Want to know more about the Spectra world? Every month we will release a new article explaining more about some part of the Spectra world or its inhabitants.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on May 11, 2019 at 5:05 PM||comments (0)|
This is the opening of "The Spectra United" from Brian's point of view.
Brian's aching back rested against a hard wooden floor. Griffin’s body was draped awkwardly across his chest, unnaturally still. Brian wasn’t sure if his brother was awake or not until he heard his mind-voice. Morning. He’ll be here soon.
‘He’ meant Captain Berk, their Lectran captor. Maybe he won’t talk today, Brian answered.
He always talks.
Brian couldn’t argue. The captain came every morning as their paralysis wore off. He’d let them eat and move around for a few minutes, controlling then with electric shocks, before shoving drugs down their throats. Then he’d sit and gloat. The boys were only alive because they were bait. Sooner or later, the princesses would come for them. The captain detailed the treatment the girls would get when they were caught: drugged, helpless, and immobile in the soldiers' power. No wonder Glen had escaped instead of trying to free the brothers. He had to warn the girls away.
Footsteps interrupted the stillness. They were too soft for Berk, who wore boots. Keita, no! Brian sent her. Who else would enter a splintery attic barefoot? The footsteps didn’t falter. Keita, I mean it! It’s a trap. Get out of here!
She can’t hear you, Griffin sent him, and you’re giving me a headache.
A small hand touched his forehead. His body tingled, and Brian tried to force his voice to work. He couldn’t move yet, but her touch was negating the drugs. Any minute now. Any minute...
A crash broke the stillness. The hand withdrew. “Nice try, Princess,” Captain Berk’s voice said.
Brian forced his eyes open but saw nothing but the dusty rafters—his neck wouldn’t move. The vibrations in the floor beneath him told him she was fighting back. What was she doing?
“Not much of a fighter, are you?” Captain Berk taunted.
Something popped. Keita cried out. Brian thrashed and finally, finally, his body responded. He climbed to his feet. Keita was lying against a broken wall, unmoving. Captain Berk moved toward her, unhurried, confident with every footfall. Brian lunged. Captain Berk was caught off guard. Instinctively he ducked Brian’s charge, but the motion drew him near the hole in the wall. Brian’s shoulder caught the man’s chest. He staggered backward, lost his footing, and fell. They were higher up than Brian realized, for the man’s scream took a long time to cut off.
Keita’s hands twitched. She wasn’t drugged—probably paralyzed by Berk’s lightning. Brian ran to her. Her bright green eyes fixed on his face. He read her emotions: awkward and embarrassed at the situation, but beneath that, quiet confidence. Whatever she was doing, coming alone into their prison, she had a plan and she knew what she was doing. Brian let himself relax. He could trust her plan too.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on April 9, 2019 at 3:50 PM||comments (0)|
Keita Sage jogged through the strange city, following the gashes in the hard-packed road made by the runaway carriage. Here and there she came across a clothing trunk, burst open and half-empty, its load of gaudy clothing strewn across the dusty street. A young man clambered down from a nearby roof, eyes wide with shock, but he was alive and well enough to move.
She almost passed her guide. Teague Pensier huddled in a gap between two weedy buildings, eyes peering out of his hiding hole as though another carriage was going to squeeze through to hunt him down. Though they were the same age, tears streaked his dirty face and dripped onto a formal embroidered jacket.
“I hate carriages,” Teague mumbled.
“I was thrown off almost right away,” Keita said. “Did you see anyone hurt?”
“I couldn’t see Reid.” This thought seemed to galvanize him. “Have you seen Reid? We have to find him.”
He charged out of the murky shadows, his torn slacks flapping a bit at the knee. Keita trailed behind, trying to watch for Teague’s little brother and oncoming traffic at the same time. Half-high brick walls lined the street, leaving little room for escape if another carriage bolted by. Her own kingdom had its share of walls—not of brick and concrete, but sheer cliffs piercing the sky to emphasize their words: “You stay here!” This kingdom, on the other hand, had nothing but walls. Little walls to cage in these tall, cramped houses, bigger ones in the richer neighborhoods, and a huge one of concrete around the largest home of all, the Muse mansion where Teague and his brothers lived.
