Memory of Fire (Book Excerpt)
by Holly Lisle
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Ballahara, Nuue, Oria
Molly McColl woke to darkness -- and to men dragging her from her bed toward
her bedroom door. The door glowed with a terrifying green light.
She didn't waste her breath screaming; she attacked. She kicked upward, and
felt like she'd kicked a rock -- but she heard the satisfying crack of bone
under foot, and the resulting shriek of pain. She snapped her right elbow back
into ribs and gut, and her hand broke free from the thin, hot, strong fingers
that clutched at it. She twisted and bit down on the fingers holding her left
wrist, and was rewarded with a scream. She clawed at eyes, she kneed groins,
she bit and kicked and fought with every trick at her disposal, with every
ounce of her strength and every bit of her fear and rage.
But they had her outnumbered, and even though she could make out the
outlines of the ones she'd hurt curled on the floor, the rest of her assailants
still dragged her into that wall of fire. She screamed, but as the cluster of
tall men around her forced her into the flames, her scream -- and all other
sounds -- died.
No pain. No heat. The flames that brushed against her didn't hurt at all --
instead, the cold fire felt wonderful, energizing, life-giving; as her
kidnappers dragged her clawing and kicking onto the curving, pulsing tunnel,
something in her mind whispered "yes." For the instant -- or the eternity -- in
which she hung suspended in that place, no one held her, no one was trying to
hurt her, and for the first time in a long time, all the pain in her body fell
She had no idea what was going on; on the one hand she felt like she was
fighting for her life, and on the other hand like she was moving into something
And then, out of the tunnel of green fire, she erupted into a world of ice
and snow and darkness, and all doubts vanished. The men still held her captive,
and one of them shouted, "Get ropes and a wagon -- she hurt Paith and Kevrad
and Tajaro. We're going to have to tie her." She was in trouble -- nothing good
would come of this.
"It's only two leagues to Copper House."
"She'll kill one of us in that distance. Tie her."
"But the Imallin said she's not to be hurt."
Other hands were grabbing her now -- catching at her feet, locking on to her
elbows and wrists, knees and calves.
"Don't hurt her," said the one closest to her head. "Just tie her so she
can't hurt us, damnall. And where's that useless Gateman the Imallin found to
make the gate? We still have people back there! Send someone to get them out
before he closes it!"
Molly fought as hard as she could, but the men'thin and tall, but
strong'forced her forward, adding hands to hands on her arms and legs until she
simply couldn't move.
When she couldn't fight, Molly relaxed her body completely. First, she
wasn't going to waste energy uselessly. Second, if she stopped fighting, she
might catch them off guard and be able to escape.
"Gateman -- can you hold it?" someone was shouting behind her. "We're going
back for the others!"
"He's worthless," one of her captors muttered. "This was as close to the
city as he could get us -- a good Gateman could have put the thing almost in
"I don't like the feel of the forest tonight, either," the one closest to
her said. "Keep the guards in tight."
Molly's bare feet stood on packed snow, and she wore nothing but flannel
pajamas -- when she stopped fighting, that fact plunged into her consciousness
with shocking speed.
"If you don't get me some boots, and a coat, and maybe a hat and some
gloves, you aren't going to have to worry about getting me where you're
going'because I'm going to freeze to death right here."
Someone dragged a big, snorting animal through the dark toward her, and
rattling behind the animal was a big wooden farm-type wagon. But what the hell
was the thing pulling it? It wasn't a horse and it wasn't any variety of cow --
it had a bit of a moose shape to it, and a hint of caribou, and some angles
that suggested bones where bones didn't belong in any beast of burden Molly had
ever seen. And its eyes glowed hell-red in the darkness.
"You can do without the shoes and the coat," the one who had done most of
the talking said to her. "You'll ride in the back of the hay-wagon, covered
with a few blankets'if you decide you want to try to escape, you can do it in
your bare feet in the snow."
"You can't talk to the Vodi like that," one of the other men said.
"No one knows if she's the Vodi yet. Right now, she's the creature who
crushed Byarriall's chest and snapped Loein's leg in two. What sort of Vodi
would do things like that?"
Molly didn't know what a Vodi was. She didn't care. "How about one that got
kidnapped from her bed in the middle of the night?" she said, but they no
longer seemed to be listening to her. The mob picked her up and shoved her into
the back of the wagon, and most of them clambered up there with her -- bending
down to twist soft rope around her ankles, and then around her wrists. When
they had her bound, they wrapped blankets around her, and tucked her deep into
bales of straw. Instantly, she was warmer. Hell, she was warm. But as the wagon
lurched and creaked and began to...
The foregoing is excerpted from Memory of Fire by Holly Lisle.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without
written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New
York, NY 10022
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Copyright© 2002, HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. This excerpt has been provided by HarperCollins and printed with their permission.