PG13 requested a snippet from Book Two, so here is a small one. Not much happens in it, be warned, but it expands a little on what happens to Elysia after she's trapped in the river at the end of Young Falcon. It's from the first chapter, 'The Ivalojoki.' Enjoy!
With a ragged gasp, I broke the surface of the water, drawing in air roughly and desperately, frantic for the oxygen to flow into my lungs. Jerking my head to shift my dripping hair out of my eyes, I kicked strongly, though my leg muscles were already tired from all the running Efroy and I had been doing over the past few days. But I had to stay above the water. I could not repeatedly be dragged under by the choppy waters because each time I went under, I had to use all my strength to get back to the surface. I did not know how much longer I could last.
I gasped as another black wall of water rolled over me like a suffocating blanket, engulfing me and briefly depriving me of air once again. Once above the surface, I coughed up some water, the motion hurting my sides since I was already sore from running, swimming, and fighting to stay above the water.
I’ve got to get to land, I thought in a panic as the rushing current doused me. I looked about on either side of the shore, wondering if the silver-armoured man and his troop were still following me, and to my dismay, the question was answered a moment later as I heard the sound of horses’ hooves pounding along the river bank only a few yards behind me. Gasping, I jerked in surprise, wishing I could find some shelter, but the water continued to propel me on, giving no heed to the precariousness of my situation. The unrelenting water continued to smack my face, causing my exasperation to rise with the continuous battering.
Now I could hear the voices of the men as they came closer. Frightened, I tried to make myself as small as possible and keep as low in the water as I could, but since I was also trying not to drown, it was easier said than done. However, since I was so tiny and I had the cover of the darkness, I hoped I would not be seen. But since I did not know how well humans could see at night, I was unsure if I would be safe.
Nonetheless, I soon heard shouts from the shore, and I knew that they had seen me. Panic drumming a frenzied beat within me, I struggled to move over to some of the sheltering rocks nearby, but as several arrows hissed past me, I yelped in my terror, forgetting that I was attempting to lay low. None of the darts injured me, though one grazed my shoulder. But as the torrential waters sloped down sharply and hurtled me around a bend, the humans’ voices faded and the arrows ceased, though it took several minutes for my heartbeat to calm.
I was rushed along in the raging river, taking me to safety from the humans, but the waters were relentless, repeatedly pounding my back and face with the battering flow. I fought as hard as I could, but I was beginning to tire with the physical exertion of trying to stay above the surface. I was also encumbered by the added weight of my heavy dress, but I could not pause long enough to get it off, lest I become entangled in it and dragged under the surface. Panting with effort, I paused for a few seconds to just let the river sweep me along, though doing so was dangerous because I ran the risk of getting pulled under by the swift current if I did not fight.
I lost track of time, but after a while, my feet brushed a huge rock that protruded from the river’s floor. Though the rough edge of the rock grazed my shoulder a moment later, I knew I had to grab onto the rock. My fingers quickly sought out the jagged surface and gripped it desperately, tired as they were. I brought myself to a stop and clung to the rock with every once of strength left in me, turning my back to the strong current, which raged around me as it hit me and skipped on its merry way, taking no heed of the bedraggled foreigner.
I rested my head against the damp rock, exhausted from my swim. My arms ached, my legs ached, my sides ached; in fact, every inch of my body ached. Sighing with fatigue, I tried to make myself relax but could not for fear that I would be swept away; I had to keep a tight hold on my rock.
Taking a deep breath and dragging air into my lungs slowly, I began to wonder about Efroy again. I knew it had been several hours since our confrontation with Roman on the shore, but since that time, I had found no sign that Efroy had been able to escape which worried me greatly. However, I also had no reason to believe that he had not escaped. Either way, he was nowhere to be seen. I had no way of knowing if he was on his way down the river himself or trying to follow me along the shore to get back to me somehow. What if Roman had killed him? Or taken him hostage? How would I be able to rescue him if that was the case? I could not fight; my cowardly escape at the river assured me of that, and I had little hope of being able to help Efroy escape from wherever he was being held captive. If that was even what had happened, I reminded myself. I did not know for sure what had become of my friend, and until I did, I could take no sensible action to recover him. Perhaps he was on his way to me right now; perhaps he would find me within a few hours.
