YA fantasy fiction, clean books for teens, shape-shifting, magic kingdoms, elemental abilities, indie publication, princesses, fairy tales, nanowrimo winner, desert setting
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Bonus material

Keita and her mother

Posted by Christie V Powell on August 31, 2016 at 11:20 PM

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.”

The Legend of Aiyana

Posted by Christie V Powell on July 13, 2016 at 10:25 PM

This is a legend told in Spritelands to warn young Sprites of the dangers of humans.


Once upon a time, a young Sprite girl called Aiyana lived with her family on the coast of what is now Lectranis. She was a natural healer, and her parents did everything to get her the very best trainers. However, her training was halted when her parents died in a winter storm. A neighboring Lectran family took her in, and though they were not cruel they did not love her. Though Sprites do not usually eat, she was required to find food for her new family.

 

One day Aiyana spied a dark shape out at sea. She had not heard of the humans, who had arrived on a similar vessel years earlier and built a small settlement further north. This ship had blown off course and landed far from the others. Aiyana watched the strange, Spectra-like creatures land, but because her village insisted that the humans be left alone, she did not approach. Still, she often stopped on her daily forages by the sea to look at them.

 

Aiyana soon discovered that the humans were doing poorly. Ill equipped for surviving alone, many caught diseases and perished. When winter approached, Aiyana knew they would not survive. She abandoned the laws of her village and offered her assistance to the humans. The humans were amazed as she healed them, one by one. She taught them to feed themselves by gathering food from the sea, as she had done for her Lectran family. The human colony survived, and in gratitude gave their settlement their version of her name, Hanan. Eventually Aiyana moved in with them, using a small abandoned cabin as her own.

 

The news of Hanan's magical healer spread. Many sick people visited, and she healed them all. Even today, the poor and ill are treated well in Hanan, now a bustling human city. But one group of men saw opportunity while others saw healing. They laid in wait, deciding to catch the young Sprite and take her overseas, perhaps collecting money for her healing in the land over the water. They tangled her in immense nets and threw her into a cage with mesh bars so tiny that she could not escape. She called for help, but her human friends, those neighbors she trusted and healed, served and protected, would not hear. Her captors took her aboard a ship and she was never seen again.

 

After her abduction, and many other attacks, the Sprites abandoned humans completely, disappearing into their forests with strict rules to avoid all human contact. The other clans followed, until today when few humans know that Spectra exist. But take caution, for their cages and their ships are still ready.

Lectran Pox Defeated

Posted by Christie V Powell on April 9, 2016 at 5:20 PM

8 August 209

Queen Taima arose from her bed and greeted the public this morning for the first time in several months. Tears streaked her scarred cheeks as she expressed her appreciation for the concern and well-wishes of her people. Earlier that day, the first healers from Spritelands had arrived, but they came too late for many of us.


Amber Sage, niece of our good king Antony, married the Sprite prince and heir Drake Sage three years ago. When Prince Leon and his wife, Valerie, caught the dreaded pox, they sent messengers to her, begging for help.


“We came as soon as we heard the news,” said Sprite healer Merle Arden. “I brought my entire family and we intend to stay as long as we are needed.”


But Arden and the twenty other Sprite healers came too late. Leon, his wife Valerie, and his twin sister Luna join the list of those killed by the disease. King Quentin appeared in his second official ceremony as king for their funeral. His wife and baby daughter Viviana survived, though scarred. Hundreds of others did not.

 

'The Spectra United' sneak peak: Keita and Savanna

Posted by Christie V Powell on February 10, 2016 at 1:15 PM

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.”

 

Letter from Amber Sage to her grandfather Ambrose Tesla, year 213

Posted by Christie V Powell on January 19, 2016 at 1:30 PM

Dear Grandpa,

 

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.

 

Love, Amber

 

A Meeting: the Rives and the Overground

Posted by Christie V Powell on October 31, 2015 at 2:20 AM

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.

 

Jewel's Choice

Posted by Christie V Powell on

I remember, before my oldest was born, people telling me how motherhood would feel. “It’s amazing,” they said. “You’ll want to give the baby anything. You’d be willing to die for him.”


I’m sitting now on a dusty floor of a cave deep in the mountains. The sun is just rising but the air is still chilled. The small blanket across my shoulders is barely anything, yet I can’t seem to force myself to get up and put it down. I will have to, soon. My son will awaken and we both need to eat. Better to gather the wild plants we need now, before the sun gets too high and the desert air becomes so hot your soul seems to melt through your pores.


At home, I had a comfortable bed. Thick brick walls that reflected the worst of the heat. Staples in the cupboards that I could combine into a million different dishes. Friends. Children. Halvard.


By my side, Dale stirs. His elbow brushes my side. The cave was uncomfortably small when he was eight. Now, two years later, we barely fit. His shaggy dark hair falls into his eyes. He has his father’s features, though I am told his dark eyes resemble mine. Easier to see is his resemblance to his siblings’: all five are dark haired, but Dale and Nedra are lighter than the others. I compare them often, when he’s asleep. He was once paler than the others but our years in the desert have darkened his skin. He was always the lightest, fast on his feet, slim and trim. Scrawny, Halvard said, and insisted the boy exercise and eat more, to get him to the solid build of the others. I blamed it on his being the baby: the other four are much older. He was a happy surprise, and what did it matter to me if he were a bit small?


