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Subject: CHAPTER 83

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Date Posted: 09:39:07 03/15/06 Wed


Nicadea clung to the rocky ledge in horror. In a few more seconds, she would be gone. Even now, she could feel her fingers slipping. Would dying be so bad? Could it be any worse than the life she had lived thus far?

Why wait? Why not just let go? She wanted tom but life was not so obliging. It clung to this world with a fierce tenacity her puny strength was unable to thwart.

When the end did come, it was sudden and her death cry wasn’t born of fear, but surprise. When the last second had finally come, her mind had been elsewhere. So typical. And then, the darkness.

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

“Nicadea!” Anthony’s cry echoed through the vast chamber.

“She’s here? You saw her?”

“I heard a woman’s scream.”

The torches they’d brought into the cave couldn’t penetrate the vast darkness, but did illuminate their immediate surroundings. They were standing on a ledge approximately two feet across at its widest point. Beyond that, the earth opened up, forming an abyss.


Anthony noted the urgency in the General’s cry. Acting on an unspoken agreement, both men began to search the cave, calling her name and listening for a reply.

They searched for over an hour before stopping to rest. The cavern wasn’t as large as they’d first imagined or as deep, but they’d found no sign of Nicadea. Cut into the bottom was a natural spring.

“Are you sure you heard a woman’s scream? Maybe it was just a bat.”

Anthony focused on remembering the scene. “I don’t know. Maybe you’re right. I was searching for her – expecting to find her, so when I heard the scream, I immediately thought of her.”

“We’ve searched everywhere. If she were here, we would have found her by now.”

Anthony held his torch over the edge. “Not everywhere, my friend.”

“By Jove, it did not happen.” Mikelle’s voice was vehement. “Did you hear a splash? No. And the water is clear. She is not there. She did not drown.”

Anthony nodded, but more in acceptance than agreement. Mikelle was more distraught than he would like to have shown. This woman had gotten to him like no other. He would refuse to accept her death.

Having made his statement, Mikelle returned to the search, even though they had agreed Anthony had been mistaken about the scream. Together they retraced their steps, not looking for a body, but for any sign the woman had ever been in the cave.

Anthony returned to the cave’s entrance for a second look at the front room. The campfire was almost out and from the amount of ash, he could see the former occupant had used the shelter for several days.

Starting at the back, he carefully searched the room. A stash of gnawed bones in the corner bespoke of several day’s meals. A woven blanket suggested bedding. Most curious was the pile of leather bindings. Bending down to sift through them, he discovered a scrap of purple gauze.

His heart leapt in recognition. Mikelle had been right. Nicadea had been here. The scream must have been hers. So where was she now?

Moving quickly, he stuffed the piece of cloth into his pocket. Better his friend not know than to lament the dea. For she was dead, Anthony was sure of it.

“Find anything?”

Anthony jumped guiltily at his friend’s voice. “No, nothing. You?”

“No. I was wrong. She’s long gone by now. Or in Valhalla. Let us go back to the fortress.”

Anthony whispered a thankful prayer as they rode away, but couldn’t shake the niggling feeling that the matter was not over. He looked back over his shoulder at the cave, as if to scorch the spot into his memory.

What price would he pay for betraying his friend? Had his motive been pure or selfish? The gods would be his judge, and he alone would face their retribution.

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Subject Author Date
Very suspensful! I can't wait to see how this plays out. You've done it again, cliffhanger queen.Jan03:57:51 03/16/06 Thu
Dear Cliffhanger Queen, Thanks for another great chapter!Sheila14:03:03 03/16/06 Thu
Can't believe you left me hanging like that, but I'm lovin every minute. Thanks for another great chapter KK (NT)Marie06:16:57 03/17/06 Fri
So what has become of our Nicadia? Has she indeed gone to Valhalla?Sheila19:22:43 03/24/06 Fri
Talk about nail biting cliffhangers, lol! ....(r)Lady E22:25:42 03/25/06 Sat

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