As I promised in the newsletter, here’s your sneak preview of “The Twin Worlds” book 1. That’s right, I still don’t have a title for the tale, and while it already has about 50,000 words, it’s still not complete.
I know all my four main characters, though, and I know why the villain does what she does. Not that we’ll find out anytime soon.
This series is a shifter/portal fantasy story written for a New Adult audience. Tropes center around adjusting to a new life – quite literally in the case of Judy, finding one’s inner strength and discovering both talents and a place in life.
Why the Twin Worlds? I postulated a system with two planets orbiting each other. That has quite an influence on world-building, too.
So let’s get started with the sneak preview of The Twin Worlds Book 1
There is a cure on Earth. I challenge you to go and find it.
Those words were the one thing that kept Kreshanaris going. He had made his way to the location of an unimportant portal, one that would be guarded less diligently and by fewer people. Now he just had to get to it, set it to Earth and step through.
Of course, going to Earth was forbidden. That’s why he had hidden the note from his teacher in a boring textbook in the huge library of the Artes Magickae where he was a student.
Kreshanaris was willing to break the law to find a cure for his mother. The Queen had been ailing for a few weeks now and the healers had not managed to restore her to full health.
He had memorized the words that would aim the portal at Earth. He had prepared a pack with clothes to wear. He had repeated the Queen’s symptoms to himself over and over again, so he could describe them to a healer on Earth. And prayed to the Twins that he could pass as an Earthling until he could return with the cure.
He had been lying in wait for hours, until finally only one guard remained to watch over the entrance to the portal.
Slowly, carefully, he reached out to the woman’s mind, gently infiltrating it without her noticing.
Of course, this meant breaking at least another dozen rules. Kreshanaris could only hope that returning with a cure would buy forgiveness for all his transgressions.
He didn’t dare rush this part, the guard had to be deeply asleep, almost unconscious, while he operated the portal, or she would sound the alarm and he’d be overwhelmed immediately. It took longer than he liked, but he was taking care not to damage her mind. Finally, she was asleep and unlikely to wake for the next hour or so.
Only then did he creep out of his hiding place among the shadows and hurried across the yard to the open hall that housed the portal.
It was easy enough to reach out to it with his mind, although it felt strange to touch its energy. It was almost alive, he thought, roiling in its frame, anchored to massive columns of marble.
Fully focused, he spoke the words under his breath, and the portal responded, swirling as it opened in a vortex of energy. When it stabilized, he saw a cave, lit only by the light from its entrance. His heart beating rapidly, he stepped up and then through it.
Just as he muttered the words that would close it down, erasing all signs of his passage, he heard the unmistakable sound of an alarm.
“Vorx it!” He dashed out of the cave, blinking against the bright, yellow sun in the sky.
Judy reached for her cell phone to check the time and froze with shock when her hand encountered an empty back pocket.
In an instant, she knew what had happened. She had left her phone on the bench at the final rest stop of the tour.
Of course, Sara stopped and looked at her, frowning at the light curse. “What’s wrong, Judy?”
“I forgot my phone at the rest place,” Judy sighed, very annoyed with herself.
“Not a big deal. Go back and grab it, and I’ll get the group back to the lodge.”
“Thank you!” Judy gave her a quick hug and raced off, back up the trail. At least she was good at running, she had been on the cheerleader team in high school, and while she hadn’t been able to stay in perfect shape during the summer job at the lodge, she knew she’d be back quickly enough.
Not that the group was difficult at all. In fact, the kid had asked when dinner would be, and that’s why she had reached for her phone in the first place.
Running was fun, of course, and she was proud that she wasn’t getting winded fast, even though the path led uphill fairly steeply.
Joe would already be cooking, she thought, looking forward to another one of the lodge owner’s delicious meals. With the weather being nice enough, it would probably be another BBQ. Her mouth watered at the thought.
The wind was starting to come in as she ran up the mountain, cooling her hot face, and she reveled in it. Nature was wonderful. Finally, the path turned and leveled off, and she put in a last sprint to reach the rest area.
Judy heard some growls from beyond the rest area and slowed down immediately. Joe had warned them about bears, but she and Sara had never seen one.
There was the phone!
She made a mad dash to the bench, intending to grab her phone and run off as fast as she could. She had almost reached it when a shaggy creature raced out of the bushes and collided with her.
Both of them went down. Judy curled up, protecting her face as fell. Landing partially on whatever creature she had run into additionally cushioned her fall. She bounced back to her feet, turned and ran away, not even thinking about it.
Before she had reached the bend in the bath, another one of those creatures stepped out of the bushes, and she screamed in shock.
This was not a bear. This was a monster.
