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 March 5, 2016 at 2:30 AM||comments (1)|
Professor Brand Flinten arrived for the opening of the Stienfry Institute of Science with bare feet beneath his proper scholar’s uniform. The fashion statement brought curious looks from students and professional scientists alike; Professor Flinten is well-known for his professionalism and neat demeanor. Curious glances from the bright hope-filled faces of future students did not ruffle his calm demeanor.
After the ceremony, Flinten explained, “I wanted to recognize the impact that crossovers like myself have had on our culture, to expose anti-crossover persecution across the country, and to give hope to others like me.” Many know of Flinten’s contributions to the field of science and the hundreds of students he has inspired, but few know of the difficulties that have shrouded his past.
Brand Flinten was born in the year 216, ten years before the Crossover Protection Act that forbade the abandonment or killing of crossover children. At the age of six, he came into his abilities and his parents discovered that he was a Cole. Like many others of the time, they abandoned him in the desert rather than admit that they had produced a non-Nome child. He was picked up by a sympathetic family and sent to live at the Colony, a safe haven for unwanted children. His advisors, Sterling Smelt and Jewel Stienfry, noticed his intellect and questioning mind and gave him the best educational opportunities available in their humble colony. He kept a garden despite the harsh desert conditions, even developing several new varieties of corn.
As a young man, Flinten attempted to attain an education, but was denied at every institute because of his clan. He earned money by painting houses, doing laundry, and any menial task he could find, but even with the money in hand he was unaccepted at every college. At last he moved to the Cole Kingdom and found a college that was glad to take him. He graduated with the highest honors available and returned to the Nomelands to teach his fellow crossovers.
Flinten retained his thirst for knowledge. He continued studying out of the royal library and conducted interviews and experiments on his own. His hard work eventually paid off and he is regarded today as the father of modern agriculture.
Kings and councilors alike have praised him, and letters arrive from across the continent demanding advice. He was the natural choice for headmaster of the new Steinfry Institute of Science. Yet, despite the temptation to turn his back on his troubled past, his first steps over the threshold of the first Nome school to accept him were taken in dusty, well-worn feet.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on February 10, 2016 at 1:15 PM||comments (0)|
Keita Sage, main character of The Spectra books, is reunited with her little sister Savanna (Avie for short) who has found a new home in the urban kingdom of Lectranis.
Avie’s smile was sad, but her eyes were blazing with the same zealous light that had shown when she’d first brought Keita to Lectranis. Keita and the other royal remnants had lived like frightened mice, huddled behind stone walls, ignorant of the fates of their families, drowning in their loss. Avie’s appearance had been a lifeline. Though the innocence in her face had died, her eyes shone with the enthusiasm and energy of someone who had found their life’s work. She begged Keita and her friends to help her restore Lectranis, and Keita had jumped at the chance to escape. The only hard part had been leaving their brother Glen behind.
Keita sighed. “I don’t want to leave you again.”
For a moment her sister only looked at her. Then, softly, she said, “Maybe you don’t have to.”
Keita blinked. “But the letters, and the true heir…”
“The others are going. You don’t have to go with them. You could stay here with me.”
For a moment Keita could only stare as thoughts swiveled around her mind. Could she leave Carli, Zuri, and Sienna? She’d been friends with Carli and Zuri since before the takeover, and looked on Sienna almost as another sister. Back in Nomelands, she’d chosen to help Sienna instead of hurrying back to her sister. Did that mean she owed Avie now, or did it prove that her sister could manage without her? And the Pensier boys—would leaving them be a good thing or a bad one?
“You don’t have to decide right now,” Avie said. “Your friends will be talking strategy for hours.”
Keita chuckled. “True enough.”
“Well, come on then.” Without another word, Avie turned around and began weaving through the sharp metal shards. Before Keita could ask where they were going Avie stopped again, this time in front of a storage building that was mostly still intact. She tugged the door open and gestured for Keita to enter.
The room inside was dark and dusty. Avie’s feet echoed through a large space. A lightning box flared into life in her hands, revealing a lane of shelves stretching as far as she could see, burdened with bundles and boxes of all sizes. “What on earth is this?” Keita whispered. It seemed the sort of place for whispering.
Avie chose a shelf and began sorting through packs. “The other kingdoms keep supplies at the summit, in case of danger. The Tesla family—well, probably their councilors—kept this place instead. There’s all kinds of gear, food… whatever they might have needed to stay alive.”
But they failed, Keita thought, trying to peer through specks of dust in the beam of Avie’s light. Quentin and Taima Tesla were dead, and the rulers they’d snubbed with them. What would they think of Avie’s rummaging?
“Is this how you’ve been feeding everyone?” Keita asked.
