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
As the light faded, the ground appeared matted with fog. Vival and Nyla walked along the coastline, dreary with mist. Neither of them spoke, at first by agreement and later by necessity. Nyla seemed to be unused to a lot of walking and began limping from what must have been blisters on her feet. She was too proud to say anything, however, and continued trudging on. At last she stumbled.
Vival tactfully suggested they rest for a while by a small clump of bushes that would provide a little cover. It was growing cold, but Vival was afraid to start a fire or even stop for too long. Nyla was waving her right arm back and forth in a strange motion.
“What are you doing?” Vival asked her quietly.
She started, as though she had been caught. “I didn’t think you’d see in the dark.”
Nyla paused a minute to answer. “Sometimes when I get tired or cold or scared, I play my imaginary fiddle. It’s always been a way I could comfort myself. You don’t hear anything, do you?”
Vival shook his head. “No.”
“I do. I can hear it playing. It sings to me and tells me everything is going to be okay.”
Vival looked away out over the darkening water. He wished he had something like that to reassure him. All he had was his belief in his ability to keep going, and he could never allow that to fail.
When he looked back at Nyla, she had fallen asleep, her right arm draped over her chest.
Gently, Vival took her up in his arms and continued walking. She was heavy, but not unmanageable.
Vival knew of one town on Veer Isle called Folio, the port in which he had been afraid to leave his boat for fear of the Goon. He dreaded arriving there as much as he dreaded the long walk. Still, even the dismal town that appeared before them in the grim twilight seemed welcoming to Vival as the muscles in his arms began to sing with fatigue. They were nearly upon it before they saw it, the fog blocking all but the brightest light.
If this was the port of Folio, there wasn’t much light to speak of. The one main avenue was strewn with dreary shops whose broken signs swung in an eerie wind. From far away Vival could occasionally hear a shout or a dull crash. Vival wondered as he climbed the main street how many ships were in port. He could hear none of the familiar clinkings and clangings of a harbor and the fog would not reveal anything to him.
At last they came upon the brightest window thus far, in the front wall of a rotten tavern, with a sign hanging down. On the sign was a picture of a vengeful-looking pig glaring out at Vival in challenge through red-rimmed porcine eyes. From behind the door, Vival heard mumbling voices and the occasional mocking laugh. Trying not to wake Nyla, he nudged the handle with his hip and pushed the door inwards.
The place went silent as soon as they entered. That was to be expected, Vival reasoned. People always did that, especially on an island that had seen no visitors in years. What wasn’t expected were the several knives that suddenly embedded themselves in the wall to his left and right.
Vival was not intimidated. If those knives had been meant to kill him, he would have found them in his chest. As it was, he looked bravely towards the small crowd of people gathered around the tables who glared at his arrival. “I have a child in my arms,” he announced. “Try not to hit her with your next throw.”
No one answered. They were an ill-groomed, stubble-filled bunch with fear and menace in their faces and a collection of empty glasses in front of them. Undaunted, Vival walked towards them still holding Nyla in his arms. “I’m looking for the proprietor.”
“Got no rooms,” muttered a man from behind him.
Vival turned. The innkeeper was extremely short, balding, with a filthy linen apron covering his threadbare, dingy white shirt. He worked his mouth around, as if he had something in between his gums, and different teeth peeked out from between blistered lips.
“Okay,” said Vival, turning half way so as to avoid having his back to the crowd at the tables. “Is there another inn in town?”
“Inns are for visitors,” grunted the man. “This here’s a public house, owned by the Goon.”
“Well, is there an inn—“
“Inns are for visitors,” repeated the man. “And Folio ain’t had no visitors since before I was a boy.”
“Well you have one now!” said Vival, trying to keep his patience. Nyla twisted in his arms and moaned a little.
“Where are we?” she asked.
The expression on the proprietor’s face turned grim. “Only two kinds of people come to Veer Isle,” he said. “The evil, and the dead.”
“Why is that?” Vival asked, even though he knew.
“How’d you get here? What you want here?” demanded one of the men at the tables. He rose, another of the ever present knives in his hand.
Nyla turned. “He’s Vival,” she said through sleepy eyes. “He’s a hero.”
The standing man’s eyes narrowed, but he stood his ground.
“Heroes are among the dead here on Veer Isle,” the proprietor said grimly. He looked Vival and Nyla up and down once or twice. “I’d suggest you get back on whatever boat you pulled into our harbor before the Goon finds…”
“Our boat’s broke!” cried Nyla. “Put me down,” she muttered to Vival, twisting so that she had no choice.
“Broken boat?” came a new voice. “That’s bad luck!”
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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