Clarissa Johal: PRADEE - A Young Adult Fantasy - Excerpt

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

PRADEE - A Young Adult Fantasy - Excerpt

PRADEE - A young adult fantasy

What if there were an artifact that had the power to change the future? Would you use it?

Three friends are accused of poisoning an Elder in their village. They escape to the mysterious region of Vel to search for the Guardian of a mythical artifact, one with the power to see the past and change the future. If they find the artifact, it could prove their innocence. However, if it falls into the wrong hands, it could destroy the future of their world as they know it.

In the tradition of The Dark Crystal by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, PRADEE will pull the reader into an exciting, otherworldly adventure.

*Second round finalist in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Contest 2012


   Cerj scampered up the hill that led to the Lawkeeper’s home. The Elders had told him which way to go and had given him a description of the Lawkeeper.  Excited to be given such a task, Cerj had set off running as fast as he could.  Few villagers ever spoke of Wir’yinn, fewer still had actually seen the reclusive Lawkeeper.  It was as if everyone was hiding something, thought the youngster.  His heart beat rapidly, partially because of the important task he had been entrusted with, and partially because for the first time in his young life—Cerj was afraid.

   As he reached the top of the hill, the forest closed around him like a fist.  The light was fading quickly.  Cerj slowed his pace as he approached a brier wall that, he was told, encircled Wir’yinn’s home. Maybe he could catch him off guard, wouldn’t that be something to tell his friends! The great Lawkeeper caught in one of his secret moments! He took a deep breath and bravely pushed his way through the brier.  As he pushed farther and farther, the young Riverfolk became caught in the thorns and began to panic.

   “Help! Help me!” Cerj thrashed around like a fish in a net. Suddenly, something closed around his wrist and he was pulled unceremoniously off his feet and held in mid-air.  A creature that could only be the Lawkeeper looked him over as if inspecting a piece of food. “Pl-please don’t hurt me!” Cerj stammered.  “My name is Cerj, son of Pulk. I was sent here from T’hal to deliver a message!” Cerj cowered as the creature’s black, pupil-less eyes narrowed. “You are Wir’yinn, am I right?”

   The creature responded by snapping his sharp beak.

   “W-we need you to stand by for a possible Contract!”

   Wir’yinn raised a feather-tufted eyebrow. His short horns gleamed ebony against his mottled green skin.  His sharp beak opened and closed soundlessly.

   “Three of our villagers have been accused of poisoning an Elder!” Cerj continued nervously. “The Elders think Wex and Mourr have committed the crime. They’re not sure, really. Cobweb helped them escape. Tordok thinks they’ve gone in search of the Guardian of the Orb but the other Elders think they’ve just run away.” Cerj ran out of breath, heart beating wildly. “The village is waiting until the first seed sprout and if they haven’t returned, they would like you to return them to T’hal.”

   The Lawkeeper studied him silently. Seemingly satisfied that he was telling the truth, he dropped him on the ground. 

   Cerj grunted in pain and struggled to his feet.

   Wir’yinn turned on one clawed heel and strode over to log.  His long fingers closed around the handle of an axe that was longer than Cerj’s whole body.  Shouldering the axe easily, the Lawkeeper turned and climbed up a large, nearby tree. 

   Absently picking the brambles from his fur, Cerj approached the tree.  In the fading light, it seemed as though the Lawkeeper had disappeared. He stepped back and squinted to get a better look. The Lawkeeper’s home looked like a large box. Camouflaged, it perched between several of the tree’s larger branches about half-way up.  Cerj ran his webbed paws along the trunk and started the climb with difficulty. Higher and higher he pulled himself. He avoided looking down.  As he reached the base of the box, he spotted a small hole carved at the bottom.  Cerj steadied himself against one of the branches and poked his head into the hole. 

   The large, one-room box glowed with a yellowish light. The Riverfolk blinked, allowing his eyes to adjust. He slowly pulled himself through the hole and scanned his surroundings. 

   Wir’yinn huddled in one darkened corner, his back to him. 

   Keeping one webbed paw on the wall, he walked carefully around the perimeter.  He was quite conscious of the fact he was high up in a tree and had heard all sorts of rumors about the Lawkeeper’s home.  Looking around, however, he saw nothing out of the ordinary. Small, tightly woven baskets hung around the abode’s perimeter.  Moving lights flickered within. Upon closer examination, Cerj realized that the lights were Polk-Beetles and their larvae. The beetles crawled and hit the walls of the baskets, helpless to escape. Their larvae emitted a soft, yellow glow.  This isn’t that different than my home, Cerj mused. Except that it’s enclosed.  He steadied himself against the wall again. And high up in a tree. There was a single pile of grass and leaves in corner, similar to what Burrowers slept and sat upon.  It’s not so different.

   In the center of the dwelling was a single wooden table and chair.  The table was carved to depict a kneeling Lawkeeper.  Her wings curved gracefully over her head to create the table’s surface. The chair had also been carved to look like wings. Disembodied, the wings cupped themselves to hold the sitter like a pair of hands. Both pieces were polished and glowed warmly in the yellow light. Cerj goggled at the furniture’s beauty and reached out to touch one of the wings.  He glanced guiltily over at the Lawkeeper and pulled his hand back.  “That was the Elder’s message. I…should be going.”  

   The Lawkeeper abruptly turned. His wings, now edged black and yellow, flattened behind him.  He motioned for the Riverfolk to sit at the table. 

   Slowly, Cerj sat in the chair. 

   Wir’yinn walked over to him.  With lightning speed, he grabbed Cerj’s paw and held it tightly. The Lawkeeper seemed to be gauging his response as he pressed his face closer to the Riverfolk’s.

   “We j-just wanted you to stand by,” Cerj stammered. “They still have time to return home, of course.”

   The Lawkeeper's impressive-looking wings stretched outwards, spanning a good eight feet across. Reaching behind with his free hand, Wir’yinn plucked out a long, glassy-looking feather. He pointed the quill end like an accusing finger before sweeping the quill end downward, piercing one of Cerj’s webbed digits. 

   Cerj cried out in surprise.  He stared, wide-eyed, at the drop of blood that welled up.

   The Lawkeeper rolled the quill of the feather across the injury.

   “I really should be going,” Cerj felt light-headed.

   Wir’yinn laid the feather on the table with a finality and released Cerj’s paw. The Lawkeeper folded his wings and turned his back to him.

   Cerj stared at the Lawkeeper’s feather.  He watched the red color bleed into the feather's long vanes.  The Elders had trusted him to deliver the message but they hadn’t said anything about what had just happened.  “So, you’ll wait for us to notify you, right?” 

   The Lawkeeper was silent.

   Confused and heart hammering wildly in his chest, Cerj left the feather on the table, bright red with his own blood.


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