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
Shrugging, Vival reached down to the ground and dusted his palms with dirt. Taking the cake carefully, he beaned the first man with it. The man was unable to move to avoid it and at first seemed sure it was a rock. Once it hit him square in the forehead, however, it exploded into a million honey-pieces, some of them sticking to his face. Realizing what he’d been hit with, the man laughed a deep, booming guffaw.
A small group of the insects followed the trajectory of the cake and unfailingly found the face of the man. He stopped laughing immediately and began swatting.
Vival was quicker to take the other cakes. His aim was excellent. Soon every man had a cake plastered to his forehead. The rest of the enormous insects quickly followed.
With the men preoccupied by large flying things, unable to run away or continue, Nyla and Vival were able to make progress following Sherluck. The trickster had turned a corner and was out of sight. When they followed the path, they found him on a large incropping that had enough space for about three people to stand.
“Sherluck!” Nyla cried. “Why did you leave us?”
“I figured you’d follow me,” Sherluck said, dismissing the question. He was involved in studying the rock face. It was smooth here and he ran his fingers up and down it.
“Those men aren’t going to be stopped for very long!” Vival said. “Does the ledge continue?”
“We won’t need a ledge when I find the door.”
“The door?” Nyla said. “What door?”
“There’s a door into the mountain,” said Sherluck. “I found it once, but I never thought I’d use it. Now, though, since the Overreacher’s gone and the Goon is right behind us, I thought this was a pretty good time.”
“I don’t see a door,” said Vival.
“Of course you don’t,” said Sherluck, as if he was talking to an idiot. “it’s hidden. And…yes!” Sherluck’s eyes looked around wildly for something. They settled on Tom. “Give me that sword!” he said.
Vival, not sure he wanted to comply, decided that Sherluck probably wouldn’t use Tom to attack anyone at this particular moment. In fact, once Sherluck had the sword, he began tapping on the stone with its pommel.
“Hey!” the Sword cried. “I’ll dent!”
“Use this rock!” Nyla said, handing it to Sherluck. She had picked it up to throw at the men who were after them, thinking they wouldn’t be put off by honey cakes this time. Absently, Sherluck took the stone without looking at her. As he tapped, dust fell off the face of the door and a dim shape appeared. Sherluck’s eyes lit up. Soon the falling dust exposed a small crack, barely visible. Following the crack with their fingers, everyone soon had brushed off the outline of a small door with an arching top.
No handle was visible on its face. Hastily, Sherluck scanned the crack, but the door did not give up its secrets. From around the corner the sounds of angry men began getting louder.
“Maybe it only opens from the inside,” Vival suggested, looking nervously over his shoulder.
“That kind of talk isn’t going to save us. We have to think!” urged Sherluck. “We have to think about the person who made this door.”
“It was a Veer Islander, one of the Underground People,” said Vival, trying to be helpful but feeling as though he was just stating the obvious.
“What were they like?” Nyla asked.
“Well, you lived with them, didn’t you?” Vival pointed out. Nyla blinked. “Oh, yeah!” She thought for a while. Sherluck began twitching, as though greatly irritated with the delay. The sounds of the pursuers were getting closer still. “Well…there wasn’t much goin’ on in there. Just the drumming, and the Big Ugly Man…”
“Drumming?” asked Sherluck.
“Yeah, Big Ugly had this drum, used to play by itself. And when it played, everybody used to go glassy eyed.”
“So they liked the rhythm…” Sherluck muttered.
“So maybe…” Nyla said, looking up. “Maybe it’s a musical lock.”
Sherluck seemed skeptical. “Maybe,” he said. “We need to think…”
“No,” Nyla interrupted him. “We need to listen.” She put her head to the door and sat very still.
Everyone watched her as she sat intently, ear to the door. At last Vival spoke up. “Do you hear anything?”
“No,” Nyla admitted, shaking her head. Then her eyes went distant. “Wait,” she said. “I have an idea. Hit the door with the sword.”
Vival tapped the rock with the pommel of the sword. “No,” Nyla said, “That’s—“ Then she stiffened.
“What is it?” demanded Sherluck. “What do you hear?”
“Another tap,” Nyla said. “An echo. Do it again, Vival.”
Vival tapped. Nyla listened intently. “There it was again. Another tap, just like that one. Can I hold the sword?”
Vival gave Nyla the blade. It was a little large for her and she held it uncertainly in her hand. She found it hard to get her fingers around the handle. “Why not just use the rock?” the sword suggested. “I’m afraid I’m going to dent or scratch with all this tapping.”
Nyla nodded and leaned the blade against the door. Sherluck found her a hand-sized rock and she beat against the stone several times, each time seeming to hear the echo. One time she tapped twice.
“Why’d you do that?” asked Sherluck.
“I wanted to see if it was really an echo,” she said, “And not somebody else. I think I heard two taps. Lemme try something else.” She tapped four times with the rock: tap-tap, tap-tap. She smiled up at them. “That’s what the echo sounded like when I tapped twice, the echo of the echo.”
“I can hear,” said the sword, who was still leaning against the rock. “The vibrations are going right through me. I can tell you what the echo of the echo of the echo is!” The sword made a tapping pattern come out of its blade. Tap-tap, tap-TAP-tap, tap-tap.
“Tom, not now—“ Vival scolded.
“No, wait,” said Nyla. Without thinking, she tapped out this new pattern flawlessly. Sherluck was getting very interested now. Vival was only getting more nervous. A flock of birds had been disturbed very near to where they had been on the ledge. They fluttered around, agitated.
“Tap-tap, tap TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP tap, tap-tap,” said the sword. Once more, Nyla tapped out the new pattern without missing a beat.
Vival noticed that the stone was beginning to tremble. “Hey!” cried a voice from the edge of the clearing. “Here they are! Boss!”
“Do it again!” urged Sherluck, though he needn’t have said anything. Nyla was in a world of her own, now, and the next pattern she had to copy from the sword was so long and complicated Vival couldn’t keep track of it.
From deep inside the rock came the sounded of gears turning upon gears. Clicks fired off in a rapid sequence, resembling dominoes falling in a row. With a gasp, the door flew open, releasing a burst of cold, stale air. Tom, who had been leaning against the stone, fell in and landed with a clatter. “Yipes!” he cried.
Sherluck cackled and raced through the open doorway. Vival pulled Nyla in after them and shut the door. It slammed behind them in the faces of the three burly men whose swords had been a hair’s length away from their necks.
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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