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
The Clef gave a shuddering sob and fell to his knees. At the same time, a sword clattered to the ground from a spot on the wall.
“Tom!” cried Nyla, rushing to the spot.
“What happened?” Tom replied in his inimitable metallic voice.
“We lost you!” Nyla said through joyful tears. “Why didn’t you answer us?”
“What’s that?” Chere asked suddenly, pointing at the door.
The wisp which no one had seen up to now had coalesced into a body, ghostly and translucent. Nyla’s question was instantly forgotten as she gazed at the figure that glided just above the floor.
She was brown-skinned like Nyla, but much older, her face wrinkled by years of smiles one would have guessed, though now there was nothing in her face but sadness.
“What is it?” she whispered to the Clef.
“I don’t know…” the Clef whispered back. “Perhaps she is a spirit of the Vee A’La, set free by its demise. I’ve never witnessed the death of an instrument and can’t say for certain.”
“Who are you?” demanded Vival, moving forward. He had had enough of spirits for the time being and was taking no chances.
But the spirit didn’t seem to properly hear him. Neither did it seem to see any of them, though it peered uncertainly through the dim cavern light.
“Aunt Serme,” she replied in a rusty voice that could have been a thousand miles away. “What do you want?” Nyla asked, though in a different kind of voice. Something about the figure seemed to enchant her, to give her comfort and a kind of hope.
The spirit appeared to notice them for the first time. “Aunt Serme,” she said again. Looking directly at Nyla she reached out a hand. But seeming to realize the futility of this, she instantly dropped it as though afraid to burn herself. A look of fondness crossed her face, and then of sadness once more, and pain.
“Home,” she said, looking at Nyla. And then, turning, the spirit looked directly at Vival. Clearly able to see him now, she said, “Bring her home…” Vival straightened up and looked back at the spirit, baffled. As if the effort to speak had exhausted her resources, the ghostly figure that had identified herself as Aunt Serme folded up and vanished into the air.
“Wait!” cried Nyla, rushing forward.
Vival watched her caress the spot in the air where the ghost had been. “Did you know her?” he implored.
Nyla looked back at him and sadly shook her head. “No,” she said. “But I wish I did.”
“Well, she knew you!” Tom said from the floor. “She wanted you to go home.”
“What did she mean?” Chere asked.
“How should I know?” Nyla answered sullenly. All of a sudden she was feeling resentful, and she couldn’t say why.
“Do you think she knows where you’re from?” Vival encouraged her. At last they might get to the bottom of the question of Nyla’s place of origin.
“I’m not from anywhere!” Nyla protested. “And I don’t have a home, I told you. I never did.” The anger was rising in her again, one she had forgotten over the past few days.
“You could stay here,” said the Clef.
“But I’m supposed to take her to the Sand Witch,” Vival said. “I think she knows where Nyla belongs!”
“If the girl wishes to stay…” the Clef interjected.
“Maybe I can say what I want!” Nyla snapped suddenly.
Everyone went abruptly silent.
Slowly Chere knelt before her. “What do you want, Nyla?” she asked, looking deep in her eyes.
Nyla wanted to answer, but the reply fell silent in her throat.
Nyla turned to stare at Vival and, for a moment once again, she held the expression that he had seen in her not so long ago, a look of uncertainty, of mistrust. She bit her lip and her eyes wavered back and forth. They looked from Vival’s face to the image of something unknown, something only she could see.
At last, in a barely audible voice, she asked, “If I go with you, could we take Tom?”
Vival looked over at the Clef. The little man responded, “I do not know the origin of this sword. My people must have stolen it years before. As our savior, Vival has as much a right to it as we do. Please, take it with our complements.”
“Yes, take me with my complements too!” exclaimed Tom, obviously pleased.
Nyla continued to waver. She looked from Vival to the Clef. Then, finally, she whispered, “Okay. That sounds nice.”
Suddenly Nyla looked down at her right hand. “The Reign Bow!” she said. “Here…” She held it out to the Clef.
But the Clef merely shook his head and smiled. “After all I have seen, I believe that you must keep this bow.”
“But it’s one of your treasures!” Nyla protested. “I’d probably break it or something!”
“Then you must preserve it well. I will provide you with a case for it.”
Nyla looked down at the beautiful bow. “Why?”
The Clef considered. “I do not believe the Vee A’Lyn remains here in the Underground Kingdom. It may have been stolen. Or perhaps it has transported itself somewhere else…it is a subtle instrument.” Taking a deep breath, the Clef looked at Nyla steadily. “I have reason to believe the Vee A’Lyn has befriended you. In fact, I think it must be searching for you.”
“Searching for me? Why?”
“Only the Vee A’Lyn knows,” replied the Clef. “In any case, I think you will find it and when you do, perhaps more of your questions will be answered.”
“I don’t have any questions,” protested Nyla, shaking her head. “I’m fine. But…” she added, quickly, “If I find it I’ll bring it back.”
“Perhaps,” acknowledged the Clef. “When you are united with the instrument, I have no doubt it will be at the time of your greatest need. At that moment, the bow will allow you to make use of the instrument. Or…” He smiled a little. “Allow the instrument to make use of you.”
Nyla blanched. “What does that mean?”
“Time will tell,” said the Clef, and with the same small smile, he backed away.
Chere was growing impatient. “Speaking of time,” she said, “It’s time you left. I’m certain the Goon will give you safe passage. He’ll do anything to get you out of here now!”
“But you have to come with us!” Nyla demanded, grabbing Chere by the hand.
Chere looked down at her hand in Nyla’s. “What? Go with you? Oh…well…”
“Why not?” Nyla pressed. “You’re my best friend!”
“Well, it’s just, I…we have…a life here…”
Chere looked away. “I make my own path,” she said.
“At least go with us as far as the Sand Witch,” Nyla pleaded. “Then you can leave. At least you’re off this island.”
“That would really screw up Sherluck’s plans,” Chere answered. No one said anything for a long time. Then Chere shrugged, “Sounds perfect.”
And Nyla smiled.
Nyla and Vival will return soon in The Blue Woman and the High Wood, which we will begin posting in December. Until then, we hope that you will please continue to visit this site as we are about to launch installments of a brand new book, Motherless Child. In the not-too distant future, the United States has split into two communities divided forever by race. While making the dangerous passage by bus from Atlanta to Washington, DC across the Unincorporated States, Rosa is forced to see a very different America.
Coming in just two weeks from Nuncici Press!
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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