LadyStar: Escape from Widow Island, Part Six
In this new multi-part serialized fiction story for The Mary Sue, LadyStar: Escape from Widow’s Island tells the story of Jessica and her team of fighters pitted against their teacher during the last phase of their training as Ajan Warriors. Check out more LadyStar books here. Click here for Parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.
“I trust my weapon.” — Alanna MacLeese
Near the Shroud
“Shannon never came back.”
Jessica and Talitha both realized the Huntress’ last “look around” had turned into an extended absence.
“She’s okay, isn’t she?” Cici asked, looking up at Jessica for reassurance.
“Anything stupid enough to attack that girl deserves what it gets,” Ranko replied from the front of the small company. She hefted Thundercaller over her other shoulder. Five Ajan Warriors trudged along the oily dirt road leading towards a hilly rise. In the distance the much larger shadow of the Shroud loomed.
“I’m sure she’s watching over us, Cici.” Jessica smiled, putting her hand on the younger girl’s head. “Remember she has Kishi to protect her too.”
“Jessica, something’s wrong.”
The entire group stopped and looked. The Storyteller was busily reading her jankabark Quire, turning one page back and forth.
“Talitha?” Alanna asked, fist closed around her Quarterstaff at her side.
“All the trees here are dead,” she said quietly. “There is no life here except that dark colored moss.”
“I wondered what that stuff was,” Ranko replied. “It’s on all the big trees and all over the sides of the road. It’s even growing on the fallen leaves.”
“I can’t tell what it is,” Talitha said. Her voice was shaky and unsure.
“Talitha, what’s wrong?” Jessica went to her friend’s side. The bespectacled Forest Warrior was clutching her Quire and glancing from side to side.
“I can’t feel anything, Jessica. I can’t sense the forest any more. I feel like I’m losing my powers.”
“What about the moss?” Alanna asked.
“It’s not alive either,” Talitha said.
A chill crawled up the back of Ranko’s neck. “Okay, it’s growing, but it’s not alive?”
Talitha nodded. Her eyes were wide and she was holding her breath.
“Maybe that’s why the trees died,” Cici said.
“We have to light that beacon at the top of the Shroud soon,” Jessica said. “If we wait too long, the dead will rise and come after us.”
“Let’s keep moving,” Alanna added. “Undead or not, I don’t like the idea of just standing around here.” Jessica helped Talitha along, watching for any further signs of trouble. Talitha continued to glance back and forth, peering into the dead forest as if expecting something to emerge from it at any moment.
“Shannon’s out there,” she whispered.
“She’ll meet us at the tower,” Ranko said quietly. Then she whispered to herself. “You hear that, wilderness girl? You’re going to meet us at the tower so I don’t have to climb through the Halloween Jungle looking for you.”
The sound of a jaunty flute and a small drum caused four of the five girls to jump. After she caught the breath she missed, Alanna closed her eyes and relaxed. The deepest blue lens of Cici’s Lantern was glowing brightly, and a beautiful translucent mist gathered at her feet and trailed behind her. Cici was walking in step with the music’s tempo. The Warrior of Stone looked back at Alanna.
“It’s to cheer us up.” She smiled and Alanna held back a laugh. The delightful little march continued. Alanna had to admit the Chronicler’s Lantern might not be the world’s most powerful-looking weapon, but in Cici’s hands, it was never boring.
“What if something hears us?” Talitha asked.
“Let ’em. If they want to come over here and tell us to keep quiet, at least we’ll know what we’re aiming at,” Ranko quipped.
“These creatures aren’t like the others we’ve fought,” Talitha said to Jessica. “We have to be on our guard. They are as powerful as demons, and it’s been a really long time since we’ve fought a spectral apparition.”
“I think that’s why Shannon is pacing us instead of being out here in the open,” said Alanna.
“How come?” Jessica asked. “I thought it was just because she could get a better vantage point?”
Alanna shook her head. “If we go up against really powerful undead, instead of the mindless ones, Shannon may be our best chance at winning. She’s carrying a Deathkiller weapon and she’s moontouched. She can match those creatures’ deadliest powers one by one. You remember what happened when those borcines tried to infect her with Bloodlune, right?”
“She shrugged it off like it didn’t even happen,” Talitha replied thoughtfully.
“Don’t remind me,” Jessica added. “My fingers still hurt from that stuff trying to turn me.”
“Ladies?” Ranko said. She was stopped in the road. In the distance, a gray moon hung heavily in a starless sky. Standing at the gate to the Courtyard of the Shroud was what looked like a woman holding a lightless lantern. Her eyes were closed, but Jessica could tell she could sense their presence. She was dressed in beggar’s rags.
The iron fence she guarded was visible through her ghostly body.
Ranko held her War-Hammer in both her gauntleted hands and looked back at Jessica and the others. Her face was stone-like, and her eyes were bright with resolve.
Prepare for battle and don’t miss next week’s chapter as the Greatest Fighting Team of Teenage Girls Ever Assembled continue their impossible quest to Escape from Widow Island!
The first new story LadyStar: With This Ring is free for a limited time!
W. Scott’s LadyStar series is celebrates its fifteenth year in 2015 with the release of a brand new collection of thrilling fantasy stories filled with romance, magical creatures and spectacular battles! Visit the Official LadyStar Bookstore and join the adventure!
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