And speaking of Teague’s brothers…
Teague yelped. He spun around, jacket edges flapping, and nearly fell over. Reid burst into laughter, leaning against a wall to support himself. His bright clothes, shining face, and the hint of red in his blond hair stood out like a beacon against the gray city street.
“Man, I got you that time!”
Teague brushed the dust off of his coat and stood tall. “That is not funny.”
Reid was still laughing. Keita loved teasing her brother and cousins like that. But they weren’t here. The urge to laugh died, and she turned her back on the boys to examine her surroundings. They’d started out travelling west—that was all she knew, and only because they’d been able to glimpse the Great Mountains behind them, peeking out between the cluttered houses. She couldn’t see them now.
Teague’s smile died. Now he peered down the dusty lane as though he could see the carriage ahead. “Anyone hurt?” he asked Reid.
“Nah. It stopped not long after I got thrown.”
“We can find another,” Teague said, though he turned green at the thought. “Then we can finish our tour and get back home.”
Home, Keita thought, with an irritated glance in his direction. This was not home. She studied the crowded street. Half-high brick walls separated the houses. Tall windows gawped at the wide street while hiding their insides behind rough woven cloth. Gaudy flowers of some unknown species lived in pots on the front steps, the only sign of life in sight. How much better the foreign city would look with even a single tree!
An explosion of noise rushed up behind her. She turned to look, but another force tugged her backward. She fell sideways, hit the nearest wall, and tumbled headfirst into a patch of gravel on the other side.
For a second she lay there, stunned. Then she felt a pair of hands on each of hers. “Oh no. Oh, no. Keita? Keita, you’re okay, right?”
If she were injured, Reid’s poking wouldn’t help.
“Of course I’m okay.” She clambered to her feet. Nothing seemed broken, though a piercing pain warned that she’d cut her face, and her hands stung where they’d scraped against the gravel.
“It wasn’t crashing too, was it?” Keita peered up the street, but the carriage was long past.
“Nah,” Reid said. “They took the corner a bit fast, though, considering somebody might be standing here… which we were.” He smirked in an ‘I think I’m funny’ sort of way, and drooped down again as no one laughed.
“I don’t like this,” Teague said. “I vote we get back to the mansion before anything else happens.”
Keita forced her voice to keep casual. “Are people often run over in Castalia?”
Teague and Reid exchanged glances she couldn’t read. “Bbeing royal can be dangerous,” Reid said finally. “Even for spares.”
The two younger boys were spares. Keita, betrothed to their older brother and heir to the throne, wasn’t sure if she counted. No one seemed to give her much notice—though, as she’d been avoiding everyone except these two boys, that didn’t mean much.
“We should’ve requested an escort,” Teague said.
“You have one,” Keita said. “Me. Now come on.” She turned off of the main road and began striding down it.
“One problem there,” Reid called after her. “The mansion’s the other way.”
|Posted by Christie V Powell on March 13, 2019 at 3:00 PM||comments (0)|
Footsteps in his domain. A stranger in his territory. The beast rose.
The locals feared this place. They spoke of a black shadow, like a wolf but broader in face, scrawny as death. Mostly it did no harm, for it was slow and confused, but there were nasty rumors. Sometimes it came to itself, and then it attacked. Not to eat, or to defend, like a real beast. The few survivors spoke of a flash of recognition, of awareness, in its crazed eyes. Then it pounced, and victims had visions of doom and despair that rendered them so helpless that the did not care as jaws slashed, blood flowed, life ebbed. All feared the shadow-beast.
The boys in the slums, far from its territory, had little to fear. They had mothers to threaten them into good behavior with its image. Yet, for Mark, the story had a strange allure. As a child he dreamed of taming it. As a youth he dreamed of controlling it. And at last, as a man, he went looking for it.
The beast knew the second the man set foot among the hills. Clarity returned to his mind. He remembered, if not who he was, then what. The man's scent was familiar. The physical images of memory were long gone, but he knew that scent. Silent paws made no mark on the mountain earth.
Mark knew he was being watched. He saw and heard nothing, but he felt its presence. He felt no fear. Boys who survived the slums learned to conquer fear.
A shadow emerged from the brush. At first Mark thought it was a dog. Then he realized it was only a man, crouched on the earth, a man in ragged velvet that might once have been finery. The man stood, and his eyes pierced into Mark. "Who are you?"
"Mark, leader of the Shrikes."
