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Friday, June 15, 2012

Xannu - The Prophecy: Excerpt (Princess Ariana)

Today I am giving you a little excerpt from my YA fantasy novel, Xannu - The Prophecy, the first book in The Southern Lands series. I hope you enjoy the excerpt. Jump over to my website or Amazon to pick up your own copy of the book. It's only $0.99

Xannu - The Prophecy
Book 1 of 'The Southern Lands' saga

For fans of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Narnia Chronicles, the first installment in a thrilling epic fantasy series…

Would you wake up in a hot sweat if you lived your night’s dreams as a soldier battling un-earthly creatures, witnessing powerful magic and fighting to save your own life on a daily basis?

English schoolboy Terry West does. Frequently. After digging up some rune coins near a roman road, he has been living in another world inhabited by warlocks, seductresses, priests and prophecy. There Terry is a soldier, Teern Truthbringer, who has been tasked with finding the Xannu - 'he who will lead the people into deliverance.'

If only it wasn’t real; but it is. Very real. When it all began it was even enjoyable, but now Terry’s life is getting very complicated. Somehow he involved his best friend Joe and although it had seemed a good idea at the time, the consequences had been dire. Then there is Susan, the leggy sister of klutzy school-friend Brian. Why does she keep sending him messages?

Terry is struggling to balance the two lives he leads and every day he is losing his grip on reality just a little bit more. He’s been forced to kill enemies; his companion, the magical woman Maria, is scaring him half to death with her abilities; and his parents are on his back about his school work.

How will he balance the two lives he leads, solve two sets of problems, and understand the lessons he receives from both? Only time will tell. But time is something Terry doesn't have too much of, as everything is unfolding in ways he could never have imagined!


...Ariana turned her head to face the two guards. “Don’t worry, I won’t be long. There can’t possibly be any cause for concern here. Just wait for me.”
“This will not go unreported,” Stanton shouted, as Ariana resumed her careful crossing. She smiled to herself in the knowledge that once again she had beaten authority. No one was going to tell her how to run her life. No one was going to keep her under lock and key. Before she realized it, she was standing on the far cliff of the ravine. She briefly looked back, but her two guards were distant figures, seemingly attached to the support that made up the far end of the bridge. She smiled to herself again and looked about her. In front of her and to her right, nestled in some trees, was a small temple-like building. It had a bright blue roof, inlaid with gold, and six walls, each cut with small eight-sided windows. In one wall was a small door made of wood. Ariana approached the building carefully and tried the door. It opened easily and she stepped inside.
“Ah, I have a visitor,” said a small man, seated by a fire in the far corner of the six-sided room. “Come in, please.” Ariana closed the door behind her and crossed the room halfway to get a better view and to feel a little of the fire’s warmth.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“I am the Keeper,” the man answered, looking up to examine Ariana closely. “And you must be the princess.”
“I am Ariana, daughter of King Annut the Second,” she replied, in her best regal voice.
“I have been expecting you. Come child. Sit a while. The fire is warm.”
“But, who are you?” she asked again, not moving.
“Relax. There is but me here. I will not harm you. I have a gift for you. Something to speed you on your quest.”
“A gift? A quest? I do not understand,” Ariana replied, looking confused.
“Ah, I see I will have to start at the beginning. Please, come sit awhile. As you can see, I am but a small man, I fear you could run me through with your sword if you needed to. You need not fear me. I will do you no harm. Sit, I ask again.” Ariana looked carefully at the man and decided he was right. She cautiously crossed toward him, pulled a log from nearby and sat a small distance away from him. She wanted to make sure she had room to maneuver if needed.
“I have been awaiting your arrival for many years. Did you not know it is written in the Holy Scriptures, ‘She who was of royal blood came forth. And she had about her the second piece, the mark of the sanctuary’? That is from Pika’Al chapter eleven, verses one and two.” Ariana looked at the Keeper, but said nothing. “You have a part to play in the proclamation of the Xannu.”
“I do?” said Ariana, not taking everything in. “The Xannu? I am to be involved in the discovery of the Xannu?”
“Yes, my child. You have been chosen. None of us must question that which is given us. We must merely obey. You have been born for many things and this is your first task.”
“What else have I been born to do?” Ariana asked, leaning forward on her log.
“That I cannot say. My task is to provide you with that which is yours. The rest will no doubt unfold in the fullness of time.” Ariana sat staring at the Keeper, wanting to ask so many questions, yet at the same time not daring to do so. At last she spoke.
“So what is this mark I am to have?”
“The mark of the sanctuary? It is an old piece, thought lost, but scattered with the others to all corners of the world. Come, let me show you.” The Keeper stood and made his way to the door of the building. Ariana followed at a close distance. Once outside, the man walked around the back and led her through a path in the woods to a small clearing. There in the middle of the clearing was a lake. “You must enter the lake. That which you seek is at the bottom. Only the chosen one will find it.” Ariana stared at the man in disbelief.
“What? I have to do what?” she stammered.
“You must enter the lake. Somewhere on the bottom is the piece you seek, the mark of the sanctuary.”
“I have to swim in the lake?” Ariana asked. “It is the middle of winter.”
“I only pass on that which I must,” the Keeper said, turning to leave.
“You can’t go, not now,” shouted out Ariana, moving toward him.
“My job is done. The rest of the task is yours, child. Good luck.” He held up a hand to stop Ariana’s advance. “One more thing. It is called Tazzau.” And with that he was gone, as if he had vanished, right in front of her eyes.
“Hello? Hello?” she called out. But there was no reply. Just silence. There was not even any chirping of birds to be heard. “Tazzau? What is that supposed to mean?” There was still no reply and so Ariana moved forward to stand by the edge of the lake. She carefully lowered one of her hands into the water. Surprisingly the water was not frozen. It even felt warm, yet no steam could be seen rising above the lake as she looked out. “Oh well, here goes nothing,” she said, taking off her sword, belt, boots and small pack she was carrying. She quickly stripped off her robe and, clad only in her under shift, she stepped into the water. After a few seconds she had accustomed herself to the temperature and lowered herself fully into the lake and swam out toward the center. The water was warm and she did not feel any chill at all on her skin. As she reached the center, she took a deep breath and dove down to see what lay beneath the surface. At first everything was black, but very soon she started to make things out. She swam around searching for whatever she was looking for, but had exhausted her breath before finding anything. She rose to the surface, took another deep breath, and then dove again. Finally she saw something glittering on the lake bed and she swam toward it. Clutching it in her hand, she rose to the surface and swam back to the shore. Soon she was sat wet, dripping and cold by the lake’s edge, shivering as she looked at what was in her hands.
She unwound the gold rope from the animal hide packaging and opened it up. Inside was a piece of beautiful red wood carving, shaped like two Xs placed one on top of the other. “That’s it?” she asked out loud. “I did all this for a piece of wood?” Ariana placed the carving on the ground and tried to dry herself as best she could with her robe. Eventually she got dressed again and, shivering, made her way back to the temple-like building. Looking inside she saw that it was dark and empty. There was no sign of a fire having been there or, indeed, any other kind of life. She turned and walked back to the bridge. As she carefully crossed back over, teeth beginning to chatter, she could make out the figures of her very angry bodyguards. She had forgotten all about them.
“You are in serious trouble Your Highness,” Stanton shouted out from the other side. At that particular moment Ariana did not care. All she was thinking about was getting back in front of a warm fire and drying herself out before she caught some terrible fever...

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