DarkWalker 3: The Deep City excerpt

DarkWalker 3

Excerpt from DarkWalker 3: The Deep City:

The Scavenger sees in the dark. She sees the light first, the smallest shred of it managing to make its way down the shaft. It’s a low, weak light. It shines on nothing. But it signals a fall. There’s always someone or something ready to be thrown to the pits.

She scurries closer to the edge of the water and watches not one but two creatures dropping – one of the dogs, so whatever they threw must’ve been strong enough to not go alone. She trills. It’s a small pleasure, but there’s little enough to be had.

She pushes her canoe out. It wasn’t always her canoe. Whoever made it is long dead, or they’d be able to repair the holes, stop the leaks. One day, she’ll set
off onto the water and she’ll sink, and what then? No death is easy, especially not the death under the lake. She pushes out and rows to where the dog and
the – man? – crash into the lake.

Usually, the surface is still, like a mirror, though there’s nothing to reflect. Little animals drift along the surface sometimes, insects and the like, but nothing goes deep. Around its edges, the scavenger’s not the only one who saw the falling prize.

Often, they survive the fall. They don’t always survive the water.

The scavenger rows out toward the center, where both newcomers struggle with the water and against each other. Blood on the water. She’ll have to be quick. There won’t be time to take both. That’s disappointing. The human might be interesting, might have knowledge, might have skills. But the dog will have silver. Any blade is better than none, and there are few of those around here. She keeps her claws sharp, but she’s getting older and she’s slowing down. Death awaits. A blade extends her reach and might extend her nights. She’ll take it. She’ll take it, and row back to shore, and she’ll probably watch the human succumb to the terrors of the depths.

She doesn’t know how deep the lake goes. It’s bottomless, essentially, because of the tentacles at the bottom, the tendrils, the teeth.

Someone else on the surface, another canoe, another racing toward the prize, but she’s strong and swift and she’ll tear its eyes out. Even in the dark, even in total darkness, even when the pitch is thick and layered, you need eyes to survive.

Maybe not under the lake. She doesn’t know if there are eyes beneath the surface.

She gets to them first. The struggle has stopped. The dog is dead. The human has the blade. She’s surprised, but she doesn’t let it slow her down. “Careful,” she says, helping him climb onto the canoe. It rocks. He’s not a water creature. He’s not used to floating. He’ll tip the canoe if he’s stupid, and they’ll both die. “Careful!” she snaps. She takes the blade and puts it behind her in the canoe. She holds the human by the back. The glares at the other canoe, the other scavenger glaring back. She bares her teeth and hisses. But the other scavenger isn’t an idiot. He knows there’s two things that fell, and two of them. They can take one each and rob the depths of their prize.

So there’s no fight. She rows away, back toward her shore, leaves the dead dog for her competition. She’s happy with its blade. She’s happy with the human. It hurt to touch him, it burned, so he’s not just a human. He’s a real prize. She resists an urge to cast him back to the waters, leave him to the tentacles. He breathes loud. He’s gasping, of course, that’s to be expected. But he’s loud and noisy, he’s not accustomed to the waters, he doesn’t know what waits beneath the surface. She’ll have to tie him, if she means to profit any. She’s already got the silver, but she didn’t just take the blade. The human is weak and winded and can’t know what’s happened. He’s been tossed into the pit, discarded, sacrificed, devoured by darkness. He’ll have a story to tell, at the very least, and scavengers like a good story now and then. To pass the night. To keep warm in the darkness.

You can find all three books here

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