Flames of Nevyana
by Edward Willett
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
Publisher: Rebelight Publishing
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The moan came again, close by. There! A flicker of blue from the Temple spire illuminated a long, pale shape on the ground. He hurried over and pointed his blade at it. “Don’t move!”
The shape remained motionless. As Petra’s eyes adjusted to the dark, he realized it was a girl about his age lying bound and gagged in the wet grass. She wore a short skirt, colour uncertain in the darkness. The cloth that gagged her and bound her bare arms and legs was apparently torn from its ragged hem. Silver bracelets encircled her wrists and ankles. Silver coins hung from the band of cloth covering her breasts. More coins glinted in her dark hair. A jewel winked from her exposed naval. Wide eyes stared at him.
A Freefolk girl! Had the Freefolk somehow opened that hole in the Curtain? Petra drove his sword into the mud, squished to his knees, reached for the gag and pulled it free.
“Thank you,” she gasped. “My legs . . . .”
“You’re Freefolk,” Petra snapped. “Why are you here? Are there more of you?”
“I’m alone. I followed a thief—”
“Another of your kind?” Petra scrambled to his feet, reaching for the hilt of his sword.
“No!” Her eyes rolled, white in the dim light.
Petra tugged his blade free and stared around into the darkness, heart pounding, expecting attack at any moment.
The girl twisted her head toward the dark gap in the Curtain. “Listen to me! He’s inside the Temple! He’ll be back any minute. He’ll kill you. He’ll kill us both. Cut me free.”
Petra looked down at her again, hesitating. She was of the Freefolk—heretics and thieves, the lot of them—but she was also a girl in trouble. And as a Priest-Apprentice of Vekrin, he had vowed to help the helpless. He swore. Then he shoved his sword back into the muck, knelt again, pulled the Freefolk girl into a sitting position, drew his dagger from its sheath, and cut the twisted cloth tied around her ankles. As he reached for her wrists she screamed, “He’s coming!”
Petra jumped up, dagger in hand, and spun toward the Curtain. A dark figure burst through the gap. The intruder held a long staff topped with a glass sphere that suddenly blazed bright blue. Petra barely had time to recognize the staff as a Firelance before the intruder pointed it at him and--
Blue Fire flashed.
Agony blazed through Petra’s body. His muscles snapped rigid. Clutching his useless knife, unable to release it, unable to move, unable to breathe, he toppled like a felled tree.
The black mud swallowed him whole.
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