Creepy hollow 03 faeri.., p.1
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       creepy hollow 03 - faerie war, p.1

           Rachel Morgan
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creepy hollow 03 - faerie war


  Table of Contents

  Part I: Violet

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Part II: Ryn

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Part III: Violet

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Part IV: Violet

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Chapter Twenty-Seven

  Acknowledgements

  About the Author

  The Faerie War

  By Rachel Morgan

  Copyright © 2013 Rachel Morgan

  Cover Design by Morgan Media

  This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or, if real, used fictitiously.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission from the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For more information please visit www.rachel-morgan.com

  Kindle Edition Licence Notes:

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  Kindle Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9921863-7-1

  Smashwords Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9921863-8-8

  Print ISBN: 978-0-9921863-6-4

  For Andrew and Ruth.

  Best brother and sister ever.

  PART

  I

  The forest is dead. Silence makes the air feel heavy. No movement stirs beneath the blackened leaves and twigs that litter the ground. The trees left standing are naked. Even the sunlight filtering through the skeletal branches is dull and weak.

  I wish I could remember what it looked like before.

  A month has passed since The Destruction, but Creepy Hollow forest shows no sign of healing itself. Everyone says it’s because the fire wasn’t natural. It was driven by magic. The kind of magic that knows nothing but devastation.

  I take a step forward, my boot raising a small cloud of ash from the debris. I’m not here to lament the ruin of Creepy Hollow. I didn’t even know the name of this place until someone told me. I’m here in the hopes that I’ll see something to trigger a memory. Any memory. Anything that might tell me who I am or what happened to make me forget everything.

  I continue moving forward, aware of the footsteps behind me. My companion won’t let me wander far from his sight. In the distance, I see some sort of mound. A mound that looks like more than torn branches and crippled bushes. As I get closer, I realize what I’m looking at. This mound of splintered furniture and broken belongings was once a home. An entire home concealed inside a tree. Powerful magic kept it hidden—until a fire more powerful swept through and shattered the spells keeping the home intact.

  A hand touches my arm. “This is as far we go,” my companion says.

  I pull my arm away and turn to face the brooding young man at my side. Like all reptiscillas, Jamon’s eyes are black and his body is covered in pale, blue-green scales that shimmer where the light touches them. His hair, dark as midnight, brushes his shoulders.

  “But I haven’t seen anything I remember yet. We haven’t gone far enough.”

  “Doesn’t matter,” he says, revealing incisors like small knives. “I don’t trust you. I’m not taking you any closer to the Guild than this.”

  Jamon was the first to try and kill me after I woke up Underground in Farah’s home. He wasn’t the last. Reptiscillas don’t look too kindly upon guardians, and apparently that’s what I am. It seems a little unfair to hate me for being something I don’t remember, but Jamon didn’t see it that way. Ten minutes after I woke up and realized I couldn’t remember a thing about myself, he walked into the room, took one look at the strange markings on my wrists, and tried to crack my head open with a candlestick. Fortunately Farah stepped in before he could do any damage.

  I fold my arms across my chest. “Don’t you get it yet? I’m not some brainwashed faerie desperate to do Draven’s bidding. I’m not about to run off and tell him everything I know about the local reptiscilla community.”

  Jamon tilts his head to the side and watches me closely. “Every other faerie who survived is brainwashed. Why should I believe you’re any different?”

  I step closer to him, making sure to get right in his face. “Do I look brainwashed, idiot?”

  His eyes dart down. I follow his gaze and see purple sparks jump from my clenched fists and disappear into the air. I raise my eyes and meet his. He doesn’t step away from me. “There’s no need to lose your temper, Violet. You know I’m only looking out for the safety of my people.”

  “And why would Draven give an ogre’s ass about finding you guys?”

  “He won’t stop until he has control over every race. That includes us.”

  “And I won’t stop until I get my memories back.” I glare at him until it becomes clear he won’t back down. I take a deep breath and raise my eyes to the sky. I stare at wisps of grey cloud between the naked branches. Maybe if I’m honest about how lost and confused I feel, Jamon will lighten up a little. “You don’t know what it’s like,” I say softly, “looking back at your life and seeing nothing but a gaping hole and a few pieces of random, unimportant information.”

  “No. I don’t know what it’s like. I also don’t know what it’s like to trust a guardian.” He wraps his fingers around my upper arm. “Which is why we’re leaving now.”

  Great. Attempting to open up to him was obviously a stupid idea. Back to the angry, argumentative Violet. I’m fine with that; hiding my true feelings seems to come more easily to me anyway.

  Jamon attempts to direct me back the way we came, but instead of going with him, I grab onto a low branch with my free hand and refuse to move. “Stop it,” I say. “Stop treating me like a criminal. I can walk without your assistance, so stop pushing me around.”

  He slowly releases his fingers. “Fine. But if you make a single move to—”

  “I’m not going to—”

  “Get down!” he hisses, pulling me to the ground before I have a chance to argue. “Something moved.”

