The Silver Siren by Chanda Hahn : Page 1

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Chapter 1

“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.

The Septori.

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.

Thalia? Faraway, my horse and constant companion, sensed my mood and spoke straight into my thoughts. I was beginning to understand the bond between my Guardian horse and myself. It was still confusing, but he was quickly becoming a permanent fixture within my mind. I didn’t know how I could ever live without him.

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.
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