I pushed past bushes and stumbled through tall grass. Even after crossing several fields, I could still hear voices shouting behind me. The rain poured, and lightning streaked across the sky. I had no idea where I was going as I made my way in the dark, and every time lightning flashed, I tried to take in as much as I could of the landscape. I climbed over a wooden fence, crossed another pasture, and kept moving forward.

Luke stayed to fight, to face men who had already overpowered him once back at the magic shop. He'd barely made it out of that fight alive. What were his chances this time?

A noise sounded close by and I dove behind a bush and threw myself to the ground. I held my breath, waiting to be captured.


No sound of footsteps, no sign of flashlights. The night was now silent except for the occasional crash of thunder overhead. I didn't know how far I'd gone, but I was sure I wasn't far enough from the house to be completely safe.

I forced myself back to my feet. The rain was coming down in sheets. Drenched, I pushed my hair from my face and wrapped my arms around myself for warmth. I was cold, scared, and worried about Luke.

Is he still alive?

An image of Luke flashed before my eyes—of his body lying lifeless on the ground. I shook my head and forced the dark thoughts away. He would survive. I refused to consider any other possibility.

More lightning raced across the sky. I pushed through a thick row of thorny bushes that scratched my face and arms, and as I ran into another pasture, and then the ground suddenly disappeared from under me.

I reached out, grabbing for anything, but there was only empty space. I fell a long way down, knocking my arms and legs against something hard before slamming against the surface of...water? I plunged down into cold, wet darkness. The shock of the cold forced the oxygen from my lungs. My momentum had carried me down and I no longer knew which way was up, toward the surface. I kicked my feet, my lungs near bursting for air, but my clothes and combat boots only dragged me farther down. I struggled, clumsily kicking off my heavy boots.

When I didn't think I could survive a moment longer, I broke through the water's surface. I can breathe. I sucked in oxygen—sweet oxygen—and frantically moved my arms, trying to stay afloat. I did my best to swim as my remaining clothes, heavy with water, pulled me back down.

I looked up and saw lightning zigzagging across the sky.

How far had I fallen? Ten feet? Twelve feet? I kicked forward, reached out, and made contact with smooth stone. I slowly swam, my fingers in constant contact with the stone surface.

A perfect circle—I'd fallen into a well. My arms and legs were bruised. I'd hit them against the wall on my way down. I looked up at the sky again as I searched the smooth rock with my fingers. There were no handholds. No way to climb up and out. And the water was cold. I began to shiver. Would I die down here? No one knew where I was. I forced down my panic and tried to stay calm.

And then I sensed something.

An unnatural chill ran down the back of my neck. A breeze moved past me. I had the feeling that whatever hovered near me wasn't of this world.

I heard a whisper. My ears strained to make out the words, but there were none—at least, none I could decipher. More noises that didn't sound human echoed in the small space.

I spun around in the water. "Who are you?" My words were forced out between chattering teeth.

Another growl, this one louder and closer.

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