A SIGN OF MAGIC
85 000 words
YA Historical Fantasy
Fourteen-year-old Lara is thrilled, but unconvinced, when Irish musician, Finnian, decides she has a gift for magic – just because she noticed something strange about his blackthorn walking-stick.
According to Finnian, the ordinary-looking stick is really the Staff of Truth, a legendary Celtic treasure, powerful enough to unleash a cataclysm that destroyed Britain 1500 years ago, transforming it into Arthur’s Wasteland. To support his assertions, the musician lends Lara a manuscript by Gildas, a young scribe at the court of King Arthur in sixth century Wales. Unfortunately, Finnian can’t prove that this unique, first-hand account is authentic.
Lara is no extremist: she isn’t sure to what degree she believes her new friend’s stories or how far she’s prepared to go to protect a long-lost Celtic treasure. But when she learns Finnian’s life is in danger, Lara's determined to find a way to save him.
First 250 words:
Nobody paid any attention to the man outside the small supermarket, or the bedraggled dog dozing beside him on the pavement. Mothers of small children bustled their offspring quickly past, mumbling their mantras to ward off the dispossessed.
“Move along. Quickly now. Keep going.”
The man’s face was hidden by a battered cap. Every now and then, his head jerked like he’d just woken up. He twirled the blackthorn stick he held loosely in his hands, and subsided back into a worn parka. Any passerby who noticed him would have sworn he was a tramp.
A solitary teenager shivered in her T-shirt and shorts. She tripped and almost fell on the pavement. The man looked up, spinning his stick. The dog opened one eye.
The girl’s glance fell on the blackthorn. Its tip glowed softly, tugging at a distant part of her brain. She paused for the blink of an eye, before pushing through the glass doors of the supermarket.
The man stared after her as the doors swung slowly shut behind her.
“It’s not her.” A small, skinny boy sat down beside the man and caressed the dog. “She didn’t see it.”
“She did too.”
“She only half-saw it. I see it better than that.” The boy sounded sullen, but if he was looking for reassurance, he didn’t get any.
“You know what to look for.”
“She’s just a stupid tourist.” The boy picked up a pebble and whipped it across the street.