"A human then?"
"As far as I know."
"Yes, human. I see it on you." The man straightened, brushed off his clothes, examined the scenery. "I gave up," he muttered. "Perhaps I should have fought on. I did not know the full cost of giving up. Well, I will not forget it now."
He faced Mark again. "Take me to your home. I must recover. I must study. Then we will plan."
Kieran, the man who had been a beast, fit well in Mark's world. He did not challenge Mark's leadership, but as he became influential in the gang, things changed. The men learned new techniques. They learned how to examine an enemy and find his weakness. They learned control, and subtly, and became the most feared gang of Grayton.
Kieran did not remain with them long. He had a land to survey. He changed his name to Donovan and practiced his old skills. His enemies had won, and their descendants reigned. And they did it poorly. The primitive Sprites claimed a space in politics beside the most prestigious Muses. The rulers were weak, pleasure-seeking, powerless. Keiran's kingdom was split in pieces. Two of them had nobodies for rulers, unrelated to any old ruling families. And yet they stood beside the others, and even the old families had gone soft and weak.
He would have to fix it. The first step was to clear out these new, weak kings. He would find new leaders—from the old lines, if he could. If not, anyone he could control would do. He must put the kingdom back the way it was supposed to be.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on June 9, 2017 at 9:30 PM||comments (0)|
Bonus story: Keita Sage is being forced into betrothal. After watching her friend Zuri talk her way out of trouble, Keita tries the tactics she observed on her father...
Keita sat silently beside her two friends, looking over the empty fields of the summit: a mass of monocultured grass, dull yellow and topped with weedy plumes. Every year Glen had told her stories of his adventures at the summit: exploring with the other boys, friendships, adventures, traps and nar-row escapes. And there they were, doing nothing.
He father materialized from among the simply thatched huts. A stern look sent her friends scampering. “What do you think of the other heirs?” the Sprite king asked.
“Carli and Zuri and I are friends,” she answered.
“And the boys?”
“I’m not sure. They don’t spend much time with us.”
King Drake nodded. They walked side by side until they reached a corner of the great walls that glowed despite an overcast morning. “The Lectrans and Nomes seem unusually close,” he said. “If they exclude the other clans, they could be plotting against us.” He glanced at her, then away quickly. “The other leaders think an alliance with another clan would help our cause.”
Normally she would have stayed silent, or presented a logical argument, or at least a snappy re-tort. But that’s not how Zuri had won him over. "I feel like a prisoner," she admitted.
His composure dropped. "I'm sorry."
That wasn't the answer she expected.
“This was so easy with Glen. He and Zuri just clicked. And so did your mother and I.”
Keita started. She knew her parents met here, at the Summit. She knew how everyone reacted. She knew about kingdoms and treaties, ceasefires and allegiances, but she did not know how her par-ents felt about it.
"Jasper and Brian are nice enough, but I don't know them, Dad!" She stopped. She hadn't called him that since he'd given her education to her unpleasant cousin Felix.
His eyes narrowed. "The rulers are concerned about recent events. These marriages aren't about limiting your choices. They're about keeping our kingdoms... and you!... safe. You heard of the Mers who were lost at sea? And Brian’s mother? If someone is picking off royals, we need to stand together more than ever."
Picking off royals? A chill travelled down her spine. For a long time she stared at the drifting clouds, planning. "What if..." she began. "What if I went on a trip—an internment, maybe—to the dif-ferent kingdoms? I'd have more time, get to make a better choice, and I'd still be bringing unity—maybe to more kingdoms than just one."
Drake frowned. "What if you ran away?"
"Spritelands means more to me than that."
He hesitated. "The others expect me to make an announcement tonight."
"Announce Glen and Zuri. You don't need both of us right now." She felt a twinge of unease, sacrificing her friend and brother, but neither seemed to mind.
For several minutes he thought. She hardly dared breathe. At last he nodded.
She forced back stinging tears. "Thank you."
If only it had worked that way.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on March 17, 2017 at 7:00 PM||comments (0)|
The great wall of the Summit, the last place for Spectra royals, filled Keita’s vision. Her feet were numb, worn raw too long for pain. Her legs shook, her lungs shook from the acrid smoke she had left behind, and streaks of green crossed her maple-brown skin. Some of her family and friends were inside those walls. Others, too many, were not. Inside was safety and companionship. Outside, the Stygians were hunting—yet her fear was as numb as her feet and only the fire inside still lived, the fire that said the Stygians must pay for what they had done.
