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
“Play,” urged the Clef from behind her, and his gentle, musical voice reassured her.
The instrument suddenly warmed in her hands. She felt the right movements before she made them, knew what to do as if she’d been doing it all of her life.
Taking the old wood against her chin she inhaled the round scent of varnish. It spoke to her the way the Clef had, like a whisper to her cheek. Play.
And holding the bow at the ready, she did.
No one had heard the Vee A’La in hundreds of years. Its tone, mellow and rich, was almost like a strange visitor, the only thing in the room unaffected by the icy face of the Lich King.
The fingers of Nyla’s left hand moved across the fingerboard, at first hesitantly, then more easily, the notes beginning to center in and pull in tune. Her fingers seemed to want to go slightly different places, as if they were used to a smaller instrument, but her ear guided her. She made a small adjustment and the instrument truly began to sing.
Everyone in the range of that sound was captivated. Fear left that space, and the hundred citizens of the Kingdom Under the Mountain gazed in wonder at Nyla, the girl with the bow. They knew this music, but it had not reached their ears since they were children, or before.
The Lich King, too, was captivated and, if surprise could have registered on that skull-face, it clearly would have been there. His stony silence possessed a different quality now, a listening one, and his eyeless sockets seemed to stare, not at Nyla, but at something farther away, from long ago.
Of all the listeners, surely the Clef was most enchanted. He watched wide-eyed, as if he was the child, delighting at the sound he had been trained to preserve but never play. His hands were clasped together at his throat and he seemed afraid to move lest the spell be broken.
Nyla continued moving her fingers along the contours of the melody, pulling the bow with her right hand across the resistant strings. They began to groan, unable to respond because of their age and condition. She nudged them with her fingers and the hairs of the bow and the resistance began to give way once more. The strings were warming, the dust was being shaken from them. Now they were speaking the charm that Nyla had practiced with the Clef.
There was a snap accompanied by an anguished outcry from the instrument, a short, pained note that was quickly cut off by the silence in the room. Everyone stared, shocked, by the retort, at the little girl who now was frozen just like the Lich, holding the instrument to her chin but unable to play it. The second string had snapped.
Shocked, Nyla groped at the wood of the fingerboard with her left hand, now useless without the string to sound against it. Her mind raced. She had not finished the charm. The instrument had not said its name.
The Lich was not pleased.
“What is this?” the skull-faced King demanded, coming out of his trance. “What is the meaning of this?”
“My Lord,” the Clef quickly said, moving towards the girl. “You see that the people are charmed! It is only a broken string, one that I can repl—“
“Ah, yes, the subjects are charmed!” repeated the Lich. “And I as well…For a moment I was taken back, far back, and I found I no longer desired to move, but only to listen.”
The Clef’s hands were shaking and he seemed to be trying to decide whether to speak or to run.
“I had forgotten what it means to feel, Clef,” said the Lich.
The Clef watched the Lich carefully, unsure of the significance of the dead King’s words. Had he perhaps been transformed in some way by the performance? Had Nyla played enough?
“Now I feel pity for you.”
The Clef just barely had time to be surprised as he found himself hurled to the ceiling of the room by some terrible magical force. His cry followed him up to the chandelier and mixed with the tinkling of the glass. “Majesty!” he cried. “Please!”
“So, Clef,” murmured the Lich, twirling his bony finger. The Clef in turn twirled as though caught in an invisible spool. He hollered miserably. Nyla watched him with dread, gripping the hamstrung Vee A’La in her left hand so hard the remaining strings cut into her palm. “So…” repeated the spectral king. “You would charm me, would you?”
“No, your majesty!” cried the Clef, who had briefly stopped spinning but was still suspended, panting, in midair.
“Your desire was to charm me and bend me to your will so that I would serve you! Then you would be King of this realm!”
“My Lord, no!” the Clef tried to protest in a pitiful wail. “That was never my intention! I only…”
Then he began spinning again as the Lich silenced him. With its free hand, the Lich gestured at the Vee A’La. The old instrument and the bow were instantly torn from Nyla’s grasp and hurtled towards the bony fingers which caught it deftly in midair.
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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