Thursday, January 13, 2011
Today, I'm very excited to be able to post an excerpt from The Crystal Facade by Debra L. Martin and David W. Small. The Crystal Facade is the second installment of their Rule of Otharia Trilogy.
Royal Otharian twins Darius and Dyla Telkur have a big problem: they know too much about the forbidden planet Earth.
When Dyla's dream visions of the London crime boss portend an imminent threat to her family, she has no choice but to secretly return to Earth and seek answers. Who is this crime boss, what’s his connection to Otharia and why does he look like the Grand Duke? What the twins don't realize is that they're walking into a conspiracy that involves a centuries old interplanetary smuggling operation between the two planets, an operation that many want to remain secret.
Assassins on both planets are on the move, and their target is the elimination of the Telkur twins. Everything is connected, but time is running out. Darius and Dyla must unravel the mystery and discover the identity of the malevolent mastermind trying to destroy them before Dyla's worst nightmare comes true.
Here's what reviewers are saying: "The Crystal Fascade has all of the good things that made The Quest for Nobility a good and enjoyable read for me. This is a solid piece of work and like The Quest for Nobility, well worth the money especially if you are looking for a series where psychic powers are used." - Richard Jackson
And now, Chapter 5, Divided Paths, of The Crystal Facade:
The sun was touching the western horizon when Ty walked into Darius’ private study.
“Hey Ty. How’d you get away this time?” Daruis asked. “This is the second time in two days your counselors have released you from their grasps.”
Ty plopped himself down in one of the over stuffed chairs before answering.
“Really, do you think anyone can tell me what to do?”
“As a matter of fact, yes.”
“You’re right. I told my councilors that I was coming to see Trinity. That’s the only way I got out of there. There was another stack of petitions that needed my attention, but I’ll deal with those later. My councilors are great, but they’re relentless. Some days I don’t know how they do it.”
“I know. Running a duchy is much harder than I thought. My father made it look effortless.”
“I guess we both should have paid more attention during those lessons.”
“You’re probably right.”
Both young men lapsed into quiet contemplation at the mention of their fathers, each lost in their own thoughts. It was Darius who first broke the silence.
“Trinity should be off duty soon. You’re welcome to sit here until she comes back.”
“Thanks. Most generous of you cousin,” Ty chuckled. “But seriously, while we wait for Trinity, I want to talk to you about this trip to Earth.”
“So do I,” Darius said, his demeanor changing.
Ty leaned forward. “I’m deeply concerned about these three going back to Earth alone. It was bad enough when you were with them, but without you? I don’t know. I have grave reservations.”
“I understand, but I can assure that they could have no greater protection than Eclair.”
“Eclair?” Ty scoffed. “Darius please, Eclair’s my friend too and I know about his trick of bending light, but we’re talking about their very lives being at stake. It’ll be incredibly dangerous for them. This Blackheart guy will be on the lookout for them this time.”
“I know, but I stand by what I said. Eclair is the one to pull it off.”
“How can you be so confidant?”
“Ty, you haven’t seen Eclair in tight situations like I have. He’s no longer the pushover you knew in school. He’s powerful beyond all reckoning. I don’t think even he knows the depth of his power. Gods help us all if he ever turned evil. There would be no stopping him.”
“I’m sorry, I just don’t see him that way. I’ve known Eclair too long to have that level of confidence in him.”
Suddenly, Ty felt a tightening around his arms. It quickly spread over his entire body until he was completely paralyzed. Within seconds, he found himself rising and spinning around in mid air.
“Hey! What’s going . . .”
Ty’s voice stopped in mid-sentence.
Eclair stood in the doorway of the study, focusing on Ty, his head slightly bent as he concentrated.
Darius sat up straighter in his chair. This was a new trick that even he had not seen yet.
Dyla was standing behind Eclair. She gently touched his arm.
“Eclair, enough. I’m sure they get the point.”
Eclair looked up and flashed a boyish grin at Ty. He winked at Dyla and they both walked into the room.
“Still have no confidence in my abilities to protect the group?” Eclair asked.
He released Ty’s voice and slowly lowered him back into the chair.
“Damn you, Eclair,” Ty shouted, indignantly. “Release me at once.”
Eclair stood in front of Ty releasing the invisible bonds that held him.
“Why did you do that?”
“To convince you,” Eclair said, deadly serious.
Ty was stunned. Darius was right. Eclair was powerful beyond reckoning.
“I knew what you were doing and yet I couldn’t stop you. I’ve never felt such power.”
“You haven’t seen anything yet. Would you like to see more?”
Ty held his hands up in surrender.
“Stop. Please no more. I’m convinced.”
Eclair gave Ty a mock bow and walked over to the empty chair next to Dyla and sat down. She reached over and gave his hand a quick squeeze.
