Other World Series Books 4-6

Copyright 2020 Ramona Gray

   Sara groaned and touched her head without opening her eyes.  She felt sick to her stomach and she wasn’t surprised by the wetness on her fingertips.  She opened her eyes and squinted at her fingers.  They were red with blood and she groaned again before sitting up cautiously.

   The world spun crazily for a moment and she dropped her head and waited to see if she was going to throw up or pass out.  After a moment, the dizziness passed, and she lifted her head again.  She studied her surroundings.     She was in a forest with thick trees that rose high into the night sky, and she staggered to her feet.

   “Abby?”  She called.  “Abby, are you there?”

   There was no reply and she pinched back her moan of dismay and cleared her throat.

   “Abigail?  Can you hear me?  Abigail!”  She shouted this time and cringed when something in the dark answered with a loud and raucous cry.

   “Okay, it’s all right,” she murmured to herself as she wrapped her arms around her thin body.  The night air was cold, and she was soaking wet and already beginning to shiver uncontrollably.  “Don’t panic.  They probably aren’t far.”

   You don’t know that.  You don’t even know where you are.  For all you know, Darius and his men could be closing in on you right now.  You need to get moving before they find you.

   She squinted at the trees.  They didn’t look particularly familiar to her but until Darius had raided their village, she had never really been outside of it before.  Besides, the last thing she remembered was stepping into the light with the man Abby had called Michael.  She didn’t have a clue how she could be in the arena one moment and then in the middle of the forest the next, but what was important was finding Abby and the others before Darius found her.

   Gathering her courage, she moved away from the tree she was leaning against and stared up at the sky.  She could just see the moon filtering through the trees and she sighed.  At least it had stopped raining, she was grateful for -

   There was a soft rustling behind her and she swung around, her heart beating fiercely and the coppery taste of fear flooding her mouth. 

   “Wh-who’s there?”  She whispered.

   There was no response and she took a step backward as her heart began to slow to its normal pace.  It was nothing.  Just the wind perhaps.

   What wind?

   Never mind that, she really needed to –

   The rustling happened again, and she gave a soft shriek of surprise when a large bird emerged from behind a tree.  It was huge, well over nine feet tall, and its plumage was a rich, dark, green.  Its head was a lighter shade of green and its red eyes stared curiously at her. 

   She blew her breath out in a relieved little rush as the bird shook itself and spread its short wings.  It didn’t look like it could fly at all with such short wings, but its legs were long and powerful looking and ended in thick, sharp talons.  It tapped one talon against the ground as it cocked its head and studied her silently. 

   “Go on, bird.  Shoo!”  She waved her arms weakly at it and it took a step backward, shaking its body in a disgruntled manner.  Feathers floated to the ground and she clapped her hands over her ears when the bird opened its beak wide and let loose with an eardrum shattering cry.

   “Stop!”  She shrieked.  “Stop it!”

   The bird continued and, feeling like her ears were bleeding, Sara groped on the ground for something to throw.  Her fingers swept past a large stone and she gripped it and threw it at the bird.  The stone hit the bird dead center in the chest, and it gave a startled squawk and closed its beak.

   “Get lost!”  She shouted at it. 

   Her eyes widened when the bird lowered its head and scratched at the ground again with one large talon.  It looked like it was getting ready to charge and she backed away as it made a high-pitched humming noise.

   “Get out of here,” she whispered.

   The bird scratched twice more and then, with a quickness that surprised her, charged.  She screamed and sprinted through the trees.  She could hear the bird closing in on her.  She dodged around the trees and thick bushes, looking desperately for a hiding spot as she forced herself to run faster. 

   She risked one terrified glance over her shoulder and screamed again in sudden terror.  The bird was nearly upon her, and its large and ridiculously sharp beak was opening and snapping with deadly force.

   Her foot hit an exposed root and she went sprawling, landing on her belly with a hard thud.  The breath was knocked out of her and she stared mutely at the bird standing over her.  It made another screeching cry and then it was pecking at her, its beak tearing through the soft flesh of her side. 

   She gasped in air and shrieked.  She beat at its feathery body with her fists before trying to crawl away.  The bird clamped one talon around her calf and dragged her back as easily as a mouse, before pecking viciously at her once more.

   She curled into a ball and covered her head with her arms as the bird pecked at her exposed back.  Each peck of its beak was like a hot needle in her flesh and she screamed again, the sound muffled by her arms.

   She was going to die.  She was going to be pecked to death by some weird giant bird and no one would ever know that she –

   There was a loud growling and the bird suddenly made its own terrified squeal before it was ripped away from her.  It hung on grimly to her leg with its talons, and she screamed in pain when its sharp nails dug into her skin and tore it open.

