Enjoy this excerpt from the Prophetess of Adren by L.A. Thornhill. I had the honor of doing a developmental edit on this book a few years back.
Seth had grown tired of looking at the river as if it were conspiring against him. He had to get some sleep. It was useless to ponder the light of the river. It only mattered that he took his sister to South Arden. The Cainite girl would have to be dealt with there.
He took his blanket and trudged back to the camp, dreading the long miles between him and the safety of Lugus Island.
The single word rippling through the air broke Seth from his reverie. A number of silhouettes moved in the moonlight along the river’s edge. He was still a good distance from the camp and had no idea if it was any of his party or not. Seth crouched low and crept forward.
From what he could tell by the size of the individuals it was three men and possibly a woman. What was happening?
The small group boarded a small raft and pushed off into the river. Seth quickened his pace. This wasn’t right. Was that the Son of Ben? Why was he out so late and so far from the camp? And why was the woman crouched so low? They lifted the woman high, and Seth leaped to his feet. The men threw her, and her hair shone in the moonlight for a brief second before she vanished with a loud splash.
“Beckah!” Seth screamed.
He tore across the grass, his eyes on the ripples in the water. The raft was closer by the time he reached where they boarded. Seth leaped on the raft, shoved one man aside, and dove into the river.
The water slapped Seth with its icy embrace. He kicked hard, trying to find the drowning woman. It took only a few kicks to convince him he was going about this the wrong way. The river was pitch black.
What can I do?
Abandoning her wasn’t an option.
A single wisp of an idea came to him, but he dove for it as quickly as he had dived in the river. He resurfaced and swallowed a few gulps of water before taking one last deep breath. Without waiting to see if his plan worked, Seth dove under once more. Literally every second counted, and the Grand Hal-Ar River was not shallow.
It took mere seconds to get his answer. He could see a few feet in front of him no matter how deep he swam. The light of the river still burned in him. Would it be enough to find her?
A few moments later, Seth discerned a discoloration in the black torrent. A light.
Seth kicked furiously, his lungs and limbs burning with the strain. Time stressed him and his body.
There! A figure floated above the riverbed, feet drifting listlessly, arms pinned back with rope to a large rock. Her white garment fluttered against her limp limbs and her hair swirled around her pale, freckled face. Her eyes were closed but a gag held her mouth open. Bubbles escaped her lips and rushed to the surface. There was no fight left in her. No struggle for life.
Too late. He was too late.
No. She still glowed. The light of the river was as strong as it had been earlier that evening. He had never known the light to emit from the dead. She was alive.
Seth took hold of the ropes at her wrists. He pulled the dagger from his belt and worked at the bindings.
Something moved a few feet from him and he glanced up from the ropes. Seth jolted and nearly lost the last of the air in his lungs.
Bodies. The river floor was littered with bodies. Half a dozen within view of Beckah’s light. All pale and decaying, the meals of bloated fish. All were tied by the wrists to large rocks as Beckah was. But unlike Beckah, they all looked horror-stricken, grasping for the surface, even in death.
The searing burn in his chest refocused Seth on his task. A few good cuts with the dagger and the bindings fell away. Once free, the Cainite’s body floated up for a second before drifting away without its anchor.
Seth let go of the dagger and caught her at the waist. He pushed off the riverbed and kicked to the surface with her.
They broke the surface, and his lungs sucked in the air with terrible need. Beckah slumped in his arms. He worked hard to get to shore, struggling to keep her head above the water.
At last, his feet touched the bottom. When the water level was at his chest, he shifted her into a carrying position. He reached the shore and laid her down. He went for her gag. It was no wonder she had drowned so quickly. The gag had a knot tied in it, keeping her mouth open and her tongue suppressed. It was a cruel method of drowning a person. Maybe he was too late.
She still had the light.
He threw the gag away, but she didn’t respond.
“Come on, Beckah! Breathe!”
He rolled her onto her side and slapped her back a few times. A ripple ran through her body, and she choked. Her eyes burst open, and she convulsed as water spewed from her mouth. She grabbed her face as she shook with every cough and choke that freed her lungs.