Summer

Summer by Sarah Remy Read Free Book Online

Book: Summer by Sarah Remy Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sarah Remy
teeth when it smiled.
    “Maybe, maybe not.” Multiple agonies threatened to pull Richard under. His body wanted to give up and fall down. But he’d faced pain before, and always beat it back. “I’m resourceful.”
    “Yes,” Water-Bearer hissed. It studied Richard thoughtfully. Clawed hands crept from behind the wing-curtain and fisted in the gravel. Richard couldn’t help but notice the elegant fingers attached to those claws. They were Winter’s hands, sidhe hands, but made grotesque by the addition of long talons.
    Water-Bearer caught Richard staring. It laughed again.
    “Aye,” it whispered, single eye bright. “We were all beautiful once. The queen’s glorious Host.  Most beloved, most powerful, most dangerous. Until Gloriana grew jealous, and frightened, and we were exiled here , a land more poisonous than envy. Here”

it stuck a pale foot from beneath its wings—”here, we change, and fall apart.”
    Richard swallowed to keep from gagging. The foot wept black blood. A jagged piece of bone showed where he’d torn the monster’s claw away. The bone was thin, see-through, and pocked with tiny black craters.
    Water-Bearer shrugged its wings and pulled its foot back behind the curtain of feathers.
    “I’ve nearly reached the end of what I was,” it admitted softly. “Your blood and gristle are of little use to me. I’ve forgotten how to hunger.” It tilted its head, bird-like. “Just like I’ve forgotten other things. Tell me how you do it, your magic, here in this place where none exists?”
    “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” returned Richard. He took a few steps back away from Water-Bearer. He wondered if he’d best run again, or try to tear the creature to rotting pieces. He wasn’t sure he had the strength for either.
    “I’m not so close to ending I can’t chase you to the boundaries of this cursed prison,” the sluagh said. “The Prince asked me to bring you back, and so I shall. Far better for us both if you return willingly. Are you thirsting yet?”
    Richard licked his lips, then wished he hadn’t.  His tongue felt thick and fuzzy. Water-Bearer showed its teeth again.
    “And hungry,” it guessed. “They’ve fed the female. But you—they’ve neglected you. They didn’t realize what they had. I won’t neglect you, mortal.”
    Richard didn’t remember sitting down, but somehow he was on his knees in the gravel.
    “Shut up,” he said. “I need to think.” He scrabbled in the dirt for a rock, clutching the chunk in his good fist.
    Water-Bearer only laughed.
    “A valiant attempt, apostate,” it murmured, “but above ground and without water you’ll die in a matter of hours. Your wounds have stopped bleeding. You’re drying up. Give way.”
    Richard looked at Water-Bearer. The sluagh stared back, one-eyed and calculating. The small tentacles in his empty eye socket stretched and twitched.
    “If you perish here on the scree,” it said. “You waste a life better spent for your female.”
    Aine , Richard mourned. Aloud, he said: “You’re talking riddles and nonsense. Shut up, or I’ll rip off your wings.”
    Water-Bearer snorted through its melted nose. “No riddles. She’s got Mending in her veins. It’s not a quick or easy end she’ll face, not as a bridge between two worlds. She’ll be bled dry, several times over. You’ve guessed, or why come through in our wake? Slit her throat, spare her the suffering, redeem yourself. That ’s why you’ve come.”
    “I came to save her.” Richard’s eyes were gooping shut again, lashes drying together in crusts.
    “There’s no saving either of you.” Water-Bearer rose. It shuffled across the gravel and stood over Richard, wings rustling. “But it will be interesting to watch you try.”
    It bent in a swoop, and before Richard could twitch, it scooped him up in wiry arms, then sprang upwards. The last thing Richard heard as he let go of consciousness was the unearthly whoosh of strong wings

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