  With our shoulders pressed together and our backs against the tree, we listen. After almost a minute of silence, I begin to wonder if Jamon lied. But then I hear something. Footsteps moving closer. More than one pair.

  “The sensor was set off somewhere near here,” a man’s voice says.

  “Somewhere near here?” a woman repeats, frustration evident in her voice. “Can you be a little more specific than that?”

  “No. I can’t remember exactly where the sensor is. Everything looks the same out here now.”

  I look down at the hand I wrapped around the tree branch. Black soot marks my palm. I rub my hand slowly against my pants, wiping it clean as I listen.

  “We can’t return with nothing,” the woman says. “Only unmarked fae set the alarm off. That means a potential threat to Lord Draven.”

&nbs
p; “I know,” the man growls.

  Jamon makes a similar sound. I can guess what he’s thinking: something about it being my fault we’re in danger. Of course, if he’d consider letting me out of his sight for a few seconds, we could easily escape this situation. He could use his reptiscillan magic to vanish in less time than it takes to snap a twig in half, and I could open a faerie path at my feet and drop into it. If only Jamon hadn’t confiscated my stylus.

  The footsteps grow louder as the man and woman approach the tree we’re hiding behind. Jamon places his hand over mine and whispers, “Don’t move.” Without warning, my clothes begin to change color. My boots and pants blend in with the leaves and dirt. My sleeveless top takes on the color and texture of the rough tree bark I’m leaning against. The camouflage spreads up my body and along my arms. The same thing happens to Jamon.

  By the time the uniformed man and woman come into view, we’re practically transparent. Not exactly—I can see the outline of our bodies if I look carefully—but close enough. The two faeries wear dark blue uniforms with a shape I can’t see properly stitched to the top of their right sleeves. They scan their surroundings as they walk, barely pausing when their eyes brush over the area we’re sitting in. They look up, around, behind, but never back at us. We’re invisible to them.

  “Remain still,” Jamon whispers. It seems to take an excruciatingly long time before Draven’s guards are out of sight, heading toward where the Guild is supposed to be. When Jamon eventually lifts his hand off mine, the camouflage vanishes. “Let’s get out of here quickly,” he says. He pulls me to me feet, then releases my arm. At least he’s learned he doesn’t need to drag me along.

  I run beside him. “Camouflage magic,” I say as my arms pump back and forth. “That’s pretty cool. Can all reptiscillas do that?”

  “Yes.” He throws a quick look over his shoulder, then faces forward and ignores me.

  Fine. I can do the silence thing.

  We run for at least half an hour. Jamon breathes as easily as if we were walking, but the sounds coming from my mouth start to sound more like gasps. My lack of fitness is a state I attribute to being cooped up below ground for a month. I’ve traveled around the tunnels with Farah, of course, but Jamon wouldn’t let me above ground until today.

  He slows suddenly, and I almost run right past him. I recognize this spot. It’s where he took the blindfold off me earlier and I saw the sun for the first time in weeks. I felt so stupid stumbling around the Underground tunnels with that smelly piece of material tied around my head. There were definitely people laughing at me before we managed to get above ground. With any luck, Jamon won’t bother putting the rag back on for the return trip.

  “Time for your blindfold,” he says.

  No such luck. “Come on, seriously? This is ridiculous, Jamon. I’m not going to tell anyone where you live.”

  “Stop arguing with me.” He pulls the offending rag from his pocket. He takes hold of my arm and tries to pull me forward—again—and that’s when I finally lose my temper.

  “I am so sick of this.” I rip my arm out of his grasp. “I’m the one who’s been wronged here. Someone stole my memories from me and left me out in the forest to die, and yet every single day I have to deal with you looking at me as though everything bad that’s ever happened in your life is my fault.”

  “Violet, don’t be so—”

  “No!” My hands shoot forward and push hard against his chest. “I have never lied to you. Both you and your father have interrogated me, and I’ve never told you anything but the truth. If you hate me simply for being who I am, then let me leave. Otherwise start treating me with some kind of decency.”

  Red ripples flash across Jamon’s scaled skin. “A guardian doesn’t deserve decency,” he snarls. “You think you’re better than everyone else. You do whatever the hell you want. Well not anymore.” He pushes me as hard as I pushed him, and I almost fall over. “Now you’re under my watch, and I get to show you exactly what I think of—”

  “Shut up!” Without pausing to think, almost as if it’s instinct, I kick him as hard as I can. Before I can bring my leg back, he grabs it and pulls me down with him. I hit the ground, jab my elbow into his stomach, then roll over and spring up into a crouching position. It all happens so fluidly that I’m not entirely sure how I do it. I don’t have time to wonder, though, because Jamon throws himself at me. I duck out of the way and tumble across the ground. Branches scratch my arms. A burned smell fills my nostrils.

  I jump to my feet just as Jamon slams me against a tree. With both hands, he pins my arms to my sides. “This is why you got me to come out here with you,” he says. “So you could attack me.”

