Home > A Secret In Onyx(6)

A Secret In Onyx(6)
Author: Jessica Florence

Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

There was no stopping. The wind dried the tears on my cheeks as I ran.

I would see Tor again, even if I had to march on the Iron City myself to get him.



Chapter Seven


I moved until I couldn’t muster one more step. Every muscle in my body ached, but my heart hurt the most. I still had much ground to cover before I reached the tree Tor drilled into my brain for memory. So many more burdened steps to make. Every inch toward the community took me farther away from Tor. I wanted to stop, but I wouldn’t tarnish what he did. He gave me time to escape a horrifying fate that I wouldn’t endure again.

The day had turned into night. The lands had changed from desert to lush, large trees, and mountains with white tips. It even looked like rain was coming, if the drop in temperature and dark clouds were an indication. With every step, I came closer to the safe haven . . . so close, but I couldn’t go on right now. I needed to rest. I had to gather what small strength I had left in my body to finish this.

I found a large tree and collapsed against its bulging roots. Tor had the water and the food, so I had no sustenance. I’d have to look for something soon to replenish the pain gnawing in my belly and throat. However, everything could wait for a few minutes.

My fingers dug against the muscles of my thighs. Soreness blossomed with every touch. The massage would help move the pain out until I stopped again. I stretched to my toes, opening up every vein in my body that pumped blood faster to soothe my erratically beating heart.

“Only a few more minutes,” I told myself sternly. I couldn’t stay here much longer than twenty minutes. There was still a possibility of Dramens nearby, and I would likely be passed out and not wake up for hours if I stayed. I felt tired . . . so tired.

Using the tree to steady my shaky legs, I stood, wobbling from side to side to get my center of gravity under control. I took one step, then another, then another.

I focused on every stride, my only goal to keep moving. It didn’t matter how fast, just that I didn’t stop. A small creek surrounded by a group of trees and large gray rocks appeared ahead. I heard the water streaming along the bank, making my mouth feel unnaturally dry. My knees crashed to the ground as soon as I made it to the edge, and my hands scooped up water as fast as I could summon the movement. The fresh liquid must have come down from the mountains around me. Once the threat of passing out from dehydration ebbed, I rose to my feet again and continued. I’d already passed the big green, debilitated sign a while ago.

I scanned for any sign of a safe haven nearby. Walls, people, guards, anything. I didn’t see Tor’s community yet. I still had hope, so I pushed my painful steps onward.

“That’s her!” a gruff voice yelled from my right, making me stumble against a raised root. Two Dramens from the group that had surrounded Tor and me appeared. How did they find me? They rode on large horses, one black and white, the other a reddish-brown color, both galloping this way.

No, no, no.

I sprinted, running for safety. Of course, the clouds opened their water wrath upon the land. It’s not like I could simply run from feral men and their beasts without the added crappy weather dooming me to struggle further. The rain made it harder to move quickly, but it also slowed down the horses barreling after me.

Red leaves formed in the peripheral vision to my right. The red tree.

The community was real.

If the tree existed, then everything else was real, too. I was so close. My boots dug into the wet earth harder as I pushed off, landing on the balls of my feet with renewed strength to run faster than I had before. This was it!

“Someone! Help!” I screamed for anyone at the gigantic tree to see me, anyone to help me from the two Dramens who were gaining on me quickly. The slopping sounds of hooves were getting closer.

“Help! Someone! Please!” I could see a double door in an intricately carved archway of the tree. It looked like the decoration of an old cathedral.

No one came forward, and I saw no walls around the large tree. My body slammed into the hard, wooden doors; they didn’t budge. I tried to open them but they refused to move. My wet fingers gripped the handles and pulled hard before I saw the Dramens get off their horses to grab me.

“Come on. Please!” I screamed, violently trying to go past the magical doors to freedom.

Rough hands gripped me around the waist. I slipped out from them, the rain making me harder to hold onto.

“Let’s go, girl. You’ve got no one else to save you.” One of the Dramens smirked, his lips pierced, and his brown dreads made him look menacing. Even his partner, while staying silent, promised awful things with the way his stare lingered on the soaked, see-through clothes clinging to my body.

“Never.” I gripped my sword, the only weapon I could carry. Everything else I’d ditched to run farther and faster. Any unnecessary weight was now scattered across the land I’d crossed.

If no one was coming for me, then I’d just have to fight until I died. At least this tree looked like a beautiful place to share a last breath. Maybe that was the safe haven all along. Not a community full of people, but a place for a peaceful death.

I raised my sword, ready to strike, showing these two creatures I was not simply a survivor waiting to be plucked up for their liking. I’d killed two of their kind and sliced another. I was a warrior.

Just as I started to swing toward the two men, a bright light glared from behind me, like I was the angel of death coming for the Dramens. Arrows slammed into their chests, and they fell to the ground with wide eyes on their dead faces.

My body shifted toward the light . . . to once-closed doors that were now open.



Chapter Eight


I wasn’t expecting an outrageous warm welcome with banners and rose petals being thrown before my feet after having traveled so far. I definitely didn’t think I would have been bound, hands behind my back, some cloth thrown over my head, and then carried on someone’s shoulder to the unknown.

It wasn’t a Dramen haven. They would have been rougher with me and pushed me in the elegant tree door instead of trying to pull me away from it. I fought as best as I could, kicking and writhing to free my hands from the rope behind my back, except it was useless. Whoever these people were, they didn’t care that I kept trying to tell them that I was a survivor and that I wouldn’t hurt them.

At first, one of the people who bound me huffed and sounded like an annoyed male. He murmured something about me walking too slow and then a shoulder dug in my gut before I was thrown over a large muscular body.

My body crashed hard on a solid surface as the man dumped me on the ground without easing the fall. So much for relaxing and soothing my muscles once I found the community. Instead, I was thinking how the hell I could get out of here.

The bag was suddenly pulled off my head. The growl that I’d planned on releasing unto these assholes stuck in my throat. I lost the ability to speak.

The room was large and natural, as if they’d built this magnificent place with nature, not on top of it. There were dimmed lights from the torches strewn along white columns in a pattern leading up to a magnificent wood-carved throne. Stunned from the beauty, I didn’t even try to rise from the solid ground.

A large tree bloomed behind the dais, glowing from an opened ceiling giving way for the moonlight to create prisms in what looked like crystal leaves. Rainbows danced across the room, like they did from a disco ball. It was like a dream.

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