Thursday, September 23, 2010

New and shiny! (with a teaser of great things to come)

In order to celebrate my shiny, new blog, I thought it would be fun to post a preview for you lovely readers. This is the first chapter from my new YA novel, Summoning. Enjoy!

21st June
Meredith’s 15th year
The smooth iron band felt cold – nothing like the heat it would summon. My hands shook as I placed it on my head. I held my breath.
All those years. All those lies. Now this was the only way. 
My shadow flickered across the chalk outline on the stone floor as I stepped into the center of the circle. I turned to the north and faced the bank of candles set up against the wall. My shadow lay behind me. 
With my right hand, I fanned out nine feathers plucked from the black rooster’s tail. I lifted
them over my head from west to east in defiance of the sun. With my left hand, I unlocked the iron-bound book and found Psalm 51. I prayed the words would protect me:
Cast me not from Thy presence . . .
The words hung in the air.
. . . Deliver me from bloodguilt . . .
I closed my eyes and recited the rest from memory.
. . . then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering,
the whole burnt offering . . .
The pages crackled when I turned to Revelation 9:19. Placing one finger at the end, I read in reverse:
Harm they them in and, heads having, serpents to like be them of tails the for; them of mouth the in is horses the of power the for
Sweat slipped over the ridge of my lip. The feathers in my hand trembled.
I counted my heartbeats . . . twenty-one, twenty-two . . .  
Hot breath on the back of my neck sent chills down my spine, through my arms to my fingertips. I wanted to run, but the circle surrounding me and the iron crown on my head bound me. I held my eyes wide open.
Legion,” I acknowledged the shadow growing by my side.
Why, Meredith Pennyfather. Is that you?” The voice echoed in my ears.
My voice cracked, but I managed the first question, “Where are they?”
What would your mother say if she heard you speaking in so rude a manner?”
I wanted to strike out at him for mentioning her, but continued staring at the candles.
"Where are they?” I asked again – my second question – through clenched teeth.
There is an etiquette to this process. I know you paid attention to his lessons. First, we agree on my fee, and only then may you ask your questions. You have only one left, you know.”
My eyes burned with the effort of not blinking. The stench of sulfur stuck to the back of my throat and in my nose. The candles blazed in front of me. Yes, I understood the rules. 
Where are they?” I managed the question for the third time.
Ah, I see. You listened to what he failed to say. You learned what he failed to teach.”
The voice moved beside me. His breath hit my cheek, but I concentrated on the stone wall behind the candles now burning their images into my eyes.
You with your silence hiding in the shadows, watching while the old man tricked me. You with your cold eyes watching while he made his mistakes. You paid attention. But you have missed the obvious, my dear Meredith. You already have the answer to your question. You and
your gifts have always held the answer.”
He stood in front of me, his blue cloak skimming the floor. The hood kept all but his chin in darkness. I tried not to look at the cloak or its slippery movements.
So this was all he would offer?
My eyes felt as if they were dust and fire. My voice crackled as I threw three  feathers at him.
“I bid you return whence you came!”
The cloak and the man wavered around the edges. I threw three more feathers.
I bid you return whence you came!”
The candles behind the man glowed through him. He smirked. I threw the last three feathers. “I bid you return whence you came!”
He dissolved in smoke, and I choked on the lingering mist. I would have cried, but I had no tears. 
My eyelids scratched over my eyes as I finally closed them –  shadow-candles flickered there. My knees hit the stone floor hard, but without breaking the bounds of the circle.
What did he mean I already had the answer?
Where were they?

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