“Yup.” Avie lined her chosen packs across the floor and began rummaging through the the other shelves, occasionally tossing a bundle into one of them. “This stuff’s not helping the last rulers, but it’s sure being useful for their subjects. Can you look through these for me?”
Keita reached without looking, and then yelped and jumped back. She had grabbed an open box of shiny knives. As she watched, a bead of blood arose from a cut on her finger, and faded away again.
“Sorry! I’m sorry!” Avie cried. “I should have warned you.”
“No problem.” Keita looked into the box again. “What on earth do you want knives for?”
Avie’s voice quivered. “Camping. They make a good camping tool.”
Keita wanted to argue, but her sister’s eyes were big and frightened, so she bent over the box without a word. How was she supposed to judge? By size? Sharpness? Handle color? In the end she grabbed five at random and dropped one into each sack. Her sister was already there, dropping an innocent-looking black stone into each pack. “Fire starter,” she explained.
Flinching, Keita looked away. “What are these for anyway?”
“Your friends, on their journey. They’ll be in the cities for a lot of it, of course, but there’s also the farmlands and the prairie, and I don’t know how much money they’ve got for inns…”
Your friends, Keita noticed. Not you. That explained why Avie had grabbed only five packs, and why she was now stuffing a little first-aid kit into each one. “Avie…” she began.
Her sister whirled around. “What? Don’t you want to stay with me?” She stood there among the dust and the old supplies, and somehow she looked more at home than she ever did in Spritelands. No longer would she linger in Keita’s shadow, peering into the trees and hills of the Spriteland mountains as though something would swoop down and carry her away.
“I don’t think you need me anymore,” Keita said.
Avie scowled and threw a tight-folded blanket toward the packs. She missed by several feet. “I like Lectranis,” she said, “but I don’t want to forget home… or you. You’re like a piece of home.”
|Posted by Christie V Powell on January 19, 2016 at 1:30 PM||comments (0)|
Remember when you would tease me for saying I was going to be queen? I got so mad when Dad told me about fifty people were ahead of me in line for the Lectran throne. Well, it turns out I was right, just not in the way I thought. I am now the Sprite queen. It still doesn’t seem real. I never met the last Sprite queen, but people say she was very imposing. I am not imposing. The Sprites still aren’t really comfortable around me, being from a different clan and everything, and I don’t know what to do to change their minds.
Drake and I didn’t know for sure until the very end he’d be the new king. King Talon just died in a sprite tribe skirmish (they are ALWAYS fighting). They wanted a new king right away, before the other tribes caused trouble. Talon’s grandson Felix would have been a better choice, but he’s only thirteen. Drake is Talon’s adopted son, you know, and the other children are all girls.
So they’ve decided now, and the coronation will be coming up as soon as they’re ready, which doesn’t seem to take them nearly so long as I’d expect. Back home they’d spend weeks getting ready, with the invitations and the party and the so many hundreds of things the people here just don’t think of. I doubt this letter will arrive before it takes place, but I wish you could come. If nothing else, so you could watch the twins. Drake’s sisters are supposed to watch them but they have their own families, and I just know they’re going to cause a fuss.
Well, the messengers are leaving so I need to finish. Tell our family I love them and miss them. We’ll have to meet soon.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on December 27, 2015 at 2:00 AM||comments (0)|
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 November 17, 2015 at 3:10 PM||comments (0)|
I’ve invited Keita to my living room for a character interview. I wait for her to sit down so I can start asking questions, but she’s walking around the room and I’m not sure I should interrupt. At last she stops, to examine the leopard geckos in their tanks, and I look up from my desk and grab my list of questions.
“So,” I begin, “What do you consider your greatest achievement?”
She looks at me blankly for a moment. Then her face lights up, and she says, “Beating my brother in a tree-climbing contest!”
“Really? After everything you did to help…”
“Yes.” Her tone makes it clear she’s not going to answer any further.
“Okay, great. Um… What is your idea of perfect happiness?”
She doesn’t answer. At first I think she’s pondering the question. Then I see that my three-year-old has entered the room. “This is my alligator toy,” he says.
“I like it,” Keita says.
“Don’t encourage him,” I say, but it’s too late. Soon both boys are running back and forth, bringing whatever they can grab and presenting it like it’s their most precious possession. Ah, that reminds me…
“What is your most treasured possession?”
She looks up from the dishrag the boys are holding up. “You’re asking me?”
Yes, I know perfectly well she’s not very materialistic. I drop the list of questions, but the boys have given me an idea. “What was your favorite toy as a kid?”
