Welcome to the July chapter of the Story-time Blog Hop. We have twelve new short speculative fiction tales from authors all around the world. My contribution, Malakai’s Gift, is a first draft scene excerpt from my current work-in-progress; Drop of Water; Episode Two in the Quest of the Guardians series. In their on-going quest to restore the magical Te’eta, young guardian Malakai Jenks is just beginning to find his confidence and learn the extent of his own abilities…
At the end of this excerpt, you’ll find a list of links to the other author contributions to this Blog Hop. Be sure to check them out and leave comments because we love to hear from you!
As an added bonus, there is a link at the bottom of the page where you can receive a FREE PDF COPY of the Quest of the Guardians prequel: Days of Chaos!
“…and then the Ba’ats swooped down and killed the Jax like they were nothing!” Malakai prattled on about their arial battle while Luka listened with rapt attention. “It was amazing!” Malakai added.
“Maybe you be Ba’at Warrior someday.” Luka smiled at Malakai as they mounted their gazelles.
“Maybe.” Malakai grinned back, but then his smile faded. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be going on like this.”
Luka’s expression was puzzled. “But you have great adventure. Fun to hear!”
“Yeah…but,” Malakai paused. “Well, you wanted to be a Ba’at Warrior and…”
Luka made a face and waved away Malakai’s concerns. “Tao say he need good archer and Master Alastair tell him I the best.”
“That’s great, Luka!” Malakai turned his gazelle to follow the others. “But you won’t, I mean, you and Gabriella, you’ll stay and teach me?”
Luka caught up with Malakai. “You stuck with me until Te’eta restored. King say I your bodyguard. My job keep you safe.” Luka pointed at himself and then Malakai.
Malakai grimaced. “I think I’m in trouble.”
They had reached the edge of the cliffs where they would begin their journey along the almost vertical rock wall and Malakai looked over the edge where he could see Jakin following a dozen warriors along a narrow path into the fog-bank of Ba’aco. After his flight on Joja’s Ba’at, riding a gazelle along the cliffs didn’t scare him anymore.
“Ready?” Luka asked.
“Let’s do it.” Malakai nudged his gazelle who slipped over the edge and slid along the rocky surface until he caught a solid foothold.
Luka followed on Belle who had found her way back to Ba’aco after being released outside the poison forest.
Following the contours of the cliff face, they made their way around Arh’et with the sea crashing beneath them. Sometimes they dropped low enough to feel the ocean spray, other times they climbed so high they had to duck down to avoid being seen above the ground.
At midday they stopped on a narrow ledge to rest and eat a light meal.
Jakin approached Malakai. “Are you doing okay on the gazelle?”
“Yep!” Malakai replied. “After riding the Ba’at yesterday, this is nothing.”
“That was quite the ride, huh?” Jakin grimaced as he poured berries into Malakai’s hand from a leather pouch.
Malakai grinned. “I thought it was great. I think I’d like to ride one alone someday.”
“Really?” Jakin paused. “You liked riding the Ba’at?”
“Didn’t you?” Malakai studied Jakin’s face.
Jakin closed the pouch. “I prefer horses,” he said with a wry smile.
Malakai laughed at the irony.
A familiar buzzing hum in the distance caught everyone’s attention and all conversation stopped as the warriors rushed to push the gazelles against the cliff wall and cover their eyes before gesturing to everyone to be still.
Moments later a swarm of Jax appeared above the sea from around a bend. Four Jax Riders flanked the swarm, herding them along the edge of the rock-face as the swarm dipped and climbed, swerving through the air like a flock of starlings. Their screeches filled the air, competing with the steady hum of their wings.
Malakai’s heart pounded as he looked to Jakin for guidance. Luka had drawn his bow and stood ready to protect his prince.
“Don’t move a muscle,” Jakin whispered.
Malakai returned his gaze to the approaching swarm, his heart frozen in terror. He’d never felt so vulnerable in his life as he pressed his back against the rock wall behind him.
“Visualize the swarm moving away,” Jakin whispered.
“What?” Malakai couldn’t believe his ears.
“Just do it, Malakai. Trust me.”
Malakai stifled the questions that popped into his mind and instead he closed his eyes and began to imagine the swarm moving away. Unable to resist, he opened one eye. The swarm was coming closer, dipping low toward the water and then veering upwards again when the waves lapped up at them. They were flying straight toward their perch on the ledge.
“Trust the image, Malakai,” Jakin whispered again. “You can do this.”
Malakai took a deep breath and dug deep for happy energy to inject into the vision. When the picture in his mind grew clearer, he opened his eyes and imagined he could project it into the mind of the Jax leading the swarm. It seemed to hesitate in the air for a moment. He exhaled, and pretended he was blowing the vision toward the Jax.
“Good,” Jakin whispered. “More.”
Malakai concentrated harder and was amazed when the leader veered upwards and disappeared over the top of the cliffs. The swarm followed while the Jax Riders shouted to each other to turn them back out to sea. They were too busy chasing them to notice the cluster of warriors and gazelles the swarm was flying over, close enough to tousle their hair and make the gazelles fidget. The swarm was providing cover and hiding them from the Jax Riders.
As the last Jax disappeared over the ledge above them, Malakai exhaled.
“Jax stink,” Luka muttered beside him, swiping his hand back and forth across his nose as if he could wipe away the smell.
“Yeah they do,” Jakin agreed, then he turned to look at Malakai. “You did well.”
“What was that?” Malakai struggled to comprehend what had just happened.
“Maaoteo concentrated the magic in your blood, Malakai.” Jakin studied the boy’s face. “You are more powerful than you know.”
“Did I really just—?” Malakai shook his head in disbelief. “No, that was you, Jakin. You did that, not me.”
“You must learn to believe in your power, Malakai.” Jakin patted Malakai’s shoulder before turning away and returning to his gazelle.
“Come, we go.” Luka held out the reins for Malakai’s gazelle.
Malakai pulled himself out of his thoughts and saw that everyone was preparing to continue their journey. Climbing onto his gazelle, he followed the others, but he was too lost in thought to pay attention to where they were going…
Blog-Hop Author Links:
Wendy Smyer: Into the Light
Emily Plesner: Time Stops When I’m With You
Barbara Lund: Separate Space
Shana Blueming: A Melting Heart
Juneta Key: Don’t Drink the Water
Angela Wooldridge: Midwinter
Lee Lowery: All Aboard
Elizabeth McCleary: OverWhelmed
Viola Fury: The Day The Cat got Out
Karen Lynn: Dragon Smoke and Wind
Katharina Gerlach: Lobster One
Visit the Quest of the Guardians Trading Post to see the latest Guardian Swag Gifts and Collectibles!