|Posted by Christie V Powell on October 19, 2016 at 1:25 PM|
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 July 22, 2015 at 11:15 PM|
I hope someday I can see you and give you this letter. When you left, you told me you were going to fix things so I didn’t have to go through with the same things you did. Well, you’re too late. I would have run away like you if Dad didn’t have me watched so closely. The summit wasn’t so bad, just boring. The other heirs were okay. At least the girls. I didn’t hang out with the boys much. It turns out that Dad wants to match me up with some guy I haven’t even met. He’s a Cole like us, but his parents are the Muse rulers. I didn’t even know that was possible. I haven’t heard anything bad about him, at least. I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but the kings came up with a nasty way of making sure we do what they say. They fixed these chains to our wrists so that everybody knows we’re “claimed” (ugh!). I’ve tried everything I could think of, but I can’t get mine off. The marriages aren’t supposed to happen for a couple years though. When you left you said I wasn’t old enough to come with you. Well, I’m older now. Will you come back for me?
Love, your sister, Carli
|Posted by Christie V Powell on|
This is a scene from "Unearthed" where Keita learns to trust her friend Carli even when confronting her greatest fear.
A whiff of smoke stung Keita’s nose. She clenched her fists, trying to stop her hands from shaking. It didn’t work. “They’re going to burn us out, aren’t they?”
Carli nodded. “But don’t worry. They can’t burn us while I’m here.”
“They’d see you stop it!” Her voice was higher than she intended.
“Not so loud.”
Keita buried her face in her hands. Images were parading through her mind. Old trees devoured by flames. A hedge of maples turned to black ash. People running, screaming, carrying friends and family, their exposed skin changing to red and black and streaks of struggling green.
Heat licked the air. Keita could see flickering orange light through the gaps in the crates. They would have to move. Fight the guards. Never mind how many. Petrifying couldn’t be worse than this.
“Keita, just calm down! I can help. Trust me.”
“I can’t!” The words escaped before she could stop them.
“Of course you can. You’re a tough never-show-fear Sprite, remember?”
“We all hate fire.”
“Not like this.”
Carli looked concerned but not at all afraid. Keita forced herself to sit straight, but she couldn’t stop the shaking. “I’m sorry. I’m being weak.”
Something crashed behind them, and Keita barely stopped a shriek. “That wasn’t close,” Carli said.
Keita straightened again. “Sorry. It’s just... during the takeover… the Stygian started a wildfire in the Vale. It shouldn’t have burned, not with the trees covered by the first winter snow, but… it did. Fast. I got Avie, Glen got Zuri—she was visiting—and we went straight for the Summit. I left Avie in the mountains, when we were far enough away, and came back. I found Father. He had made it up the canyon. He tried to talk to me, but the pain…and his skin…and... and… he didn’t make it.”
Carli’s face had turned pale under her freckles. “I’m sorry. I knew you were pretty bad off when you got to the Summit.”
“I was alone. They didn’t let me leave again. And Avie didn’t show up… It was half a season, sitting in the Summit with nothing to do but worry, and I didn’t even know if she was alive.”
Carli took her hand. “Keita, I’m sorry. Really. But you’re not alone anymore. I can get us out of this, but I need to you trust me.”
Keita could see her reflection in her friend’s eyes. I’m glad there are no other Sprites here, she thought. I look pathetic. Carli was calm, in control. Keita had seen her do amazing things. She’d put her life in her friends’ hands before, time after time. She could do it again. She took a deep breath. Then, slowly, she nodded.
Carli smiled. “We’ll be fine,” she promised.
A sudden crack told her that the roaring fire had reached their hiding place. Keita flinched.
“It’s okay,” Carli said. “Look.”
Slowly Keita turned. The crate behind her was ablaze. She scurried back, but even as she moved she noticed that the heat wasn’t hurting, not even when her toes and skirt brushed the flames. She looked back at Carli. “How are you doing that?”
“I’m not. We’re doing it together.”
“Look.” Carli held out her hand. The fingernails were cracked and discolored, but even as the girls watched the injuries blurred and faded away. “You should have seen it a few minutes ago. I got stepped on in the mob. We’re sharing our defenses, see? Zuri calls it unifying.”
An orange flicker played on Keita’s sleeve, part of the flames dancing all around them. They were sort of pretty, she thought. If you could get past the fact that they wanted to kill you. She took a deep breath. They were safe. At least for now.