Luathara:Book Three of the Otherworld Trilogy

By: Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

-One-

Purpose



The creature was utterly disgusting, whatever it was. Faelah, yes, but I didn’t have a name for this unfamiliar beast. Not yet, at least. So, what to call this one . . . I’d have to come up with something creative, some new word to describe the half-dead creature resembling a possum, coyote and rabbit all rolled into one. Perhaps I could combine the first two letters of the names for each of the animals: po-co-ra. Huh, pocora. It even sounded like an Otherworldly term.

The thing, the pocora, jerked its head up from whatever poor creature it feasted on, bony jaws dripping with gore. My stomach turned, and not just because of the brutal scene. The faelah was eating one of Mrs. Dollard’s cats, the chubby one that obviously hadn’t been able to outrun this particular enemy. I gritted my teeth. I wasn’t attached to my neighbor’s cats, despite the fact I once spent a summer caring for them, but the poor thing hadn’t deserved to die at the mercy of an Otherworldly monster.

I took a deep breath, pulling an arrow free of the quiver slung across my back and deftly positioned it in my bow. I’d become quite good at this in the past several weeks; arming my longbow with an arrow quickly and without making a sound. I stretched the bowstring back and aimed the arrow’s tip at the creature, steadying my arms while trying to concentrate. With a twang, I released the string and fixed my face with an expression of satisfaction as the arrow pierced the mummified hide of the pocora. The creature squealed like a pig and fell to the ground, kicking and clawing and attempting to remove the hawthorn arrow. If I had used any other wood, the faelah might’ve stood a chance, but even as I watched the small monstrosity struggling to regain its feet, smoke lifted from where the hawthorn shaft burned through nonliving flesh. I crinkled my nose at the acrid smell and turned away. Generally, I didn’t like killing anything, but the faelah of Eile were an entirely different matter. And they weren’t technically alive, either.

The creature’s screams ceased and it went still. I waited a few more moments before moving close enough to pull the arrow free. I always kept the arrows from my hunts. It wasn’t like I could go down to the local sporting goods store and ask for arrows made with hawthorn wood. I wiped it on a nearby patch of grass out of habit. Whatever remained of the faelah would already be gone, however, burned off by magic. I glanced back over my shoulder as I left the small clearing behind, but the pocora had already disintegrated into ash, its glamour no longer keeping it alive and whole in the mortal world. I sighed and turned my eyes to what was left of Matilda Dollard’s cat. I would pay her a visit later and tell her I’d found her pet’s remains in the swamp. Another poor victim of a coyote attack.

Clear, a bright thought said in my mind, forcing my thoughts away from the gruesome scene.

I shaded my eyes and glanced up into the eucalyptus leaves only to catch the brilliant white flash of a small bird of prey darting through them. She had been scanning the forest for more faelah. I grinned.

Did you catch anything? I sent to my spirit guide.

Meridian chittered and sent back a joyous, Tasty.

That would be a yes.

I heaved a deep breath and pulled my quiver back onto my shoulders. Mid-morning had become late afternoon and I knew Mom would be worried if I didn’t get back soon. After having confessed to my family I was Faelorehn, an immortal being from Eile, the Otherworld, and that a vindictive goddess was out to get me, she had been a little more protective of late. I guess I couldn’t blame her.

Meridian finished up with whatever she had caught and then set her focus on accompanying me back to the house. The walk home took a good fifteen minutes, but I didn’t mind taking my time this afternoon. I had a lot on my mind, after all. Actually, there had been a lot on my mind since my junior year in high school when all of this stuff concerning the Otherworld got dumped on me like a ton of bricks, but for the past month I had even more to worry about.

I made my way back to the main trail leading out of the swamp and thought about what had transpired just before graduation. It sometimes made me sick with anxiety, but I couldn’t help that. The Morrigan had tricked me, once again to my chagrin, into thinking she meant to go after my family. A few years ago, she would have been happy just to kill me. Now that she knew I possessed more glamour than the average Faelorehn, she was intent on using me as her own personal supply of endless magic. She probably would have succeeded if Cade hadn’t stepped in. Cade . . .

A pang of regret cut through me and when I reached the spot in the trail where a fallen tree blocked my way, I leaned heavily against the rough trunk and pulled a well-worn note out of my pocket. The message wasn’t from Cade, but from his foster father, the Dagda. I unfolded the edges and began reading.

Meghan,

Cade is improving every day, yet he is still very weak. I know you wish to see him soon, but please give him a little more time and don’t cross into the Otherworld. The Morrigan has been lying low; no one has seen her lately, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t lurking in the shadows, waiting to cast her net. For now, you are safer where you are. Cade will come and get you as soon as he is recovered.

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