We left at dawn. The morning air was thick and damp, promising an unpleasant day once the sun rose completely. Once again, the only sound in the muggy silence was the dull clop of hooves on the road.
As we had the previous night, we rode with our weapons out. This time, I left my sword sheathed and held my bow and an arrow balanced across my lap, my other hand holding the reins. “So how lucky do you think we’re going to be?” I kept my gaze focused on the roadside, looking for any sign of a disturbance.
Roger’s shoulders jerked in what might have been a shrug. “To be honest, I haven’t felt lucky in a long time,” he said. He also scanned the woods, sword across his lap.
“Not even when I saved you from the noose the last time I was here?”
He cracked a brief smile. “Okay, maybe that one time. But you must admit, Lyla. You don’t tend to turn up when things are going well.”
“Well, aren’t I special,” I said, gritting my teeth. Unfortunately, he was right. I did seem to have a habit of getting sucked into Mallory just when things were falling apart.
We rode in silence for a while. As the temperature went up, insects began to buzz in the trees. I heard the odd bird call, but there was no sight of any other animals. “Did we scare everything off?”
Roger took a gulp from his water skin and wiped his mouth. “I doubt it,” he said, passing me the skin. “It’s too hot. Animals were probably out early, before the sun came up, and will be in deep shade until this evening when it cools off again.”
I took a drink. I’d been on enough long hikes to know that drinking water was important when it was hot. “Well, it makes things a little freaky,” I said. “We haven’t even seen a rabbit.” I pointed to a spot ahead. “Hey, does that look like trampled grass to you?”
“Perhaps.” Roger dismounted and examined the ground. “Something rode through here. Several somethings, actually. These impressions look like they’ve been left by hooves that were shod, not wild animals.”
About The Book
Author: M.E. Sutton
Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Fantasy
Things are getting interesting at Tanner Middle School. The only official candidate for student council president is Jaycee’s nemesis, Trina Poppelman. Plus there’s a new girl in school. At first glance, she looks like she’d fit right in with the cheerleaders, but Jaycee senses something different about her.
Things are getting interesting in Mallory, too. Lady Starla is expecting an Imperial envoy to discuss new taxes. She plans to oppose the measure and asks Lyla to stand by her side in a show of support. However, when the envoy goes missing, the situation becomes a lot more serious than a proposed tax increase.
In this fourth installment of the Hero’s Sword series, Lyla and Roger hit the road to find a missing envoy before Starla pays the ultimate price for his disappearance. Along the way, Jaycee learns that winning isn’t always the end-game result.
Mary Sutton has been making up stories, and creating her own endings for other people’s stories, for as long as she can remember. After ten years, she decided that making things up was far more satisfying than writing software manuals, and took the jump into fiction.
She writes the HERO’S SWORD middle-grade fantasy series as M.E. Sutton and finds a lot of inspiration in the lives of her own kids. A lifelong mystery fan, she also writes crime fiction, including THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS MYSTERIES, under the pen name Liz Milliron. Her short fiction has been published at Uppagus.com, Mystericale.com (Fall 2013), and in LUCKY CHARMS: 12 CRIME TALES (December 2013).