Hey, S. M. Boyce here. Shimmer is the second book in the Fairhaven Chronicles, a series inspired by the beauty of the west coast. Enjoy the first 6 chapters on the house and ride along as Victoria Brie (yes, like the cheese) and her best friend Audrey Xavier continue their journey.
If you missed chapter 1 head there now: http://oriceran.com/shimmer-snippet-1/
Here’s chapter 2:
Glow: The Revelations of Oriceran, The Fairhaven Chronicles, Book 1
By S. M. Boyce & Martha Carr
As the overhead crystals in the Fairhaven cavern began to dim, signaling the end of another day, Audrey leaned her elbows on the windowsill and watched the street for Victoria.
The townspeople of Fairhaven had reacted quite surprisingly to Victoria being a Rhazdon host. Half of them seemed to adore her, even thanking her in the street, while the other half kept their distance and watched her suspiciously.
But they had all ignored Audrey.
It wasn’t fair. Audrey had fought the snarx too. She had helped drag its head back to town. She had stood on the balcony when Luak threatened Victoria, sword at the ready in case shit went down.
At every step of the way, Audrey had put her life on the line to keep Victoria alive, but no one here cared. As usual, they fawned over Victoria while Audrey stood in her friend’s shadow.
She blew a raspberry, forehead pressed against the windowpane.
Around a bend in the street, a mop of braided strawberry blonde hair appeared in the crowd. Victoria. She had several elves in tow, their gorgeous and ornate gowns trailing on the cobblestone street. They fawned over her, laughing at something she said as she wildly gestured with her hands. They had likely asked about her training or her magical exploits, eager to hear stories from a Rhazdon host who was for some reason not actively trying to kill them.
A heroic Rhazdon host was like a horse walking into a supermarket: no one knew quite what to make of it, but everyone wanted a closer look.
Fuck! What Audrey wouldn’t give to walk a day in Victoria’s shoes. To be adored, respected. Hell, she would settle for being noticed.
A pang of guilt shot through Audrey like lightning, and she left her post at the window to pace the room with her hands in her pockets. Part of her wished she could stuff these emotions down deep and pretend they didn’t exist…but they did. Resentment and envy burned deep within her soul, and they grew stronger every day as she tried to ignore them.
Curious about what was keeping Victoria, Audrey peeked through the window again to find her friend surrounded by even more people in the middle of the street. Elves and ogres alike mobbed her, hanging on her every word.
Before she could help herself, Audrey scoffed in disgust. The moment the sound escaped her lips, she blushed and clamped a hand over her mouth.
She had to get her jealousy under control.
For now, a walk sounded like a great way to cool off. She trotted down the stairs and out the back door to avoid Victoria and her fans, not quite in the mood to deal with crowds or be reminded of her envy.
The thin alley between their house—well, Victoria’s house—and the next was paved with smooth stones that reminded Audrey of river rocks. Her boots clacked over them as she retreated from the home she shared with her best friend and headed into one of the city’s dozens of markets. Maybe she could distract herself by window shopping. Even though she didn’t really enjoy browsing, she could use the occasion to discover a new section of Fairhaven. She already knew Bertha’s street and the entire route to Fyrn’s house by heart, but there were plenty of markets closer to the palace that she hadn’t yet wandered through.
With each step, the massive white palace in the center of town neared. She loved looking at the towering spires, especially the centermost one that climbed almost all the way to the largest of the magnificent glowing green crystals overhead.
As her feet carried her into the tourist district, she scanned the shops to learn more about this section of the city. The ogres had thinned out and there were only elves everywhere, both behind the cash registers and browsing the aisles. In this district, there didn’t seem to be a single non-elfish creature. This shopping area wasn’t as busy as Main Street, but plenty of people surrounded her. Most, however, gave her space. After all, she was a human in their midst. Dozens of almond-shaped eyes watched her from delicate faces with pointy ears, and many leaned to their neighbors to murmur as she passed.
Hmm. Perhaps she didn’t want to be noticed after all.
A curve in the road led to a large open-air marketplace, tables having been set up on both sides of the thoroughfare. White cloth covered the shopkeepers and their wares, and the tables displayed everything from folded suits to umbrellas and knickknacks. Audrey’s eyes began to ache from moving constantly as she scanned every table, relishing the distraction.
