Black Moon Draw (Three, page 2 of 9)


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Maybe this isn't heaven. I stagger to my feet, smash to my knees, and then stumble up again.

I fling my arms out to either side to help me balance. The ground isn't moving, but it feels like it is. When my head stops spinning, and I'm fairly confident I won't fall, I look again at the half-man . . . thing. He's dressed in brown leather leggings and a long shirt cinched at his waist by a thick belt. A sword dangles from the belt.

From the neck down, he's a man in every way I can see, from his very human hands and fingers to normal shaped feet in boots.

But his head . . .

"What are you?" I ask.

He's watching me closely with his round panther eyes, his jaw open in a noiseless pant. He hasn't moved out of his crouch, as if he's trying to figure me out the way I am him. "You are from the edge of the world?"

"I'm pretty sure I'm not from here." I gaze around in confusion. "This isn't heaven, is it?"

He laughs, a strange, half-growl, half-guffaw.

I take a step back.

"Black Moon Draw has never been mistaken for heaven," he replies.

Black Moon Draw?

"Oy!" someone shouts from the bridge.

I turn, gripping my head again at the sudden movement. A man - a normal man - is standing in similar clothing in the middle of the bridge. His tunic is white and bears the symbol of a tree on it.

"Will you be claiming that witch?" he calls to the man with the panther head. He has a Cockney accent I have trouble understanding.

"She's on our land!" The panther-man snarls, standing. "You would be wise to heed my warning. If you cross that bridge, none of the gods will stand between you and my master!"

The other guy is hanging out in the middle of the bridge. It's clear he's not going to cross it and I don't blame him one bit.

"Did you say Black Moon Draw?" I ask the panther-man.

"Aye." He glances at me then returns his golden glare to the man with the tree on his shirt.

"No, really. Black Moon Draw?"

"Aye."

"Terrifying, isn't it?" the man on the bridge calls. "White Tree Sound is at peace and ruled by a man nothing like the beast of Black Moon Draw."

"My master is not a beast!" Panther-man retorts.

My ears are buzzing and I'm starting to think I either didn't wake up or I woke up in hell.

"Is your master the Shadow Knight?" I ask. "The one with a boar's head who knows no mercy and chops off the heads of pretty much everyone he meets?"

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