The Girl With The Bow
Book One in the Nyla Series
(C) 2013, 2016 Adam Cole
Published by Nuncici Press, an imprint of Adam Cole Works LLC
A guard released Vival from the chains that attached him to the wall. A little stiff from lack of activity, he shuffled between them out of the dungeons and into the upper part of the City Under the Mountain.
As before, no one seemed to notice him. The inhabitants of the city seemed to continue the tasks they had always done. Workers wheeled ore in barrels along pathways from one place to another. Supervisors dully made marks on little clipboards. As they approached the throne-room, the sound of the drum which had been muffled in the dungeons once again seizied him by the ears and made it difficult for him to think.
Soon Vival stood before Nyla and the Overreacher, slumped between the two guards. He was weary and ragged, and showed all the signs of having been hung from chains during his entire time in the dungeon.
“So, hero,” the Overreacher snidely. “How are we treating you?”
Vival looked up weakly with a questioning glance.
“Have you had enough to eat?”
“I haven’t had anything to eat,” Vival replied quietly.
“Of course you haven’t!” the Overreacher roared with delight. “I don’t feed people I intend to starve! Ahahahahahahaaaaa!” The Overreacher laughed at his own joke until his shaking dislodged a piece of meat that had been hanging on the edge of his tooth, causing him to double up in a choking fit. Vival waited patiently for the Overreacher to stop gasping for breath.
Finally, the enormous man-beast looked down at Vival again grimly. “How did you get in here?” he demanded through taut lips.
Vival tried to remain silent, but the Overreacher snarled, “Answer! I command you!”
The drumming sound pulled the answer from him. Unable to resist, Vival replied, “I came through the barrow.”
“The barrow…” For a second, the Overreacher seemed afraid, but he quickly checked himself and put his mask of condescension back on. “I should have walled that tunnel off years ago! We shall do it now. Guards…”
As the Overreacher relayed the orders, Vival moved his enormously heavy head to where the girl Nyla was sitting. She crouched next to the drum, watching him.
The Overreacher returned his attention to Vival. “And now, hero, I want to hear it from your lips. What did you intend by coming here? To steal my treasure?”
“To end your reign,” Vival replied automatically.
Even though the Overreacher must have been expecting this answer, it still seemed to irritate him. The right side of his face contorted into a spasm of scowling. “And where is your army?” he retorted, mockingly. Vival had no answer. “For you must know,” continued the Overreacher in a feigned genial manner, “that none have been able to resist my power. All assaults upon my island have failed.”
Vival knew what to say next, and nothing prevented him from saying it. “Then I have to defeat you in single combat.”
This reply shocked the Overreacher so completely that he failed to reply for a second, after which he burst into a fit of laughter that dwarfed his previous outburst, and which resulted in an even worse choking fit. Finally regaining himself with a gasp, the Overreacher took a deep breath and brought himself to his feet.
He was much taller than he looked from the chair. He seemed to tower near the top of the ceiling. In his arms, the enormous mace glistened menacingly like a thing alive and seemed to ready itself in his arms. “Perhaps you believe me past my prime, hero?”
Vival could not reply. He stood waiting for the Overreacher’s next move. Obligingly, the enormous figure commanded, “Remove the hero’s chains and provide him with a sword.”
“No,” interrupted Vival. “If you please, a dagger.”
“’If you please…’” repeated the Overreacher, his eyes seeming to burst in surprise. “Very well, my mild mannered hero. It makes no difference to me, for I will defeat you with sword and dagger both. Fetch the hero one of each!”
In a second, Vival felt the sword and the dagger being placed in his palms. It took a great deal of effort to close his hands upon them. “I command you to face me!” the Overreacher bellowed, and Vival felt himself obey, the weapons now firmly in his grip.
Taking two enormous steps down, the Overreacher came just outside of swinging distance from Vival. “Little man,” he said, “I offer you the first strike.” And he flung wide his hands.
Vival knew what he needed to do, could see his next move in his mind’s eye. But his will was constrained, his legs full of molten lead. It was all he could do to look up at the towering figure standing before him with his arms outstretched, the terrible mace held far away.
“Well?” demanded the Overreacher. “What are you waiting for?” Still, despite his best efforts, Vival could not move. The Overreacher reached up a grubby finger to scratch the same spot on his face. He smiled. “Do you see now, hero? You cannot even take the first step against me without my bidding.” The Overreacher nodded, satisfied. “Very well. I tire of this. Let us end it quickly. I command you, strike your best blow!”
And Vival, feeling will returning to his arm, hurled the dagger with a lightning throw. The Overreacher was ready to parry it, but the toss went wide and bounced uselessly off the wall to fall to the floor.
The Overreacher looked disappointed and shook his head in what could have passed for sadness. “How could you have come so far, hero, only to falter now? Will you grant me no amusement whatsoever?”
Vival hung his head.
“Very well,” said the Overreacher. “So be it.” And he raised his mace high for a killing blow.More about The Girl With The Bow
When Vival, Knight of the Fittest, risked his life to rescue the princess from Veer Isle, he never thought he’d be the one who needed to be rescued. And to make matters worse, the girl he was helping didn’t want to leave! The first book in the Nyla series introduces Vival, Knight of the Fittest, Tom the Incredibly Helpful Sword, two mysterious island dwellers named Cher and Sherluck, and Nyla, the mysterious girl with the bow.
Adam Cole is an author and music educator in Atlanta, GA. He has written numerous books and stories for children, as well as a number of adult and non-fiction titles including The Speed of Darkness and Seven Ways the World Can End.
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