Under the Shadow [MoonRunner I]
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by Jane Toombs
Category: Romance/Science Fiction
Description: A man wakes naked and injured on a beach with no idea how he comes to be wherever he is. Worse, he doesn't know who he is. And worst of all, he has no conception of what he is. Not until the first full moon when he--changes.
eBook Publisher: New Concepts Publishing, 1998 1998
eBookwise Release Date: December 2011
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [480 KB]
Reading time: 307-430 min.
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He floated alone in darkness, the tiny flame of his awareness the only light in the Stygian gloom. The flame flickered, fading, he had no will to keep it aglow. As he drifted closer to the dark shore of no return, a beam of
blue energy seared across the blackness and, drawn to the power, his life force flared anew, growing as it fed on the surging fountain of energy.
Before he came to full awareness, the source he fed from cut off abruptly. He mouthed a soundless cry and opened his eyes. Pain speared through his head.
He lay naked, sprawled on his back on damp sand, just beyond the sea's reach. Overhead, fog blanketed the sun. Though the sand chilled the bare flesh of his back, he was covered with cloth that snagged on his roughened hands as he fingered its smoothness. Silk?
A midnight blue silken cape.
"I was right!" a woman's voice cried in triumph. "You see, Tia Dolores, he lives."
His mind automatically translated her words into his own language. Making a major effort, he tried to turn his head toward the speaker. A woman's pale face appeared in his vision as she bent over him. Dark eyes gazed worriedly into his. Her black hair, partially covered by a shawl, framed an attractive oval face whose soft pink lips looked more accustomed to smiling than being tightened in distress.
He'd never seen her before. Where was he?
His heart leaped in panic as he reached for memories and found a gray blankness. Pain tightened pincers against his skull as his mind roiled desperately, searching for a clue. Somewhere in the grayness a spool unwound a tiny thread of recollection--a man naked on a beach, a beautiful woman coming to his rescue with her servants; a princess rescuing a half-drowned adventurer.
"Nausicaa," he whispered, identifying the princess.
"I can't hear you," she said. "Is that your name?"
His name. He closed his eyes in despair. A man was no one with his name gone.
What was his name?
"I tell you he is of the dark one," a second woman's voice, this one cracked with age, warned. "Diablo's servant."
"He's no more of the devil than you are, Tia Dolores." Nausicaa said tartly. Her fingers brushed his forehead, light as alder down.
He opened his eyes again, searching for the second speaker. She stood to one side of Nausicaa, an ancient crone in black glaring malevolently at him. A glimmer of blue energy crackled around her and he drew in his breath as he recognized the life source he'd fed on. The old woman possessed power.
Nausicaa's energy aura was normal, no more than a faint reddish glow.
How did he know these things and not his name?
"Who are you?" Nausicaa asked softly.
She wasn't Nausicaa, he realized confusedly. What he'd remembered was a tale--a Greek tale of a shipwrecked sailor cursed by the sea god who was washed onto the Phoenician shore where he was befriended by the king's daughter. The name of the god-cursed sailor Nausicaa had rescued slid into his mind.
"Ulysses." He had difficulty pushing the word past his bruised throat.
"Les?" she echoed.
"Diablo," the old woman muttered. "His name is El Diablo."
He caught sight of a small black animal at the corner of his vision, an animal edging around a boulder to pad toward Nausicaa. A dog?
It stopped suddenly, turning its head to stare at him, then spat, tail erect, fur bristling.
"Koshka!" he exclaimed hoarsely, naming the cat in his own language. The black cat flew to the old crone and hid behind her skirts.
A witch, he thought. She's a witch and the cat is her ally.