Book 1: Nandana’s Mark
Red-orange juice had dribbled all over her hands. Seeds and pulp had splattered her dress. She’d squeezed the tomatoes so hard they’d burst.
What a waste. She should have thrown them at the stupid old elves.
Melia inhaled a long breath of wood and leaves. As fulfilling as it would have been, throwing tomatoes wasn’t going to make her visions—or her father’s determination to incarnate Umbra—go away.
She tugged on her hair. Images of slaughtered faeries and mangled pixies had never entered her mind until her father’s first psychic interrogation. That had been five years ago, just after her thirteenth birthday. Now, during the dark phase of every moon cycle, the grisly pictures were too real in her mind.
The two had to be connected.
She shifted on the tree’s bough. Then why didn’t they stop when her older sister, Melusine, had taught her and her younger sister, Plantine, how to block their father’s telepathic intrusions? Maybe Tatou was right. She just needed to make her inner eye stronger.
She reached into her nightgown pocket and fidgeted with the leftover ylandria seeds. Tatou had made it sound like using the faerie herb would be easy.
Melia recalled her friend’s instructions.
‘You need to control your inner eye. The ylandria will help you focus. Wrap the dried seeds into the leaves, form a tight roll, light the tip, and smoke it. Imagine a source of light inside you; hold it steady. Once you can do that—’ Tatou had pointed to another weed-like clump of leaves. ‘—we’ll boil some greenfever.’
‘What will that do?’
The pixie spread her tiny hands wide. ‘Open your mind. And hopefully, reveal the source of your visions. If they’re coming from outside of you, you can learn to build a stronger mental wall.’
She hadn’t said what they would boil if that wasn’t the case.
Melia slumped, her back bowing out, her elbows on her thighs, her chin on the flats of her fists. She hated to let Tatou down. Maybe if she tried one more time.
She fished the last ylandria leaf from her pocket.
Puffing the second roll, she marveled at the pitch black. For three nights in every moon cycle, the Enchanted World’s two moons offered zero illumination. If it weren’t for her visions, she might have found a use for the darkness. Maybe she and Tatou could have chased glow sprites on the shores of the Undine River.
She flicked the ylandria ash.
When there was nothing left to smoke, Melia stubbed the butt and slipped it into her pocket. She wasn’t going to leave anything lying around for her mother, Melusine, or that tattletale Plantine to discover.
Tatou was going to be disappointed with her lack of results.
Melia stared into the gulf of blackness. She drew her knees up to rest her chin on. Bored with imagining a source of light, she turned her thoughts to her favorite fantasy: A pair of turquoise wings shimmered before her; diamond chips laced the outer wings; lavender and emerald swirls patterned the inner wings. She reached out her hands. They brushed an intricate mesh of downy feathers. Tatou was right; her inner eye was strong. She just needed to learn how to control it.
Melia dropped her legs, so her feet swung free. She gripped the branch she sat on. It helped her connect the muscle and bone of her torso and shoulders with the wings in her mind’s eye. A gentle flutter, a slow flap, a coordinated beating. She shot upwards. Delighted with her mental creation, she soared higher than any faerie of flower or field ever could.
The enormous oak, cradling the tree house, shrank below. She faced east, towards the meadows, but she wanted to fly west, towards the sea. She prepared to make the wide arc—and froze. A familiar force wrested control of her mind. It erupted from deep within her, superimposing an alternate vision.
I sniff the air. Something burns. I search the skyline for smoke. Heat and cinders explode beneath me.
I land on the ground. The oak and tree house are on fire. A wall of flames scorches a trail to the Sylvan Forest. Woodland creatures screech and howl. Deer and foxes, squirrels and chipmunks, cardinals, orioles, and owls—every surviving animal scurries from the inferno.
One of the oak’s branches crack; the tree house lurches.
I can’t see my father, yet from some hidden recess he encourages me, ‘Let it run wild.’
I throw back my head and laugh.
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Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG
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