Hence, I decided to wait. I would find a way to get to shore and stay there until Efroy had either found me, or I was absolutely sure he was not coming. Then I must go and find him. It was a long shot to think that I could do anything to help him if he was being held prisoner by Roman, but I knew I would have to try. He was my friend, after all; I could not just leave him if he was in trouble!
But what could I do? Me, an ordinary, insignificant seventeen-year-old girl from Aseamir who had never even been out of her small town before now and so naïve that it was embarrassing at times. I knew nothing of the world outside of my safe, isolated home, especially nothing of this struggle going on between the humans and elves. Until a few weeks ago, I had not even been aware that there were such things as humans. I had thought they were nothing more than peculiar characters in fairy-tales! Lillian loved reading stories about their ancient civilisations and learning about their odd customs and languages and ways of living, and I admit that I had thought some of the stories interesting at one time, but to actually see real humans in the flesh, here in my beloved country, killing my people and trying to seize control of Yaracina … It was awfully hard to process it all. Was this really happening?
I leaned my head wearily against the clammy rock which was my refuge for the time being, closing my eyes and wishing I could rest my tired mind, but to no avail because unanswered questions, possibilities, and fears plagued me, triggering even more worry about Efroy’s fate and how on earth I might be able to help him. If he was even still alive.
Cringing inwardly at that mere suggestion, I forced myself to push that thought from my mind. It would serve no good purpose to dwell on that particular prospect until there was at least some evidence that could support it. Therefore, until I had even a hint of the likelihood that Efroy had been killed, I was not even going to consider it. I could not consider it, if I was to have any hope of somehow being able to help him. The thought would only drain my strength and paralyse any attempt on my part to rescue Efroy, so it was best if I just stayed away from that idea altogether.
Suddenly overwhelmed with longing for Lliam to come and save me from my predicament, I let a small, cold tear run down my face, barely noticing as a black swell of water slapped against my face and swept the tear away. So overcome was I with heartache to see my enigmatic friend again and hear his reassuring voice. He would know what to do; he would help me.
But try as I might, I could not find Lliam’s mind. Though I searched long and hard and stretched my mind to its limit, he was nowhere to be found, which only made me feel worse and even more hopeless, for I felt that if I could only hear Lliam’s voice, everything would be okay. After all, how was I to figure out what to do all on my own? Would I even know where to begin? How could I find my way to the place Roman had backed us against the rushing river so many hours ago?
I looked around blearily for a possible escape route, but all I could see upstream and down was the line of unbroken, smooth riverbank, one that afforded very little to grab on to and even less that I could use to hoist myself up out of the river. I came to the conclusion that the only way I was going to get out of this river was to let myself be swept downstream again until I found a shallower, gentler branch of this river or a place along the main bank that provided some foliage or rocks that I could use as handholds. There was nothing for me in this spot.
Taking a deep breath and trying to prepare myself for a moment before letting go, I tried one more time to find Lliam mentally, but to my continuing disappointment, I was unable to do so. Then, letting go of my rock, I allowed myself be swept up in the raging, angry flow of the Ivalojoki, surrendering myself to its current but fighting to keep my head above the water whilst also trying to manoeuvre away from any large, jagged rocks rising above the water. Though I was successful in navigating around the stone barriers most of the time, once or twice, I was not able to stop myself and smashed ruthlessly into the rough mass, causing me to gasp for breath for a moment as the pain set into my body. From that time on, I focused intently on avoiding any subsequent rocks downstream, knowing that my bruised and battered body could not take much more of this.