By the time consciousness returned, I was in a cave. It was dark and freezing, but thankfully someone had been kind enough to light a fire nearby. I’d be frozen to death for sure if they hadn’t.
It clicked in my mind a second before a lone harpy entered the cave, dragging a large carcass into the round space. Squinting through one eye, I watched her closely, not sure if I was about to be attacked, but she just dropped the dark lump a few feet from where I lay, and left again.
Pulling myself up, I winced at my aching limbs, and as I examined myself quickly, I was surprised that there was nothing but a fading, silvery scar where that sluggy fucker had bitten me. And no sign at all that the harpies had pierced my skin with their paralyzing claws.
I didn’t remember healing this fast back on Earth, except when I used a healing rune or visited a qualified healer witch. Maybe the harpies had healed me…
They clearly didn’t want me dead or they’d have killed me in the clearing. What did they need me for then?
Archer’s face flashed across my mind and I wondered if he was in pursuit, or if he’d given me up as too much trouble. I doubted he was giving up, not for my sake but for his mission. Not to mention that look on his face when they flew off with me. That dark and menacing expression was branded in my mind–I’d never seen him wear it before, and it was insanely terrifying.
It was a small comfort to know that he was on my side.
Not that I was the sort of chick to wait for a rescue. I’d done most of the saving of my own ass over the past couple of decades, outside of my mum fixing up some of my scrapes. And I would save myself today as well.
The harpies had seemed awfully confident that no one would find me, and that I was basically fucked now I was in their clutches, but they didn’t know one thing about me.
I broke rules and created runes.
My limbs all appeared to be in working order again, and since I was once more alone–outside of the faintly stinky corpse of a forest animal–I took a moment to start planning my escape.
Reaching out I sketched my first rune. It was one that I’d used multiple times to protect myself while on a bounty hunt. It was my version of an illusion, where I could create any particular–false–scene that would be visible to others. For this one, I would make it seem that I was still unconscious on the floor of the cave, while in reality, I was sneaking out the back door.
Out the back door of a bloody harpy cave.
Fuck my life. Fuck it right into the pits of hell.
One day soon this shit had to stop happening to me.
This rune was complicated. I couldn’t screw up even one angle of the ten strokes and intersecting lines, so I forced my rapidly beating heart to calm as I drew in the dust of the floor beside me.
Focus was the key here. This was my only chance.
When I was about eighty percent done, scraping sounds filtered through to me from the directions the harpy had disappeared before. Something was heading back this way, and my time was almost up.
Despite the risk, my finger moved faster and faster, and when I connected the final loop that joined the ten lines in the manner I wanted, I directed the ensuing energy to form the illusion in my mind.
This was the moment it could all go wrong, but thankfully muscle memory had kicked in and the rune was perfect. The illusion sprang to life the moment a harpy entered the room, another beast in her claws.
She took a second to glance in my direction, and since I was pushing myself up, if the rune hadn’t worked, she would be more alarmed. Thankfully she didn’t react at all, so I had to assume that my magic was working exactly as I intended.
It wouldn’t block sound though, so my footsteps were light as I backed away slowly, aiming for another dark opening behind me. I had no idea where it led, but at least I was moving.
Just as I was about to back into the dark opening, a second harpy prowled into the space. She had nothing in her clawed talons, and I noted that she was dressed in more ornate furs and leathers covering her nakedness. Along with multiple red and amber jewels embedded in her skin along her limbs.
This harpy was someone more important, by the looks of her get up.
“She remains unconscious?”
Her voice was raspy and I had the sense she wasn’t speaking in English, but I understood her all the same. My fucked up genetics occasionally came in handy. “I’m surprised a princess of the light would be so weak,” the fancy-harpy continued.
“I’m not surprised at all,” the other shot back. “Look at her. She’s shiny and fragile.”
Gods, I wanted to show these two how shiny and fragile I really was.
“Are you worried about the dark demon making it here before the prince?” The first one changed the subject, and I wondered if they were talking about Archer. I hoped they were.