Two hours ago, she had cringed behind a ridge above her valley home. Fire enveloped the trees so that the slopes glowed red. Black dots that were her people ran, their cries piercing the distance. Her siblings were fleeing. Her father could not. Her cousin, once her tutor, now a Stygian, stood silhouetted against the flames, the cause of it all. Maybe she should have challenged him then, but the fire roared toward her and she had forgotten everything, everything but the devouring flames.
Two days ago, she crouched among boulders with the Castalia princes. Two figures broke their conversation, peered into the rocks. “They’ve heard us.”
“I’ll get him.”
“Too late. The word is out. Tell the others to start now.”
They ran. She was in horse form then, better able to carry the boys. Two were communicators—as she ran, their thoughts flew faster, warning their people, their parents, their brothers stationed in the other kingdoms… but they could not contact her home. She left them at the Summit’s doorstep and took off, the two hundred miles separating her from home flying beneath her churning legs.
Two weeks ago, she discovered the princes in their mansion library. “I hope the Stygians aren’t as smart as you are,” she’d said. She’d meant it as a compliment, but none smiled. An open history book lay before them, and they had been debating how five determined, powerful people might take over the continent.
“What I’d do is find a Stygian for each kingdom and attack simultaneously. And I’d assassinate all the royals so no one could fight back.”
Two months ago, she heard the word ‘Stygian’ for the first time. She had sneaked out of a Summit council, determined to leave before her father could betroth her. In kestrel form she flew over the mountain crags, until she saw them. Five dark figures crouched in a ravine. They knew what she was. She barely made it inside the walls. The kings didn’t believe her. Only the princes told her what she ought to have known all along. Stygians were once Spectra, but sinister oaths gave them the abilities of all six Spectra clans. Only the united strengths of the kingdoms could defeat them: a near impossible task among such different people.
Now she stood before the summit walls, chest heaving. She would be the last to arrive. Her anger eased as she remembered she could not defeat the Stygians alone; she must hope that enough royals escaped and waited now behind the walls. She took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, and climbed the wall.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on February 6, 2017 at 10:00 PM||comments (0)|
Keita Sage stood alone among a crowd. Like the other maple-skinned, dark-haired Sprites, she faced the wide wooden stage below. Two men wrestled atop it, arms and legs glistening under the autumn sun as they ducked and dodged. The moves were unfamiliar to her, and her thoughts wandered: to other festivals lost to time, to her friends who must have discovered her absence, to wondering why she felt so out of place among people who looked so much like she did.
The crowd's cheering made her whip around. One of the men had fallen. The other jumped on top of him and wrapped his well-muscled arm around the other's neck. Keita flinched. Before she knew what she was doing, she was pressing through the crowd. The man underneath was squirming, frantic at first but with less and less life, and still the crowd watched and cheered. Keita was a few feet away when the man fell limp against the wood, the sound of his fall hidden in a roar from the crowd. A green cast spread up his skin, and Keita stopped.
Of course. He had gone dormant. He would wake up in less than an hour, embarrassed but unharmed. Keita had been living away from home too long. If the man had not been a Sprite, born into one of the other five clans, he would be dead.
The crowd dispersed and Keita caught only one more glimpse of the hurt man, his skin now bright green, being dragged from the stage. The other Sprites, wearing the pale, yellowish green of the grasslander tribe, strode away in twos and threes, weaving among the huge cottonwoods that lined the bottom of a wide, gentle valley. Keita had seen only the tops of those trees from the prairies, until she came to the edge of the hollow and found the celebrating group. Piping music drifted from the clearing where couples danced, their bare feet thumping the hard earth in enticing patterns. In their speech and movement and in more undefinable ways, the Sprite band showed their allegiance to each other. From babies and childlings, children, adlings like Keita, to full adults, they formed a tight-knit community that she was too obviously not a part of. They couldn't reject her on Equinumn, the autumn equinox, but her strangeness fit her like a garment she could not remove.
This was not what she had expected when she had left the others. They were her friends, but the group was too large, too noisy, too busy to make friends with Keita's home. They weren't interested in celebrating Equinumn, and even her twin brother had ignored her attempts to organize an event or two among their own group. Finding a local village had been her only option.
