I hear something plop to the floor and a cry of, “Oops!” from a woman beside me. I glance over to see what she dropped and immediately wish I hadn’t.
Something ball-shaped rolls underneath the table towards me, stopping when it hits the side of my foot. I nearly retch at the sight of black, beady eyes staring up at me.
They’re eating swan.
Feeling sick to my stomach, I back away from the decapitated head as it watches me, a silent warning of what my fate will be if I get caught. I only take a few steps when a sharp pain shoots up my wing. Stifling a shriek, I look down to see a man’s boot clamping the appendage to the ground. I try to yank myself free but the weight is too much and the pain is excruciating. Eventually, the man lifts his foot and I go flying backwards, colliding into the man opposite. The force of the impact makes him drop his fork. It lands with a reverberating clatter on the stone floor. I look around to see where it landed. The hesitation costs me.
I don’t see the hand until it’s too late. The blind fingers grope around but, instead of landing on the fork, they find my tail feathers. I squeal as whoever the fingers belong to yanks the feathers hard, tearing a couple of them free from my skin. I ram into one of the table legs, making the whole section of the table lurch forward.
A startled clamour takes over the room and faces start to appear under the table, curious as to what caused such a racket. Another hand stretches towards me in an attempt to grab me. Without thinking, I bite down on one of the podgy fingers before it comes anywhere near touching me. A female voice yelps.
“There’s a beast under the table!” I hear her scream. I take that as my cue to start running. This time, I don’t take much care in dodging the many feet threatening to trip me up. Instead, I sprint down the length of the table, paying no attention to what I hit in the process.
A few feet farther down, I hit a blockade. One young man crouches under the table holding his hands out, ready to catch me as I run. I have no choice but to dart out from under the table. With no time to slow down, I skid out into vision. Guests gasp and shriek as I tumble out from under the cloth. A few try to grab me.
Only one thought is on my mind, and that is that I have to get out of here. What I’ll do then, I’m not entirely sure. I’ll have to worry about that when the time comes.
Title: Feathered: Swan Maiden – Book 1
Author: Rachel Wollaston
The light and the dark were never meant to be separated.
When her bargain with a malevolent wizard goes terribly wrong, Marion DuVal finds herself trapped between two forms: a beautiful but darker parallel of herself, and a swan. Somehow, she must adhere to the wizard’s wishes, but it’s hard to perform epic magic when your feet are flippers and your neck’s the length of a small fishing pole. Caught up in a lie of royal proportions, her task is to get close to the queen, and such a thing is difficult when a certain handsome prince keeps getting in the way.
One girl; two identities. Marion must stop the darkness inside her before it’s too late.
Based on the classic tale of Swan Lake.
Born and bred in Gloucestershire, UK, Rachel Wollaston is a huge lover of all things fantasy. From an early age, her dream was to be a fairy, but the pay was no good, so she decided to become a writer instead. A Creative Writing student, Rachel is the author of young-adult fantasy and loves to build worlds that she wishes she could be a part of.
Besides writing, Rachel also enjoys a range of other artistic hobbies, including dancing, drawing, and an unhealthy amount of arts and crafts. You will almost always find her with a cup of tea and a cat watching old ‘70s comedies.