It was standing tall on two feet, its yellow, intelligent eyes focused on her. It growled something and grabbed her in its paws, the claws scratching her skin.
Judy screamed again and kicked, as hard as she could. Her sneakers didn’t do any harm, as much as she could tell. Instead, the monster grabbed even more tightly.
Behind her, sounds of a fight erupted, with many growls and yowls. She didn’t pay any attention, struggling to get free.
Instead, the monster held her even tighter, squeezing her to its chest. It growled again, and Judy thought she could hear words.
She screamed even harder, praying that Sara could hear her, that anyone would hear her.
The monster shook her, then shifted its grip on her, holding her under one arm and grabbing her hair with its free hand. That hurt.
Judy kicked once, was rewarded with another tug on her hair and subsided, with tears of frustration rolling down her face.
The other two monsters were still struggling. The moment the monster that had caught her stopped paying attention to Judy, she threw herself out of its grip, landing hard on her back. She scrambled to her feet, struggling to get air into her lungs, sheer panic driving her to run anyway.
Stars dancing in front of her eyes, she dashed along the path, only realizing too late that she was running towards the rest area. Her monster was hard on her heels, just as one of the others broke off and ran into the bushes. The third one followed, pulling a club out of a halter on its belt.
A monster with a belt? Wielding a weapon?
Judy kept running, she had no time to think. Steps behind her told her the monster was getting closer, and then she heard a thud and a desperate groan from the bushes.
Why would she care if one monster hit the other?
Before she could even answer that question, the monster grabbed her arm, claws digging in, and she screamed in pain. The monster pulled her close, and this time, it slapped her hard enough to make her see stars.
“Stop fighting,” it growled, the words mangled but still understandable.
She struggled anyway, and it hit her again.
Judy felt her strength ebbing away. The monster shifted its grip and carried her among the bushes, and just a moment later, they were standing next to a second monster.
That one was looking down at the third monster, and just as Judy noticed the blood on its head, the monster on the ground changed.
The shaggy fur faded, the snout shortened and within a few heartbeats, a young man was lying among the bushes, clearly unconscious, blood matting his dark hair.
Judy couldn’t believe her eyes. “What…?” she whispered.
The monster with the club sighed, then lifted its head. It repeated the shift that the young man had done, except that it turned into a tall, strong-looking woman.
“She saw it all,” the woman growled. “And she’s injured. We’ll get her across and come back for him.”
When she met Judy’s eyes, she could read the finality of that decision, and that gave her the strength for a few more kicks and punches. Her monster pulled her into a tight embrace, making it impossible for her to escape.
“She’s a feisty one,” the woman said and lifted her club. “Stop this, or I’ll make you.”
Judy stared at her but stopped struggling.
“Do not fear. We will take good care of you,” the woman continued, then looked at the monster holding her. “Let’s hurry.”
Within moments, the woman had transformed back into a monster, and both were racing through the bushes, the one holding Judy carrying her effortlessly.
She was too shocked to do anything other than cling to consciousness, now that the pain from her injured arm was beginning to register in full force.
She wasn’t certain for how long those monsters had run when they ducked into a cave hidden in a narrow ravine. A few steps in, the one with the belt and the club held out her hands, clearly wanting Judy to be handed over.
When Judy gritted her teeth and gathered her strength, the monster met her eyes and shook her head. The warning was clear, and she allowed herself to be transferred.
The monster turned away, blocking her view, but not before Judy had seen the one who had carried her raise his hands. She caught the beginning of some gestures, and then a growl warned her to look away.
She heard a whooshing sound, just as the other monster spoke. “It’s open.”
Judy caught a glimpse of something glowing blue, and then the monster carrying her stepped forward and the world tilted out from under them.
Sara looked at her colleague and close friend. “What’s wrong, Judy?”
“I forgot my phone at the rest place.” Judy sighed dramatically.
“Not a big deal. Go back and grab it, and I’ll get the group back to the lodge.”
“Thank you!” Judy gave her a quick hug and raced off, back up the trail.
Sara watched her for a moment, then turned to the group of five people they had been guiding on the trail.
“All right, folks, let’s get you home. The BBQ is already waiting. I can smell it from here!”
They all laughed at her lame joke and happily fell in with her.
After three weeks in the camp, guiding tours by day and entertaining guests at night playing her guitar while Judy told stories, sang or danced, Sara was in love with her summer job. She was glad Judy had come along, even though her father had ridiculed her for it. But working as a guide in a national park was something quite wonderful.
In fall, both of them would go to college, but not the same one. So Sara tried to make the best of the time she still had with her best friend from high school.
How did you like this? Do the Twin Worlds tickle your fancy?
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