"Had anything to eat yet?"
Keita jumped. A round, friendly-faced man stood beneath the closest cottonwoods, holding out a turtle-shell bowl of thick brown stew. A refusal was halfway out Keita's mouth when she remembered to bite it back. Not today.
"Thank you," she said. Her hands shook as she took the bowl.
"Name's Bract. I do the cooking for the childlings... and everything else, for my three." He pointed to a trio of youngsters in the branches of the nearest tree. Bract waited, perhaps for Keita to introduce herself, but she said nothing. At last he asked, "This your first meal in a season?"
"Thereabouts," Keita said without looking up. Her last meal had been just like this. The day was cold but crystal clear, and the stew sat warm in her stomach. Trees towered over their valley home, unscathed by the future fire that would roar through weeks later. Her father, strong, busy, alive, threaded through the crowds, while dancers proved that though winter came and Earth slept, life would come again. Now the whole valley slept, and Keita had been gone from it three seasons. Nine months. No food.
The man was still watching. Keita attempted to smile as she scooped a square of root vegetable into her mouth.
Warmth. Crunch. Salt. Savory flavor of summer richness, of festivals gone by, of happy days that would never come back. The bowl slipped from her fingers and thudded to the ground.
Warm gravy spattered her toes. The children gasped, and Bract's eyes widened. Waste of food was sin. Keita ducked to rescue what she could, lost her balance, and found herself on hands and knees in leaf litter. Her head spun, and her stomach contracted with pain. She heaved, heaved again, Someone's hands had her shoulders, raised her to a sitting position, let her back rest on rough bark. She took a deep breath, and as the pain ebbed a fraction, looked up into Bract's face.
"We eat at each festival for a reason, adling," he said. "We can't hold off eating more than a season or so."
Had she known that? Eating a meal was an important part of the season transitions. It showed that they could not escape their connection to the world, that even Earth's people depended on the web that connected all life. Apparently the meal was more than symbolic. She ought to have known, but she ought to have known a lot of things. Knowledge was scarce when your childhood tutor worked for the enemy.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on December 8, 2016 at 3:20 PM||comments (0)|
Two seasons before 'The Spectra Unearthed' opens, Keita Sage went with her father to meet the other rulers to prepare for an arranged marriage. On the journey she decided to slip away...
Keita Sage crept through the underbrush of the forest, ears alert for any sign of followers. The sunlight sneaked passed the pine branches overhead and set a dappled web of shadow across her path. She placed each step with care. Her father could command someone with a tracking talent to find her, and she needed to avoid leaving a single clue. Going back was not an option.
The trail led to the bank of the raging Silver River and continued up a steep trail crossed by rocky ledges. A shiver, half of anticipation, half of excitement, traveled down her spine. She'd been here once before, when she'd sneaked out of the Inner Vale to explore, but she wasn't allowed so far from home without an escort--someone who was sure to be dull and unpleasant, like her useless cousin Felix. Her father's camp was out of her sensing range, at least a mile behind. Home was a three-day journey south--although she could have made it in one if she tried.
Home. They couldn't exile her from her own kingdom, and she wasn't about to stick around and find out which horrible foreign kingdom she'd be sent to.
The trail smoothed and widened as she climbed, but she hardly noticed until she heard voices ahead. She swore under her breath. She could climb either cliff, but not without notice, especially when Sprites could sense as well as she. She reached out with her mind to sense them and then blanched. No Sprites, but humans, a pair of the unnaturally large creatures, astride even bigger horses. She glanced at the river below--could she climb down the cliff before they noticed?
They rounded the corner in an instant, a forest of knobbly legs and boots. Both were male, maybe a foot or two taller than she, but on the horses they seemed gigantic. Long frizzled hair hung past their shoulders, and bundles of all shapes and sizes dangled from their saddles, giving off such a disgusting mix of stenches that Keita stumbled as they drew near.
"Hullo!" one boomed. "What have we got here?" The voice might have been kind, but it was so rough and thick with accent that she couldn’t be sure.
Her mind went blank. She was so fast at thinking up excuses for her father and tutor--why didn't the thoughts come now? "I...I got lost," she choked out.
"You must have wandered a ways."