Now we’re getting somewhere. “I had a few I really loved. My dad gave me this shirt once—just an ordinary shirt, but made out of cotton. I can manipulate plants, you know. I had so much fun shaping that thing! Every time my sister wanted me to play dolls, or whatever, I could get it out, change its shape, and I could join in her game.”
“So what was your favorite shape to keep it in? When you weren’t with Avie, I mean, so you could pick whatever you wanted?”
Keita shrugs. “Some sort of animal. I changed my mind every few weeks.”
“All right, thanks. What other toy did you really love?”
“My other favorite was a stone duck carving my mom gave me,” Keita answers. “It’s kind of the opposite of the cotton fibers. It’s one thing I couldn’t change. I loved the detail of it, how you could see the individual feathers. A stone carver made it in Lectranis, and she bought it there.” She thinks a minute, and adds quickly, “It was a carving. It wasn’t a real duck that a Nome petrified.” The thought makes her look physically sick.
“Yeah, that would be awkward. So, if you got to choose your occupation… or your niche, I guess you Sprites call it… what would it be?”
“I have a Quiet Book. Look! I see a horsie!” My two-year-old yells.
“Hey, that’s pretty neat.”
Keita crosses the room to look over my son’s shoulder. He’s naming shapes. “That one’s a rectangle. A oval. A triangle!”
“We’re supposed to be learning about you, not the kids,” I remind her, as my older son pops out of a cupboard, trying to surprise us.
“Oh, right. You were asking about my niche?” She thinks a moment. “I guess it would depend on my abilities. I always thought it would be something with trees… my uncle Corbin does that. He takes his family and travels all over the Sprite kingdom, helping sprout seedlings, making sure there’s a good balance of species…”
“You like travel?”
“Yeah, I like seeing new things. Why is that surprising?”
“Because we’re a lot alike, and I don’t—or at least, I like staying home better.”
“Staying home,” she says, with a note of real longing in her voice. “I do wish I could… I mean, home’s not home anymore…” She stops to frown at me. “So, yes, I like staying home, and someday I’ll have a really nice one I won’t want to leave, but I’ll still want to go see other things, sometimes.” A thought strikes her, and she leans over my shoulder to look at the computer. “Can you see my future on that thing?”
I slam the lid down on my laptop. “What makes you say that?”
“You do then. Can I see? Even a little?”
“Oh, look at the boys. They’re pretending to call a dragon on the phone…”
“That won’t work. I want to see what’s on your computer.”
I sigh. “Sorry. It’s against the rules. Anyway I might change it. You wouldn’t want to think you know what’s coming, only to have me change it, would you?”
She nods, but I can tell she’s hurt. I figure I’d better wrap up before she convinces me and I get in trouble. “So,” I say, “how do you feel about Brian?”
For a moment she just looks at me. Then she scowls, whirls around, and charges through my front door.
Drat. I hope my husband can help me put the hinge back together.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on October 31, 2015 at 2:20 AM||comments (0)|
Nomelands, near Misia village, year 223
Four pairs of already gritty hands thrust into the sand as their owners giggled and told stories. Ruby was the first to discover that the sand could be shaped, and so, naturally, she was in charge. Lucy, deemed old enough to help shape the castle, was doing most of the giggling and story-telling, while Ruby’s little sister Amber was relegating to moat digging. Her clever hands scooped and piled, creating bridges and lookouts, wide ponds for fishing and narrow channels that would have held the water, if they had any to spare on these things. Clarence was not invited to help, but he was more interested in dumping sand on his own head, where his blonde curls clung to it and refused to let go.
Under the shade of a nearby cottonwood tree, two mothers kept watch. Opal, too young to be their mother but trying anyway, scanned the empty desert for tale-tell dust plumes that would give away enemy patrols. This was second nature to the 16-year-old, so much so that she could keep watch for enemies and observe the children at the same time. Ruby and Amber had had few enough joyful moments, as Opal and her friends sought some way to keep them and other abandoned children safe.
Helena, once princess of Lectranis, leaned against the tree’s trunk, her eyes fastened on her children as she and Opal talked about nothing in particular. Hands that had once been fair were spattered with calluses and small burns and scrapes, yet they waved with enthusiasm as she spoke. Her homespun trousers and short hairstyle would have shocked her parents, but Helena was always good at doing things her own way.
A step further away, where distance muted the shrieks and laughter of the children, two men conducted business. Sandy, barely out of boyhood, wiped unkempt hair from eyes that shone with newborn hope. Luke Rives smiled with his whole face, a perfect match to his little daughter Lucy, now adding a creosote stick for a castle flag. The men shook hands, Sandy with a hand brown and leathery from exposure to the harsh desert sun, Luke’s broad with crescents of dirt under each nail.
