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Down a Lost Road (Lost Road Chronicles #1) - Paperback (Vorona Books)

Down a Lost Road (Lost Road Chronicles #1) - Paperback (Vorona Books)

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Paperback

Summer was supposed to mean sun, family, and fun…

…not undead warriors, mythical creatures, and trees that glow.

But that’s exactly what 16-year-old Merelin gets.

Merelin’s family has always been a little odd, but ever since her father disappeared four years ago, life has been pretty boring.

Then her world gets yanked out from under her.

Literally.

As if waking up in the desert of an alien world wasn’t bad enough, the only person who sees her arrive is a fascinating — and infuriating — boy who calls himself Yatol…

…and tells her she carries the key that could save or destroy his world.

Can she trust his promise to help her survive, or should she walk away from his world—and the danger that threatens it—forever?

And if she fights…

…what price will she have to pay?

You’ll love this fast-paced YA fantasy, because nothing is ever what it seems.

Read an Excerpt!

Minutes or hours later a sharp clang shattered the stillness, followed by the rasp of ancient metal hinges. Footsteps. Finally I caught sight of them—the Ungulion, tall and straight, half-dragging a slumping figure beside him.

“Yatol!”

Yatol’s head lifted, just a fraction, not nearly enough to let him see me. I didn’t care. He was alive. I kept saying those words over and over, even while the Ungulion slammed open the cell door and shove Yatol inside. 

As the key clanged in the lock my momentary relief vanished in an eruption of new terror. I sank away from the bars, hiding my face in my knees and listening, breathless, while the tapping resumed. 

Keep walking…please keep walking…

Three steps, four…

“A newcomer, I see.”

I couldn’t look up. My heart had frozen solid in my chest, and my lungs caved like drowning. The key turned in the lock, the door whined open. Two more steps and I didn’t have to open my eyes, because I could feel him standing over me. The smell of death hung around him. The air grew abruptly colder, then a moldy hand shot out and seized my wrist.

“Get up!”

I pulled back with a sharp gasp but the hand wouldn’t release. I wondered how bones and rot could have so much strength. Then the Ungulion clapped an iron ring around my arm, letting the chain drip toward the ground in a rattle of cold metal.

“Please let me go,” I whispered.

The Ungulion tugged the chain, trying to get me to stand. On a sudden impulse I reached into my back pocket, babbling nonsense at the Ungulion all the while and twisting my other wrist in his grip to keep his attention fixed on it. Pyelthan felt like ice when I touched it. I pulled it out, slowly, trying not to make any sudden movements, and with my hand still hidden behind my back, I shoved the coin deep into the pile of rocks. Just as I let go of it, the Ungulion jerked me to my feet and clapped my other wrist in a metal cuff.

Without any warning he spun me around and propelled me into the corridor. A scrabbling sound came from the next cell, then the door shook as Yatol threw himself against it.

“No!” he cried, hoarse. “You leave her alone!”

He stretched one arm into the corridor, the other hand clutching the bars, white from the effort of trying to hold himself up. The Ungulion lashed out a metal-clad boot, kicking the grate so hard that Yatol reeled back. I caught his gaze, just for a moment. His face was marred and gruesome in the dim light, but I couldn’t comprehend the terror in his eyes. In another minute we had passed his cell, and I stumbled numbly beside the Ungulion, down a hall through utter darkness.

At the end of the corridor we passed through a doorway from pitch black into blacker pitch. The Ungulion shoved me forward a few more steps, then jerked the chain between my wrists, pulling back so hard I almost lost my balance. A harsh clang drowned the rattling of the links, then a heavy weight dragged down on my arms. 

I took a step forward, experimentally, but lurched back again as I reached the end of the fetter. Then I backed up and my hands brushed against rough stone that felt like a wall or a pillar. It didn’t matter which. I was chained to it, and that meant I wasn’t going anywhere.

My motions must have annoyed the Ungulion, because suddenly the chain yanked back, hard. The Ungulion had refastened the fetters more tightly, and now I couldn’t move at all. I snapped the chains once but it was more for defiance than because I thought it would actually do any good. My wrists flared with pain and I stood still.

They won’t hurt me, though, I tried to tell myself, over and over again. They wouldn’t. 

But every time I thought it, I saw Yatol’s face.

The Ungulion’s robes whispered as he moved away. Then came the sound of stone striking stone, and a spark danced in the void. One lone candle began burning, a tiny flickering thread of gold. Somewhere behind me wind whistled through a chink in the wall, died, then picked up again. I shivered, straining to make out the dimensions of the room. I could see nothing but a ring of slick rock glistening under the candle. No other light broke the gloom, and I could smell only long-wet stones and the blood on my own face.

“Who are you?”

I jumped so violently that the metal rings bruised my wrists again. I could have sworn the Ungulion had left me alone. The breathy voice wreathed through the dark silence, echoing off the walls, so that I couldn’t quite tell which direction it came from.

“Who are you?” I asked, peering blindly into the shadows.

I thought I heard a shallow hiss, then all at once my head cracked back and stinging, numbing pain erupted across my cheek. He’d struck me, with no sound, no warning. Hit me with a metal glove so hard that my ears rang and my mouth filled with an acrid, coppery taste. I spat, then gagged as I realized my mouth was full of blood. 

My heart ricocheted against my ribs.

I was still trying to gather my senses when I realized I was staring into two eyes not six inches from my face. They reflected the feeble candlelight, or maybe they were actually glowing, lit from inside by their own hellish light. I jerked my gaze away and closed my eyes. Wished I hadn’t asked.

“Who are you?” the Ungulion asked again.

This time I caught the faint glint of the bracer as he raised his arm. I flinched.

“Merelin!”

I regretted it as soon as I had said it. Sixteen-year-old girl or not, I had to do better than that. Yatol’s face flashed in my mind again, bruised and bloodied. What had he gone through? I couldn’t imagine he had given up any information that easily, or at all. I could do it for him. Could be strong like him. I had to.

 “Merelin,” the Ungulion rasped. “That is only a name. Who are you?”

“I’m nobody,” I said. “I’m just a girl. I ran away, all right? I got lost, and now I’m here.”

“You were in the Perstaun. Nobody comes to the Perstaun by choice.”

I inhaled slowly to steady myself, and fought my chains to stand a little taller. 

“Maybe I came looking for you.”

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