  “Ridiculous,” I gasp as I bring my knee up to strike somewhere in the region of his stomach—possibly a little lower. He groans but doesn’t let go of me, so I do it again. His grip loosens. I push him away, then bring my fist up to meet his chin. His head snaps back. I spin him around, lock one arm around his shoulders, and—I seem to be holding a knife to his neck. A knife I wasn’t in possession of a moment ago. A knife that glitters and sparkles as if made of a thousand tiny gold stars.

  In fright, I step back, open my fingers, and the knife vanishes. “I . . . I . . .” Jamon turns on me, and I raise my hands in surrender. “I’m sorry.” I take another step back. “I didn’t mean for all that to happen. I didn’t even know I could fight like that. And where the freak did that knife come from?”

  Jamon stares at me like I’m stupid. “Hello, you’re a guardian. Where do you think it came from?”

  I stare back at him, my mouth hanging open before I manage to say, “I don’t know. Can . . . can all guardians do that?”

  Jamon shakes his head as he walks toward me. “You really are messed up.”

  I stand still as he places the blindfold over my eyes and ties it at the back of my head. A piece of hair catches in the knot as he tugs it tight, but I can’t focus enough on the pain to be bothered by it. My brain seems to be stuck on repeat with the words what just happened playing over and over again.

  “Are you going to attack me for touching your arm?” Jamon asks. “Because walking is going to be very difficult for you if I can’t guide you.”

  I shake my head. He’d probably enjoy watching me stumble around, but I won’t give him the pleasure. He grasps my upper arm and steers me forward. I can feel his scales against my skin; they’re kind of slippery. It doesn’t really creep me out, but I still wish I’d put my jacket on over my sleeveless top. I don’t like him touching me. Invading my space.

  “Mind the tree,” he snaps. I move my hands through the air and feel the rough texture of bark beside me. Another step forward brings my knees up against something hard. I climb over the enormous root, thinking what a giant this tree must be.

  “The entrance is in front of you.”

  I slide my foot forward, feeling for the edge of the hole. Based on my journey out of the tunnels earlier today, I know I’m about to head down a steep passage of narrow stairs cut into the earth. Not the easiest thing to negotiate while blindfolded.

  “Stop right there!”

  I hesitate. That wasn’t Jamon’s voice. In fact, it sounded like—

  A hand strikes my back. I cry out as I tumble forward. I claw at the tunnel walls, but I’m moving too fast to stop my fall. I hit the ground on my side but can’t stop the momentum from carrying me down the stairway, knocking air out of my lungs with every step I—

  “Stop!” I yell, throwing a hand out and releasing magic. I slam into the invisible shield, which, fortunately, doesn’t hurt the way slamming into the ground does. I tear the blindfold off my eyes and push myself up onto my feet. My pummeled body screams at me.

  Somewhere above me I hear shouting. Without hesitation, I dash up the steps. Tiny glow-bugs wiggling along the tunnel’s walls light the way. Looking up, I see the entrance ahead of me: a circular shape of light.

  I take the last few steps two at a time, slip just before
I reach the top, and land on my knees and elbows. Digging my fingers into the dirt, I pull myself up the rest of the way and peek out the top of the tunnel. Over the tree’s giant roots, I see orange sparks spinning and swerving and black leaves rushing into a swirl in the air. I climb out the tunnel and crouch behind a root so I can see what’s going on.

  One of Draven’s guards, the male faerie we hid from earlier, tosses a handful of leaves at Jamon. The leaves turn into bats that screech and flap as they swarm around him. He ducks, drops to the ground, and strikes at the guard’s legs with a fallen branch. The guard jumps out of the way as he sends more magic in Jamon’s direction. A flame runs up Jamon’s arm, and he cries out in pain. The guard advances on him.

  I stand. Automatically, I lift my arms. Before I have time to consider what I’m doing, a bow and arrow as golden and sparkling as the vanishing knife appear in my hands. I jump onto the root I was hiding behind, aim at the guard, and let the arrow fly. It whistles through the air and pierces his chest where his heart is—exactly where I intended it to go.

  Shocked, the guard looks up at me. Orange eyes, hot and furious like a raging fire, meet mine. For a second, I’m certain he’s going to rip the arrow right out of his heart and kill me with it.

  Instead, I see Jamon rising up behind the guard, a log grasped between his hands. He swings forward hard. The log connects with the guard’s head with a loud crack.

  The guard slumps to the ground.

  Motionless.

  Jamon’s eyes move from the arrow in the guard’s chest up to my face. “You . . . you shot him.”

  I shot him.

  I uncurl my fingers from the sparkling bow, and it disappears. “Of course,” I say, sounding a lot calmer than I feel. “What was I supposed to do? Let him kill you?”

  Jamon frowns. “I could have taken him out on my own.”

  “I doubt it. Before I shot him, it looked like he was about to take you out.”

  Jamon eyes the fallen faerie. “Is he dead? I know it’s supposed to be difficult to kill your kind.”

 

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