Something glittering on a nearby stand caught her attention. The table was covered with carved crystals. She recognized a few of the statues—a cat and a small mouse—but many were mighty animals she hadn’t seen before, immortalized in formidable poses with raised claws and bared fangs.
Beside the crystal figurines were four statues carved from some kind of white stone: a koi, a butterfly, a dolphin, and a dragon. Their eyes glimmered like tiny suns, full of fire. A ping in her chest urged her to pick them up and buy them all, whatever the cost.
For no logical reason, her instinct said these were special.
Audrey picked up the koi, and her fingers crackled with electricity when the cold stone met her skin. The figurine glowed as brilliantly as the center of a star. She jerked her hand back in surprise, dropping the small statue back onto the table, and the light show caught the clerk’s attention.
The elf jogged over, his long black hair frizzy. “What did you do?”
“I don’t know,” Audrey said softly, mystified.
“You break it, you buy it. These aren’t cheap, kid.”
“What are they?”
He grinned, flashing a mischievous smile that reminded Audrey of a used car salesman’s. “These are ancient relics from lost civilizations. You name the kingdom, and I guarantee I have something from it you can buy. But be warned—no one knows what magic each of these contains!”
She rolled her eyes. Laying it on pretty thick there, aren’t you, buddy?
“Where are these from?” She pointed to the alabaster figurines.
“Ah, I’m not allowed to say.” He winked.
She quirked an eyebrow, waiting in silence for him to get on with his sales pitch.
The shopkeeper picked up the koi, and Audrey suppressed the desire to pluck it from his hands. “The man who sold me these said I was never to tell anyone where I got them, but I will tell you, my dear, because I can see that you’re special. They’re from the one and only Atlantis.”
Audrey frowned, astounded at his blatant showmanship. “Atlantis?”
“I can tell you don’t believe me, but I assure you it’s true.”
“Uh-huh.” Perhaps that was her cue to leave. This guy was obviously trying to pull the wool over her eyes, but she couldn’t deny what she had seen. Carefully Audrey reached for the butterfly, curious to see what would happen if she touched a different figurine. As before, energy crackled through her body and the stone glowed.
Wait. Hold on.
She frowned, stepping away from the booth as a thought occurred to her. This was a parlor trick. He must have enchanted them somehow to encourage fools to buy his wares. Without another word she disappeared back into the crowd, but the haunting tug continued to pull her toward the white stone trinkets.
They’re special. She knew it with every fiber of her being even if she had no idea why or how.
Careful to stay out of sight, she ducked into an alley where she could watch the booth. As she stared at the trinkets, a jealous twinge told her to go buy them now, before anyone else had the chance. Body tense, she leaned against the wall and forced herself to wait.
An elvish woman in a brilliant purple gown paused by the stall, eyes on the figurines. The woman lifted the koi figurine, her dainty fingers exploring the statue’s curves. Audrey bristled, suppressing the utterly irrational impulse to run over and buy the white stone carvings out from under her.
But nothing happened. The stone didn’t glow. In fact, the brilliant fire to the crystal eyes faded almost completely.
Audrey perked up, curious about her discovery. The figurines had reacted to her.
Only to her.
To test her theory, she waited while four more elvish women and a rare ogre handled the figurines. Everyone seemed drawn to their elegance and beauty, but no one could make them glow like she had.
Audrey returned to the booth and gestured to the figurines. “What are you asking for these?”
“Fifteen each. But for you, I can go as low as ten.”
“Thirty for all four.”
His eyebrows shot nearly into his hairline. “I would be taking a loss! I have a family to feed, and—”
“I think we both know that’s not true.”
He smirked, his offended expression dissolving in an instant. “Clever girl. Fine. You have yourself a deal.”
Audrey nodded, setting her hands on her hips as he wrapped each of them in paper for her. She could feel that these were magical. Part of her worried that they reacted only to humans, but she doubted it. There was magic in these figurines, and she would learn everything she could about them.
Deep down, she hoped this confirmed what she had desperately wished for: that, like Victoria, Audrey had her own brand of magic. Perhaps one only she could use.
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