The ornately clad one shook her head. “The prince should make it here first. We gave him access to the ice tunnels.”
That seemed to placate the original harpy, even if it turned my fear up tenfold. The prince in this case, I had to guess, was the DNA Donor.
“Will we have time for the rest of the sacrifices?” the original one asked as she dropped the second corpse on top of the first.
I should be running for my life, but the mention of my father had me completely frozen to the spot. Whatever information I gleaned from this, could be fundamental in saving my life.
“Yes, and we need to move faster. Prince Lessian wants ten wildenbeast to help with the overall spell.”
The original one nodded, her eyes gleaming in the low light. “We will finally have the power we deserve.”
They both cackle then, and I wanted to tell these dumb harbitches that whatever my DNA donor had promised them, there was about a three percent chance he’d actually follow through. Unless there was some secret word of honor thing that fae were bound by. But… considering I was an excellent liar, when the circumstances dictated, it seemed unlikely.
Archer said I was almost all fae, so my witch genes wouldn’t have overruled something as fundamental as not being able to lie, or forced to keep your word.
“Let’s hurry back and gather another few before she wakes,” the ornately clad harpy said. “We do not want to disappoint the prince.”
That makes one of us, because I was making it my life mission to disappoint dear old dad.
When they left, I started to back up again, finding myself in a long tunnel of sorts. It was dark, but not so dark that I couldn’t make out the reasonable height and breadth of the space. This felt like a main throughway to something, which was great if it was an exit. Main, though, also meant well used so I’d have to be extra careful about staying undetected.
My illusion spell didn’t work in the way that I could move and it would stay around me. It remained stationary on the ground where I’d drawn it, but if I put it on my skin, the movement would break through the scene and I’d be spotted in seconds.
I’d have to rely on old-fashioned stealth.
Thankfully the last lingering effect of the harpy attack was fading, and the cold had left my limbs in the adrenaline rush of running for my life.
It wasn’t the harpies that even scared me. It was the thought that my father, princemotherfuckerwhowantstoki
For the first time, I really didn’t want to be a prize. Bonus though, I still had my knickers on. So maybe this would all end up okay.
My therapist would be so proud.
The hallway was never ending with no changes, but no harpies either so I picked up the pace needing freedom. I wasn’t used to being underground. Surrounded by stone like this.
The cold increased and I took that as a positive sign, right up until I reached the end and all but tumbled out onto the edge of a ravine.
Holy Icicle Tits.
And by that, I meant my tits, and the fact that my nipples were instantly hard and might possibly chip off with the slightest friction. I was outside, but I was not in any sort of forgiving environment to traverse.
The dark fae mountains. It had to be, because for as far as I could see were shadowy mountains covered in snow and ice. Not to mention the sort of ominous feeling in the air that usually lingered when I was about to get jumped in a dark alley by a demon.
A quick glance behind me indicated that I was still alone. I had time to make a decision about what I was going to do. Was it better to head out into the super dangerous–according to Archer–fae mountains or try and hide here in the harpy territory long enough for his rescue?
Neither was particularly appealing, but I had the sense that out in the mountains, I could try and use some of my rune magic, and hope that Archer was close enough to track me. Archer not the DNA Donor. At this stage, the boogerman of Australia was the lesser of two evil… princes.
Mattie’s made up word had me feeling all sorry for myself for a beat. I’d take Chesca’s dozen brats any day of the week, while on my period, and nursing a hangover over this freezing shitpit with harpies and some sort of fucking millipede that crawled under you while trying to pee.
Edging out more into the open, my teeth started to clank together as the cold seeped deep into my soul. It felt like icicles were forming in my bloodstream, and even as I struck a firenze rune to heat the air around me, it was iced out in seconds, the air far too cold for the rune to have any true impact.
The sound of chattering filled my ears, along with rushing winds and the rapidly pounding of my heart as we went into survival mode. Behind me was protection from the elements but it came with a side harpy. Certain death waited for me whichever way I moved…
I just had to make a decision.Return to Serial Page