abravendeavor Lily Porter

Follow Winnie as she is dropped off, exiled, in the desert of Neverbrook. Accused of being a blood traitor to the crown by her sister, the true blood traitor, she must battle many adversaries in the desert to make it out alive. And if she doesn’t, the whole realm of Neverbrook will fall.


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#monster #thriller #evil #darkness #dragon #exile #anxiety #king #elf #princess #faith #shifter #sister #desert #clone #changeling #traitor # #thedangersofthedesert #dangerinthedesert #dagger
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#Danger in the Desert

My body hit the ground and I felt pain radiate from my head to my toes. I sat up and tried to spit the sand from my mouth, giving up when I realized it was a useless effort. I really needed some water. Given that this was the desert, however, that seemed like an unlikely luxury right this moment.

“Thanks for being so kind as to drop me off! First class flight, really! And the landing was top notch,” I yelled up at the retreating wyverns. They didn’t answer, of course. How rude of them.

I crossed my arms and surveyed my surroundings. The Dark Desert, Desert of Despair, Sands of Death. All appropriate names for the wasteland that lay around me. This particular desert to which I have been exiled is probably the most dangerous desert in both the real world and Neverbrook. I guess I should really stop separating the two. The lines that blur fantasy from reality have become so unblurred for me that there is no blurring them again.

Now, why is this particular desert the most dangerous in both realms you may ask? Three reasons. The first is something found in any desert, even in the real world. Mirages. Like, you have been without water, and everything is so hot that your mind tricks you into seeing things that aren’t really there. They can be dangerous because you think you have found water, so you stop searching, but you really haven’t found any. And then you die of thirst. Or you do figure out it’s not really there and die of despair combined with the thirst. So, yeah, bottom line is death.

Second, the shifters. Now, you may be thinking, how could shifters be so bad? They’re just insanely attractive werewolves, right? Eh, wrong kind of shifter. These are both nothing at all and anything at all. They are nothing at all because, while no one has seen an unshifted shifter in its true form, it is thought they are some kind of an amorphous gas. So, technically not nothing, but would appear as nothing to the eye. And, they are anything at all because, as the name implies, they can shift and take the shape of…well, anything at all. They always choose to take the shape of something awful, whatever your darkest fears are. You might actually mistake them for a mirage, not knowing if it is really there or not until it’s too late. They can and will kill you.

And, finally, the Dweller in the Dark. This creature is a monster of horrific appearance and comes out only in, you guessed it, the dark. Not only does it dwell in the dark of night, it seems to pull all of the darkness to itself, thereby making it able to change its size based on the amount of darkness around it. It is has razor-like claws on both hands and feet, perfect for slashing its victims. Eyes like black pits except for the red pupils within, like tiny fires sucking the energy from you. The teeth like a shark, covered in serrated edges. Everywhere the Dweller roams follows a trail of death. Not only in terms of bodies, but also scent. It’s like destruction and decay cling to it. You will smell its presence before you feel its attack. Are you sensing a theme here? Death, death, and more death. The only way it leaves someone alive is if they could be of service to Malumon, or when it fears that the memory of it among the people is fading. It needs to make sure its presence and fear stay known to the citizens of Neverbrook. Or to send the person into the clutches of the evil king.

So, as you can see, I have essentially been exiled to my death. At least, that’s what they think. I, however, do not plan to go down without a fight. And when I get out of here, I will be taking that fight right back to my “sister” who turned me in and labeled me as a blood traitor.

I turn in a circle and try to pick out which way to go. Then I remember what my dad told me. We had been sparring, one of his many efforts to teach me all I would need to know to overtake Malumon.

“Winnie, today we are going to add another element to your training. Listening to your heart.”

“And how is that supposed to help me?” I was a little skeptical, to say the least.

“There are two things that can happen when you listen to the magic in your heart. Either you will be guided toward the purpose of your heart, or the purpose for your heart will guide you.”