Before she could think of the answer, the second man leaned forward to study the trail behind her. “You came up through there? That valley looks like a good place for trapping but we’ve yet to find a way down.”
“There’s nothing you’d want down there,” Keita said quickly. Her father and his escort were still camped in the valley below.
The second man’s grin grew. “Humans,” he repeated. “You’re not human?”
She gulped as everything she’d ever heard about humans flashed through her brain. Dangerous, especially in mobs. No abilities, but fearsome weapons to make up for it. Her kind had hidden from them after their first bloody encounters 200 years ago, and few still believed in them.
She had to escape. “I don’t know what you mean. I’ve got to go.” She edged toward the cliff.
A hand gripped her wrist. Keita forced herself not to panic. She couldn't show them what she was--but how could she escape? And the humans were heading toward her father's camp. She couldn't go back and warn them. Her father, King of Spritelands, had ignored her plenty but until now she'd never known how little he cared. In front of everyone, without the slightest warning, he announced that she, not her twin brother Glen, would attend this year's summit council. Not because she might enjoy the journey or want to meet people from other clans, but because he wanted the other kings to look her over and decide which of their sons she would marry. Quite beside the fact that she knew no one outside of her own kingdom, Spritelands, the marriage would mean she would leave home forever. She would leave the mountains, the trees, the great river below. Even the sky, if she moved to a kingdom where the people lived underground. How could she live without seeing the sky?
She couldn't let them find out about Sprites. Images flashed through her mind: gathering at the Autumn Festival, all united, a hundred strong. Training with her favorite cousin Hunter under the great trees. No, she couldn't let these humans discover them. Spritelands was worth saving.
The group was passing a pine growing just uphill. One of the pine branches grew across the path, high enough to block horses but easy for the humans to duck under. Keita focused, sending her energy into the tree. The branch expanded, reaching downward, pointy needles sticking into the path. She smiled. Wood bending and plant growth were talents of hers—though undeveloped, of course.
“Hey! What's that?”
The two men were standing on the other side of it, staring with open mouths at the tree branch that had been growing before their eyes. Keita let go of the tree, but the damage had been done.
“Natives, I've heard of,” one muttered. “Talking bears, giant cats, people with wolf heads... but never, in any legend, have I heard of living trees.”
Living trees? What a stupid thing to disbelieve. But Keita thought she knew what he meant, and it gave her an idea. Keita pressed her energy into the tree. Its branches began to wave. Then she stepped out, where they could see her, and screamed.
Both of them whirled around. "Miss?" one called uncertainly.
Keita backed toward the tree while its limbs flailed around her. "Help! It's going to eat me!"
A human took a tentative step forward. She took another step back and felt rough bark against her back. She leaned into it and the wood swelled, growing outward around her. The men screamed. From her hiding place, Keita heard them thundering away. She felt them reach their horses and stampede eastward.
The men faded from her senses. She grinned and pushed her way out of the bark that shrank back to make room for her.
She wasn't going to run away.
She knew it was true before she knew where the thought came from. The humans had known she wasn't one of them in a second. She couldn't hide among them without risking her entire kingdom. The risk wasn't worth it. Too many Sprites knew her by feel for her to hide among the other tribes or live alone. They would find her, they would send her home. And strange though home had become recently, she suddenly knew that home meant too much for her to risk, even if she had to leave to protect it. She sighed and turned back the way she had come.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on October 19, 2016 at 1:25 PM||comments (0)|
A year after "The Spectra Unearthed" ends, Sterling Smelt is still feeling its effects...
Sterling endured an hour of the celebration marking the anniversary of his brother’ s death. Crowds thronged around the storytellers, begging to be told how the evil tyrant Jasper was overthrown by his valiant cousin, our beloved king. The story unfurled in all its splendor, with great battles and contests of bravery, every stitch of evidence unearthed that would fit into the proper form. The children gasped and cheered in all the right places, the adults nodded and told each other that was exactly how it was. But they were wrong. The storytellers told no falsehoods, and yet somehow in their simplified story, they missed everything.
A spear of black obsidian pierced the sky above their heads, its glossy side scarred by the names of Jasper’ s victims. Despite its demanding presence, none of the happy crowd even glanced upward. Sterling ran a rough hand over the rock as he found the names of people he knew. Like Eben Finix, not quite sixteen, proud of the wispy beard that made him look older. Or Bruno Pierce, quiet but occasionally making some dry remark that would send his companions into gales of laughter.
