"That . . . smell." The Oathtaker's brow furrowed.
"I don't smell anything."
"Can't you smell that?" Mara sniffed. The scent grew stronger by the moment.
"What does it smell like?"
"I don't know. I guess it smells like . . . hmmm . . . it smells like—purple."
"What exactly does purple smell like? Grapes? Eggplant?" Nina smirked.
Mara scowled. Then she touched her lip with the tip of her tongue. "I can taste it too."
"You can taste purple."
"Really. What does it taste like?"
"Ahhhh . . . Well, I don't know how to describe it."
"Stop it, I'm serious."
"All right. So what does it taste like?"
"I don't know. It tastes . . . rich. Yes, that's it. It tastes rich. That's the only way to describe it."
Nina shook her head. "Mara, I think you need some rest."
"Maybe." The Oathtaker walked around the room, then toward the door. Whispering now, she said, "Come here."
The bed squeaked. Nina approached.
"There. Smell that?"
The young woman sniffed a few times, then inhaled deeply. "I don't smell anything. What do you think it is?"
Mara drew closer to the door, then turned back. "It's just as I said—I smell purple."
Nina giggled. "Mmhmmm, I know. But it makes no more sense this time than the last time you said it."
"No, listen, it's true. And I smell and taste yellow too. It's very faint . . . it's not nearly as strong as the purple."
"Really, what are you talking about?"
Mara's expression turned serious. "I know it sounds ridiculous, but it's true."
"What does the yellow taste like? Banana? Lemon?"
"No, it's more like . . . light." The Oathtaker's head shot up. She looked toward the door, then back to her companion. "Remember that woman sitting at the table near us at dinner?"
"She was wearing purple and yellow. The others with her were dressed in blue."
"I smell blue as well."
Nina's eyes opened wide. "Mara—"
"Look, I'm not making this up. The blue tastes like . . . I don't know. Fresh air?"
Nina burst into quiet laughter. "I could have guessed that. Gosh, Mara, what do you think 'brown' tastes like? Dirt? Or perhaps—"
"Don't say it," Mara warned.
In spite of her frustration, the Oathtaker grinned. "I was hoping maybe—chocolate."
"And there's something else. It's a delicate scent. It's not a color."
"Maybe it is chocolate. Or 'brown,' I mean."
"Stop it. I'm serious. You know that woman at dinner? She kept looking at me. That's why I suggested we rush."
"But people do not smell color. And they don't taste it either."
"Well maybe Oathtakers do!" Mara growled in response.
Nina looked deeply into her eyes. "You really are serious."
"Of course I am."
"All right. So what does it mean?"
"I don't know. Oh, gracious Ehyeh, I wish Dixon was here. There's just too much I don't know, and I really could use his help."
"Here." Nina directed Mara to a chair, then sat next to her. "So, let's say it's true."
"It is true."
"All right, it's true. What does it mean?"
"It means the woman and the two young men who sat at the table near us at dinner are standing outside our door, that's what it means. And I don't know if they are friend or foe."
"All right then, let's think about this. What's the worst case scenario?"
"I take them out, I guess."
"Can you do that?"
"If I must."
"What do I do?"
"Stay here. I'm going to open the door. If they're there, I'll surprise them. If not—"
"What'll you do to surprise them?"
Mara grasped Spira, confirming it was in its sheath and was loose should she have need to use it; an Oathtaker's blade was an extraordinary weapon, not to be used lightly. Grabbing her pack, she found the blade she'd purchased in Polesk. Her fingers ran over its stunning scrimshaw.
"All right, I'm ready."
"Stop. What about me?"
"Put the girls down there," Mara pointed to the floor in the back corner, "and then arm yourself."
"I don't know if I can do this."
"You can. If it's you or them, you can. If it's the girls or them, you most certainly can."
"All right." Nina placed a blanket on the floor, then gently laid the twins on it. Then she pulled the blade Mara had given her after their escape from Polesk out from the place where she kept it hidden inside her boot. She held it tightly.
"You know how to use that thing?" Mara asked, her brow arched, as she watched the young woman move the knife around in her hand.
Nina grimaced. "Stick it in the bad guy?"
The Oathtaker's eyes lit up with her smile. "That's right. Just make sure you use the right end."
"I think I've got it. Pointy end in. Right. Now, go!"
In spite of the possibility of danger, Mara chuckled. She held her knife in her left hand. Then she made her way to the door, walking lightly on the balls of her feet, and yanked it open. In a flash, she stepped back, crouched, and reached for Spira.
At the door stood the woman in purple and yellow. Flanking her each side, stood the two young men dressed in blue.
The woman's mouth opened wide in surprise. She stepped back. "You won't be needing your blade, Oathtaker."
Mara squinted. "Oh?"
The woman nodded. "You can put it away now."
"Is that right?" Mara grasped Spira more firmly.
"If I may." Slowly, the woman moved her hair behind her ear. Then she turned to the side revealing that she bore a sign of the Select—a third. She looked back at Mara.
"Who are you?" the Oathtaker asked as she rose.
"My name is Therese."
***Thank you for taking time with Oathtaker. I sincerely appreciate your votes and welcome your comments.***
Oathtaker is an award-winner in the 2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Award contest. A completed work, it is currently available in print form at CreateSpace at createspace.com/4767727, in print and for your Kindle on Amazon (see the link) and from Barnes and Noble for your Nook.
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An Oath Sworn. A Struggle Engaged. A Sacrifice Required. When Mara, a trained Oathtaker, is drawn by the scent of the Select to battle underworld beasts summoned by powers of evil to destroy the guardians of life, she swears a life oath for the prot...