The story is almost over!
If you want to get the full story so far, click the links below to read previous chapters. If not, click below to read summaries of each chapter.
Chapter 1 Summary (click to expand)
Teya Redstone is the royal executioner/assassin for the medieval fantasy country of Tharland. She loves drawing and was raised with her older brother, Rian, by a maid named Emme.
Rian committed a crime that is unclear in Chapter 1, and has been sentenced to execution. But that means Teya faces the choice of executing her brother… or being executed herself for a job badly done.
During the execution, Rian chooses to be executed by bow and arrow, an unpopular choice among criminals. Teya has been driven to near insanity with the decision, but finally releases the bowstring. But she misses by inches at the same time that Emme runs in and tries to convince the council (this country’s version of a royal family) to spare Teya the burden of executing her brother. Her argument fails, and she and Rian are sent to the dungeon. Teya is confined to her small bedroom, where she stays up late into the night and makes an escape plan.
Chapter 2 Summary (click to expand)
While Teya is escaping, she runs into Remmon, a servant she grew up good friends with who was in love with her but worked nights, so they never saw each other. He gives her food and money to bring. As Teya, Emme, and Rian are running from the castle, Remmon catches up with them and insists on coming. He has brought a bow and arrows for Teya.
Finally, they escape the search of the guards and walk for hours until they come to the border of Eparia, the neighboring country. They were not going to be let through, but a woman in armor came over, claiming to be the new recruit, and let them through. They later discovered she was a “forest girl” and her name was Marisa. Emme didn’t want to trust her, but Teya convinced the group to let her join them.
After losing all their food to a swarm of biting bugs, Teya happened to shoot an arrow at a hidden large fruit in a tree. They passed it around, glad to have food again, until Marisa got a better look at it and realized… it was deadly.
A Single Arrow: Chapter 4 of 5
Written by ikwords
Illustrated by my six-year-old brother, who for some reason insisted on illustrating this and going by Shadowfang
“Teya, what was that!?” Rian jumped to his feet as Marisa’s shocked face slumped over.
Teya dropped the bow, unsure of what had just happened. She looked at the two bodies on the ground. Why had she killed Marisa? She couldn’t remember.
Rian was livid. “You just shot her for no reason! She did not do anything wrong!”
“I know…” She didn’t know how she could have done this. Marisa was innocent, barely awake, and Teya killed her out of anger.
“You are too used to killing people whenever you get the chance, Teya. You have had no heart since you became the executioner. What happened to you?” Each word stung, and more tears sprang in her eyes.
Rian walked to Marisa’s body and inspected the wound. She was clearly dead. Teya couldn’t see what he was doing, but then he stood up, holding a small pouch in his hands.
“I don’t know,” he said. “But Marisa had it hidden.”
Forgetting their argument, Teya peered over his shoulder. Emme, who had stayed out of the fight, also came to see. Rian dumped it on the ground. Out came a folded piece of paper, a small empty vial, and a foldable pocket knife. Teya grabbed the paper and opened it. Immaculate cursive lined the crisp sheet, recognizable by anyone from Tharland as the handwriting of the head council. She read it aloud.
Begin with Remmon Lightfoot, the most gullible of them. He is the one in servant’s clothes. Convince them that something they have come in contact with is deadly—
Teya couldn’t read on. Rian took the message and continued.
Then, feed them a false antidote. Poison his portion.
Teyanna and Rian Redstone, the young former assassin and her criminal older brother, will not die without a fight. You must stab them in their sleep, the only time they are vulnerable. Be sure that it only takes one hit, or else you will be the one to die.
Bring Emme Silver, the old maid, back to the castle. She will be executed publicly.
Emme gasped and sobbed. “Why did she have this?”
“Because she is — was — the new assassin,” said Teya.
“You were right.” Rian stared at the note.
Emme did not want Marisa to come with them. Teya had convinced them to trust her and bring her along. That meant…
Someone’s death was yet again her fault.
Teya screamed in anger at herself and thrust Marisa’s knife into a tree with more energy than she’d ever had. The knife that would have brought her death. “It’s my fault!” she shrieked, stabbing the tree. The tree that would have been her. She stabbed so deep into it that she couldn’t pull out the knife, so she turned and saw her two feet of hair on the ground beside Remmon. She knelt beside them and regretted what she had done. But she was exhausted, and she felt herself fall to the ground and close her eyes.
“Teya…” Emme tapped her awake like she’d done so many times.
Teya sat up, recalling what had happened. “We are going to the town.” Rian seemed to be a little nicer to her.
