First off a bit of news: I have received my print galley of Elixir Bound from the publisher and it’s up on my publisher’s website as available to order! Still no firm date on when I’ll be able to hold it in my hot little hands, but the galley and order option means we’re getting close. Yay!
So as the Elixir Bound in paperback blog tour continues (full schedule here), I’ve got a sneak peek at the companion novel (still a work-in-progress…and it’s kind of terrifying to be putting this out there at the this stage, but figured I’d be brave) Elixir Saved. In this next book, Kylene, Zelenka (both of whom you might know from Elixir Bound), and Devon (new character here!) have all been saved the by the Elixir. Now they must decide how much they are willing to sacrifice with their second chances at life.
As you can see from the description, Elixir Saved will feature many of the characters from Bound, but will also introduce some new characters. With three POV characters and new quests, Saved is even more epic than the first book.
I’ve mentioned before how I originally wrote Bound as a fantasy adventure after my sister Kylene passed away at the age of 16. I tried writing the story from her POV, but it was too hard at the time. I’m happy to say one of the POV characters of Saved is the character Kylene. This sneak peek is the first few pages from her POV (keep in mind this is an unedited version :)). Enjoy!
Kylene Kase waited in the wings for her big moment on stage when lightning struck. It hit a giant oak behind the outdoor stage, which split down the middle with a loud crack and caught on fire. The upper half of the tree toppled over and smashed through the backdrop, shooting sparks out toward the crowd.
The whole production—written by, directed by, and starring Kylene—flashed to a halt. A message, brought by the higher beings, filled her head. The implications of the six terrible words paralyzed her.
Kylene regained her senses and jumped off the nonstage side of the wings, tumbling to the hard ground covered in browning grass. The wood used to construct the stage served as kindling and the whole thing billowed with smoke and flames in a matter of minutes. She ran from the stage to escape the ashes, but acrid smoke curled toward her and burned her throat.
From a safe distance, she watched props of faux golden pillars melt and distort into shapes reminiscent of grotesque faces. As the stage collapsed in on itself, she sank to her hands and knees and sobbed. A strong hand pulled her to her feet. Her younger, but much taller brother, Bhar, grasped her hands. His blue eyes turned hazel as they reflected the orange flames.
He grasped her shoulders. “You okay?”
Kylene nodded; she was fine physically, if not mentally. She searched the frenzied crowd for the rest of her family, face stricken as she suddenly realized one of them might be hurt.
The list of her closet family members tumbled from her dry lips. “Ma, Pop, Katora, Lili, Ariana and the kids?”
“They’re all fine!” Bhar yelled over his shoulder as he ran to the perimeter of the disaster. “Pop says go home. I’ll see you there.”
He peered into the flames, presumably searching for anyone trapped in the ruins of the stage. A crowd of spectators, actors, and crew—some screaming—ran past. An old man fell in the chaos. Bhar lifted him up, offered him a shoulder to lean on, and escorted him to the road, disappearing into the throng.
Kylene stood, frozen in place, while her dreams of a successful production burned to the ground with the stage. The last support beam creaked and groaned, giving itself to the inferno. She fled for home, the early autumn leaves crunching underfoot in rhythm with her hiccupping sobs. Her white-blond hair flew wildly behind her and tears flowed from her bright blue eyes, obscuring her sight. Not that seeing mattered; her feet automatically knew the way down the dirt road to home.
It wasn’t the failure in front of her whole family and the entire town of Tussar that made her cry as much as the six words resonating in her head. In the Great Peninsula, higher beings—sometimes even Mother Nature herself—communicated with humans through the weather. The messages were often cryptic, hard to interpret. However, the message brought by the lightning came through clearer than the transparent bottles that held the essence—a renowned beverage in the Great Peninsula—brewed by her family.
Kylene sprinted straight through the front door of her family’s old, wooden farmhouse, up the rickety stairs, and into the room she shared with her sister Katora. She flung herself onto her bed and sucked in heaving breaths. Even with her face buried deep in her freshly laundered pillow slip, all she smelled was fire.
Before long, a warm hand caressed her back accompanied by Katora’s soothing voice. “Shhh. It’s okay. Don’t cry, Ky.”
Easy enough for Katora to say. She never cries.
She knew her whole family thought she cried too much, but surely the shocking message justified her distress. Eventually the sobs abated and Kylene’s body quieted. She sat and smiled at Katora, one of her three older sisters, the one closest in age to Kylene.
Katora’s blue-green eyes sparkled in her flushed faced. “You heard the message too. Sounds like another quest.”
Kylene rubbed her eyes and frowned. She shared neither her sister’s interpretation of the message nor her enthusiasm for quests. The last and only quest she had been on had nearly killed her. It had been Katora’s job to pick the flowers that contained the nectar for their family’s secret healing Elixir and take over as the Elixir’s guardian. Kylene, merely there to accompany her sister, received a deadly wound from a poisoned spear as a souvenir. If not for the Elixir, she likely would not have recovered.
Lately, nightmares of her loved ones, cold and blue-lipped, haunted her sleep. Would that be her fate if she went on another quest? She pushed away the thought as tears prickled the corners of her eyes.
“The message for the last quest to pick the flowers for the Elixir…” Kylene paused, not sure how to phrase what she wanted to know. “Did you hear it?”
“No.” Katora’s brow furrowed as she gazed at her. “I only saw the snow. The message was for Pop—he was still the guardian of the Elixir then.”
“Did Pop tell you what he heard?” Kylene asked.
Katora stared past Kylene to the wall, but she didn’t really appear to be looking at anything in particular. “I don’t know if he heard a specific message last time. What was it he said? Something about how the greater beings aren’t always clear on what they mean. He told me the snowstorm came as the Elixir’s supply was low, so he took that as a message we needed to retrieve more of the nectar.”
Kylene frowned. The message she heard as the lightning struck held no such ambiguity.
“But you heard a specific message this time?” she asked.
Katora smiled. “Oh, yes. It was like someone speaking right inside my head. No guessing games this time.”
The experience sounded the same as Kylene’s. Tears squeaked from her eyes again, blurring Katora’s face so much it reminded Kylene of the ugly shapes of the melting columns. Perhaps she misinterpreted the message and someone else would be made to fulfill it. She shivered. She didn’t want the message to be true for her or anyone else.