This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Serina wiped the blood from her mouth as she crouched low to the ground. The demon got a good hit in when she was unaware of his presence, it wouldn't happen again. She grinned as she stood and pulled her sword. A whisper of sound pulled her attention to her left and she turned her head towards the noise seeing only a hulking black mass slightly darker than the surrounding shadows. She spun lightly with lightning speed as her sword cut the air. The world around her slowed to a crawl and she was able to appreciate the beauty of the reflections her sword cast and the different shades of black that wove like velvet through the trees. But above all she could see that her sword would strike precisely where she had intended it to. Years of training and discipline had prepared her for most situations and, in the span of a heartbeat she had brought her sword down with deadly accuracy, through the demon's torso. With barely any effort the blade cut cleanly through him and instantly he fell to the forest floor. Serina crouched down cautiously checking over the body. Soft footsteps drew her attention and her gloved hand tightened around the hilt of her bloodied sword. She stood smoothly, sword ready to strike, but stopped. Her sword, still glistening from the demon blood, hovered inches away from a friendly face and she sighed and dropping her sword.
"You know, I could have killed you Micah."
Micah looked at the tinged sword and back at her with a grin and shrugged, his wings moving slightly with the motion.
"I could have avoided it, besides I knew you would stop in time."
Rolling her eyes she crouched down to look over the gruesome remains before her.
"You’re my guard and yet…" She waved a hand impatiently indicating the demon before her. "I seem to be left to my own defenses."
Micah chuckled softly. "I would have stepped in if you were in any trouble." He stepped forward to see what she was doing as she turned away from him and began rummaging again. "Seri.... what are you looking for?"
Serina threw aside a pouch and started rummaging through another one. Pulling her hand back with a look of disgust she looked up at Micah. "Anything that…" she nudged the demon, "…he may have taken from the manor."
With raised eyebrows, Micah crossed his arms and leaned against a tree. His laid back stance only barely covering his concern for something he’d missed. Being the head guard of the household, it would be his ass on the line if something were to happen.
"Does Tanyl know you’re out demon hunting?" He said with a bit of a boyish grin trying to cover yet more of his tension.
Not finding what she wanted, Serina sighed and threw aside the final pouch as she stood.
"I didn't have time to tell him as I was chasing the intruder into the woods." She turned and smiled sarcastically at Micah.
"But I will as soon as we get home, I promise." She shoved Micah so that he stumbled backward as she took off at a brisk walk over the loose brush of the forest floor.
"Come on, I know you're just dying to tattle on me." She called over her shoulder. With a last glance at the body on the ground, Micah laughed and shook his head before taking flight over her.
Emerging from the woods Serina stopped and took a deep breath. The scent of the dew slick grass and damp earth resonated through her like music and she smiled. It was superior to the smell of car exhaust and humans. But what took her breath away the most was the view from where she stood; it was magnificent. The gently rolling field stretched out before her bathed in moonlight. The sky was so clear out here; there were no city lights to outshine the stars and the sound of the crickets weren’t drowned out by the sounds of city life. She had grown up in such a different atmosphere that she could sit content for hours just listening to the quiet.
A light breeze stirred and brushed past her softly, momentarily wrapping itself around her, then carried on out into the open expanse. She knew Tanyl would be coming soon; her scent would reach him on the breeze. Sometimes she thought it might be a little odd that he was so attuned to her, to the point he would come running if he even imagined she might be in trouble. Serina would often wander off into the country side just to be able to breathe; the manor could be claustrophobic at times. For a moment she shifted uneasily gazing out into the field, soaking in the comforting solitude it offered. Finally she relaxed a bit, resting a hand on the hilt of her sword, as she listened for either Tanyl or Micah to approach. She rolled her eyes as she saw an odd mist rolling over the grass towards her.
“Mist travel... so much more convenient than the four-wheeler… or walking.” She muttered to herself and dropped her hands to her side as she waited. Glancing up only momentarily she nodded to Micah, who was starting his decent from the heavens to make a graceful landing on the cool ground.
Seri's attention turned back towards the mist that was now mere feet from her and starting to take on a form. From the mist the form of Tanyl appeared. His slight frame was draped in a ridiculously billowing silk shirt and his legs bound tightly in his leather hunting pants. She examined him with a raised eyebrow thinking of how impractical the shirt was. Serina often thought that he read a little too many of his sister’s romance novels the way he stood there, the breeze ruffling his hair and shirt.
"Out for a moonlight stroll?" Tanyl said tightly his eyes holding a touch of anger as they glided over her, checking for wounds that might have needed tending. Turning to face him, she forced a smile.
"Of course, I often run off without you in the middle of the night." She snapped and turned away from him as Micah approached, his bare feet barely making a whisper of a noise as they brushed the grass. He nodded to Tanyl as he gracefully folded his wings tightly against his back and gave Serina a slightly nervous nod. Tanyl nodded and looked back at Serina.
"So you have been hunting demons?" He said curtly as his hand grasped hers absentmindedly and she fought the urge to pull away angrily.
"I didn't have to go on a hunt to find this one, he was in our home." She stated plainly, as she watched his face. Anger and concern warred for dominance in Tanyl's eyes before he, through clenched teeth, responded.
"In our home? What was he there for?" He squeezed her hand a little harder than necessary and she shrugged as she let go of his hand, shaking off his attempt to grab it again. He conceded the gesture and crossed his arms over his chest as he waited for her answer.
"Nothing seems to be missing; I just caught him running from the scene."
Tanyl nodded as he turned his attention to Micah. Automatically Micah's back straightened as he met Tanyl's eyes; his expression grim.
"Did you happen to see anything?" Tanyl said coolly.
Micah clasped his hands behind his back as he shook his head.
"No sir, it’s been quiet all night."
Tanyl turned back to Serina and smiled gently although annoyance shone in it.
"I'm fine, I promise." Serina pulled back from him as if to show she was unharmed. "I barely have a scratch on me. And Micah was there the whole time to see that nothing happened to me."
Tanyl raised an eyebrow and glanced sideways at Micah before looking back at her.
"I know, Seri. I just don't want you to be harmed, and what would your brother do to me if you were?"
Serina smiled a bit as she entertained the thought, but quickly shook it off.
"Honestly? Castrate the lot of you for not taking care of his little sister."
The men, somewhat uncomfortably, laughed as they turned to the direction of their home and started off.
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Steve Lang: I thought this story was imaginative, and well thought out. I also think it was an original piece, and not a rehash of previous scifi stories I've read in the past.Thank you for the effort put into this tale, and I look forward to reading more of your work!
Leah Brown: This was an amazing read! I was hooked from the very first chapter, holding my breadth to see what would happen next. The characters are rich and vibrant, and the world Danielle has created is fascinating. If you love YA, you MUST read this book. Such a smart, brilliant debut novel. I loved it!
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