Excerpt: Maiden of a Darkness Shining
Eliciting a slight groan, Heather awakened. However groggy, she felt uncomfortably hot and sweaty. Eyes closed, she reached to grab her blanket and throw it off of her curled form, but realizing she wasn’t wearing pajamas, it dawned on her that she wasn’t at home.
The ground suddenly hard below her, heat emanating from behind, she began feeling about and discovered the hairiness of a large animal beside her, its thick fur pressing at her back.
Heather’s eyes popped open. Warily, she pushed herself up, and half-turned to discover the robust, sphinx-like form of a golden Archmount directly behind her. Not bothering to cover up, Heather slowly, silently rose to her feet and backed away, the animal unperturbed. She then glimpsed about, finding that her clothes had been carefully laid out to dry, spread among the nearby bushes, most basking in the filtering sun.
Seeing the beast turn its head to calmly observe her, Heather returned its strong, steady gaze.
You are not of this world.
Caught off guard, awed by the Archmount and his MindSpeake, Heather barely shook her head.
And word has it you’re the One.
The girl whispered, “I might be.” She added, “If all goes well.”
Caught up in her tangle of emotions, her insignificance and powerlessness, Heather became oblivious of her surroundings, the girl a quaking, shadowy ball upon the floor, the Bristol House time crawling on in the dimness.
In due course, Heather raised a sleeve and wiped away her tears. She looked up at the ceiling.
“You’re not stopping me forever, you know. Whatever has happened to Grandma Dawn, I’m finding out—I’m finding her.” She climbed to her feet. “Besides, there are other reasons to go back to Evermore—or have you forgotten?” Heather glared, defiantly. “I am the green-eyed Maiden.”
When rising to ascend the remaining stairs, Heather stopped abruptly and, with a snap-turn of the head, she fixed her attention down the extensive stretch of hallway to one side.
Movement. Who? Or what?
Poised motionless as a graceful statue, she stared, her extraordinary green eyes parsing the confusion of shadows, waiting for more.
Legs and arms pulling her higher on a limb and above the water, she rode the buoyancy of the bough, the girl finally able to fully catch her breath. Now far downstream, following the curve of the swiftly moving creek, Heather saw the banks begin to narrow. As the current seethed below, the cluster of branches began to slowly rotate, sweeping her closer toward shore.
Approaching a spate of boulders near the Dairy Street Bridge, Heather straightened and timed her leap for the largest, landing, sliding, then scampering to gain traction and pull herself up the sloping granite face. Crouched upon the rock, stripping the sodden hair from her face, she took a moment to witness the lifesaving branches slam and wrap a stone upright of the bridge before violently being sucked under.
All systems alive, Heather swelled with sudden euphoria, with revitalized strength and a keenness of mind replacing the lethargy that had so gripped her spirit. Cloud cover breaking, she rose to stand tall in the night, her triumphant form framed against the large luminous circle of a resurgent moon.