The Silver Siren, p.1Chanda Hahn
The Silver Siren
By Chanda Hahn
Copyright © 2014 Chanda Hahn
Cover artwork and design by Steve Hahn
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the creation of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Table of Contents
About the Author
“She’s getting stronger. Did you see what she did? Never seen anything like it.” A raspy male voice rang painfully in my ears even though he whispered.
My body was sore, battered, and my skin felt like it was on fire, but the cool earth I lay on soothed me. My hands were bound painfully behind my back, and my feet were tied together at the ankles. I was having problems focusing my thoughts.
“She’s crazy, that’s what she is. Have you seen her face? She’s not like the others, I tell you,” a second man answered uneasily. His voice had a slight whine to it.
I willed my crusted eyes to open, and I saw a flicker of torchlight illuminate a cave wall and a flash of red robes.
I groaned silently and wiggled my hands in their bindings.
“Here. Put a bag over her face, and don’t let her look at you. She’s got the evil eye,” the raspy voice said.
I heard a loud shuffling and quickly closed my eyes, pretending to be asleep. I felt my head lifted and the scratch of a rough burlap sack over my face. It took all the control I had not to fight them, but to lie still. What had happened to my face? They kept saying something was wrong with my face.
“With that eye, she looks like a demon,” the whiner said.
“Shut up! I’m warning you!” said the first.
“What I want to know is how are we supposed to outrun him? He’ll follow,” Whiner continued.
“That’s the plan. The Raven wants them both,” a louder angrier Septori interrupted, obviously the boss. “Now be quiet and watch her. Make sure she doesn’t wake up.”
Even under the burlap, I felt the gaze of the three men and tried to keep my breathing deep and even as if I were asleep.
“Nah, she hasn’t moved since she passed out in the barn. She’s probably dead,” the whiny voice alleged, obviously forgetting the boss’s warning.
“Dead people don’t breathe, stupid,” said the raspy voice.
“Well, I doubt she’ll wake up. So don’t call me stupid.”
They paused in their speaking. Even blinded and bound, I could still feel the heaviness that permeated the air.
“We lost Vulture and Heron back there,” a new voice chimed in.
How many were in the cave? It was tough to keep track.
“We lost a lot more than that.”
“I told you idiots to be quiet,” the leader snapped at them.
Lying as still as I could, I tried to see where we were without moving or alerting them to what I could do. Stretching my senses outward, I sought out my surroundings. All I could see was the cave. I was drained and snapped back into my consciousness. I had reached my limit and hadn’t recovered yet. I doubted I even had enough strength to steal their power.
I began counting to one hundred, hoping to distract myself and soothe the incessant pain, but it was hard to concentrate. How had I ended up here bound and imprisoned in a cave? I could only remember leaving Skyfell and traveling toward Haven a few days ago. Slowly and painfully, I forced my mind to retrace my steps—to recall everything that had happened—up to that moment.
We’d been on our way back to the city of Haven with the prisoner Mona. We had just left Skyfell and had been only on the road for a few days. Our traveling party consisted of Hemi, my honor-bound clansmen, a giant of a man with a giant heart; Fanny, a copper-haired woman from Skyfell who was the original inventor of the machine that made me what I was today, although her creation had a different intention. Also, she had proven her alliance by healing me and accompanying us on our journey to speak with Queen Lilyana and the adepts.
Also with us were Darren Hamden, inherent rover and Joss’s godfather with a penchant for fashion and jokes; Joss Jesai, the rather good looking Denai that I was pretending to be engaged to in an attempt to search for clues for his missing sister. As crazy as the idea was, we were able to save Gloria from being manipulated by the deceitful Mona and to uncover a huge Septori plot all under the Jesai family’s nose.
And of course there was Kael, the SwordBrother, a silent, deadly, broody, manly, confusing, irritating man who was unfortunately magically bound to me because of what the Septori had done to us. We were a ragtag band trying to make the journey to the city of Haven as quick as possible and trying to stay one step ahead of anyone tracking us. But I couldn’t shake the disappointment of not finding Joss’s sister, Tenya. She was still out there somewhere.
Joss rode over to us. “We are stopping up ahead for the night.” His blond hair was getting long and starting to brush the collar of his cream-colored shirt. Why was I fixating on his hair? And when had it gotten so long?
Glancing up in surprise, I tried to catch his gaze, but he purposely looked over me and turned around to ride back to the front of our group. My fingers dug into the reins of my horse angrily.
