years, but there has never been a female Hunter—until now.
rescue of young Hunter Kohl O’Hanlon. Impressed by her remarkable
sword-wielding skills, the Hunters invite her to their training
facility, the Glass Blade, though not all are pleased with the
intrusion. But they soon discover that Jessop learned to fight from
the rogue leader of the Shadow City of Aranthol—and escaped. Now
they want to use her intimate knowledge of their enemy to destroy
him. As Jessop grows closer to this elite brotherhood, their leader
succumbs to a mysterious ailment, and Kohl learns that Jessop is
hiding dark secrets, raising suspicions about the enigmatic woman who
saved his life. Has the Hunters’ security been breached—or do
they have a traitor in their ranks?
From where she sat, with her cloak draped low over her face, she could easily make out the group of Aren. They were more discreet than she had anticipated, but few could go unseen to her well-trained eyes. They were scattered about the bar, donning the civilian attire of common Azgul nomad passer-by. The Aren weren’t common travelers though; they were fatalistic believers who waited anxiously for a supposed impending end. A doom and darkness that would swallow the entire Daharian galaxy whole—their belief in some unimagined state of horror for the universe made her certain that not a man amongst them had ever laid eyes on Aranthol.
She scanned the room, counting twelve of the zealots. Without their robes they appeared as normal men, barring their brand, which could be seen on the base of several of their necks. The tender nape of the neck was where all in Azgul had their brands. She knew that their mark was not well-known though, not as well-known as they would have liked it to be. Thinking of the brandings nearly had Jessop reaching for her own neck, certain she could almost feel the hot iron against her still. The smell of burning, blistering flesh unnaturally recoiling from heated metal filled her nostrils. She shivered at the putrid memory and forced it back to the depths of her mind, where she kept all her locked-away thoughts and all her darkness.
Suddenly, the oddest sensation roused her, overcoming her senses. She could feel silk running across her skin, dragging her fine hairs on end, exciting her cells. The energy of the room had completely changed, thickening the air more than any smoke or liquor could do. She had only ever been around one other of her kind, and to feel the changing electromagnetic charge in the room without him present was as compelling to her as it was terrifying. The draw was a beast’s cry calling her in, feeding her need to find the one like her. It was a pull strong enough to grip her, strong enough to shoot adrenaline through her, to dilate her pupils and ready her muscles and tell her, without question, that Hunters were near.
She closed her eyes and narrowed in on their presence. She could smell the faintest scent of grease on one of them; it had an acidic air to it—like the oil slick found in the Western corner of the city. She could hear his voice though he did not speak. She could see the diminutive smudge of black slick over his boot though she did not open her eyes. Her senses—so refined—ensured she could see most of him without ever glancing his way.
And then she laid eyes on him.
before going on to complete her MSc. in Experimental Psychology.
Having been raised in Africa and educated across multiple countries,
Ryan has a passion for travel and an interest in diverse cultures.
She currently resides in Wyoming with her husband, where she is
writing her next book.
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