Quest for Magic
The Leira Chronicles Book 0
By Martha Carr and Michael Anderle
Leira found herself standing in the middle of a large, open space, deep inside the Light Elves’ kingdom. The entire kingdom was nestled in a valley near a mountain range, overlooking a wide green valley.
Only problem was Leira was standing high above all of it, as if she was floating in mid-air. The entire vista was visible to Leira from every angle, even under her feet. The elves floating nearby looked unconcerned.
As far as she could tell, there were no actual walls, no floors. There wasn’t even a table or chair. She slid her sneaker forward just a little and felt something solid beneath her.
Leira found herself frozen in place, not willing to move.
“You look distressed,” the king said. It was a statement of fact. He didn’t seem to be sharing her concern.
She stared back at him, not sure what to say. “The…ground…” she stammered. Everyone turned to look at her, confused.
“Where the hell is it?” she asked, starting to get angry, pointing down. ‘The ground, where’s the damned ground?” She waved her arms, but that felt too much like she was flapping wings. She stopped, arms still out, fighting the urge to curl into a ball.
“I’ve got this one,” said Bert. He touched fingertips together in elaborate patterns, and the floors became visible, flowing out from the corners like liquid before turning into solid marble. The center of the floor was inlaid with a cursive O inside the same style of crown the king was wearing. It was bracketed by Irish wolfhounds sitting at attention in mosaic tiles.
The liquid flowed up toward the sky, forming walls, leaving space for windows that stretched from the floor to the ceiling. An oversized crystal chandelier blossomed from the ceiling, while the room seemed to furnish itself. Everything glowed around the edges.
“We do like the glitter,” said the king, looking up at the chandelier.
“I quite prefer to do without any of it,” said a female elf, as tall as Bert with long, flowing dark hair, wearing a crown similar to the king’s. She was the most beautiful creature Leira had ever seen. “It really spoils the view to have to pretend we have floors and walls,” she observed.
“Leira Berens, this is my wife, Queen Saria,” said the king.
“Pretend?” Alarmed, Leira quickly tested the sturdiness of the floor by stomping her foot. Best to find out now if she was about to fall to her death.
The floor held.
“Well done,” said the king. “Very brave, that’s a good sign. You face things head on.” He gave her a smile that quickly faded. “That will serve you well in the task at hand.”
“You’re staring,” the queen observed, fixing her deep green eyes on Leira. “It’s as if you’ve never seen an elf before. That can’t be true.” She arched a perfectly shaped eyebrow at the king and said, “Surely you’ve noticed.”
“How long do we have left?” asked the king, ignoring the queen’s words.
“Three hours, no more,” Bert replied.
“What happens in three hours?” Leira asked, as she studied the room She let her fingers graze cut glass pitchers that sang melodies when she touched them, admired gold framed paintings that came to life when she looked at them, carved wooden trays that had leaves growing from the edges.
Everything was more beautiful to her than anything she’d seen back on Earth.
“The memories will be lost,” Bert urged. The king cleared his throat to catch Leira’s attention. She was too busy staring at a prism dangling in one of the windows. The sunlight was shining through it, casting an image of a blue reindeer on a nearby wall.
Its broad antlers were refracting in the light.
Leira touched the prism and as it moved the images changed. She was mesmerized as first a gold antelope, then a white wolf and finally an emerald green dragonfly danced on the wall.
“She’s enraptured by a child’s toy,” The queen shook her head. “This is who you’re entrusting with finding our son’s killer?” Her voice was sharp and full of pain.
Leira snapped out of it, pulling her hand away from the prism. “I’m here to do a job, right,” she said, her experience kicking in. It didn’t matter if everything around her was new and different. She was here to investigate a crime. “Singleness of purpose,” she said.
“Indeed,” Burt replied, frowning.
Leira could tell he wasn’t happy. Not my problem, she thought. You called me.
“Let’s get on with it, then,” she said. “Time matters, even over here.” She gave her best dead fish look.
“Better,” said Bert, as he held open a tall door. Leira strode through confidently, as Bert ‘tsked loudly. The king and queen followed but Leira hesitated, realizing she didn’t have a clue where she was going.
“Perhaps we should lead the way?” The queen looked down her nose at Leira.
The queen stepped in front of her, waving her arms to show the floors in front of them. “All of this opening and closing is a tiresome nuisance,” she flicked her wrist. “I suppose it’s a short-term necessity.”
“I could always just go home,” replied Leira. The queen turned to look at her and Leira held her gaze, not backing down. She cocked her head to one side, waiting to see if the queen had anything else to say. No one else moved, even though Leira could see that Bert was once again rolling his eyes, annoyed.
“Very well,” said the queen. “Let’s get on with it.” She waved an arm over her head, her sleeve fluttering as the walls and floors behind them dissolved completely. “There, that’s better,” she said. She flicked her wrist, completing the spell as the rest of the castle disappeared again. She didn’t bother to turn around to see Leira’s reaction.
Bitch wanna’ play, thought Leira. Okay, grieving mother, I get it. I’ll give you this one. Leira focused on the queen walking in front of her and the surrounding peaks in the distance. She didn’t dare look down at the distant valley below.
Leira was aware of other elves busy at work, or lying down, resting. The queen made a series of swift motions and a dark cloud appeared, lightning and thunder cracking and rumbling around it. The queen moved swiftly into the cloud as it enveloped her.
Leira hesitated a moment but walked into the dense, grey mist.
At least I can’t see what’s not underneath me anymore, Leira thought as she moved deeper into the cloud. The darkness cleared as swiftly as it had arrived, and she found herself standing in the center of a room with smooth, granite walls, and a marble floor identical to the one she’d seen before.
On the far wall, a fire burned in a marble bowl.
A young elf lay in the center of the room, a male who looked to be about Leira’s age. His skin was almost blindingly white and he was dressed in dark green robes that twinkled with light. A braided necklace with an diamond-shaped lavender stone pendant hung from his neck. On his head was an elven crown. He looked like he might be asleep, but Leira knew what she was seeing.
This was their dead son.
“This is my son, Prince Rolim, of the Oriceran Light Elves. I keep this room perpetually shrouded.” The queen touched her son gently. Grief crossed her face and she seemed lost, but only for the moment. “No one enters this room without my express permission, no one,” she said sternly, looking at Leira.
FROM MARTHA >>> Snippet #8! TWO MORE DAYS! Seven months of dreaming up an entirely new world, new creatures – even insects – talking over stories with Michael Anderle, writing, writing, writing! And here we are… The anticipation! Can you feel it? We’re almost there… so many adventures. Okay, back to writing for me. Talk to all of you later!
For more about Martha Carr go to: http://oriceran.com/martha-carr/
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