Hi all! This is a special post to celebrate the winter holidays and the last week of 2018.
Here you’ll find a compilation of snippets from the first chapters of the waiting-to-be-fully-edited book, “Lucky Destiny” – book #3 in the Neo-Medieval YA fantasy series The Arid Kingdom.
For those who are not familiar with the story, I put some notes here and there between the paragraphs.
Knights armed with laser guns, oldfashioned witches, and a mysterious girl challenge their skills in this uncanny story of the Arid Kingdom.
Part I – The Inspectors arrive at the castle…
“We’ll also want to know more about this adoptive daughter of yours, mister Waltario,” said Fleurice. “We’ve heard she’s a trusty warrior…”
“She’s my daughter,” said the general laying his hand on the girl’s shoulder. “And she’ll indeed make a difference here.”
As the inspectors’ abrasive stares were cast upon Selunia, the general’s hand turned out to have a positive effect. It had a fatherly warmth that made her feel secure.
“But we’ll talk about this later,” Ivan said. “What’s most important to know is whether you were able to protect the objects of historical value, after such a long time.”
The heads of the semicircle stepped aside letting the three guests climb up the stairs toward the main entrance of the palace.
(Notes: Fleurice and Ivan – inspectors; Waltario – General of the Army; Selunia – Waltario’s adoptive daughter.
Upcoming: Vittria, Leido, Fulgerus – the villains; Dual – Prince Soris’ guard)
“Vittria, come on already! We’re late!” Leido was beckoning and urging acidly the girl who was struggling to activate her staff. “We had to catch those when they’re still outside, to make them notice better the passing of the time.” He paused to throw a disapproving glance at her outfit and seethed, “Look at those garish clothes…”
“Let her concentrate!” Fulgerus cut in. “You’re not helping her by adding pressure. Those guys will notice the change of time from the inside. Stop being so antsy.”
From the old ruins of what used to be a surveillance tower in the past, Vittria stood dressed in a long white dress, with her shoulders covered by a black mantle. She kept her eyes closed to concentrate on her unspoken incantations while her hands were holding tightly her glowing staff wrapped in a long string of sapphire and onyx gems. It was another kind of spell, one that had been improvised.
All of a sudden, the string detached from the scepter, rose two meters in the air and remained there spinning in circles. Fulgerus noticed Vittria’s hands were shaking badly, dark vines slithering on them. He went closer to her, struck by worry. They needed the spell but she had to stay alive, too.
Like a volcano’s magma, the big crystal of the staff displayed quick variations of red color. It seemed to be as tense as its owner. At a certain point, it stopped flashing and froze in a constant glow. Vittria mumbled some unintelligible words then flung the scepter in the moss that had clothed the old stones of the tower.
The staff flashed shortly and blinding like a falling star, making Fulgerus cover his face under an arm. A few seconds later, he saw the girl controlling the scepter from a distance. It didn’t leave the place it had been fixed in, just started rolling following the rhythm of the string in the air, drawing large circles with the crystal at its top. The witch didn’t open her eyes yet, although the veins on her hands had thickened considerably.
After ten complete rotations, the staff stopped in place. Vittria caught it in her hands before it could fall. The floating string broke free from the seemingly endless rounds and started for the palace. It flew smoothly, grazing over the top of the trees, the gems glittering slowly as if they had become the blinking eyes of a mysterious spirit that had taken over the string.
When it reached the sturdy walls that surrounded the grand courtyard, it descended close to the earth, its fluid motions making it seem a snake. It started flying all around the circumference of the stone hedge, with increasing speed. It made no noise so the guards didn’t stand a chance to notice it. However, the effects of the rotations were soon going to fall upon them.
The girl and the two boys went ahead, while the king and the general led the inspectors to the old castle.
After Dual closed the double door behind their backs, he and Selunia gave a long breath of relief. Soris glanced at them in amusement. “Their presence stressed you, eh?”
“To hell with those snooty inspectors!” Dual barely refrained from spitting to one side. “They looked at us as if we were some monkeys. I’ve never seen such arrogant people before, in my entire life.”
Soris rubbed at his chin. “I confess they were a surprise for me, too. They have the faces of some torturers. I can’t imagine what they’ll do if they find something’s not right.”
At this remark, the two guards enveloped him in sympathetic gazes.
“How can you be so calm?” Dual asked. “You don’t have to act in front of us. Let’s get you ready for the speech; I know this is pressuring you.”