We waited eagerly for Dale’s debut day, when his abilities would surface. Halvard was already suspicious. I was eager to prove him wrong. He even brought up the options, if our son were a crossover. Abandonment. Petrification. With our climate so inhospitable, which would be most merciful? I was angry at the talk. Dale is small. That meant nothing. No freckles, no unusual hair. Just small. Just a baby.


I remember the look on his face. Pure joy. He held a wire sculpture in his hands, a mass of little wires that buzzed when I touched it. “Very nice,” I said, “but don’t show Daddy.”


“Why?”


I could not answer. How could I tell him that his special talent made him guilty? My silence proved our undoing, for he showed Halvard when my back was turned. I won’t recount the arguments. The tears. The hate where love had been. My older children had their own families. Halvard had friends, yes, friends who would have disdained his different boy. But Dale had no one. No one but me.


His eyes open. His face is too thin, his skin course from the sun, but he is alive. “Morning, Momma,” he says, bouncing to his feet. Where does that energy come from? Did he somehow siphon off all of mine? I remove the blanket from my shoulders, straighten my ragged dress, and stand. Out on the desert we will find food. We have a rusty pump—once a spring, but Dale had assembled garbage to create the pump that brought us water all year. All two years. He’s got a gift, my boy.


My friends were wrong. I am not willing to die for my boy. I give him not a single act but an eternity of choices, day by day, moment by moment. I live for my boy.

Meet Solana Tesla

Posted by Christie V Powell on

 

The Teslas are the royal family of Lectranis, and in "The Spectra United", Keita Sage and her friends go on a quest to find all of the remaining heirs. Here is a scene from the youngest daughter, Solana Tesla. She likes to play innocent, but she's anything but!

 

 




Mother’s mood told me right away something was up. She almost flounced into her chair, and she’s always telling Vivi not to do that—not that it makes a difference. I figured I didn’t have long to wait before it came out, but just this once I was wrong. For twenty minutes she said nothing, and I tried to guess what was exciting her. My run-away oldest sister had been forgiven, Pa bought another vacation home, Vivi didn’t fail her last class… I was still imagining Pa’s stunned face from this announcement when my worst nightmare waddled into the room.


Her name is Mellie, which sounds like Smelly. She’s two years old, and everyone loves her. Even my sister Poppy, who doesn’t like anybody, loves Mellie. They say she looks like me, which is all nonsense. I never had snot dripping off my chin, and my Momma never would have put me in a coarse sack of a dress either. They’ve got a portrait of me at that age, and I’m so drowning in lace I couldn’t walk. You can hardly see my face in it. That was me: perfect little angle, last born, favorite of everybody. It’s not always an easy role to play, but so far they still believe it.


Wyatt’s the only one looking unhappy at Mellie’s presence. He doesn’t mind the little terror, but if Mellie is here, her dad is here. Leon’s our oldest brother. He’s not so mean as the next one, Joule, but he’s not been very nice to Wyatt either. Wyatt’s been told so often how wonderful he’s supposed to be that he thinks he’s nothing of the kind. Anyway, except for Mellie, I don’t mind Leon coming. I’ve been saving up all kinds of tricks to pull on him and Joule, ever since the last family anniversary when I locked him in a closet all night. They all figured it was an accident.


Everyone’s attention stayed on Mellie, but I turned to look at the bowl of porridge a servant had just set in front of me. I stared into it, too irritated to eat, and that’s when I saw the green tint. I brought the bowl to my nose and sniffed. Poison, all right. The gardeners use it on rats. I glanced around the table, but so far no one had taken any. I couldn’t just blurt it out—who’d believe me? And if they did, how would I explain how I knew?


The right answer came to me a second later. I took a big spoonful of the stuff, then dropped it and rocked my chair backward. As everyone else gasped and yelped, I clutched a hand to my stomach. “There’s something wrong with this food,” I whimpered, and proceeded to thrash across the floor.


Father darted around the table. “Get a medic!” he yelled at no one in particular. I couldn’t see much of people, only their feet, but I didn’t hear any spoons clinking or people swallowing—not that I’d be able to over the noise. I wondered if Viv and Wyatt believed me, but I didn’t dare sit up and check.


Gentle hands were on me. The medic had arrived. I let my thrashing die down as he picked up the bowl and held it to his nose. “There’s poison in this,” he said.


Everyone gasped. “Will she be all right?” Father demanded.


The medic gave me a very stern look. “She didn’t eat much. Give her some solitary rest and I’m sure she’ll be back to normal.” The severity in his voice added ‘or else’. That was alarming—hopefully he would keep quiet until I could figure out who’s trying to poison my family. As much as I like playing tricks on my brothers, if some idiot makes war against my family, he’s made war against me. And believe it or not, I am not someone you want to cross.

 


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