Ancient Magic (Dragon's Gift_ The Huntress Book 1)

By: Linsey Hall


Dragon’s Gift: The Huntress Book 1




PROLOGUE





Blood. I rubbed my tongue against the top of my mouth. Definitely blood. Fear shivered through me. The ground scratched my bare arms and the back of my neck. Prickly grass? My eyelids were gritty as I lifted them and blinked into the darkness. Stars twinkled down.

Night? Where was I?

Panic closed my throat. I gasped for air.

I pushed myself up and looked down. A ragged dress covered my skinny form, but didn’t protect me from the chill night. I shivered as cold embraced me. A battered golden locket lay on my chest. It looked old, but I didn’t recognize it.

A field stretched out around me, illuminated by starlight and a moon that hung low over the earth. The hair on my arms stood up at the sound of night creatures in the distance. A cold breeze rustled the grass, but fear chilled me more than the wind. Why was I out here?

Please don’t let me be alone.

My heart thundered in my ears as I glanced around.

Two girls who looked to be about fourteen or fifteen lay sprawled on the ground beside me. They wore ragged dresses like mine.

Why was I here with two other girls my age?

Wait—were they my age? When I thought about it, I couldn’t remember how old I was exactly. Just trying to think of it sent an icepick of pain through my skull.

With a trembling hand, I reached out and shook the girl closest to me.

“Wake up,” I said. Panic sunk its claws into my chest. Why were we here?

When she didn’t wake, I shouted, “Wake up!”

The girl gasped and shot upright, her black hair stuck with grass. Her terrified blue eyes met mine.

“Run,” she gasped.

She spoke Irish, like I did, and the word shot straight through me.

“Hide,” I said. “We have to hide.”

I wasn’t sure why, but I knew it more strongly than I knew anything else in the world. Her word—run—had triggered my own. Hide.

“Get up!” I scrambled to my feet. “We have to hide. Now. Now, now, now.”

She clambered up, and we frantically tugged at the arms of the girl who still lay on her back. She was so pale she looked dead.

But I couldn’t leave her. “Get up!”

She shrieked and jerked out of our hold, then crouched like a terrified animal. Her dark hair hung in her face.

What had happened to her, to us, that we were like this?

“FireSoul,” she whispered, also in Irish. Her wide green gaze met mine through the curtain of hair.

The fear in her eyes must have mirrored my own. Her word pricked at my consciousness, but fear overrode it.

My heart pounded in my chest, trying to break my ribs. “Come on. We have to hide!”

She nodded and her head whipped around, searching for shelter like a cornered animal. I looked too. A small patch of woods about a hundred yards behind me caught my eye.

“This way.” I spun and set off running across the field. They followed.

My lungs burned and my legs ached as we raced. I clearly wasn’t used to being outside, nor to exercise.

But why? When I tried to think of the reason, nothing came but pain. My head ached when I tried to remember myself or my past. A sob burst from my chest. I couldn’t remember anything.

Fear and the desperate need to hide drove me on when I wanted to stop and collapse to the ground, weeping. The trees loomed ahead—leafless, claw-like branches reaching for the sky. They were terrifying, but far better than the open field.

There was nowhere to hide in an open field.

Hide.

We dove into the woods, plowing through the underbrush until we were deep in the forest. Night creatures continued to rustle around us.

When we came to a large pile of collapsed trees, I plunged into them. Bark and branches scratched my arms as I found a nook created by the collapsed wood. The other girls crowded in behind me.

They were warm. Familiar, though I didn’t recognize them. Safe.

We huddled together, panting. It wasn’t quite as dark when they were near me, though it was more a feeling than reality.

Cold pinched my cheeks. I reached up and touched wetness.

Tears.

One of the other girls sniffled.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“It’s—” The green-eyed girl started panting. Moonlight illuminated her panic-filled eyes. “I don’t know!”

“I don’t either!” the other girl cried. “I don’t know my name!”

I tried to think of my own, poking for memories.

Pain.

I didn’t know how old I was. Or where I was from. It hadn’t been a fluke before. I really couldn’t remember. “I don’t know anything either!”

We gasped and cried, huddling closer. Their warmth felt familiar, like we’d done this a hundred times before. Slowly, it soothed me. I tried reaching into my mind to draw out some memories.

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