Authors: Eliza Tilton
“Yes.” She smiled. “I’m tired of being under my brother’s will, forced to obey.”
“Then why are you looking for him?”
She yawned. “I need to patrol the grounds before I sleep. If my brother is truly helping Jeslyn search, they’ll be here.”
“Don’t avoid the question.”
“I’m not, but I won’t answer it tonight.” She stood and swept out of the tent like a black wind.
I rubbed my eyes. Dawn broke over the grounds. Lucy sat next to me, her legs crossed as if she’d been here awhile.
“Find them?” I wiped the dust out of my eyes and stretched.
“No, but I found Harold. Four guards watch him. I followed one of the night guards back to his tent.”
“Good. We’ll go question him.”
“You should sleep,” I said.
“I don’t need to.”
We had to find Harold quickly. If Nomad’s advisor found out why we were really here, we would be in the very definition of hot water.
A guard headed toward our tent, and I shoved Lucy around back. She led us past tent after tent before stopping at one. I listened against the hide. Silence.
Lucy stood watch while I went inside.
The guard had his back to me, washing his face in a bowl. I swung my sword and whacked him in the back of the head with the hilt.
Lucy came in. “Your method of questioning is quick, I’ll give you that.”
I frowned at her. “Find something to tie him up.”
The tent was empty except a small cot and a bag. “Here.” Lucy handed me a shirt. “Best I could find in this hole.”
I tied the guard’s hands behind him as Lucy took the bowl of water and dumped it on his head. He woke up, shaking off the droplets.
“Good morning,” I said.
He huffed and moved his arms, trying to break out of the knot. “Who are you?”
“No one you need to worry about.”
The guard spat near my feet.
“Isn’t he pleasant?” Lucy put a hand on her hip and glared at the sneering man. “He’ll talk.” She bent so they were eye to eye. “Tell me about who you’re guarding and why.” Her voice sang, and the guard’s eyes glazed over.
“A jeweler from Luna Harbor. Nomad King sent mercenaries to bring him here.”
“Why would the Nomad King want a jeweler?” I asked.
The guard’s face twisted in confusion, and he gritted his teeth.
“I believe he asked you a question. Tell us.” Lucy smiled, and the guard’s face slacked back into that gazed expression.
“He has the location of the blue eye.”
Lucy glanced at me. That must’ve been what Beckett mentioned.
“What is that?” She asked.
“A gem with the power to control the seas.”
Lucy’s eyes widened. “That is very interesting.”
“We’re here for Harold. Remember?”
She smirked, and I nodded for her to step away from the guard.
“We had a deal,” I whispered.
“I believe our deal was that we would find Jeslyn and my brother.”
“What do you want?” I couldn’t free Harold on my own, and I didn’t want to save him only for Lucy to kidnap him herself.
She licked her red lips. “What do I want …?” She drummed a fingernail on her chin, smiling. “There’s so many things.”
“Enough with your games,” I snapped.
“Oh, Derrick. You really need to relax.” She stepped closer. I hated that she smelled so good. “I’ll help you, but you will owe me. If I call on your assistance, you answer.”
Indebted to a shifter. “Fine, but once we free Harold, he can leave.”
She flicked a hand at me as if I was being ridiculous, then nodded at the tied guard. “We’ll need him to get in.”
“I don’t think he will help.”
Lucy smirked. She
smirked. Did she take anything seriously? “Stand back and watch, little human.”
She held the guard’s chin in her hand, glaring into his face. A wind swept through the tent, and her longhair lifted. The guard’s face began to wither while Lucy’s glowed and an evil, lustful gaze entered her eyes as if she was drunk on his soul. The guard’s face paled until his eyes sunk back and he fell to the side, dead.
My heart hammered at the sight, then Lucy’s face shifted, her body grew and rounded and the stunning girl I recognized morphed into the dead guard before us.
I jumped back, hand on my sword.
She laughed. A deep manly laugh. Everything matched, except the guard’s clothes, which she changed into.
“Let’s go save your precious Harold.”
I grabbed her arm before she walked out. “Have you ever shapeshifted into a man?”
“No man sways his hips like that.”
She glanced at my hand on her arm. “Were you staring at my backside?”
I dropped her arm. “If I noticed, someone else might.”
“Fine,” she huffed. “How’s this?”
She straightened, arms limp at her sides and walked across the tent. Her legs stood more apart, a little awkward, but not as girly as before.
She smiled. “Always so concerned with my wellbeing.”
I peeked outside the tent. “Wait. If he has guard duty tonight, we can’t go there now.”