A scream louder than the rest grabbed all attention. Clarence was stomping on what had been a carefully sculpted sand castle, and three girls circled around, howling, unwilling to forgive but not quite ready for retribution among so many witnesses. The theatrics demonstrated to the women that the gathering was over. They separated into two groups, bid farewell, and disappeared into the dusty landscape.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on October 10, 2015 at 7:55 PM||comments (0)|
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 October 3, 2015 at 8:40 PM||comments (0)|
At first I wanted to write a short story about Rusty, but he was not cooperating. He did at least give this interview to little Mason Smelt. -CVP
Me? What do you want to know about me for? I haven’t left this place in forty years—nothing interesting happens to me. Sure, I’ve heard plenty, seen plenty, and I can tell you about those. Want to hear about your uncle’s escape from the dungeon he grew up in? What do mean, he’s already told you? Well, you’re not hearing anything more interesting than that from me.
Yes, that’s true, I haven’t always lived at the hidden palace. I started out in the capital city. I was the youngest son of the Nome king. Ha, didn’t know we’re related, did you? Yep, we’re… let me see… your father’s father’s father’s brother… oh, forget it. I wouldn’t want you calling me uncle anyway.
What do you mean, finish the story? I told you already I don’t have much of a story. My parents wanted to make sure they had plenty of spare princes, just in case, and so I ended up the youngest of six boys. And what do you know, every single one of them lived. Good for them, not so good for me. Some of mixed with the nobility. One bought a mine down south and became the richest of all of us… oh, the fights he had with your grandpa… great-grandpa… whatever… all about taxes and regulations and all sorts of big words. Nah, that wasn’t for me. I liked playing nobility sometimes, but all the time? I don’t think so. Now that was power. I could play nobility like the best of them, looking down my nose and talking big and wearing the right fashions. And inside I’m laughing my head off at the ridiculousness of it all. I could play servant pretty good too. Acted as Seven’s butler one day and he didn’t even notice the difference. Seven? That’s Clayton the Seventh. My oldest brother. You’re lucky they lost that tradition, eh? Want to be Tanner the second? Steiner the third? Oh, right… that is awkward… well, never mind.
Some other old geezer ran the hidden palace back then. Don’t remember his name at all, he was the kind of guy who didn’t do anything, just told everyone else how to do it. But when I was in my twenties, he passed away, and I saw an opportunity. To manage the palace would be perfect. I could play nobility in front of the visitors, a servant behind closed doors, and then have long quiet stretches without any visitors at all when I could be whatever I wanted. And the stories I hear! The people I’ve met! I tell you, this is the perfect job. Convincing my parents wasn’t easy, I’ll tell you that. I couldn’t just outright ask, not them. You think your Pa’s bad with the formality, you should have seen mine! Tanner’s a cushion next to the old rulers. So I had to go about it very carefully, putting hints in all the right places, very carefully…
Wait a minute, what am I doing? Teaching you to manipulate your elders? Oh no, I don’t think so. Going to get me in trouble, that’s what you’re going to do. No, no, not another word. Not a one. Not unless you want to hear some other story. Want to hear about when I entertained a pair of Stygians under this roof? What do you mean you’ve already heard it? And don't call me uncle.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on September 30, 2015 at 2:05 AM||comments (0)|
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.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on July 22, 2015 at 11:15 PM||comments (0)|
I sure wish I brought this journal to the summit, because so much happened and I’m not sure I can remember everything. I was so excited last year, even though I was sad too because that was right after the accident and I felt like I was taking Cass’s place. This year I was just excited to see G again, but he didn’t even come! At least I got to meet his sister. She’s nice, but she was quieter than I thought she would be, from G’s description. I guess she was just worried about the matching, and I can’t say I blame her! I can’t describe how scary it was, just sitting there waiting for the rulers to get to the point. But they did. And now for the best news of all… Momma chose Glen, and his dad said yes! I couldn’t believe it! I mean, Momma knows I like him, and she said she’d try, so I wasn’t super surprised, but I did worry. Keita—that’s G’s sister—said I couldn’t be matched with Lectrans or Nomes or Coles. I didn’t get how she knew but I was relieved. That Nome was really creepy, and the Lectran seemed awfully stuck up. The Muse prince was okay. Keita’s dad picked him, and I think she’s glad but she won’t admit it. The Cole princess Carli was nice, once we got to know each other. Her dad picked a guy who wasn’t even there, Brian (the Muse prince)’s brother Griffin. She was kinda nervous about that but we ganged up on Brian after and made him tell us all about him (Griffin), and he didn’t sound so bad. I get to go visit the Sprite kingdom in a few weeks and I’m really excited! I’ll remember to bring my journal this time.