“Pretty good, huh?” he said.
“All right you two, enough fun and games. We have business to discuss tonight. Let’s get to it,” Darius said trying hard not to laugh.
It was Ty’s turn to chuckle.
“Dyla, are you sure this is the same brother you had to drag out of bed during our training sessions?”
“Yep, all work and no play, that’s my brother.”
The group laughed as Cat came into the room.
“What’s going on? Are you guys having a meeting without me?”
“No, Cat,” Darius said. “Ty and I were talking business and Dyla and Eclair have just joined us.”
Dyla felt waves of tension emanating from Cat. The young woman was decidedly unhappy about something. She reached over and grabbed Eclair’s hand, pulling him out of his chair.
“Come on, Eclair. I want to finish our discussion.”
“Our discussion? What discussion?”
It took only a moment for Eclair to look at Cat’s troubled face to realize that she had something on her mind and it didn’t concern either him or Dyla.
“Oh yeah, I remember now.”
Cat watched them scamper out of the room.
Ty jumped out of his seat. “I think I’ll go meet Trinity at the portal station.” He walked over to Cat and bowed slightly. “Good-bye and good luck on your trip, Catiana. It’s been a pleasure to know you.”
“Thank you, Ty.”
He nodded to Darius and left the room.
Cat walked to the window, watching the harbor city spread below. The view from the Telkur manor was magnificent. She stared for long minutes at the teeming seaport. The sprawling docks had begun to melt into the coming twilight and the lights from the city began to shine like fireflies against the night. The normal bustle of the docks was replaced with an eerie stillness as the workers made their way home. It only served to remind her how alone she was in this strange place. This was not her world and she had no home to go to here.
Darius sat patiently and watched the Earth archeologist. He wished things could have been different between them, but fate had other plans.
“Darius,” Cat said breaking her reverie, “I wanted to talk to you alone before I left.”
Darius got out of his chair and walked over to the window, careful not to stand too close to the young woman.
“I’m glad you came here,” he said soothingly.
Cat turned toward him, a scowl etched on her face and pushed her glasses up.
“Why? You haven’t had time for me for weeks and now you say this the night before I leave?”
Darius visibly flinched at the intensity of her words.
“I’m still glad you came to Otharia.”
Cat stared at Darius. Her emotions were a cascade of confusion and she didn’t trust herself to maintain her composure. She wanted to go home, but a part of her wanted to stay with Darius. Could she fall in love with him? Did she already love him? Could one night together make up for never seeing him again? It was too much and she realized it would be better if she kept her distance.
Darius was no stranger to women. He had seen that painful look before on another woman’s face, the look of regret and unfulfilled hope. He was not happy to see it again.
“Cat, I’m sorry . . .”
“You’ve said that before,” she interrupted, folding her arms across her chest. “It doesn’t make anything better.”
“Please, let me finish.”
Cat pursed her lips and waited for him to continue.
“You’re leaving tomorrow and I wouldn’t begin to try to convince you otherwise. I know how unhappy you’ve been here, but I do wish things were different,” he said taking a step towards her.
Cat stepped back holding up her hand to stop him.
“Please don’t. Let’s not make this any more complicated than it already is.”
“Complicated? You’ve been angry with me since I brought you here. I know this is a strange place, but I saved your life back on Earth. You would have drowned in that enclosure. You should be happy now. I’m sending you back to your own world. What’s complicated about that?”
Cat stiffened and pushed her glasses up on her nose once more. “I knew you wouldn’t understand.”
“Understand what? Please explain it to me.”
“Of course, I’m happy to be going home, but not every part of me wants to go. I’ll be back where I belong, where I fit in, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish things could have been different.”
Darius stared at her. “Cat, you must realize that I have responsibilities as the Duke of Telkur. I cannot . . .”
Darius paused. He could see the anguish in her eyes, but he was helpless to do anything about it. He did the only thing he could.
“Catiana Spencer, I wish you a long and happy life,” he said, respectfully bowing to her.
A sad smile crossed her face. She bowed her head and gave the handsome young duke one last look before hurrying from the room.
Darius watched leave. A part of him ached to reach out to her, to wrap her in his arms, to let her know that everything would be all right. Instead, he stood unmoving, watching her walk out the door and out of his life.
Debra L Martin writes science fiction and fantasy with her co-author, David W Small. They have been writing together since 2006 and have produced two novels and two novelettes to-date. Debra lives on the East Coast with her husband and 3 cats. David lives on the West Coast with his wife and daughter. They are currently working on a fantasy they hope to finish in 2011.
Visit them at their website,Two Ends of the Pen.
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Posted by Karen Cantwell at 3:30 AM