The Prince hinted a sly smile on his face and flung his hands in the pockets of his black trousers. “I’m ready!” he said triumphantly.
“How come?” the two asked in surprise.
“I was expecting this so I’ve prepared for it in time before they got here.” He raised his eyebrows proudly. “I know exactly what to tell them.”
The faces of the two guards shifted from surprise to delight. They were happy to know the odds were in their favor.
Soris retrieved his hands from his pockets and let them rest on his hips. “In the meantime, we should stay on alert.” He scanned the hall with a quick look. “You never know when a sleep spell will be thrown at us.”
Dual cowered. “Oh, come on, are you serious?” he groaned, fear trickling in his voice. “I mean, do you really think these things like spells exist?”
Soris nodded, without any sign of distress. “Yes, Dual, they do exist. And above that, we should stay focused because if anything happens, there will be only the three of us left unaffected.”
Dual caught his head between his hands and pressed his lips together to refrain from cursing in a very rude manner. When he retrieved his fingers from his hair, he asked, “How can you be so calm? If there will be only the three of us, those people, with the witchcraft they use, they’re sure to take our lives in a blink. They’ll summon a bunch of devils and those will drag us with pitchforks right in Hell!” He shivered from head to toe as he said these so he grabbed the stone of his necklace hoping it will give him strength and courage.
“Dual, calm down. They don’t have that sort of spells.” Soris tried to reassure him. “If we’ve escaped twice from them, it means it’s not impossible. Besides, we have Selunia with us.”
The guard brushed his face anxiously. “Well, yeah, you two are going to escape because you’re some freaks!” Soris let a questioning frown slide on his forehead. “Freaks? Are you saying that I’m also a freak?”
Dual replied with a grimace as if the prince had asked whether birds have feathers.
“Anyway,” Selunia interfered, fed up of his whines. “There’s no time to waste now. We’d better discuss what to do when we’ll be attacked. I’ve talked with Dad about it, but we should make up a plan, too.”
Dual rolled his eyes and let his arms loose, swaying them around his body like a restless child. He was cursing the day he had accepted to move here. For a moment, he wished he could offer his talisman to someone else, just to make sure he’ll stay out of trouble. However, he changed his mind in a blink, as his imagination took him to a horror scenario where the spell wasn’t putting to sleep but transforming people into zombies whose only escape was death by burning to ashes. He definitely wanted to avoid such gruesome ending to his youth.
Soris thought a little then said, “There are three things of great importance: first, the inspectors, second, the prisoners, and third, the old castle. I say Dual should remain here and keep an eye on the main hall while I’m going to look after the prisoners, and Selunia will stick around to the old palace.”
Dual winced. “Are you crazy? In less than half an hour you’re going to hold your speech. What’s the point of breaking up now?”
Soris straightened his back and rested his hands on his hips. “I have a hunch that something’s going to happen very soon. I’m not sure, but don’t you feel something strange in the air?”
Selunia took out her talisman hid under her clothes. Its color was shifting to indigo. “You’re right!” she gasped. “A spell is just settling over our palace!”
The three of them exchanged worried glances, gulped, then summoned their courage and went to take a look over through the windows that were offering a view to the main hall.
Time had frozen or at least that was the impression the place gave. The big clock on the entrance wall was working normally. The people were the ones who had turned into statues. This time, they hadn’t been put to sleep, but stoned. They all sat still, fixed in the position and with the expressions they had had right before the spell took over the place. Some had been caught with open mouths just as they were talking, some were sitting on a leg or had they arms raised in the air as they were expressing themselves. The chance they were only pretending to stay like this was away from being possible.
Soris frowned. He noticed the difference between the spells. He quickly pressed on the emergency button at his wrist, hoping that it wasn’t already too late. “Let’s get to our positions!” he commanded and made to leave followed by Selunia. They stopped when they saw Dual wasn’t budging.
“Dual, come already! Every second matters!” said the Prince.
The guard sat still.
Soris approached him and took a close look. The young man was standing motionless just like the rest, with eyes closed and hands resting on the window’s border. Selunia rose an eyebrow. His talisman isn’t working or what?
The Prince, rather jaded, gave him a nudge in the ribs.
“Ouch!” the guard winced immediately.
“Come on, stop playing around,” Soris said and showed him the double door. “Go down in the hall and see if everything stays in its place.”
~End of Part I~