“What’s the difference,” I had asked.

“The purpose of your heart is the thing you want most at that moment. Your desires, so to speak. The purpose for your heart, on the other hand, comes from higher than yourself and serves both your greater good and the greater good of those you influence. When those two are in harmony, you will never be directed wrong.”

Okay heart, where to? I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, trying to put the events of the past few days out of my mind. At first, nothing was coming to me and I grew frustrated. I had never been good at taking orders, apparently not even from my heart. Really, it was my heart that got me in this sandy mess. Maybe I didn’t want to listen.

But then, I felt it. A gentle tug somewhere in my mind. Almost as if an invisible thread were being pulled within me to a destination yet unknown. I shrugged and headed in that direction. It wasn’t like I had anything else to go on here.

As I walked across the burning sand, thankful for thick shoes, I came across my first challenge. Just before me stood a cactus. It was small and spiny, but I knew it contained precious water within. Now, was it a mirage? Or worse, shifter?

I thought about going on by. It would be the safe thing to do. If I went for it, the best worst-case scenario would be a mirage. I hated to think of the damage a shifter could do to me if I actually put my face up to it thinking it was a cactus. But, my mouth felt just so, so dry. There were still remnants of sand, gritty against my teeth. If I was planning to be walking for any length of time out here in this heat, I would perish before I even got started without water.

I stepped closer and reached a tentative finger out toward the spiny, green flesh of the plant. My finger connected and I waited with bated breath. When nothing happened, I scraped at it with my fingernail. I inspected the green skin that peeled away and caught beneath my nail. It felt real enough. I took a whiff, just the sharp, pungent odor that accompanies many flora here. Tentatively I took a small taste. It didn’t taste good, but O guess like what you would expect a plant to taste like. Bitter, slimy, metallic.

Well, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck…Thankfully, they had left me with my dagger. Well, left is a strong word. Unable to see through my concealment charm is more like it. I drew it from the sheath at my hip and plunged it into the cactus.

And, nothing. Nothing horrible and death bringing anyway. No, instead, clear, cool water dripped down from the wound in the cactus. I choked back a sob of relief and cupped my hands beneath the flow. Thank You God.

When the water stopped flowing, I felt another tug. Part of the secret to making it out of the desert was to keep moving. Staying still for too long would draw the shifters to you. And, if night fell, the Dweller. They were drawn to our life sparks. They needed our energy to live.

Thankfully, I encountered two more ordinary cacti over the next couple of hours. The heat beat down on me. The boiling sun glanced off the white sands, almost blinding me. My skin felt raw, like someone had taken sandpaper to it. I longed for evening, but also dreaded it. And then it happened.

Out of my peripheral, a shimmer in the air. Almost like light glinting off of a piece of metal. I was already drawing my dagger as it took shape. It happened quickly, almost in the blink of an eye. There was nothing there, and then it was.

“My dear Win,” it said. Wow. If I hadn’t been expecting it, I might well have been convinced. It even knew the pet name only he called me. “Because how could anyone do anything but win when they are loved by you.”

“Impressive,” I complimented. “You look just like him. Sound like him, too.” It was one of the things I found attractive about him. Women love an accent, am I right? And Caspian’s was like none other. A mix of his royal mother’s country and the coarse gruffness of his seaman father’s.

“What do you mean? It is me, Win.”

“Uh huh,” I said, holding my dagger aloft and circling the shifter as it began to move toward me.

“Hello sister,” a different voice said from behind me. I stiffened and groaned. Great, two shifters. And, distracted by the first, I had let the second get behind me.

“You’re no sister of mine, Lorella,” I hissed.

I spun toward it, but it was too late. The knife was out of my hand and flying toward the Caspian shifter before I could blink. I heard a gasp and twirled back around. It stood, hand around my dagger that was in its chest.

I sprinted toward it and caught it before it fell completely to the ground. I couldn’t help the tears that tracked down my cheeks. This was an exact replay of what had happened. The cause of my exile. Caspian, my love, stabbed by my sister, but blamed on me.

“Weak, that’s what you are. All you’ve ever been. And how could you be anything else, having been raised in the human world?”

I gritted my teeth behind my smile. I winked at the shifter before pulling the knife from its chest and drawing it across its throat in one breath. It blurred, disappearing before it had time to react. In my next breath, I spun around and hurled the dagger through the air, laughing as it hit its mark in the second shifter’s forehead.

“Who’s weak now,” I couldn’t help sneering as it blurred out of existence, dagger falling to the sand below.

I picked it up, wiping it on my pant leg. Now what? I looked around, making sure no other shifters were lurking, before following the tug once again.

To my chagrin, the sun had begun its descent below the horizon. I picked up my pace, praying the tug would lead me in the direction I needed to go, hopefully was as far away from the Dweller as possible.

I looked up at the expanse of sky above me. Gone was the sun in a brilliant show of oranges and reds, in its place a multitude of stars. The sights were both so beautiful, it made me wonder how anyone could think this world was an accident. I so badly wanted to sit down and enjoy the view.

“No, Winnifred.”

I imagined my dad’s voice in my head, urging me on. I may have been going crazy. That’s what they say, right? It’s not crazy to talk to yourself, it’s only crazy if you answer back. Maybe I was having a heat stroke.

As I walked, very sure I was heading toward delirium, I felt a sprinkle of something wet on my cheeks. What in the world? My feet stuttered to a halt and I spun my arms wildly, trying to gain my balance. I had almost walked right off the edge of the sand and into a large lake of water!

My relief was so great, my thirst so heavy, that I fell to my knees beside it. Ignoring the tug on my heart to flee in the opposite direction, I made a scoop with my hands and dipped them into the lake. It felt so cool and refreshing that I wanted to jump in and submerge my cracked and peeling skin until my whole body was numbed by the cold. I was able to throw that urge off easily enough. Everyone knew you never went diving in unknown puddles of water. There was no telling what lurked beneath.

I scooped up a handful of water and tipped it into my mouth. I immediately started choking. It wasn’t water! It was sand! A mirage? But, those could only happen in the daylight. They need the light of the sun to form!

Even so, the lake disappeared with a whoosh as I tried to, once again, clear my mouth of the vile grains. They say there is so much sand at the beach that you never quite get rid of it once you leave. Those people have clearly never been to a desert.

“Heh, heh, heh,” a hissing sort of laugh echoed around me. “Welcome to my desert, blood traitor.”

I gasped, huge mistake since I still had sand in my mouth, and stood. As I tried to get control of my coughs my eyes roamed the darkness. Again I felt flecks of water hit my cheek. This time I looked up, and suddenly wished I hadn’t.

The smell of death surrounded me as I looked up into two red flames in the center of black, gaping pits. White, sharp teeth and razor claws stood out in the dark. The Dweller.

“You will be wishing for death before I am through with you.”

I backed away, hand fumbling at my waist for my-

“Looking for this?” My dagger swished through the air as the monster held it up for me to see.

No! I was not skilled enough in casting. I needed a weapon. I suddenly regretted pushing off my elven instruction.

“Prepare to die,” it breathed and drew back, preparing to lunge.

I closed my eyes and braced for impact. I could only pray it would be quick.

“What!”

I heard the beast’s outrage and my eyes popped open. Around us, storms of sand swirled up into the air. Tornado? I looked up at the sky. It had been a clear sky, no storm in sight. And then I saw her.

My eyes found its and I smirked at the quick glimpse of fear I saw there. “Maybe you should prepare to die,” I taunted as the sand burst into flames between us.

What’s the one thing that can kill the Dweller? A dragon.


29 de Março de 2024 às 15:27 0 Denunciar Insira Seguir história
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