Home > Dark Ghost (Drak #28)(5)

Dark Ghost (Drak #28)(5)
Author: Christine Feehan

 

She sank down onto a small, flat rock and let herself look around. Her tuning fork, as she called it, was leading her up higher into the mountains than she’d ever intended to go. Teagan drank more water. It was important to stay hydrated.

 

She glanced at her watch. She’d been hiking up the trail for several hours. She was hungry and tired and out of sorts. Worse, she was now totally enshrouded in the fog and wrapped in a blanket of intense emotions, none of them good. The notes playing through the song of the mountain were painful to listen to. She was a healer and she naturally wanted to do something to ease that pain. If it was pressing on her shoulders and crushing her chest, she couldn’t imagine what it was doing to those who felt such despair.

 

She’d only taken a couple of small breaks because she was really afraid now that she’d decided to hunt for the gemstone or crystal that could aid in clearing her grandmother’s mind. Of course, if Trixie knew she was hiking alone in the wilds of the Carpathian Mountains, with a pack of rabid men on her heels, she’d get out the mythical wooden spoon she’d always threatened Teagan with.

 

She needed a place to rest. Her leg, where Armend had kicked her, cramped and throbbed alternately and she began to limp. She drank more water and searched above her for a place that might be hidden. There didn’t seem to be any real cover other than the fog, but it was so thick, she couldn’t really see anything above the elevation where she was.

 

With a sigh, she capped the bottle and stood. She couldn’t stay there. She needed shelter of some kind, and that meant looking for it. While she did, she might as well follow the trail the strange vibrations in her body were leading her to. Both paths seemed connected. Both led up the mountain, instead of down toward civilization.

 

She shrugged into her pack and started up the trail, putting one step in front of the other, trying to feel her way. The blood sang in her veins. She was definitely close to her goal. She veered to her right. The song grew louder. She heard it in her ears, a pounding drum of satisfaction calling to her. Another few yards and the song burst through her body. She was that close – so close she actually could push aside those sad, weeping notes that counterpointed the song in her body.

 

Teagan stopped and examined the wall of rock directly in front of her. Her stone was somewhere inside the rising tower of rock. She slipped her palm over the small boulder. The fog was even thicker up here and she literally felt her way around the mountain. Her hand abruptly slipped off and she realized instantly she had found an opening.

 

She stared into the darkness for a long moment. She was small enough to fit inside if she took her pack off and carried it. Her heart pounded. Wild animals could live in the cave. Still, if nothing else lived in it, she could rest. The chances of Armend finding the cave were slim, and she desperately needed to go to sleep. More, she needed to try to calm the swelling in her face and take a look at her stinging lip.

 

“Courage, Teagan,” she whispered to herself. “You’ve come this far for Grandma Trixie, are you going to fail because you’re scared?”

 

She often asked herself that question. Was she going to fail because she was scared? She might be afraid of a lot of things, but she never once had allowed fear to stop her from doing anything she wanted to do. In fact, often times, that fear spurred her on, because she was so determined not to allow it to rule her.

 

She started to slip into the narrow opening and something stopped her. Something completely invisible. She put her hand out and felt the barrier. A shield. It seemed to be constructed of notes, like the music inside her body. She’d never encountered such a thing before, but her mind was all about puzzles and patterns. She loved to boulder because that was a world of puzzles and patterns. She could see a problem in front of her and her mind feasted on it, needing to solve it.

 

She didn’t know if nature had spun that tight netting, or if something else had done it, but she knew she had to solve it. The compulsion was on her, and there was no going back from it.

 

She sank down in front of the opening and lifted her hands into the air, closing her eyes and tuning herself to the invisible threads of what she saw as a harp in her mind. The strings of the harp were all knotted, forming a tight net. She simply had to unravel them and set them straight again.

 

It was a complicated pattern, and she found herself completely absorbed, forgetting Armend and the sorrowful notes in the fog and everything else, even the pain in her body while she worked to sort out the strings of the harp. Everything had to be reversed and she had to do it by sound alone. There was no visible shield, just a song she felt in her body.

 

It took her two hours, she knew because she’d looked at her watch. She was shivering with cold, her clothes damp from the thick fog by the time she’d straightened out all the strings and knew she could walk through the entrance. Feeling triumphant, she got to her feet and, pushing her pack ahead of her, slipped inside. The moment she did, the despairing notes faded away, left behind in the thick mist.

 

Darkness swallowed her instantly and with it came the thud of her heart. Loud. Scary loud. She jerked out her flashlight and carefully examined the way ahead of her. The tunnel was narrow, but still, she could walk upright through it. She scrutinized the ground carefully for tracks of animals. She couldn’t see that the dirt had been disturbed. She was fairly certain that if wolves occupied the cave, there would be evidence, like a pack surrounding and eating her.

 

She pushed forward. Her heart continued to pound, no matter how hard she tried to breathe away fear. She moved down the narrow passageway, realizing she wasn’t only going deeper into the cave, but downward as well. The angle wasn’t terribly steep, but she became aware of the heavy rock over her head. The cave had high ceilings and the farther she went into it, the higher the ceiling became. She stopped every few feet to shine her flashlight in all directions. She wanted to see the walls surrounding her and the ceiling above her.

 

There was no sign of wolves or any other animal, and she was becoming excited that she might have found the perfect base camp to hunt for her stones without Armend or his friends finding her.

 

The narrow passage abruptly widened and she had a choice to go left or right. She listened to the song in her veins and chose right. The tunnel was short and opened almost immediately into a wide chamber. It was beautiful. The walls sparkled when she shone the light over it. Something drew her toward the very back, and she followed that need.

 

Teagan placed her backpack against the farthest wall beside another opening that, when she shone the light there, appeared to be an entrance into another chamber, just a bit smaller. She stepped inside to look around.

 

The dirt had been moved recently. She could see that, and when she flashed the light over the freshly disturbed earth, she spotted drops of dark red blood. Lots of it. And it was definitely recent. Her heart stopped pounding. Stopped beating. She was so certain her heart stopped that she put her hand over her chest and opened her mouth to drag in air. Blood. Right there in the cave with her. What now?

 

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