A forest where it always rains. A six-foot tall elf with no sense of humor. A trio of jewels that refuse to be found. Sam Gordon never thought this would be his life, until two of his classmates are abducted and he finds himself thrust across dimensions and into the System of Indarnini. Here, a sinister being holds his friends captive and demands the legendary Pearls of Irsad. Formed by Elisia, the first ever witch, the Lost Pearls of Indarnini hold the key to all magic, and Sam is the only one who can retrieve them. Now he must decide to what lengths he will go to protect those he loves, for even if he does obtain the missing jewels, there is no telling what chaos will ensue. Meanwhile, back at home, Sam’s mother and stepbrother conceal secrets that could have horrifying ramifications for the future of the Seven Systems.
First Five Pages:
The girl’s bloody feet ached, each step resulting in excruciating pain. Her wrists, bound by rope that dug deep into her flesh, lurched forward as the men sped faster, and the girl lost her balance, tumbling onto the jagged gravel. Her dress tore, and stones clawed at her skin, leaving behind rivers of sticky blood, yet the men dragged her further. The cloth sack over her face shrouded her vision, but the sound of a falling drawbridge and the touch of the cold marble floor confirmed her arrival at court.
“Stand up, wench, and do not bleed in the presence of your king.”
The girl wanted to inform the knight that she had an unfortunate lack of control over when she did and did not bleed, but she held her tongue.
A firm, calloused hand cut the bindings and pulled the sack off her face, and the hall’s golden light seared at her eyes. The girl looked down at the tattered remains of her clothing and covered herself as best as she could.
“You will bow in the presence of your king,” commanded a cold and sinister voice.
The girl’s knees buckled and smashed against the rock-hard surface as she was pressed to the ground, and a lightning flash of pain drove up her thighs. She cried, staring down at the floor.
“Look up and face me, girl.”
Slowly raising her head, she took in her new surroundings. To both of her sides were single rows of black columns that fed from the back of the hall. Behind them lay narrow passageways that undoubtedly branched off into deeper corridors of the castle. The giant hanging chandelier, fashioned completely of white antlers, held dozens of brightly burning candles that fully illuminated the room.
A blood-red tapestry hung directly ahead of her, the only color in the whole grim place. Sewn in the brightest of yellow threads was a bustling fire; three flames licked upwards with tiny sparks floating above. His Grace had chosen his crest as a warning to all; everything can burn, and those who stood in his way would surely do so.
King Irsad was an unusually large man, and his sausage fingers tapped on a pointed knee. His auburn mane was nearly the same color as his puckered face, and his crown rested upon tussles of stringy hair. It was simple, inlaid with three white pearls.
“What is your name, girl?” The king smiled slyly, fingering his ratty beard.
“Elisia,” the girl replied, her proud voice reverberating through the hall. She gazed up at the king but had to look away. It seemed that nothing could escape the fire within his yellow eyes.
Beneath the king sat the most disgusting chair the girl had ever laid eyes on; the rumors did it no justice. Lining every crevice of the throne were the skulls of dead kings, the rulers of ages past. Elisia could only wonder at the identities of those unfortunate enough to spend eternity under their descendants’ backsides.
“And do you know why you are here, Elisia?” The king placed extra emphasis on her name.
“I do not.”
“You will refer to our liege as Your Grace.” A warm breath crept upon the back of her neck, and the girl could taste its foul scent. Guards, too numerous to count, filled the hall, swords at the ready.
“I do not…Your Grace.”
“You take me for a fool. Word spreads like rapid-fire throughout my kingdom; there is little I do not know. Tell me, girl, do you wish to overthrow me, or do you merely take pleasure in performing your tricks in the Sylvára Forest?” She did not answer, and the king snarled.
“I care not for waiting,” he spoke, “as I am sure you will soon realize; I urge you to confess.” Elisia looked up defiantly, her eyes ablaze. She said nothing.
The king stood, putting most of his weight on plump arms that hefted him out of the chair, and hobbled a few steps towards her. “Well gentlemen, it seems as though we may have some fun after all.” He tottered forward, and the guard grabbed Elisia by both shoulders and hoisted her to her feet. The king was but inches from her face, and their eyes were parallel. She had not noticed until now how unusually short he was.
King Irsad put a sweaty hand to her cheek, and the girl spat in his face, almost instantly feeling the backside of his hand whip across her skin. Her jaw snapped in pain, and she could taste the metallic liquid forming within her mouth. He smacked her again and grabbed hold of her chin, squeezing her cheeks together.
“All you need to do is show me, girl.” His voice was a hoarse whisper. “Move a chair across the room. Tell me the name I think in my head. Take me to see what lies ahead in the future.”
He coughed. Elisia could smell the wine on his breath.
“It…it is not that simple, Your Grace. I cannot…command it.” She winced when his grip on her face grew tighter, but she would not cry. She would not cry. She would not cry.
“Then tell me,” he urged, “what provokes it?” His face was crazed, and he did not flinch when blood began to drip from her mouth and onto his hand.
“E…extreme emotions, Your Grace.” His grip tightened. Her lips could barely move. “Joy. Excitement. Anguish. Fear.” She paused. “And anger.” She growled the last word.
It was happening. The power, the fury. She no longer felt the bruise on her cheek, the cuts on her feet, the rope-scars on her wrists. She was whole again. A low cackle gurgled upwards out of her throat, and she grinned savagely, hoping that her bloodstained teeth made the king’s stomach lurch. The game was reset. The roles had reversed. Now she was the terror. Now she was the monster. Now she was the witch.
In a flash she lifted her hands in the air and the king flew backwards. The blood on his hand turned to fire, and it raged, consuming his entire limb. Cries of “Seize her!” and “Help me!” could barely be heard through screams of agony. The nauseating scent of burning flesh quickly filled the room, but Elisia did not flinch.
A horde of guards sprang towards her, and she clenched her fists together, hurling the men backwards; they fell to the ground like their burning king.
There was a distinct crack as the knights’ armor began to shrink, squeezing their innards as iron and steel puckered and bent. Elisia relished in their pain and did not cringe when the first bone snapped. Instead she laughed a shrill, crazed cry, for these monsters were being eaten alive by their own defenses; metal shriveled, crushing muscle and bone to dust. Pleas of mercy and shrieks of pain rang in her ears, but there was no mercy to be had. These men had kidnapped her, beaten her, threatened her. She was neither cruel nor evil; she was just.
Elisia stepped to the knight who’d dragged her into this godforsaken place and lifted the visor of his helm. His face had turned yellow, and huge red vessels formed upon his skin. His eyes bulged, and the top of his nose started to break. Elisia stared deep into his bloodshot eyes, making certain that she would be the last thing he ever saw.