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
“What do you mean?” asked Chere suspiciously.
“I mean, the Lich is gone. I hope, forever. Is there a rightful King to replace him?”
“No,” said the Clef. “The royal family were all imprisoned by the Overreacher and eventually met their death in the dungeons.”
“The Clef should do it!” Nyla put in quickly, not liking the direction the Goon was going.
“No!” protested the little man, waving his hand back and forth. “That was never my desire.”
“Then Vival!” Nyla exclaimed. “He freed them!”
“I’m no king,” replied Vival, stretching. “I’m a hero. And anyway, I have my job to do. No, I think the Goon would be the best choice.”
“What?” demanded Nyla, not believing what she was hearing. The Goon, pleased, nodded modestly.
“Yes,” Vival affirmed. “He’s got the organization ready to go. He’s been a sort of a leader of the island for a long time. Now he can take the inside.”
Nyla glared at Vival, disappointed. Chere put words to Nyla’s obvious thoughts. “But he’s a crook!” she snapped. “He’s a bloody mercenary. All he wants is to plunder this place!”
The Goon put his hand over his heart as if wounded. “Ridiculous!” he said, looking around at the disoriented subjects. “I will be an excellent leader of this isle.” But even he could not disguise the greed in his eyes.
“Oh, you’re not just going to be leader,” Vival emphasized. “I said king.”
“Yes, king, of course,” repeated the Goon, although he seemed not to understand the distinction.
“Kings,” Vival clarified, “serve the best interests of their people. I fully expect you, as King of Veer Isle, to give up plundering, to open the island to honest commerce, and to manage the resources of your subjects in the manner which the Clef advises you.”
The Goon seemed caught off guard. “Quite right!” he agreed quickly.
“But you can’t trust him!” argued Chere, looking furious. “The second you’re gone he’ll turn this place into his own private resort!”
“Of course I can trust him!” retorted Vival.
“Absolutely!” confirmed the Goon with a nod.
“Because if he isn’t a good king,” Vival continued, “I’ll free the Lich again.”
The Goon froze in his tracks. From Chere’s arms, the Clef stifled a painful chuckle.
“I still know his name,” Vival reminded the Goon, pointing a finger at the ground. “If I say it, he’ll emerge from the barrow to rescue his people again. I’d hate to think what he’ll do if he doesn’t get enough sleep first.”
The Goon swallowed deeply. “You know,” he said, “Now that I think of it, there are surely others more suited…”
“You’ll do,” Vival said, cutting him off. “I think you’ll be a wonderful king.” Then Vival looked long and meaningfully at the Goon who, for the first time, appeared uncomfortable and averted his eyes.
As the former subjects of the Lich began to get acquainted with their new, perhaps unwilling king, Nyla suddenly remembered something. “We have to rescue Tom!”
This time no one argued with her. Antheppe had emerged to help the Clef to his feet. Supported by the mute woman, he accompanied Chere, Vival, Nyla and the soldier who had been guarding the armory towards the tunnel that would lead to the sword. But when they had exited the room, none of them noticed a wisp following through the dim light, the smallest turn of a spirit that seemed to flutter in the air behind them, visible to only the closest observers.
They came to the armory, the door of which the large soldier now opened without a word. As they entered, the wisp slipped in through the bars of one of the windows.
“Tom!” shouted Nyla. There was no answer. “Where is he? Why doesn’t he answer?”
“He might be buried under other weapons,” Vival said. “Or maybe being back here has made him depressed.”
“But we’re here to rescue him!” Nyla exclaimed.
Vival could only shrug.
The Clef nudged Chere to bring him closer to Nyla. He put his soft hand in hers. Surprised, she looked at the little man. He smiled now and whispered to her, “I believe there is still one note left in the Vee A’La.” Nyla looked in her arms at the exhausted instrument. It seemed to be trembling under the remaining weight of the strings.
“Play it,” urged the Clef. “Play its name now. Perhaps the Sword will respond.”
Delicately, Nyla brought the old instrument to her chin. Afraid to finger the note, she simply ran the bow across the highest string. It groaned one time in ecstasy and relief. As she played it, she saw all the swords in the armory blur. As they vibrated to the sound of the string, they began to hum the note. For a second, every bladed weapon in the place was singing “La.”
Then the high string snapped with an alarming pop, startling Nyla so badly she blinked and nearly dropped the instrument. Another string followed, and finally the last exploded into a dusty twirl of gut. As if at last released from its burden, the Vee A’La seemed to shimmer faintly and then to shrug. Before Nyla’s eyes, the wood turned to soft ash and melted into dry shavings, beginning at the chin-rest until it reached the bridge, which clattered to the floor. The f-holes on either side widened into enormous mouths until they ate up the body. Then there was only the neck which dropped into tiny dominoes up its length. One by one the tuning pegs slipped into nothing and then, though she could still feel the instrument in her fingers, she was holding air in her left hand.
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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