I glanced around. The ground here was mostly grassy weeds. Scatterings of leaves and pine needles. Maybe Michel could pick up a track, but I couldn’t see anything.


Except in the pond. The floor was stony, but there were a few patches of gravely sand.

“Someone’s been in the water,” I said, pointing. “Look. There’s a print of some sort there. And that might be one too.” Now that I was looking for it, I could see places where the seaweed—er, pondweed—was torn and disheveled.

She looked at me. “Someone took it?”

I nodded. “Waded in. Picked up everything they could find. Sorted out the cash from the baubles right there.” I pointed at her feet.

She frowned. “And risk angering the pond spirit? That’s . . .”

I glanced around, biting my lip. “When were you last here?” I whispered.

“Yesterday. In the morning.”

There was no reason to assume this had happened recently—heck, if she hadn’t noticed it today, she could have missed it on other visits. But suddenly the forest seemed dark and close, and who knew what it hid. I took her hand.

“Let’s go,” I said.

Aaaand . . . here’s the back half of Chapter 14!

Click through for a PDF.

Perhaps this is your first visit, and you’re wondering what the heck this is about? If so, find the first 13 chapters of this novel here, and the front half of Chapter 14 here.

And what do you think? Is Martin ready for the challenge at the end of this chapter, or is he headed right back into painsville?

Comment below; you know you wanna! And receive an email notification of every update to this site by subscribing (see the link to the right). Converse with me on Twitter at @charlesmryan, or follow my writing diary on Facebook at Charles M Ryan.