Great! Joss and I were having our first fight and I couldn’t blame him. He was still upset over my kiss with Kael. And Kael! He’d gone back to wearing his expressionless mask, void of any emotion. For all I knew, he had completely forgotten about that very kiss in Skydown. Gritting my teeth at the stubbornness of both these two men, I mumbled angrily to myself. By the time we were finally settled and had set up dinner, I had given myself an intense headache.
No one spoke, and dinner had been eaten in record time. I noticed that Mona cast me knowing glances and smirked at me whenever she thought I wasn’t looking.
Yes? I thought to him.
There’s a river nearby. I think you should go and relax a bit.
That sounds wonderful. I’m going to tell Hemi.
And I did. Hemi looked at me in surprise, but I politely explained that I needed some time alone. And even though he was uncomfortable with the idea, Fanny persuaded him to let me go.
“That horse of hers is protection enough. She’ll be fine, ya big oaf,” she said. Her copper-colored hair was pulled back off her face with a blue scarf. She slapped him on the arm, and Hemi grunted dramatically as if he were in a lot of pain.
Grabbing a bar of soap, I took off with Faraway. I placed my hand on Faraway’s neck and walked with him while he led me to the river. By now the sun was setting and the sky was turning dark, twilight. Looking at the calm, slow-moving river made me shake unconsciously. Joss had rescued me the year before from a river much like this one.
I took off my boots and rolled up my pants before creeping to the water’s edge and stepping in, letting the coldness of the water shock my system and clear my head. Using the soap, I scrubbed as much dirt as I could from my hands, face, neck, and arms. It was the most I could do without taking a full bath, and truthfully, I didn’t feel at all comfortable taking one in the open.
Once done, I was in no hurry to head back to camp, so I waded out to an outcropping of rocks and climbed upon them as if I were playing the old child’s game King of the Mountain. I stood on them with my hands on my hips and watched as the moonlight reflected on the waters.
It wasn’t until a hand grabbed my ankle and pulled that I realized someone was in the lake with me.
I was yanked backwards into the water, and I came up gasping for breath and sputtering like a doused cat.
My black hair covered my face, blocking my vision while loud guffaws alerted me to the direction of my attacker.
I recognized the laugh as belonging to Joss.
Pulling my hair to the side, I saw his grin. He tried to hide it when I glared at him. Hastily, I glanced to the embankment to see Joss’s shirt and boots lying on a log. No other clothes were removed and I breathed easier. Not by much, though, because my eyes kept looking down at his masculine chest.
When Joss still was unable to silence his mirth, I got revenge. Pulling the water to me I made two huge waves rise up on both sides of him and immersed him, I also made sure that the waves soaked his shirt and boots that he’d left on dry land.
Now it was my turn to laugh mercilessly. I was rewarded by a physical dunking that turned into more splashing. I tried to run out of the water for safety, but Joss was faster, scooping me up around the waist. He threw me, screaming, back into the cold, dark water.
Only I didn’t come up. I held my breath and swam as low to the bottom as possible. I held still, lying in wait. Paddling backward with my hands, I closed my eyes and searched with my other senses through the water. Sure enough, a frantic Joss shouted my name and dove back in after me.
When he came up for air, I sprang up out of the water like a swan surfacing. I grabbed onto his shoulders and yanked him into the dark abyss. When he finally resurfaced, he grabbed my wrists and pulled me close to his chest in an embrace.
I let him hug me and I took advantage of the warmth his body was giving off. My wet clothes were making me very cold and I felt my body shiver. Whether it was from cold or from Joss I wasn’t sure.
“Don’t do that,” he whispered into my hair. Joss’s voice was breathy with exertion. “You scared me.” He continued to hug me.
I was content to not move or say anything, but I could immediately tell when the mood changed.
“I’m sorry, Thalia,” Joss groaned and spoke softly, fervently. “I don’t know how to explain what happened that night between me and Mona, other than that wasn’t me. It was just as my mother said—I could watch myself doing things, but I couldn’t control it. A bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from. I do know, though, that you were meant to see us.” Joss pulled away from me and grasped my shoulders. Leaning down, he searched my eyes.
“I wasn’t in control. You have to believe me. I left you to go change, and Mona was in the hall waiting for me. I felt a pinch and then I felt dizzy. Her voice was mesmerizing. I was compelled to follow her. I heard her mumble something about you under her breath and then the next moment, she was kissing me. And I was kissing her back.”
“Stop…please,” I shook my head, not wanting to hear more. He had explained enough. But Joss felt he hadn’t.
“I heard a noise and couldn’t look up until she let me, and I saw your face. I wanted to die. I wanted to scream, to run to you and tell you it’s all a lie, but I was frozen.” Joss ran his hand through his hair in disgust. “I wished that you could hear my thoughts. In my mind I was screaming at you for help, but then you turned away and left.”
