Hey, S. M. Boyce here. Shimmer is the second book in the Fairhaven Chronicles, a series inspired by the beauty of the west coast. Enjoy the first 6 chapters on the house and ride along as Victoria Brie (yes, like the cheese) and her best friend Audrey Xavier continue their journey.
Did you miss the previous chapters? Here they are:
Chapter 1: http://oriceran.com/shimmer-snippet-1/
Chapter 2: http://oriceran.com/shimmer-snippet-2/
Chapter 3: http://oriceran.com/shimmer-snippet-3/
Chapter 4: http://oriceran.com/shimmer-snippet-4/
Here’s chapter 5:
Glow: The Revelations of Oriceran, The Fairhaven Chronicles, Book 1
By S. M. Boyce & Martha Carr
Showered and refreshed after her workout, Victoria led Audrey to Bertha’s down a remarkably empty street. Styx hovered, aimlessly flying from side to side as he scanned the road ahead. Every now and then an ogre or an elf walked by, and every single one cast her a wary glance. With each step, Victoria became more nervous and aware that something was wrong.
The problem was, she didn’t know what was wrong. It was setting her nerves on fire.
“You feel that?” Audrey reached for the sword at her side, lifting the hilt an inch or two as she surveyed the empty street.
“I feel like we’re walking into a trap,” Victoria said. She summoned her shield, and the heavy weight in her palm made her feel safer. She scanned every single window and her eyes hesitated on every shadow, but she saw no one. Not even a curtain moved in the silent Fairhaven evening.
They waited for several minutes. Victoria was certain that something or someone would jump out and attack them at any moment. Her grip tightened on the shield’s handle and her shoulders tensed as she waited for a fight.
It never came.
Victoria slammed her fist against Bertha’s front door, Audrey keeping watch over the fairly empty street behind her. Styx mimicked Victoria, banging his tiny fist on the storefront. Save for the occasional ogre stomping toward one of the shops, they seemed to be alone on what was supposed to be the busiest street in town.
The door creaked open a crack to reveal two giant eyes. Bertha grumbled, “No need to be banging on my door. A simple knock would have done.”
Victoria crossed her arms. “You’re closed, Bertha. You’re never closed during the day.”
Bertha sighed deeply, her eyes roaming over the street, and gestured for them to come in. “Quietly, now.”
They hurried inside and Bertha closed the door as quickly as she could, then pressed her back against it and looked at them both. “I didn’t want to interrupt your training, Victoria, and I wasn’t expecting Audrey until I train with her tomorrow, but something has happened. Something bad.”
With Styx on her shoulder, Victoria peeked out the front window as an elf in a long red cloak hurried by. The woman lifted the hood over her head, peeking around the side of it as though she were checking to see if she was being followed. A strand of long blonde hair escaped the hood as she picked up the pace, disappearing beyond the scope of the window.
“What’s happening?” Audrey set her hands on her hips.
Bertha lumbered toward the back of her house, floor creaking under her every step. “Come.”
“Tell us what’s going on, Bertha.” Victoria followed closely, and the subtle tap of Audrey’s boots against the hardwood planks meant she was behind them as they neared the back of the house.
Bertha peeked out the glass panes in the back door. “There’s been more crime lately. Disappearances. Even a few murders, I’ve been told. They seem to have been hushed up, but the king won’t leave his castle. He only makes appearances on his balcony. That means danger, girls. There’s something dark in Fairhaven, and if the king is afraid then we all should be, because he will not protect us.”
Victoria squared her shoulders and cast a wary look at Audrey. Arms crossed, Audrey stared at the floor, the slight indent in her cheek an indicator that she was lost in thought.
Victoria paced the kitchen. “What could it be?”
“And who was murdered?” Audrey slumped into the chair at the head of the table.
“There are those who believe the snarx was only the beginning,” Bertha said, grabbing a random bowl off the counter and stirring. She didn’t even look into it, so Victoria wondered if the ogre was stress-cooking.
Victoria paused her pacing. “What do you mean?”
“We know that Luak riled the snarx into a frenzy, forcing it to attack us, but some believe there are more monsters where the snarx came from. Maybe he let all sorts of creatures loose in the bowels of Fairhaven, creatures which are getting hungry now that he has left the city. Without him to keep them in check, they’re getting braver. They’re in our streets.”
“Has anyone seen them?”
Bertha shook her head. “Just the corpses. And they’ve heard the screams. Whatever is hunting here is quick, silent, and deadly. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Styx squeaked with horror, and Victoria nearly did the same. This sounded bad.
“You know, a grate on all the tunnels would solve these monster problems,” Audrey muttered under her breath.
Bertha opened her mouth to speak, but shut it almost as quickly. She rubbed her chin with her hand. “That’s actually a marvelous idea.”
Audrey massaged her temples. Anyone else would simply see a tired girl. Victoria knew the gesture meant, “You fucking morons.”
Victoria cleared her throat and leaned against a chair for support. “We have to do something.”
To her credit, Audrey didn’t make a peep. She stared at the table, one hand in her pocket. A gentle glow radiated through the fabric.
“What—” Victoria squinted at Audrey’s pants, wondering if her eyes were playing tricks on her.
Audrey snapped her head up, eyes shifting back into focus as she followed Victoria’s line of sight. She pulled her hand out of her pocket and the glow faded. “You’re right, Victoria. We need to do something.”
Surprised, Victoria frowned. “Seriously? You agree? What about the whole ‘you don’t owe this city shit’ spiel you gave me last time?”
Audrey shrugged, arms crossed. “I was wrong. You already proved that to me.”
Deep in Victoria’s gut, a warning bell sounded. Something was off, and while Audrey wasn’t necessarily lying, she was hiding something.
An unfamiliar feeling hit Victoria hard in the chest, and she ached at the sensation. It was almost a sense of loss or betrayal, but through it all she felt sadness. In her quest to kill Luak and train as hard as possible so she could beat him, she had all but ignored Audrey.
It clicked for her: she missed Audrey. Aside from the occasional Berserk practice or rare time at the dinner table together, they didn’t spend much time just hanging out anymore. In fact, the most time they had spent together lately was when they had killed the snarx.
Audrey had never kept anything from her before. They had told each other everything, but now it was clear that Audrey had a secret—something significant she felt she couldn’t share. And that was wholly Victoria’s fault. She had left Audrey pretty much alone.
The city might have needed Victoria’s help, but she owed her friend more.
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