She nodded and stood. “Wait. Will we just leave Remmon here? We have to bring him so that he can have a proper reincarnation.”
Rian and Emme glanced at each other. He sighed. “Listen, Teya, I am sorry, but who would trust a group of people who casually came to town carrying a body?”
She could tell he expected her to get angry again, but she knew he was right. “Okay,” she mumbled.
“Can we do it here?” said Emme. “It will not be as good, but we can try.”
They dug a shallow pit and arranged a bed of leaves. It was far from the typical ritual, but the best they could do. “We need something he can bring with him,” Rian said when they laid Remmon on the bed.
Teya gathered the hair she had chopped off. She felt stupid for simplifying his life to “her,” but it was the best they had. She twisted it into a braid and laid it beside him.
“Good,” said Emme. “Now he will be in peace in his future lives.”
Teya nodded and took a last look at him. Ghastly white, with his curious eyes closed and lips tight and pale, it looked nothing like the Remmon she knew.
The three of them eyed each other. Teya knew they were all thinking the same thing: should they do something with Marisa?
“Um… should we be going, then?” asked Rian.
“I suppose,” said Teya. They lifted the handles of the cart, which was lighter since they had lost most of their supplies, and set off for the town.
After a while, Teya realized something. “We are idiots. She must have been lying to throw us off course and buy time.”
“Of course,” said Rian.
“What should we do?” asked Emme.
Teya shook her head. “Just keep going, I guess.”
They continued, and Teya became aware of something else. They were no longer snaking through thick branches. A clear path wove through. Scattered tree stumps made the cart jump. People must have traveled there often — they had found a road.
As Teya expected, a man came into view walking the other way. “Hello,” said Emme.
The man gave a nod in reply. Rian asked, “Is there a town near here?”
He sneered. “Of course.”
“Well, where is it?”
“Just keep going.” The rude man walked away.
At least he was right. It was only a few minutes until the path opened to a road lined with houses and shops. Buzzing with life, merchants called for buyers and people chattered as they strolled.
Teya was so relieved she almost smiled. “Finally, somewhere new.” She looked back at the extensive forest they had emerged from.
Rian motioned for them to follow and pushed the cart toward a nearby shop. Before they reached it, a voice called out, “Newcomers! Come, come!”
Teya barely had time to turn her head before the entertainer hooked her by the elbow and dragged her to his stand. He was a short, curly-haired man with a goatee who looked to be in his thirties.
“Hello, miss,” he broadcasted, making sure the whole crowd heard. “What brings you to Forest Shore?” Teya said nothing.
He chuckled awkwardly at the audience. “Not very talkative, are you? Well… you are very pretty. Though you might look nicer with long hair.”
Rian cut in hastily. “Do you know of a place we can stay here?” Someone in the back suggested they stay at Rose Hotel while they find somewhere permanent.
“Thank you, Teyanna, for the suggestion,” said the entertainer. Teya was thrown off until she processed that the woman shared her name.
“Yes, thank you,” said Teya. She pulled Emme and Rian out of the group and walked away.
“Wait,” the man said. “I haven’t even cut you in half yet!” Teya didn’t feel like talking; he irritated her for some reason. Emme whispered an apology to him while hopping behind.
After asking someone for directions, they found the inn and rented a room using Remmon’s money. There was space by the street to park the cart. Rian deposited most of the contents of the cart onto the table. “What now? We cannot stay in this inn forever.”
Teya grabbed her notebook and sat on one of the three noisy beds. “Now we should look for a job for at least one of us.” Emme pointed out that the town might be unsafe, but Teya didn’t want to walk even longer, not knowing when the next town would come. “Let’s just look for work, and if we see that it is not safe, then we leave.”
They locked the door with the key they were given and stepped back out into the street. Before anything else, they saw the thief.
“Hey! Stop!” Teya chased after the hooded person, who ran with an armful of their last supplies.
Rian caught up to them and snagged their hood, pulling it down and almost choking them. Teya saw that the thief was a girl about her age. Emme stared at the thief as if she was trying to solve a puzzle.
Rian was twice as strong as the thief. He dragged her to where the forest faded in, trees speckled here and there, and Teya snatched the things from her arms and dropped them on the ground except for two.
“Teya, what are you—” Clearly, Rian knew there was no point in arguing.
Teya stepped away from the pinned-down bandit and held the bow ready. She had expected a beg for mercy, but the girl kept her mouth shut, her breathing shallow and rapid.
Just as she was about to release her hooked fingers, Emme scurried out of nowhere in front of the target and screamed “STOP!”
