics stood on either side of the chaise lounge. Their breath was labored. I wondered whether they’d carried the man in the tunic here while the other men dragged Javis and me.
“Thank you,” said the man in the tunic. “I have something to say to our visitors, and then you will move them to a cell.”
The men surrounding me and Javis grunted and stepped backward in a single file behind us, blocking the only exit I could find in the room.
A cell? I pulled at the binding around my hands, a material that had the silkiness of ribbon and the strength of metal.
The man in the tunic grinned at us. “My home has experienced unlikely weather conditions as of late. I felt the rumblings of an earthquake yesterday evening. Eurig and I went out for a walk this evening to be nearer, should the phenomenon repeat itself.” He grinned widely, showing us his full set of teeth. “And, sure enough, it did.”
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