Hey, S. M. Boyce here again. This is a continuation of the first 6 chapters of the Fairhaven Chronicles, a magical series inspired by west coast wilderness. If you haven’t read it already, be sure to check out Chapter 1 here: http://oriceran.com/glow-snippet-1/
Glow: The Revelations of Oriceran, The Fairhaven Chronicles, Book 1
By S. M. Boyce & Martha Carr
Victoria sat on the ambulance’s rear bumper, covered by a blanket that she had deliberately arranged to hide the dagger now embedded in her arm. The blistering pain had faded from her burns to the point where she didn’t feel like they were there at all. She stared at the asphalt, eyes out of focus as she tried not to think.
A young man in a medic’s uniform passed a flashlight over Victoria’s eyes. The blinding glare left a streak in her vision, but she didn’t bother to follow it. A ringing in her ears kept her from hearing anyone, and she didn’t care enough to listen.
A hand reached for her hidden forearm, and she instinctively grabbed the person. Her eyes snapped into focus, and she glared at the medic who had no idea he had nearly touched the strange magical object fused to her body.
“I need to check your arm, okay? I can’t see your wounds under that blanket, and you need help,” he said in a soothing voice.
Victoria shook her head.
“I know you’re in a lot of pain, but I need to be thorough. I have to make sure you’re okay. Will you work with me on this?”
“I’m fine,” Victoria said.
“You’re anything but fine,” the medic said, a concerned expression passing over his face.
Victoria pulled the blanket tighter to protect whatever it was her father had given her. No one could know she had it. She didn’t understand this thing in her body, but it gave her special skills. Skills she figured others might want to take advantage of, or perhaps even take for themselves.
The medic frowned. “Please work with me. I need to check your arm.”
Victoria glared. She didn’t try to filter herself or temper the expression. Her full rage bled into her face, and she directed it all at him. The medic flinched, eyebrows shooting upward as her expression apparently caught him off-guard.
“I’m fine,” Victoria repeated, more firmly this time.
He stuttered, fiddling with an opened packet of gauze before finding an excuse to walk away.
This wasn’t who Victoria was used to being, and part of her wished she could feel. An icy coldness permeated her, freezing her and taking her over. She wanted to cry, to scream, to ask for help or a hug, but all she could do was stare at the ground. She felt like a statue, heartless and cold.
The cops would question her soon, and she hardly knew what to say. A fire elf did it, officer. I swear!
Sure, that would go over well.
As much as she hated to cover for the sick fuck who had killed her parents, she needed to lie if she wanted to avoid being shipped off to a psychiatric ward or, worse, detained as a suspect.
Time was playing tricks on Victoria. It felt as though hours had passed, but the fire still raged. The firemen aimed their hoses at the windows, and jets of water shattered the glass as they tried to tame the blaze. Smoke billowed from the broken glass and holes in the roof. As the flames slowly withdrew, Victoria stepped onto the asphalt and looked at her childhood home.
One of the firemen ran out of the front door, dressed in full garb. A woman lay over his shoulder, her lip head swaying with each of his hurried steps. He set her gently on the front lawn.
Victoria scrambled out of the ambulance, screaming her mother’s name. Tears blurred her vision. She couldn’t think, couldn’t speak, couldn’t see anything but her mother’s body.
Someone grabbed her shoulders and yanked her back. She elbowed the stranger hard, but it didn’t seem to faze him. Another pair of hands pulled her back, and before she knew it, she was sitting in the back of a cop car with her nose pressed to the window, tears streaming down her face as she screamed for her mother.
Two medics crowded around the woman’s body, their kits lying open on the grass. One held a limp wrist while the other rifled through a bag for something Victoria couldn’t see.
Victoria sobbed. She couldn’t help it. She lost herself to tears as her throat burned. The world blurred, and she shrieked as loudly as she could. It was the only way to release the pain, the anguish, the fear, the hatred.
All that fucking hatred.
Luak had stolen what was hers. Her family. Her anchor. Her home.
When the sobbing finally began to subside, she found herself pressed against the door as though she had been trying to push through it. She could barely breathe through the knot in her throat, but her vision began to clear. There were now four medics on the grass surrounding two bodies.
The young man who had been helping Victoria earlier rubbed his eyes, his shoulders drooping as he knelt beside her mother’s body. He sighed and closed his medical kit. With a gesture of his finger, another medic lifted a sheet over Victoria’s mother’s body. A moment later, a second sheet covered her father.