“You’re right. Guess we’ll stay here. We should probably get rid of that.” She glanced at the withered corpse.
“Nowhere to put it. For now, throw it on the cot, and put a blanket on it.”
“I’m the lookout.”
She put a hand on her hip.
“You’re much bigger than me. You can handle it.”
She grabbed the dead guard and dragged it to the cot. “Such a gentleman,” she mumbled.
I continued looking outside while holding in a laugh.
ucy sauntered through the camp. Anyone watching might not notice that her hips swung a little to the sides, but I did. I kept my cloak tight around my head, walking as if I belonged there. Campfires sprung around the restless men drinking and waiting to engage in the battle faintly ringing across the wind. Perspiration beaded my forehead and slid down my neck. We had been lucky that Nomad hadn’t called on us yet, but as the night drew on, I felt as if our luck would end.
Somewhere among these mages, Harold lay bound and probably terrified. What was this blue eye? Harold created fancy necklaces and rings. Why would he want such a powerful item?
And where was Jeslyn? No sign of her or Lucino. If Lucy had been able to find out about the mercenaries, so would Lucino. Where were they?
Lucy stopped at a small tent off to the left, closer to the thick wood. The posted guard nodded, believing her his comrade. I dashed behind a nearby tree, letting the night cover me while I watched. She could get in, but how would I get past the guard?
My tattoo vibrated, and I looked toward Lucy. She patted the soldier’s chest and glanced back with a nod for me to follow her in.
The guard’s gaze stayed straight, and he said nothing when I passed.
“What did you do?” I whispered.
“Had him keep watch for us.”
Harold lay on the ground, face shoved into the dirt. Dried blood crusted on the side of his head, and his hands were bound behind his back. I ran to his side and slashed through the bindings with a pocketknife.
His eyes fluttered open. “Who are you?”
“A friend,” I said. “My name’s Derrick.”
“Derrick …” His gaze went to Lucy who was still in the guard’s form.
“We’re to help,” she said. “Stay quiet.”
He nodded and rubbed his wrists where the bindings had shredded the skin.
Lucy peeked outside, then stepped back in. “Nomad is on his way.”
“Here?” I helped Harold to his feet. “There’s no other way out.”
“We’ll make a way, but first.” She walked over to Harold and clasped a metal bracelet onto his wrist.
“What did you do to him?”
“He’s fine, just invisible.”
“I’m here,” Harold said from the shadows.
“The king is here,” the charmed guard said as Nomad walked in.
Lucy cursed. “Thanks for the warning.”
Nomad’s eyes widened. “What are you doing here?” he said to me. “Where is Harold?” He looked at Lucy who shrugged.
“I just walked in. The prisoner must’ve escaped,” she said.
Nomad’s two guards, mages I think, since they bore no weapons I could see, flanked his sides. The tent was small, too small for a fight. Even with Harold out of immediate danger, a weapon or stray spell could seriously injure him.
“Take them both,” Nomad ordered, and the guards advanced.
I stepped to the side and prayed Harold could keep out of the way.
Lucy pulled out her whip, and it electrified. Nomad’s gaze stuck to her. “Where did you get that?” His voice sounded more curious than afraid.
“Nowhere close.” She snapped her weapon forward, lighting his left guard on blue fire. Lightning shook his entire body.
I swung at the mage in front of me, but a fierce wind slammed me back into the tent.
“You’re not my guard?” Nomad said to Lucy. “Who are you?”
Lucy shifted into her human form.
“Shapechanger?” Nomad’s voice was full of awe.
“Among other things.” The whip hung by her side, crackling.
Wind still pushed me flat against the tent, rendering me helpless.
“What did you do with Harold?” Nomad stepped closer to Lucy, calm and determined.
“He’s gone, but I may be able to assist you.”
“I don’t need your assistance.” Nomad raised his hands and flicked his fingers forward. Roots sprung out of the ground and wrapped around Lucy’s limbs. She opened her mouth, and a root closed it shut.
“No singing.” He waved a finger at her.
I struggled against the force pinning me in place. Why wasn’t my tattoo
“Get the bands,” Nomad said to the remaining mage.
The mage pulled four red clasps from his robe. He walked forward and slapped one on each of my wrists. A shock ran through me, and my limbs went limp.
I shook the sting out of my head, and that’s when I noticed the wooden emblem of The Creator hanging from the mage’s neck.
“A priest?” I asked. “I thought you were fighting against The Order?”
“Not all of us agree with The Order’s methods, even if The Creator has chosen us. Now we know you’re only immune to magic, not invocation, which will be useless during battle.”