Everything she had blocked out came back to Teya at once. Standing on the hard dirt, eyes focused on her helpless, rebellious brother. The echoes of the onlookers’ murmurs. The directing, condescending voice of the head council. The scream. The notebook. Escaping, Remmon giving her supplies, Marisa helping them across. These thoughts came quicker than light, one after the other, and she had already let go of the arrow.
Teya blinked and realized everything as the arrow spun through the air and pierced Emme’s stomach.
“Emme!” she cried. For the first time in the trip, Rian’s eyes were wide with fright as he ran and knelt beside Emme.
The only mother Teya had blinked tiredly, looking between the two, blood staining her clothes from where the arrow protruded. Teya clutched her hand and Emme’s eyes drifted closed.
Teya collapsed on the grass, How was this possible? It was her fault, again and again. She had killed everyone she loved. There was no way Emme could be saved. Had she not missed Rian, she might have been the only one left. Teya couldn’t slice off her hair or throw a knife into a tree or even cry. The world had exhausted her, and still it was relentless.
For the first time in a decade, Rian lay beside her and embraced her, until Teya realized the thief was still motionless by the tree. Why hadn’t she escaped?
She was about to muster the strength to ask when the girl shuffled toward Emme and sat. The answer came to Teya. She was looting Emme’s body right in front of them.
The criminal reached for Emme’s necklace. “Stop!” said Teya, moving to grab her wrist.
The girl was quicker, but she didn’t take the necklace. She pressed her hand to the side of Emme’s neck and glanced up at the mournful siblings. “She is alive.”
“What?” Teya whispered.
She stood up. “She is alive, but we do not have much time. Hurry, bring your cart and put her in it.”
Teya didn’t trust the thief, but what choice did they have? Rian jumped to his feet and sprinted for the cart. Seconds later, he came back shoving the thing down the empty road. They frantically hauled an unconscious Emme into it. “Come on!” said the thief.
Blood dripped down the wood as they followed her. Teya wanted to check if Emme was still alive, ask how long she had left, but there was no time. “Go!” said Rian, pushing the cart even faster than when they’d escaped.
“There!” the girl pointed to a large house in a vast clearing, surrounded by crops and grass.
Waterfalls of fear and exhaustion spilled down Teya’s face. The cart’s weight slowly consumed her energy and she began to give up. Emme looked as lifeless as could be, on her back in the cart. Teya strained to see her chest rise and fall, but she couldn’t tell with the bumping of the cart on the rocky path.
“Stay focused, Teya!” Rian yelled. “We are so close!”
The girl ran ahead and opened wide double doors. “Amara!” she screamed with a hoarse voice.
A woman shuffled down a staircase. Teya tried to get a good look at her face, but she dashed to the cart and gasped. “Bring her in, Saza.”
The girl and Amara hoisted Emme and rushed down a hall off the entryway. Not knowing what was happening, Teya followed them to a room that was clearly for medical purposes. They had already laid Emme, who was losing more blood every second, on a bed. Amara pressed two fingers to her wrist. “She has no heartbeat!”
Teya’s eyes widened. She couldn’t handle it — going back and forth between hope and loss, safe and endangered, happy and devastated. Amara ordered Saza to get “supplies.” Teya didn’t know what that meant, but Saza seemed to. As she scurried out of the room, Amara pressed again and again on Emme’s chest. “Do you mind—leaving—” she mustered, her strength focused on Emme.
Teya was more than happy to. She didn’t want to see what she had done any longer. She pulled Rian, who was walking into the room, by the arm and brought him back to the entryway. “We must leave them alone. But she is trying to save Emme.”
Rian’s eyebrows raised and his face contorted into a mixture of joy and confusion. “Why? How?” Teya didn’t know.
So the two sat on the floor and waited. Teya considered exploring the house, which was more like a mansion, but she didn’t want to disrespect the people who might be helping. Besides, they were still strangers, and she didn’t fully trust them.
When Amara and Saza came at last, Teya’s once-long nails had been bitten to the finger. She stood up and tried to read their expressions.
“Emme is unconscious, but stable,” said Amara. “She will likely wake up soon.”
Teya looked at Rian and let out the breath she’d been holding for the past longest fifteen minutes of her life. Rian didn’t smile back or stand up. Did he even care?
“How did you know her name was Emme?” he asked.
Teya had been so happy about the news that she had not caught that. Amara scoffed, perplexed. “What do you mean? Do you not know who I am?” Then she looked as if everything had dawned on her. She beamed. “Oh, Emme must have kept your destination a surprise.”
“What?” said Teya as she was pulled into a tight hug.
Saza spoke from behind Amara. “I’m your sister.”
To Be Concluded