Every shred of self-restraint dissolved in that second. The entire day caught up with her, all her panic and fear slamming her in the chest at once. Her destroyed home. The dagger in her arm. The elf. Magic. Her father fighting to save them. Her mother’s scream. A stranger in her house.
It was too much. She couldn’t take it anymore.
Victoria pressed her palms against the window again and screamed. It was an unhinged wail from the deepest part of her soul, and it swallowed every emotion until she could feel only a vast void. Even then she didn’t stop. She couldn’t. Her agony consumed her, and she screamed until her voice died in her throat.
Victoria sat on the ambulance’s bumper again, staring at the asphalt with no concept of time or feeling. After she had lost her voice in the back of the cop car, it had been as though a door slammed on her emotions. The numbness ate her alive. She couldn’t cry anymore, and she wanted nothing more than to curl in a ball and hide.
A cop had finally let her out of the car when she stopped screaming and calmed down, but in reality she simply didn’t have any energy left to fight. The firemen had finally tamed the blaze, and black char marks decorated the siding above every window. A breeze kicked up, taking soot and ash with it.
Her throat still ached from screaming, but she savored the pain. As the minutes wore on, it was all she could feel: no sadness, no hatred, no joy. Only the dull ache in her throat, and an overwhelming emotional numbness.
“Victoria!” someone shouted. A familiar voice. A girl’s voice, someone she had known her whole life.
She raised her head, scanning the sea of police and onlookers, and a sliver of gratitude crept into her numb heart. “Audrey?”
Sure enough, a familiar brunette dodged through the onlookers and ducked under the yellow caution tape. A policeman tried to usher her back, but Victoria leapt to her feet and pulled Audrey into a hug before he could manage to shoo her away. Victoria squeezed her friend so tightly she heard Audrey gasp for air. Her childhood friend squeezed back, her tears soaking Victoria’s shirt.
Victoria suddenly hated herself even more. Her friend could cry, but Victoria’s hatred drowned out her sadness. A lust for revenge and justice consumed her like the fire had consumed her house. Her nails dug into Audrey’s shirt as she frowned. Victoria had seen the face of the man who killed her parents, and she would do everything in her power to destroy him.
Luak scowled, surveying the scene as more and more worthless humans mobbed the burnt home. He did his best to keep his eye on the girl, but even her light-red hair became harder and harder to keep track of in the sea of bobbing heads and flashing lights.
At first she had been by an ambulance, and then she had rushed toward the sea of onlookers. She blended with the crowd, perhaps on purpose, until he lost sight of her completely.
He had somehow lost her.
A burning sensation crept down his back. He cursed under his breath, scratching at the metal artifact infused between his shoulder blades just as the dagger had been infused in the girl’s father. His artifact hummed, vibrating within him, as angry as he was that she had escaped. He wished his master had given him one of the artifacts that could track other artifacts, but it didn’t matter. Not really. He was his master’s best hunter, and he had killed more of the artifact hosts than anyone else.
He would find this girl. It was only a matter of time.
Unsure of where else to go, Victoria retreated through the forest behind her destroyed home until she found the treehouse she and Audrey had shared as children. She climbed the rickety ladder and laid on the planks, not even caring if they fell to the ground under her weight. These old boards were accustomed to eleven-year-olds, not fully grown high school seniors.
Audrey followed suit, squatting as she leaned against the trunk of the tree that protruded through the middle of their old refuge. They sat in silence, Audrey occasionally eyeing Victoria.
Victoria knew what was coming. Questions. Lots of questions. But Victoria had questions of her own, and she had no idea how to get answers.
“You look scary as fuck, Victoria,” Audrey said.
Victoria quirked an eyebrow, finally meeting her friend’s eye.
Audrey nodded. “You look like you’re about to kill someone.”
“I am,” she said, her voice nothing more than a hoarse whisper from all the screaming earlier.
“Come on, now. The fire department said it was probably an accident. You don’t need to go after any homebuilders or—”
“The fire didn’t kill them. A man did.”
A look of horror spread across Audrey’s face. She set a hand on her chest, mouth gaping.
Victoria sat up and lifted the blanket that was still around her shoulders to reveal her soot-covered arm and the glittering metal of the dagger embedded in her skin.
Audrey cussed loudly and jumped to her feet, the treehouse shuddering under the sudden jolt. “What the hell is that?”
“I have no idea, Audrey, but my dad had it first. It—it does things, Audrey. It summons things.”
Eyes wide, Audrey watched Victoria, squinting as if she didn’t know what to believe. “You’re not making any sense.”
