|Posted by Christie V Powell on June 9, 2017 at 9:30 PM|
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|
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 December 27, 2015 at 2:00 AM|
Kieran Sclera was a counselor to the Muse king, Cato Pensier. In the year 145 he married the king’s young daughter Tracy. After a few months, Tracy disappeared into the neighboring kingdom of Merlandia. Driven by anger, Kieran joined forces with a Stygian called Adrian Blake. Under Adrian Blake’s tutelage, Kieran became a Stygian and killed his brother-in-law Crowther Pensier.
Two years later, the two Stygians attacked. Kieran killed the rest of the Muse royal family, eliminating that line. The next year, Kieran left the Muse kingdom and attacked Spritelands, where he believed Tracy had gone. He destroyed the royal family and claimed that crown. At the same time, Adrian killed the Lectran royal family, except for the two youngest, Ambrose and Antony. Those two boys escaped to the central summit where Stygians cannot enter. Adrian took control of the Lectran army and sent it to battle the Nomes. The Nome queen was killed, but the king Clayton VI escaped to the summit with his infant son, Clayton VII. He also sent messengers to the other clans.
While the Stygians overtook the other clans, the other royals were able to escape: the young Cole king Brand and his sister Embry, and King Seward Neried of Merlandia, and his family. Two clans were lacking: Sprites and Muses, and without them the royals could not create a full spectrum, with all six clans represented, in order to defeat the Stygians. In the year 148, the two kings, Seward and Clayton VI, left the summit and entered the Spriteland mountains. Seward was killed, but the king Clayton VI was rescued by a Sprite boy called Orson Sage, who helped him return to the summit.
The royals still lacked a Muse, but they all knew that entering Castalia would be fatal. Instead, they entered Merlandia and enlisted the help of a Mer guard named Dorian Fiske. Out of duty, the Cole princess Embry agreed to marry him, knowing that their children would be Muses. She bore a daughter and called her Brynna. In the year 150, Orson Sage joined the others at the summit, bringing his new wife and infant son, who he wanted to keep safe from the searching Stygian soldiers. Over the years, some of the more impetuous royals left the summit, but eventually all returned safely.
In 156, young Princess Brynna gained full control of her Muse abilities. The royals emerged from the summit. They travelled in secret to the Lectran capital, Telosa, and killed the Stygian Adrian, setting King Antony on the throne. From there they moved on to battle the other kingdoms. In the Battle of Gadwall Hills, Kieran was defeated and replaced by young Brynna, watched over by her father Dorian. Osron Sage took the Sprite crown, beginning the Sage dynasty, and young Torrent became king of Merlandia.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on October 10, 2015 at 7:55 PM|
Brian and Keita meet for the first time, from Brian's pont of view. --CVP
Brian could have sensed the three girls’ emotions even without his abilities. They fidgeted, kicked at the ankle-deep meadow grass, looked anywhere but at him. Their brothers, who had come to the annual meeting in the previous years, called the Summit the dullest place on earth, even after Brian told them that boredom was a sign of a dull mind. The girls were not bored. They were uneasy, angry, even scared, but not bored.
Brian grabbed a coin from his pocket and flung it into the grass between them. The nearest girl, Keita Sage, leapt backward. Her bright green eyes fastened on his face, and for a moment she looked like she might attack—or just bolt into the grass and never be seen again. But the look faded, and she quickly turned away again.
“Would you like to play a game?” Brian asked.
Zuri, who he’d met last year, met his gaze. “I’m willing to try,” she said.
He pointed to the coin. “The person who best lifts that into the air and holds it steady wins.”
The new girl Carli, who had been staring wistfully at the surrounding walls, turned toward him. Her expression was still dangerously angry, but a hint of a competitive smile haunted the corners of her mouth. She raised her arms, and the tops of the grass began swirling, pointing this way and that. A sudden wind broke off blades and sent them swirling in circles, faster and faster, until the coin was swept upward. It rose to shoulder height, tumbled about by the wind. Carli gave a satisfied smile. The winds dispersed, and the coin dropped.
“Does that count as steady?” Zuri asked.
Carli scowled. “You do it then.”
“I didn’t mean to criticize,” Zuri said, but she stepped forward. Like Carli, she raised her arms before she began, but instead of rushing wind, a stream of water shot from the ground, launching the coin into the air. Brian didn’t flinch as droplets sprinkled his legs and arms—he’d seen her brothers do the same. The coin floated for a moment, held up by the water, and then it fell.
Brian looked at Keita. “Want a turn?”
Her eyes narrowed. “You go first.”
He hesitated, but saw no way out of it. He bent down, picked up the coin, and held it flat in his palm.
For a moment the girls stared. Than Zuri began to laugh. “That doesn’t count!” Carli cried.
She sputtered but couldn’t seem to come up with an answer.
“So, Brian wins?” Zuri asked.
Keita’s expression was as hard to read as all Sprites, but something in her eyes was twinkling. She dug her bare toes into the earth. For a moment nothing happened. Then the grass stems began to change. Brian stepped back as they thickened, stretching toward the pale mountain sunshine. Keita stepped forward, took the coin from his hand, and set it on top of the hardened grass stalks. It stayed, unmoving.
“All right,” he said. “You win.”
|Posted by Christie V Powell on September 30, 2015 at 2:05 AM|
The Spectra have lived in separate kingdoms, based on their abilities, since before written history. The relationships between the various clans changed frequently, but for the most part, they kept to themselves. The Sprites were last to choose a king and unite the various settlements in their kingdom, only a few years after humans first entered the Sprite kingdom.
Everything changed in the year 111 after human discovery. Before then, Stygians, which are Spectra that have taken oaths which give additional abilities, attacked small settlements, but never on a wide scale. In the year 111, a Stygian managed to conquer first Castalia, and then Merlandia and the Cole Kingdom. A few survivors escaped to the other clans, which banded together in the face of this great threat. Once the Stygian was defeated, the Spectra leaders began meeting together yearly. In the year 126, they built a hidden retreat at the center of the continent. The walls of the hidden place were created with Spectrite, a substance manufactured by all six abilities combined, and which repels Stygians. The location and the yearly meeting were both called the Summit, and the meetings continue to this day, with each leader bringing an heir, a custom begun in the year 157.