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
Unconsciously, as though she were an instrument and someone was playing her, she began to move her fingers in new places on the fingerboard. Even without the bow moving across the strings, sounds came into her head. She could hear! She could hear what the instrument would say wherever she put her fingertips.
Following the instinct to play, she began letting her fingers lead her. She allowed the melody to emerge, a melody that sounded familiar, yet which was different from what she had practiced. As she listened to what her own hands were doing, she began to recognize that the tune she was playing was the same melody she had learned, only in a different place on the instrument. She was using the remaining three strings to substitute notes for the ones she had lost.
The Lich’s eyes flared bright yellow at the sound of the instrument and he roared, resisting the charm. He turned toward Nyla, a fearsome, terrible floating skull, illuminated from the inside. His awful head, exploding in infernal reds and yellows, began floating toward her at a dizzying speed, growing twice as large with each heartbeat.
But Nyla’s fingers were fast too, faster even than the Lich. Her practiced melody, rearranged upon the instrument, came out clear above the noise of the screaming, the crashing stones, the howling of the skull. Even as the Lich’s head approached, it had begun to slow. Now it was not hurtling toward her, but was gliding to a terrible stop just inches from her face.
If Nyla had learned courage from her last few days, she counted on it now with the spectral yellow eyes gazing longingly in her own, in an expression of icy joy as she played the ancient melody. The noise was decreasing, both from the skull, and from the sounds of the people who, having been controlled by the Lich, were coming to their senses. Even the mercenaries and the Goon himself were startled by the power of the Vee A’La in its swansong.
Vival had straightened up, himself no longer under the full power of the Lich’s spell. His eyes were shining as he looked back and forth from the enemy’s enraptured face to Nyla’s terrified brown cheeks, her open mouth. The Clef had stirred too, and there was in his own expression the serenest joy as the melody approached its completion.
Finally, Nyla sounded the last note, a resonant cardinal La, and after giving the bow its full course over the last string, Nyla let its tip drop away until it fell to tap the stone floor. The tap was surprisingly audible now, for the trembling of the room, the crashing of the stone, the screaming of the people, and the howling of the skull all had stopped in one pristine moment of peace.
Finally the skull opened just a touch. “Ahhhhhhhhhh…” came the whispered voice, only there was no cruelty in it now. “Vee…” he said, in the old tongue of his people. “Life…I had forgotten. I am no longer alive.” The Lich looked at Nyla as he spoke, trying to communicate to her something vitally important.
“Hear me well,” he said as if communicating something of the greatest importance to her. “There is a difference between true life and this shambling I have done. Never mistake one for the other.”
Then the Lich King, weary, turned away and without another word, began shuffling toward an interior door from the room. He spoke to no one as he departed, and no one spoke until he had quite left the room. Indeed, nobody moved, too terrified that this was only a ruse of the Lich’s, some kind of cruel joke, and that he would return, terrible, to seize them again.
But when some time had gone by with no one moving or speaking, Nyla finally sighed, and her sigh was so loud that it encouraged a sympathetic sigh from everyone else, even the Goon.
Vival stood up, stretching, looking as though he felt considerably better. “Nyla,” he muttered, looking down into her eyes. “Are you okay?”
Nyla couldn’t speak. She nodded, her eyes dry with relief, her own head bowed with exhaustion. The Clef tried to stand, but tottered with a painful gasp on what seemed to be a broken leg. Chere moved to help him. Accepting her support, he looked at Nyla with a new measure of respect.
“My child,” he said. “You knew more than I taught you.”
“I don’t know what I did,” Nyla said, shaking her head. “I don’t know how I did it.” Her head continued to shake, and she couldn’t stop, wouldn’t stop shaking it back and forth.
The Goon and his men had lit more torches and soon the room was fairly bright once more. Pieces of broken stone littered the floor, and the remains of the chandelier, now twice shattered, covered the space. The mercenaries were no longer hacking at people, and, for their part, the subjects of the Lich were themselves dazed. A few lay upon the ground, wounded, perhaps worse, but most had survived the battle.
“Well!” said the Goon pleasantly, as though nothing all that interesting had happened. “It seems we have a bit of a power vaccuum.”
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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