“Magic, Audrey. This thing is magic.”
Audrey glanced from Victoria to the metal dagger and back. “I confess this is weird, but I think you maybe inhaled too much smoke. Magic isn’t real.”
Victoria huffed, her patience altogether gone. She had to show Audrey what she meant, knowing nothing she said would make a difference until she could summon something to prove her claim. The problem? She couldn’t control it. At all.
Frustrated, angry, still hurt, and incredibly pissed off, Victoria stood, voice thick with emotion. “You didn’t see what I saw, Audrey. You didn’t see the fire shooting out of that guy, you didn’t see the flames that burned so much faster than they should have. You didn’t see my dad…”
Just like that, Victoria was back in the living room, her dad’s blood-soaked body collapsed on the living room floor. The knot caught in her throat once more, and she wished she could hide.
As if on cue, the shield appeared in her hand. Seconds later, it crashed to the ground and took her with it. It embedded itself into the wooden planks, causing the treehouse to shake violently. Several boards fell off, revealing the ground below.
“Shit!” Audrey and Victoria said in unison.
Victoria was struggling to pull it out of the floor when the shield disappeared as quickly as it had come. She fell face-first onto the splintered boards and groaned, both frustrated and disgusted with this new thing in her body that she didn’t understand.
“Holy fuck!” Audrey ran her hands through her hair one after the other as she paced the rickety treehouse. Eyes wide, mouth gaping, she never stopped staring at the magical dagger.
Victoria lifted her hands, patting the air between her and Audrey in an attempt to calm her down. “Audrey—”
“What the fuck?”
“Audrey, take a—”
Audrey made a gesture that looked something like panic-induced jazz-hands. “It just—boom—and then—what the fuck, Victoria? Was that a shield?”
“Girl, I know. Deep breaths. I’ll tell you what happened, but you need to calm down.”
Audrey inhaled breath after breath, wheezing a little. Shoulders heaving, brows raised almost to her hairline, she set her hands on her hips and simply stared at the dagger. “You have about ten seconds to explain what the hell is going on.”
Victoria squinched her eyes together as a fresh wave of anger boiled to the surface. “The guy who killed my parents is named Luak, and he wants this dagger in my arm. He killed my dad for it, and he said he was going to come for me next. But you know what? He won’t have a chance. I’m going to obliterate him, Audrey. There won’t be anything left of him to recognize when I’m done.”
This wasn’t like anything Victoria had ever said or promised before, but deep in her soul she knew it was more than just talk. It was a vow, one she would see through to the bitter end.
“Goddamn,” Audrey mumbled.
“What.” Victoria had meant for it to be a question, but in her anger, she barked the word as though it were a command.
“You’re scary as fuck right now, you know that?”
Victoria chanced a look at Audrey, who leaned against the far corner of the shaking treehouse. Hand on her heart, Audrey gave Victoria a once-over. Her expression slowly shifted, blurring with too many emotions for Victoria to name. She studied her lifelong friend, doing her best to gauge Audrey’s reaction. She expected concern, maybe confusion or even fear.
Instead, true to her amazing friend’s nature, Audrey grinned. “What, do you think I’m going to stop you? Hell, no. You’re the one who talks me out of doing stupid shit, not the other way around. Let’s get justice.”
Victoria couldn’t smile, but she managed a small smirk. It was the best she could do, all things considered.
Audrey nodded at the dagger in Victoria’s arm. “What is that thing? How do you use it?”
Victoria shook her head. “I haven’t the faintest idea. So far it does what it wants.”
Truth be told, this was daunting as hell. She knew nothing about magic, who this guy Luak was, or what was in her arm. Between the magic and the murders, it was almost too immense to fully fathom what she had gotten herself into. However, her journalist parents had taught her one very useful technique for handling the impossible: find the right sources and ask questions until you get answers.
There was information to gather, and her parents had taught her how to hunt for it. She wasn’t going to jump into the fight without facts. Though Victoria had always been a bit of a lone wolf, her parents had contacts all over the globe. It put her at a disadvantage to not have access to those people, but she would figure it out. When the time came, she would have exactly what she needed to destroy the man who had tried to kill her.
Audrey lifted a fist, but hesitated for a second before offering it. “I won’t lie to you, Victoria, I’m still freaked out by all this. But I know you, I trust you, and I’m with you to the end.”
Victoria bumped her fist against Audrey’s, the barest smile on her lips. “To the end.”
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Read Chapter 3 next: http://oriceran.com/glow-snippet-3/