   There was more growling and snarling and she lowered her arms and sat up, staring in numb shock at the giant, black wolf that was ripping and tearing into the bird’s belly.  The bird squirmed and twisted but the wolf held it down easily.  It tore a large chunk of intestine from the bird’s stomach and the bird made one final scream of pain before collapsing. 

   The wolf leaped from the bird’s body, raised its snout to the sky and howled deafeningly.  Sara moaned and scooted backward on her butt as the wolf lowered its head and stared at her. 

   “No, please, no,” she whispered, holding her hands out pleadingly in front of her as the wolf stalked toward her on stiff legs.

   She closed her eyes in defeat as the wolf bent its head and sniffed at her face.  If she was lucky the wolf would end her life more quickly than the bird would have.  She jerked in fear when the wolf chuffed and his warm breath washed over her face.

   There was a moment of silence and she opened her eyes warily.  The wolf had moved away from her and her eyes widened in surprise when it abruptly shifted into a man.  He was the biggest man she’d ever seen, his shoulders broad and his arms thick and powerful.  His hair was short and a slightly darker shade of blond than hers, and his eyes were dark brown. 

   His skin was tanned and the muscles in his abdomen rippled as he walked toward her.  He looked like he was chiseled out of granite and he was, she thought dimly, the most beautiful man she’d ever laid eyes on. 

   He was also completely naked.

   She blushed furiously as her gaze dropped to his penis.  She had never seen one before and her eyes widened at the size of it.  How on earth would that ever fit into a woman?  She wasn’t naïve, she knew how sex worked, but there was no way something that size could fit into –

   He crouched in front of her and she raised her eyes to his face.  He was frowning and she gave a soft whimper of fear when he leaned forward and inhaled again.  A brief look of distaste crossed his face.  “You are human.”

   “Y-yes,” she said.  “My name is Sara.  What’s yours?”

   “How did you travel so deep into the woods, human?”  He asked. 

   For some odd reason his low voice sent shivers down her spine.

   “I – I was with some friends and we got separated,” she said.

   He continued to stare at her, and she gave him a weak smile. “Thank you for saving me from that bird.  Wh-what was that?”

   He frowned again.  “How do you not know what a floran is?  Have you been living under a rock?”

   “A floran?”  She gave him a puzzled look.  “I’ve never seen one before.”

   He grunted in annoyance before standing and walking away.  She staggered to her feet and yelped as pain coursed down her leg.  She could see the blood flowing from the deep scratches left by the bird’s talons and her entire back felt like it was on fire.

   “Hey, don’t leave!”  She called.  “Please!”

   He sighed and turned back around.  “Go and find your friends, human.”

   “I don’t know where they are, and I don’t even know what part of the forest I’m in.  Could you – do you think you could help me find them?”

   He hesitated, and she gave him a pleading look as she balanced carefully on one leg.  “Please?  I’m sorry.  I hate to ask you for help but I’m -”

   “No.”  He interrupted.  “I have helped you enough.”

 

* * *

 

   When he refused to help the human, the shifter expected her to beg, perhaps to start crying and wailing like so many humans were prone to doing.  But she only nodded and gave him an oddly gut-wrenching look of resignation.  “All right.  Thank you for your help.”

   He frowned when she turned and limped deeper into the woods.  She should have been heading for the edge of the forest, not deeper into it.  A floran would be the least of her worries if she continued on.

   “Human!”  He shouted.

   She flinched and gave him a tentative smile.  “Yes?”

   “Do not go that way.  Go in that direction.”  He pointed behind him and she nodded before limping toward him.

   “Right, okay.  Thank you.” 

   He frowned again as she moved slowly past him.  Her face was unbelievably pale, even for a human, and he could see the blood flowing steadily from her leg.  She was dressed in an astonishingly tiny skirt and odd-looking shirt that barely covered her small breasts.  Her skin was covered in goose bumps, and he winced when she passed by him and he saw the multiple puncture wounds from the floran’s beak on her back.  All of them were bleeding freely and he couldn’t imagine how much pain she was in.  The way she was bleeding she was lucky she hadn’t passed out.

   As if she heard his thoughts, she stopped and swayed alarmingly before reaching for a tree with one shaking hand.  She gripped the bark and dropped her head forward, taking a few deep breaths before coughing.

   “You’re okay, Sara,” she whispered to herself.  “You’re okay, just

   She swayed again and, as she crumpled to the ground, he ran forward and caught her before she could hit the hard floor of the forest. 

   She stared up at him with hazy eyes.  “What’s your name?”  She whispered.

   “Radek,” he grunted.

   “Radek,” she breathed before her eyes rolled up in her head and she fainted. 

   He studied her pale face before cursing and lifting her into his arms.  With a soft grunt, he carried her deeper into the forest.

© 2019 RAMONA GRAY