Real people. Real personalities, real stories, real potential for everything wonderful in life. All gone.
Cheery music wafted from a nearby bandstand, and many of the children were dancing, free and safe and alive, while their carefree feet crushed flowers that the families of victims had planted that morning. Orange daylily flowers. Blooming one day and gone the next. They were Jasper’ s favorite, but no one knew that. No one knew he might have been up on that bandstand with his banjo, given enough encouragement. No one knew.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on August 31, 2016 at 11:20 PM||comments (2)|
This is a deleted scene from the prequel-- Keita has been summoned by her mother, queen of the Sprites, to learn more about a queen's job. --CVP
Keita always paused when she entered the courtyard. Rows of silver flowers grew against the dark green hedges, and mosses of all shades covering the ground. Keita’s eye was drawn to her mother, who sat in an ornate wooden throne at the front of the room. With long blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and a sparkling silver dress, she stood out like a beacon in the dark green room.
Rushing footsteps interrupted. Keita looked up as a bony Lectran woman ran into the courtyard. “Amber! How good to see you!” she gushed.
Keita rolled her eyes at the woman’s exuberance, but her mother didn’t seem to mind. “Hello, Poppy. How are you today?”
As the woman and her mother gabbed on, Keita forced her face into an interested expression and stopped listening. She hardly noticed as the woman left and another took her place. From that moment on, the courtyard was never empty. As soon as one person left, another took their place. Some just wanted to talk, some asked questions, and a few brought disagreements for the queen to solve. Keita’s mother talked and joked with them, and none seemed to leave unhappy.
Finally a group of Mer girls left, and the courtyard was quiet again. Keita looked at her mother. “So queens talk to people all day?”
Her mother grinned. “It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it.”
|Posted by Christie V Powell on August 8, 2016 at 12:25 PM||comments (0)|
The smell hit her first, rank with decay and death. A man with no foot sprawled across the ground in front of them, changing his own bandages. Two children were lying a few feet away, wrapped in blankets, their faces covered in red marks. Keita scanned the camp for a sign of a well person—surely someone was taking care of these people. She saw no one.
She hadn’t realized she’d moved until she heard Brian’s warning. She bit her lip. He was right—if she healed these people, they’d join the other camp, and stories about inhuman healers would spread like wildfire. Humans couldn't know about Spectra, she knew that, but how could she just stand here when she had the power to heal them?
Amala charged into the crowd, searching for her father. Across the camp, a boy staggered in, pulling a cart. He stopped, dropped the crosspiece, and helped a frail old man out of the cart. Next he lifted out a small child, and another… how many people fit in there?
The older boy looked up. “Did you come back to help?”
Keita couldn’t speak.
“Some people come help. But they get sick too. I’ve lasted longer than most. That’s my dad. My mom caught the fever, and then my brothers, and my sister’s got it…”
The little girl in his arms was listless, her face red under the dirt. Her eyes were open, though, and when her brother stopped talking she focused on Keita, as though the girl knew she could make a difference. How could Keita not help?
Suddenly Brian whipped the pack off of his back and began digging through it. He pulled out the ragged toy Lucy had given to Keita. “You see this?” he asked.
The girl and her brother nodded.
“Well, this ball is magic. If you touch it, the magic can make you better.”
Keita stared. “What are you talking about?”
Better to have them believing in magic toys than people, right? he asked silently.
She held the ball out to the girl. “Try it.” Weak fingers stretched out, and as they brushed the worn fabric they bumped Keita’s hand.
The suppressed power burst from her. The boy cried out and leapt back. His sister dropped from his arms. She yelped, but it was a strong cry. Then, her eyes full of wonder, she climbed to her feet. Her face was not so red, and her gaunt cheeks had filled in. Her brother stood. “It works,” he breathed.
Before Keita could blink twice she was surrounded. The people pushed and shoved and clung to each other, and her energy jumped from contact to contact. The camp was no longer silent. It rang with shouts and cries and laughter.
The sun was sinking. Keita had not realized how long she had been working. The last drop of sunlight disappeared and she sank to her knees. “Thank you,” she told Brian. “I think… I will be happy later. Right now a rest might be nice.” And she dropped.