LadyStar: Escape from Widow Island, Part Two

Because who doesn't love a little serialized fiction about lady fighters?
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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. And if you missed Part One of this story, CLICK HERE

If you want to beat Talitha Casey in a fight, it’s really simple. Just make sure you’re in the middle of a ten-acre asphalt parking lot. Trust me, if there’s so much as a dandelion nearby you’re going to be really unhappy in a real hurry.

— Shannon O’Keene

Moon Hollow

Clawmaker Stand

Two miles northeast of Widow’s Well

Shannon O’Keene worked as silently as possible. The edge of her knife was already capable of cleanly slicing versk leather as easily as warm water, but she needed a reflective surface for her next task.

The Ajan Warrior of the Night was going to war.

Her seclusion was absolute. The small grove near Widow’s Well had just enough of a downward grade to make her tiny camp invisible to anyone without highly sensitive tracking skills. Her harness, cinch, heavy boots and archer’s bracers caused the moonlight to scatter. She wore not a single reflective surface.

She skillfully applied waterproof paint to her face with long diagonal strokes. Even her eyelids were darkened with the dull green and black pigments. The fire in her eyes burned angrily as she stared into the flat edge of her knife and put the finishing touches around her ears and neck. She had already tied her long black hair with cire lace fitted with the fangs and teeth of many of her former opponents.

“Shannon?”

How does she do it? the Huntress thought angrily, clenching her teeth. Jessica finds every hiding place!

She rose to her full six-foot height and slung her enormous obsidian Longbow across her back. After adjusting her hunter’s quiver, she sheathed her knife, cocked her crossbow and gathered her preparatory tools into her sleek black satchel.

“I don’t want to hear it, Jessica.”

Shannon’s friend looked no less impressive. The crimson and black shola-kitaga made Jessica look taller, despite the fact she nearly had to stand on her toes to see over Shannon’s shoulders. Her golden weapon Aria was sheathed at her side. Her expression was one of concern tinged with sadness.

“You can’t do this.”

The Huntress tried to stare Jessica down. “Anyone capable of that kind of monstrous act is stealing from all life with every breath they draw. I won’t stand for it. I will not stand by while cruelty runs loose.”

Jessica took a step forward in the fervent hope the friendship the two girls shared would prevail against Shannon O’Keene’s powerful sense of revenge. All the Ajan Warriors had, at one point or another, tried to stand between Shannon and unfinished business. They all knew what she was capable of.

“Vengeance isn’t what we fight for.”

“Look, Jessica, I know about your oath and I know all about your duty to your principles. My only duty is to protect the wildnerness. Hateful evil entered my forest with devices on an innocent mother and a newborn child, and I’m going to see to it they never leave.”

“It’s too dangerous. Someone needs to protect you. Someone needs to be there to–” Jessica stopped short and caught her breath. A huge black form prowled across the thick tree branch behind the Huntress. The big cat silently locked eyes with Jessica and swished his tail once. His blue eyes flashed with a savage calm.

“I’m never alone, Jessica, and I don’t care how far or how fast that murderer runs. I’m going to track them, I’m going to find them, and I’m going to skin them, dead or alive.” Shannon’s weapon Blackwhisper was momentarily silhouetted against the moon as the Huntres stepped forward. “Now stand aside.”

“We can’t defeat evil by becoming it.” Jessica Halloran pushed her back foot down and settled her weight into her knees and hips. Shannon saw her friend’s hand flex. She was preparing to draw her celestium weapon. It wasn’t an aggressive move. Shannon knew the Sunrise Warrior would never outright attack someone. It was a defensive move.

Now the older girl had to make a difficult decision. Intimidating some random person was not a difficult task for the Warrior of the Night. The mere mention of the name “Deathkiller” was often enough to cause even seasoned fighters to back off, to say nothing of her 300-pound pet cougar.

But one thing Shannon knew was all the intimidation in the world wasn’t going to make Jessica Halloran back down. Where the Huntress fought for survival, the Minstrel Warrior fought for goodness and justice. As dauntless as Shannon was, she knew if Jessica believed in what she was fighting for, she would fight to her last mote of strength to defend it.

And what Jessica believed in was her friends. That look she always got on her face reminded Shannon of herself. Jessica didn’t have to say a word. The message was clear. The Huntress would never attack a friend and would not allow anger and vengeance to overcome her honor as an Ajan Warrior. In Jessica’s eyes was all the reminder Shannon needed.

The blond girl gently breathed a sigh of relief. Then she smiled. The corner of Shannon’s mouth rose despite her best efforts to keep her intimidating expression. The taller girl looked down and tried to regain her composure.

“Alright then, Lady Justice. Suppose Kishi and I throw in with you. What’s your plan?” The Huntress shifted her weight skeptically.

“We think they went to Widow Island,” Jessica replied. “We have to pass the Hagog Gate.”

“Reina already warned us not to follow anyone in there. What did she call it? The coward’s graveyard? The place is overrun with giant carnivorous spiders, doofus. Even if we managed to survive that, the ghosts would turn us to dust.”

“Talitha says there’s a way to keep the ghosts from rising after dark, but we would only have a few hours.”

“Do we know who we’re up against yet?”

Jessica nodded. “Reina says it’s the Black Valentine.”

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!

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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