Book 1: Nandana's Mark
“Melia, wake up.”
Her mother squeezed her shoulder, pinching her skin.
Melia twisted free of her grip. She was on the ground. Flat on her back. Everything throbbed. She must have fallen out of the tree.
“It’s the middle of the night. What are you doing out here?” her mother asked.
Melia felt more than saw her lean over. The ylandria had tasted sharp, not unpleasant. Could her mother smell its thick, spicy fumes in her hair? Or on her nightgown? She couldn’t tell; the burning maelstrom of her vision still lingered. She wiped her nose with the back of her hand, hoping to clear the smell of charred wood.
“Do I smell ylandria?”
Melia rolled away and pushed herself up. A twig poked through the back of her nightgown. She wiped it, and what felt like leaves and grass, from her back. Her side felt tender, but nothing was broken. She’d probably have some nice bruises in the morning.
Before she could stop her, her mother’s hand thrust into the pocket of Melia’s nightgown and retrieved the two butts. How could she see anything? Even when her eyes adjusted, all Melia could distinguish was her mother’s shape, the slightest shade darker than the night around her.
Pressina grabbed her daughter’s arm and pulled her towards the spiral steps circling the oak.
In the front room, Melusine and Plantine huddled together on their mother’s favorite lime-striped chaise. They each held a candle; otherwise the room was dark. Malachi—Mother’s botched spell of a cat—hissed from the shadows as her mother dragged Melia into the kitchen.
“Melusine, Plantine, bring the candles,” their mother commanded.
Her sisters set their melting sticks in the holders on the table. Melia made a barrier over her chest with her arms. The flickering light drove home her failure; the ylandria had increased the power of her visions, not her control. While she’d dreamed of wings and flight, her timid inner flame—the one that kept blowing out—had ignited an inner inferno in some back corridor of her mind. She reached out to one of the kitchen chairs to steady herself.
Melusine’s blue eyes burned with suspicion. Plantine’s pained gaze was the same one she wore whenever Melia got in trouble.
“You were laughing hysterically,” Mother said. “You woke us all up.”
Melia looked from Pressina to her sisters. “So sorry I interrupted your beauty sleep.”
“It was an evil laugh,” Melusine said.
“All right, off to bed,” their mother dismissed them.
Neither sister challenged her, a testament to her angry state. Pressina pulled out one of the kitchen chairs and eased into it. Melia didn’t move. She looked down at her white knuckles.
“What were you doing smoking ylandria?”
Melia focused on the wax dripping down the sides of the candles. If she stonewalled long enough, her mother would give up and go back to bed.
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Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG
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