I closed my eyes and looked down ashamed. I should have known that wasn’t like Joss. I should have seen the signs that something was wrong. But I was too quick to believe that he had chosen someone else.
“I’m sorry, Thalia. I was angry that you left, that you would believe the worst of me without confronting me. But then Mona made me return to the party and that’s when everything went downhill…and you saw the rest.”
“No, Joss, I need to apologize to you too, about the kiss with Kael.” I felt awful that I was saying I was sorry for something I enjoyed. “He surprised me, and I didn’t comprehend fast enough to pull away.”
Joss was quiet, thoughtful, and then he nodded his head in understanding. “So are we good?”
I grinned back. “We’re good.”
Joss looked at me and started to laugh again as he pulled a stray twig out of my hair. “You look a mess.”
I made a face and reached up to feel for other items that may have gotten caught in my long hair. Yep, there were other twigs as well. Joss also had a thick twig on his shoulder and when I went to brush it off, it didn’t move.
Frowning I reached up to brush it off again and it only squirmed. That’s when I realized it wasn’t a twig.
“Leeches!” I squealed in horror and ran out of the water as fast as I could and dove behind a huge rock as my clothes clung to my body. I began to rip my shirt off to pull off the offending leeches but Joss was right behind me.
Our screams brought Kael and Darren running—Kael with his knives drawn, his face a mask of death. They both stopped in their tracks when they saw our frantic dance to remove the leeches.
Kael’s eyes locked onto me and looked at my wet clothes and then glanced to Joss’s similar state, his mouth turning down in disapproval.
Darren ran over to Joss and began to pluck the leeches from his body. Kael looked at me awkwardly and then, turning his back on me, headed back to camp. A few moments later, Fanny came running down the same path with something in her hands.
Fanny arrived with a pouch full of salve. After she plucked all of the leeches from my body, she applied it heavily to their bites. I groaned in protest as the pungent order reached my nose. It was hartswood, a salve that smelled similar to cat urine, and it belonged to Kael. He knew how much I hated the smell of it, and I could just picture him in my mind heading back to camp grabbing the pouch and throwing it to Fanny with instructions.
He knew I would argue with him if he tried to get me to use it. So he sent someone I wouldn’t argue with. Kael was beginning to figure me out.
Cold and miserable, I made it back to camp with the others and grabbed my spare clothes out of Faraway’s saddlebag. I glanced around for Kael so I could give him a piece of my mind, but he wasn’t there. So I took out my frustration on Faraway.
“Why didn’t you warn me?”
You weren’t in danger.
“Leeches, Faraway. I was attacked by bloodsucking leeches.” I hissed.
Okay you weren’t in any real danger, he chortled. I wouldn’t say attacked. You were the one who invaded their home. They were just hungry. Like I am right now.
“You’re always hungry.”
Exactly, so I don’t blame them.
“But I blame you!”
He snorted and went silent on me.
Once I had changed and laid out my wet clothes to dry by the fire, I sat and combed out the snarls in my wet hair while surveying the rest of my traveling companions. Darren had challenged Fanny to a game involving tossing small stones into a tin cup. Their contagious laughter filled the camp and soon Joss and Hemi were calling out bets as to who the winner would be.
Darren bowed comically whenever his throw rang true and fell to his knees in dramatic sorrow when he lost another game to Fanny. “Woman, you’ve stolen my pride, my dignity,” he crowed, throwing his arm over his face.
“Nonsense,” Fanny snorted drolly. “You would need to have a speck of dignity first for me to steal it. Which you don’t.”
Joss slapped his knee in laughter at the obvious look of mock dismay that crept over Darren’s face. Hemi’s stoic face cracked a smile beneath his red beard, and even Mona had to cover her mouth with her hands to hide her laughter. Overall, the tension from earlier had been alleviated. The fire died down and we settled in for the night, each of us taking a turn on watch.
I couldn’t sleep. Lying in my bedroll, I stared at the fire until I saw Kael come back to camp. It was the same as before. I felt that I couldn’t fall asleep outdoors unless I knew he was near. As if his presence alone kept the bad things away. Or maybe I knew that if Kael was near, the Septori wouldn’t be able to take me.
Only Kael didn’t put his bedroll anywhere near mine. He set it up on the far side of camp and actually turned his back on me to sleep. I must have angered him. I was frustrated by the fact that for the last three days he’d slept near me, but now he refused. Sleep never came.
The Silver Siren by Chanda Hahn / Fantasy / Young Adult / Romance & Love have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes