At Water's Edge_An Epic Fantasy, страница 1часть #1 серии Last Elentrice
01 DEZARAY STORM
03 THE LAST ELENTRICE
04 THE RESCUE
06 JOURNEY TO THE OTHER SIDE
07 AND SO WE MEET
08 WRONG DIMENSION
09 LIFE AS A COLTIS
10 THE PREMONITION
11 TEN PER CENT
12 NON CORDUS MENZINE
13 JUDE EDWARDS
14 WALK WITH ME
17 DASHERPORT MUSEUM
19 A WINTERS KISS
20 DÉJÀ VU
21 MERRY CHRISTMAS
23 IN LOVE, IN WAR
24 RETURN TO MY DIMENSION
25 THE WAITING GAME
26 HAPPY NEW YEAR
27 NORMAL FOR A NIGHT
28 BACK TO SCHOOL
30 AND SO IT ENDS
31 THE PRICE OF MAGIC
33 BACK WHERE SHE BELONGS
34 BACK WHERE I DON’T BELONG
36 THE FIRST SNOW
37 HAPPY BIRTHDAY
38 HIM OR ME
39 THE ELENFAR
40 IN HIDING
43 THE LAST REUNION
About the author
The Emerald Eye
To the memory of my cat & companion,
Chilli Pepper, who snuggled up beside me as I wrote this book.
Published by S. McPherson Books
Copyright © 2015 S. McPherson
All rights reserved.
Second paperback edition printed 2018
Second eBook edition published 2018
At Water’s Edge is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, or people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
No part of this book shall be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information retrieval system without written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
To learn more about the author visit:
Cover design by: Eight Little Pages
Cover illustration: © S. McPherson & Eight Little Pages
Title-page art: © Ibrahim Al Saffar
Logo design: © Charlene Devismes
Formatted by Dragon Realm Press
AT WATER'S EDGE
The Last Elentrice - Book 1
BAM! A blow right to the back of my head knocks me onto the floor. Drake is home, back from his Saturday night drinking binge with the boys. My eyes are watering. I hear him curse, but as usual it’s hard to understand him through the slurs. The stench of Stella combined with puke is so overwhelming my throat stings. Before I have time to catch my breath, Drake delivers another punch; this time to my left cheek.
Suddenly, my eye feels tight, as if the socket’s too small, as if my eye’s about to explode out of it. I clench my fists and grit my teeth, telling myself not to fight back. I deserve this. His suffering is mine and I’m the reason for it. He strikes me again. A ringing sounds in my ear and my head throbs.
I deserve this, I tell myself, though part of me screams to get up. To dive for the knife, I keep hidden under my pillow. My gaze flickers to the weapon I swiped from the kitchen so long ago, but I look away. The knife is nothing more than a comfort, I hope to never use.
Drake’s gaze is lopsided as he searches for something to hit me with, but tonight I’ve hidden every possible item. He glances at my stool and my heart lurches – surely, he wouldn’t. He attempts to lift it but is too sluggish. At last, his arms are tired.
For a few moments, he garbles and attempts to feebly kick my spine, but I wriggle out of reach, swallowing the blood collecting in my mouth, swallowing my rage, my sadness. Finally, through squinted eyes, I watch Drake stumble and stagger from my room and into his own. He’s gone for the night.
Not long after, the front door slams and there’s the thud of feet racing up the stairs, two at a time. I know it’s Nathaniel.
‘Dezaray,’ he cries, kicking open the door. Rushing in, Nathaniel kneels down and checks that no bones are broken before carrying me out of the room. My body cries in protest, but I attempt a smile that turns into more of a grimace. The adrenaline is wearing off and the staircase appears to be getting narrower as Nathaniel ambles his way down, with me in his arms. I have the unpleasant sensation of chunks rising in my throat and a cold sweat prickles my forehead, my palms clammy. I moan.
‘Close your eyes,’ Nathaniel orders. I do. At first the world seems to spiral uncontrollably but I’m eventually glad I obeyed.
Nathaniel sets me down on the couch, pulling out the first aid kit from under the coffee table and hastily tends to my wounds, dabbing at my busted lip and the gash on my chin. I wince, but Nathaniel doesn’t apologise. He only furrows his brow, his mouth twitching with unsaid words.
Then he disappears into the kitchen, returning a while later with an ice pack and two cups of tea. I screw up my face as I try to get comfortable. A part of me had truly believed Drake and I had moved on from his bursts of rage. The yelling I can handle, but this…
Scowling, Nathaniel presses the cup of tea into my hand and sets some painkillers on the table before sitting beside me.
I offer him a thin smile. ‘Thanks for coming.’
‘Of course,’ he grimaces, ‘You didn’t send me your “all good” text.’
The “all good” text is a system Nathaniel and I put in place about a year ago. Every Saturday night, at ten o’clock, I’m to text him to tell him I’m okay—that Drake has ignored me as he usually does—however, if Nathaniel doesn’t get that message, he needs to rush over and rescue me…because I have no idea when or if I’ll rescue myself. My stomach spasms with longing at the thought and my fingers squeeze the cup so tight, I think it might break. But I shake off the thought. Rescue myself…maybe one day.
Perhaps reading my far-off expression, Nathaniel pats my leg, ‘How do you feel?’
‘I’ve been better.’ I take a large gulp of tea and allow its heat to trickle down and warm my insides.
‘So,’ he purses his lips, ‘Last time, you said it would be the last time. How many more times are you going to put up with this now, Dezaray?’
I frown, the movement sending a bolt of agony through my face. ‘He’s my brother.’
Nathaniel scoffs. His jaw is taut and I know what’s going through his mind. I remember a year ago, when Nathaniel had been tending to the garden and heard a commotion. Charging in, he’d been shocked to find Drake laying into me, me on the floor in a blood-spattered slump, scrambling from Drake’s attack. Nathaniel had tackled Drake off me and the two had tumbled into a whirlwind of fists and feet. It ended though, when Drake had Nathaniel pinned, face down on the breakfast counter.
When Drake finally left us, I begged Nathaniel to stay out of it. It wasn’t worth him losing his job over, not to me
I watch Nathaniel remember and then he sighs, shoulders drooping. ‘If you won’t let me help you, Dezaray, then at least leave.’
‘Mum and Dad wouldn’t want that,’ I reason.
‘They wouldn’t want this either.’ Nathaniel snaps, ‘You can’t keep blaming yourself for their deaths, Dezaray.’
There is a pause.
‘You have the wrong girl!’ I scream, but no one listens. He’s grabbing onto my hand and pulling me but I’m sure I don’t want to go. I have no idea where I am, how I got here or who is holding me. The boy is good looking but I’ve never seen him before. His skin is pale and his eyes are a striking blue, made only more stunning by the blackness of his tousled hair. There are others with us but I can’t make out their faces. Everyone is in a rush; that I know, but I don’t know why.
‘I’m not supposed to be here,’ I insist.
‘Dezaray?’ The boy asks, stopping in his tracks. He’s beautiful. My heartbeat quickens.
My eyes shoot open, my pulse racing. I lick my parched lips and anxiously scan my surroundings. I’m in my bed, my pillow beneath my head, no longer in a world I have never seen with a boy I have never known. I blink, his face still clearly etched in my mind. Sighing, I roll over and go back to sleep.
‘It was so real,’ I tell Nathaniel the next morning as I pour myself a glass of fresh juice from the juicer on the patio table. ‘I can still see his face. Hear his voice. I was there.’
‘Where exactly?’ Nathaniel says, fumbling with the petunias.
‘I don’t know,’ I reluctantly admit. ‘It was weird, weird but really real!’ I know Nathaniel isn’t convinced. Like the time I told him of some cloaked people coming from a shimmer in the distance. He thinks I’m merely concussed from last night.
‘Maybe you had a wonderful dream and you would rather believe in that than face reality,’ he offers.
I surrender, although deep down I am aware of how different last night’s dream was to any other I have had before. I eventually finish my piece of toast and leave for carpentry class at Sanifud College.
The snow and gravel crunch beneath my feet as the wind stings my cheeks and chaps my lips. I pull my scarf tighter around my neck and readjust the hood of my fur-lined coat. Artificial fur of course, and not because I’m frightened of animal rights activists throwing blood or such like at me, but simply because the idea of having any dead parts of anything hanging from me, like cattle in a butcher’s freezer, is more than a little off-putting.
I shudder at the thought then quickly replace it with memories of the handsome stranger from my dream. Though I obviously didn’t want to go with him, there was something about him I craved. His voice offered me a comfort I’ve not known since mum died and it was almost as if his eyes could see straight to my soul. Despite the fact that it sounds completely mad, I have to admit that this boy, whoever he was, made me...well…almost happy; a feeling I wasn’t even aware I was capable of experiencing anymore.
Then, an abnormal gust of wind knocks me to the ground, or at least that’s my story. It doesn’t actually feel like the wind at all and I cannot escape the niggling feeling that I was in fact pushed over by something, or more specifically someone. I look about but see no one; no one except a cluster of irritating girls from my class, leaning against a wall.
They aren’t impressed by my plain appearance: straight dark brown hair in a ponytail, un-plucked eyebrows and absolutely no makeup. Nor can they understand my genuine interest in our class topics. Yet, for some mystifying reason, they do appear to enjoy having me around enough to let me know just how much they don’t.
‘Who exactly are you looking for?’ Annabelle Delovsky says derisively as her team of clones giggle beside her. I have half a mind to yell ‘For the person who knocked me over, you tramp’ but I don’t.
‘My guess?’ a male voice says. ‘She seeks the one who caused her to fall.’
I look up. It’s that unusual lad from class, the one who speaks just as oddly as he lurks, and lurks just as eerily as he strolls. The laughter in response doesn’t faze him as he saunters over and offers me his hand. His coat is much too large for him and the hood from his jumper, as always, hides his face. Though ordinarily I’d refuse his hand, and anyone else’s for that matter, today, what he said has left me somewhat intrigued. I accept and allow him to pull me to my feet.
We make our way to the doors of Sanifud in silence.
‘If it offers any comfort, I believe you,’ he says at last.
‘I didn’t say anything.’
‘I often see and feel things I too cannot explain. I imagine you encountered a Spee’ad a moment ago.’
‘Why didn’t I jump to that conclusion?’ Though I feign sarcasm and disinterest I’m itching for him to go on; perhaps explain what exactly a Spee’ad is.
‘You are right to say nothing. I’ve learned it’s best to keep those sorts of far-stretched truths to oneself.’
‘Well, thank you, but I never did say I saw or felt a thing.’
‘Aye. So, when you fell, whom did you seek if not one who none can see?’ He opens the door and walks through, allowing it to shut gently in my face.
I push it open and follow after him, unable to shake what he’s said from my mind. What is a ‘Spee’ad’? What exactly does he see or feel? Could it be the shimmer or the people in hooded cloaks? And what exactly did knock me over, as I’m sure it wasn’t the wind.
‘Stunning!’ Professor Moxy beams at me. I’m not even paying attention and somehow still receive praise. Perhaps that’s the real reason Annabelle doesn’t like me.
‘Thank you, sir.’ I smile and continue hammering the nails into the base of my rocking chair, trying to pay attention this time.
A scrunched-up ball of paper lands on my desk. Frowning, I scan the class and can vaguely make out the eyes of Peculiar Lad from under his hood. He is staring right at me. I discretely unroll the note and read:
When I do, I struggle to hide my amazement. By Beatrice brook, the lake in the distance, I see the shimmer. Only it is much more than a shimmer now. From here I can tell that it is in fact a portal. Through it, I no longer see the snow but am instead plainly staring into another dimension. The sun is shining there, not hidden behind clouds, and I vaguely make out a mudded terrain and a line of trees.
Too soon, the shimmer is gone. I glance at Peculiar Lad. He’s no longer looking in my direction, but one thing is certain, he saw it too.
That night all thoughts of the portal are buried as I struggle through my shift at Steak Home. Sweat seeps freely from my pores and almost chewable puffs of smoke swell from the cigars of drunks, clouding up the restaurant. They sting my eyes and clog my nostrils. I cough, pressing one of the cool pint glasses to my head.
Steak Home, with the clever slogan: ‘Why stay home when you can steak home?’ coined by me, used to be grand. The must-be place for fun and steak lovers alike. It was what gave my family its fortune. When mum and dad died five years ago, Drake took over, and needless to say, Steak Home changed. The no smoking rule was quickly abandoned. The calming music that undetectably used to set the mood was replaced by loud, offensive dribble, and the well-kept booths promptly became un-kept. We still serve steak.
It was never my intention to work at Steak Home other than during the summers but it has been two full years now, and if Drake has his way, I will be doing evening shifts here for two thousand more.
After putting up with a series of uncountable insults, I decide I need a break. Pushing my way through the crowded kitchen, I grab my coat and head outside. I welcome the icy air and pong of rotting garbage. Anything is better than being in there. I lean against the wall and close my eyes.
In an instant, I’m in a forest: not dense but with a few sturdy trees about. There’s sleet on the ground and my feet slip slightly as I meander t
Then I hear a voice: his voice. ‘You jest at scars that never felt a wound,’ he says. I squint through the obscurity to get a glimpse of him but see nothing. I hear laughter: mine.
Then everything goes black and once again my nostrils register the stench from the restaurant bins.
My eyes snap open. What is going on? I exhale, clutching my knees for balance. Lately I’ve had more visions of my mystery man than I can count. I wipe my clammy palms on my thighs and take a deep breath. Up until now, I had only seen him in my dreams, never sensed his presence so clearly nor been absorbed into the scene so completely. A part of me suspects Peculiar Lad could answer many of my questions, but for some reason when I am around him, I can’t bring myself to ask him any.
The door bursts open and I jump. It’s Drake. Why is he even here? He usually leaves Marceaux in charge.
‘Get back to work,’ he hisses, his greasy hair falling into his eyes. ‘I didn’t agree to run this place after you killed our parents simply to have you hanging out here.’ He slams the door behind him. I swallow the urge to scream, smacking my skull on the wall as I throw my head back.
It is a long and draining night. By the end of it, my feet ache and the predictable headache arrives. At last it is closing time, and as usual on my nights, I am the one to close up. I head to the backroom to get the keys but am stopped. Through the glass top of the office door I make out Tracey Bakeswell, one of the waitresses, stealing money from the safe. I watch for a while. This is not her first time. She knows the code and is not in the least bit wary. I push open the door.