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
Nyla considered, chewing her lip. “I already had a chance to be where I belong,” she said. “The Just offered me that. They told me to stay with them and save the world. But I decided that being with my friends is better.”
“Sounds like you’ve already made your decision,” said the woman.
Nyla nodded. “Guess I have,” she said.
“All right,” the woman replied amicably. “Have a nice trip, Nyla.” She turned and began walking towards the sun.
“Wait!” Nyla called after her. “How do I get to the High Wood? Do you know which way it is?”
“Of course I know which way!” cried the woman, laughing. “Turn around!”
And when Nyla did, she found she was looking over a dune across a short space to the oasis which rose out of the desert sand not thirty feet away. She turned back towards the woman, astonished, but found that the woman and the camp had vanished utterly. Somehow she had been transported to this place.
She was staring at the back of a short, black shirted man she knew must be Render. As the woman had said, Render’s soldiers surrounded the High Wood on all sides. Because of the dune, no one had noticed her.
Beyond him, standing just in front of the border where the first tangle of roots met the sand, was Vival. He looked afraid.
“I will give you one last chance, Vival,” Nyla heard Render say, his voice echoing off the hill. “Send the girl out to me and we will leave this place peacefully.”
“She’s not in here, I told you!” Vival yelled, his eyes hardening. “She vanished in the storm. We should all be looking for her.”
“And yet here you stand,” said Render, gesturing up with his left arm. “Guarding these people in this wood.”
“That’s because you’re about to do something terrible to them.”
Render’s soldiers moved impatiently, restless at the conversation.
Render turned his face to the left, distracted. “It’s true,” he admitted, “that I do not have the time to search these little woods with all the spear-chuckers inside. That would be a tremendous waste of my effort and perhaps could cost the lives of my soldiers. Which is why it is essential that you produce the girl now so that no harm comes to them.”
Vival stood up taller. “I told you the truth. She’s not here.”
“I do not believe you,” replied Render. “And so I will burn this forest down.”
“You do,” Vival send, tensing his muscles, “and it will be the last thing you ever do.”
Render laughed. “Vival! You never cease to amaze me. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so willing to take punishment as you.”
Nyla felt herself flush as she recognized the truth of Render’s statement. Vival had been willing to fight someone much more skilled than himself time and time again, usually for her sake. And, Nyla had to admit with some embarrassment, he’d done it in the face of her own mockery.
Render continued, looking fully at his foe. “This is how it will play out,” he said. Reaching down, he hefted a dry branch that had fallen from the oasis. Deftly, he tossed it to one of his soldiers nearby who stood ready with a tinder box. “We’ll start a fire that will smoke out your tribespeople. Those that don’t come out will be too overcome by the smoke to throw anything at us when we set the place on fire. That should clear the forest pretty quickly. Now, I don’t think you’re going to want to risk the lives of those folks and that little girl, so I expect you’ll do the dumb thing rather than the smart thing, which is to advance on me.”
Render took one confident step in Vival’s direction. “You already know you can’t defeat me in one-on-one combat. So it ends badly for you, then it ends badly for them.”
Vival glared at Render. He did not answer. Instead he took a solid stance and opened his dirty palms.
Nyla tensed. She couldn’t just sit here. If she went out, Vival would still try to protect her, but at least the Just would be safe. Maybe she could do something to tie up Render long enough for Vival to have a chance.
She raised herself up.
But she was stopped by a hand on her shoulder.
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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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