Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Excerpt: The Quest of the Unaligned by @phillipsauthor

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Excerpt

From The Quest of the Unaligned, Chapter 2
***
“Did you know that the king and queen have been looking for you for over ten years?”
Alaric let his head fall back against the wall. “Ow. And nobody told him that he has the wrong person? I’m not the prince they’re looking for!”
Laeshana shrugged. “Whether you are or aren’t, you did sign the contract to complete his quest, so I’m going with you. You need a guide.”
The simple, matter-of-fact way she said it put Alaric’s teeth on edge. “No!” he said, pushing himself to his feet. “I don’t need a guide. My problems aren’t going to mess up other people’s lives and schedules. I can figure things out on my own, thanks.”
He tugged on his backpack’s shoulder straps, looked out at the empty hills, shuddered, and shot a side look at Laeshana. She wasn’t leaving. In fact, she was leaning back against the city’s wall, her eyes fixed on him and her eyebrows raised. It was unsettling.
“Let me put it another way,” Laeshana said after a few seconds of silence. “I have a business proposition for you, Alaric.”
That put things in a different light. “Oh?”
“How much do you know about the Quest of the Unaligned?”
Alaric gave her a baffled look. “Me? Why would I know anything about it?”
“True,” she admitted. “I guess going to school in Cadaeren did give me a slight advantage in that field.”
“If you want to call going to school in this wasteland an advantage,” Alaric muttered. “But you were talking about a business proposition?”
“Yes. The Prince’s Crown, which you’re going to be bringing from the Temple of the Elements to the City of Balance, is the oldest, most powerful object in the entire kingdom of Cadaeren.”
“Powerful?” Alaric asked, perking up. “What do you mean?”
Laeshana pursed her lips. “It sort of…radiates energy.”
“Like a motor?”
“Not really. People from Cadaeren say it’s magical.”
 “Of course they do.” He shook his head. “All right, so I’m going to be transporting a famous crown. Go on.”
“I need to study the crown. Just while you’re transporting it. No one knows exactly what it can do—I have a theory, and I’ve read everything that everyone’s ever written on the subject, but I have to see it for myself to test it.” Laeshana’s eyes were bright with passion as she continued. “I’ve wanted to get a few hours with it for years, and this is likely going to be my only chance ever. Please, Alaric?”
Alaric stared at Laeshana. “You’re serious? You want to go with me so you can look at a crown for a few hours?”
Laeshana nodded.
“Why?”
“It’s pretty simple. The energy fields are localized, so you have to be in pretty close proximity –”
 “No,” Alaric interrupted, “I mean, why do you want to study it so badly?”
A strange half-smile grew on Laeshana’s face, and she was silent for nearly half a minute. Then she looked down at the ground. “Let’s just say that I want to be more than what I was born to be.”
That was close enough to a personal statement to make Alaric flush with embarrassment. He hadn’t meant to pry into Laeshana’s private affairs. “Right. So. Business deal. I let you study the crown while it’s in my possession, and in return…”
“I’ll be your guide. Arrange things with the locals, get you good deals, help you find your way. It’ll make things go faster for you.”
Alaric sat for a moment. It sounded good, and it would definitely be nice to have a voice of reason accompanying him through the country of lunatics. Then again…“I feel like I should still say no. I’ve not been doing well in my choices of contracts lately.”
Laeshana stifled a laugh. “I promise, no strings attached.”
“And no one in Cadaeren would mind if I let you study their crown?”
“Well…it wouldn’t invalidate your contract. And seriously, do you care what Ruahkini thinks? I won’t tell him if you don’t.”
Alaric snorted. Come to think of it, seriously irritating Ruahkini would be a good reason to agree to Laeshana’s request. “All right. Does a verbal contract suffice, or do you want it in writing?”
She sighed. “Really, Alaric? We’ve known each other for what, five years?”
“And your point?”
“Never mind. Verbal is fine.”
Alaric held out his hand, and Laeshana shook it. Her palm was warm and soft in his, and he held it for half a second longer than formality required before he let go.
“Excellent,” Laeshana said. “So as soon as Ruahkini shows up to give you your official directions, we can start.”
“He’d better be here soon, or he’ll be late,” Alaric said, looking up at the sky. “It’s nearly dawn.”
“He’s Cadaerian. He won’t care about being late.”
“Ha ha. Very funny.” Everyone in the world cared about punctuality, second only to efficiency and productivity. But Laeshana’s confused expression seemed to indicate that she hadn’t been joking. “Wait…you don’t mean…”
But then the sun’s first ray shone warm on Alaric’s face, and there was a faint pop to his side.
“My lord!” Ruahkini said, his head cocked over his shoulder as usual. “How very pleased I am to see you here today. Not that you could be anywhere else, of course.” He only looked a trifle smug as he folded his arms into the long sleeves of his silver-hemmed robe.
“He very nearly wasn’t here, Lord Ruahkini,” Laeshana said from behind them. Something about the old man seemed to irritate her—her voice had taken on a higher pitch and it trembled with tension. “Or at least, not all of him. How could you send him through the barrier without any kind of warning or preparation? He would have died if I hadn’t been here!”

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Tell us 5 random things about you the person, not the author

1) I'm a Ph.D. student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
2) I sing first soprano and took pipe organ lessons for 6 years
3) I love to rapier fight with the Society for Creative Anachronism
4) I earned my Girl Scout Gold Award and marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA
5) I was homeschooled from K-12

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Twitter:  phillipsauthor
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Website:  www.phillipsfiction.com
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