The Girl With The Bow

Book One in the Nyla Series

Adam Cole

Part Twenty-six

(C) 2013, 2016 Adam Cole

Published by Nuncici Press, an imprint of Adam Cole Works LLC

The soldiers had recovered and were moving after them. “Over here,” hissed a voice from off to their left. “This way!”
Chere had quick ears and she turned. Standing in a small offshoot of the main hallway was the Clef.
Chere looked at Nyla, unsure of whether to trust the Clef. “He’s okay!” yelled Nyla. Nodding, Chere pulled her over to the little man. Quickly, the Clef extinguished his flame. In a second the soldiers came rushing by, babbling about sorcery. Missing the little outcrop, they rushed down the hall and were lost to sight.
After a few moments, the Clef relit his lamp and moved them down the smaller hallway, out of the view of the main hall. He looked Chere up and down. “A shapeshifter,” he said. “I never would have guessed…”
“Well, most people don’t,” Chere remarked drily.
“Lucky for you, after years under the spell of the Overreacher, these soldiers are terrified of magic of any kind. It is why the Lich was able to take over so effectively.”
“The who?” Chere asked.
“Chere!” Nyla said, astonished, touching her hair. “How…”
Chere sighed. “It’s me,” she said. “And him. We’re both in here.” Smoothing out her hair, Chere continued. “Only one of us can occupy this body at any time. Whoever has the body gets to keep it for as long as they want. Sherluck can’t come back until I change into him. Unfortunately, once he’s back, it’s my turn to wait. Lucky for me he’s such a coward,” she spat. “Any time he gets into serious trouble he brings me out and makes me deal with it! I’ve gotten used to it.”
“What happens to you when Sherluck is here?” Nyla wanted to know.
“I go to sleep,” replied Chere. Each time he pulls me out I have no idea where I am or what’s happening. I’ve learned to figure things out pretty quickly. Are we under the mountain?”
Nyla nodded. “They’ve taken Vival and Tom.”
Chere turned towards the Clef. “Why did you rescue us?” she demanded.
The little man rounded his shoulders. “I had to know more about this girl,” he admitted. “Where she comes from. What she can do…”
Chere looked down at Nyla. “Are you tired?”
Nyla nodded.
“How long have we been here?” Chere asked.
“It was afternoon when we came in.”
Chere looked at the Clef. “She needs food and a place to sleep,” she said.
The Clef nodded. “Follow me,” he said.

The Clef guided them for some time until they had descended to a series of small rooms containing piles of manuscripts, books and objects of all sorts.
“This is what remains of our sacred collection,” the Clef said. “This is the traditional home of the Clef. It seems that someone has been sleeping here, for there are beds and evidence of food. Maybe I was the one living here. It is hard to remember though the trance of all those years.”
While Nyla and Chere examined the museum of items in the room, being careful not to touch any, the Clef tried to locate something for them to eat. He returned after a while with some dried fruit and stale bread. “I’m sorry,” he said sadly. “This is all I could find for now. Perhaps there are more in the kitchens, but until I can promise your safety, we should not venture there.”
The fruit and bread were fine with Nyla, who had not eaten anything since the morning. Chere politely picked through the edible remains while the Clef watched from a little ways off.
After they had eaten, Nyla asked, “What are all these things?”
The Clef shrugged. “They are what remain of our greatest treasures: the work of centuries. Once they were displayed proudly all over the Empire. Now many of them are gone. This is what is left.”
“Do you have any potions down here?” Chere asked casually.
The Clef shook his head. “Not here…there were once alchemists in the kingdom that brewed and sold many potions. Maybe something remains…”
“It doesn’t matter…” Chere said, shrugging one shoulder.
“You want to take a potion to stop you from changing into Sherluck!” Nyla guessed, pointing at her.
Chere glowered. “It would have been nice,” she admitted.
The Clef’s eyes opened wide, but he said nothing.
“Clef,” Nyla said, turning to him. “We have to rescue Vival and Tom.”
“Yes, the Sword…” The Clef appeared to be thinking deeply. “It must have been here amongst the sacred items. But it is strange…it is not one of ours.”
“It’s not?” Nyla asked, confused.
The Clef shook his head. “It belongs to some other place and time. How it came here I can only guess. The writing on its blade…” He paused thoughtfully.
“You know what it means?” Nyla pressed.
“Yes,” the Clef answered. “It is written in a very ancient script. Ages ago the smiths who forged our horns shared their skills with peoples of other lands. Perhaps the sword was created in tribute to our teachings.”
“What does it say?”
“The carving reads, ‘All will bow to the one who can speak with me.’”
No one spoke for a moment. At last Nyla said, “That’s stupid. Anyone can talk to Tom!”
The old man shrugged.
Chere spoke up. “I want to know more about why you rescued us. You said you wanted to learn about Nyla.”

 

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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