The Blue Woman and the High Wood
Book Two in the Nyla Series
(C) 2018 Adam Cole
Published by Nuncici Press, an imprint of Adam Cole Works LLC
Slowly, cautiously, Prize’s soldiers crept out from among the trees. Each was dressed in a desert outfit not too different from their Captain’s, though none of them were as immaculately clean. Prize smiled widely as they emerged.
The startled and battered Just came after. Nyla looked anxiously for Highboy among them, and she saw with relief that he was tucked under the arm of Iss, who still stood proud though her eye was swollen from Render’s blow, as she surveyed the scene of the bowmen that had protected their woods. Nyla was also glad to see that Highboy kept his instrument tucked under his arm.
She went over to them and looked up at Iss. The woman’s face was a mixture of relief and pain. “When the storm hit,” she said, “we could no longer see you or find you. In order for us to preserve what we could, we retreated to the High Wood, as many as we could. When we found the bowmen hidden there, we thought we were finished.” Her brows furrowed and her eyes betrayed wonder. “How did you survive?”
“I think the Blue Woman saved me,” Nyla said.
“The Blue Woman?”
“You didn’t see her?” Nyla asked, amazed. “She was huge, and blue! And she glowed!”
“No,” replied Iss.
“What about you, Vival? Is that why you thought I went with Iss? Didn’t anybody see the big huge glowing woman?”
“I saw her,” said Highboy quietly.
Then Nyla understood. She’d had her own eyes closed the entire time. But what she’d experienced hadn’t been in her imagination, just invisible to anyone who was looking in an ordinary way.
“Who was she?” Highboy asked.
“I was hoping you knew…” said Nyla. “I think we’re connected in some way. But I can’t say how, or if I’ll ever see her again. I wonder…”
Nyla paused. “She took the Vie A’Lyn,” Nyla told him. “The ghost instrument. I gave it to her.”
“She wanted it. She heard my playing and came for it. And when I gave it to her, she took the storm with her as she went.”
“Try to imagine the instrument now, Nyla,” Highboy said, and he moistened his lips and played on his instrument.
Nyla tried. She tried to recall its sound, to the feeling of having it. “No,” she said. “I can’t even remember it properly. I just feel empty.”
“Then it’s gone forever,” said Highboy. He looked up at his mother. “Iss, Nyla won’t be able to help us now.”
Iss considered for a moment. Then she nodded sadly. “You could still remain here, Nyla. You will always have a place with us.”
“I know that,” said Nyla, coming over and hugging Iss around the waist. Iss, surprised, softened and returned the embrace. “But I think I want to go with my friends now. Hey, Vival!” she called.
“Did Sherluck come with you?”
“No,” Vival admitted. “I couldn’t see anything once that storm hit. I only made it to the woods by following Iss.”
“Iss?” Nyla asked, looking at her.
“He may be hiding in the trees,” Iss replied. With a curt command, she ordered her people to search the High Wood.
“I hope he’s not one of those bodies I saw in the sand!” Nyla cried.
Prize stepped up. “We will take you back there and all of us will search for him.”
But there was no sign of Sherluck back at the ruined campsite. None of the bodies belonged to him. And Iss reported that he had not been hiding in the trees.
“He could be buried in the sand somewhere,” Vival said. “Or he could have gotten lucky and slipped away, found some kind of shelter.”
“Or…” Nyla said quietly. She couldn’t continue.
“What?” Vival urged her.
“Or he could have changed to Chere and let her face the danger.”
Vival frowned at the thought. “There’s no way to know now.”
Nyla felt a strange mixture of regret and relief, and she was ashamed. “They were my friends too. I feel like if I had trusted Chere, none of this would have happened.”
“You can’t blame yourself, Nyla,” Vival admonished.
But she found that she could.
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More about The Blue Woman and the High Wood
Now that Veer Isle was secure, it was time for the hero Vival to take Nyla to see the Sand Witch. Accompanied by Chere/Sherluck and Tom the Incredibly Helpful Sword, Nyla and Vival board a ship bound for Zen.
But trouble begins as soon as the ship leaves the harbor. A terrible storm comes up. The sailors want to throw Nyla from the ship. And rising out of the ocean is the mysterious Blue Woman.
Adam Cole is an author and music educator in Atlanta, GA. He has written numerous books and stories for children, as well as a number of adult and non-fiction titles including Motherless Child and Seven Ways the World Can End.
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