The Pawn Violet goes on missions to strange planets under the orders of her Grand Master. In secret, she is an empath and hunts the evil Grand Masters who threaten civilization. On this mission, she meets a man with a mental barrier she cannot penetrate. They are escaping a horde of eight-legged predators by climbing a cliff.
Taranis steadied her with his arm around her shaking shoulders. “The next stage will be easier,” he said reassuringly. “Look up. The crack has hand and foot holds on the sides. Imagine a chimney running to the top. You can brace yourself against opposite sides as you climb.”
Violet stared up into the narrow crack and understood what he meant. She saw the minuscule crevices and tiny projections to use in her ascent.
“I won’t let you fall. I’ll climb right behind you.”
Violet edged herself up into the crack and wedged her back against one side, while she carefully placed her toes. She pushed up, feeling overhead for the next handholds. Slowly, she climbed higher, falling into a rhythm. Place one foot in a secure spot, push up, reach her fingers into a crevice and pull up another step. Repeat and repeat again. She had no time to spare for fear during her laborious progress up the crack.
Just below, she heard the clunk of boot against stone as Taranis climbed. He watched her steps. Once, her foot slipped from a projection, and he gripped her ankle, guiding her to another foothold.
At length, she reached a rock ledge wide enough for her feet, and paused to catch her breath. Staring up, she saw the vertical chimney eased into a gentler angle. The rest of the climb to the top looked straightforward.
Taranis joined her on the ledge, his body pressed against hers. She closed her eyes and savored his solid presence and the tickle of power. He had touched her more often since last night. She didn’t know if it was for her protection or his pleasure.
Violet tensed. A cruel, cunning mind wafted into her senses from an animal crouched out of sight at the top of the chimney. She whispered, “Taranis, a creature lurks in ambush at the top.”
More than an ambush awaits them at the top.