Monday, September 23, 2013

Enchanted Winter (Chapter 1)



Enchanted Winter:

The Tale of the Morai
K.N. Lee


Chapter 1

Winter smiled, but her heart pounded inside her chest.
Be brave, Winter thought as fear threatened to cripple her. 
"Thanks, Finn.” The sun warmed her cold cheeks as she smoothed her hand over soft, white, fur. Winter straddled the young tetra. She leaned over and kissed the back of his head. "I always knew Dancer would like me."
Finn returned the smile and gave Dancer a pat. Dancer purred and lowered its head into Finn’s hand for a treat. Finn gave it an orange morsel.
"Name one person that doesn't like you, Winter."
Winter tilted her head and looked over Finn's shoulder. No one was around, except for the other slaves. While some tended the gardens and hung freshly washed clothes from lines, others entered the underground farm to milk the cows and gather eggs from subterranean hens.
“Give her a ride, but take it easy. Master Blakeney will have my head if he finds out you rode one of Lady Cecily’s tetras.”
Winter’s smile turned into a sneaky grin. “Well, we must make sure he doesn’t find out then.”
Finn held his hand up to keep the bright sun out of his eyes. He glanced at her with his brows furrowed. The silver of his eyes sparkled even as he narrowed them at her.      
“What’s gotten into you?”
Winter pulled a strand of white hair from her eyelashes and tucked it behind her ear. Her hands were shaking. She had to hide her anxiety from her closest friend. She forced a smile and shrugged. 
“What do you mean?”
Finn looked around and back at her. “You’re all adventurous today. What happened to the shy, paranoid, girl I thought I knew? You're out here petting tetra's when normally you'd be too afraid to come outside without an escort. Something is up.” 
Finn peered at her. He tilted her chin with his index finger. His touch was cold, just like her.
Winter shook her head. She wasn’t prepared to answer his question. She knew he was in love with her. Such a notion was obvious. Finn had her name etched onto his skin. No other girl would have him. Perhaps she could have accepted his offer for marriage in the Old World, but not in this one.
Winter felt guilty for using him. He would get a lashing once the master found out that he had let one of his favorite house slaves run off with one of the only tetras on the manor grounds.
Winter felt a wash of fear overcome her. Like tiny knives, alarm filled her entire body. She held her breath. 
Her smile faded into a look of worry.
It wasn’t the tetra that Master Blakeney would miss.
Winter looked down at Finn. His silver eyes stared at her with suspicion. His eyes were the same shade as her own. They could have been siblings, but he was much taller.  His white hair blew with the warm summer breeze.
Winter knew she couldn't hide the truth from him. He knew her too well. They'd spent months together during the Exodus, and he knew her every secret. Well, at least he thought he did.
Winter shook her head, tears burning her eyes.
Finn began to realize what was really happening. He saw the apology in her face. He held the reigns and gasped.
“Winter,” he breathed her name with panic. “Don’t do it!”
Winter didn’t have a choice. The tears flowed freely now. “Step back, Finn.”
She kicked the tetra in the side. It opened its wings, kicked off the solid brown ground and ran in mighty leaps that took them into the sky.
"I'm sorry!"
Finn fell backwards at the sudden burst of wind the tetra stirred up. Dancer sped from the farm, hopped over the steel fence, and took flight.
Winter glanced over her shoulder and down at Finn. He was still on his bottom as he looked up at the flying tetra and the girl he thought he knew. 
     Winter winced.  
     No one really knows me at all
     No one knew the secrets she kept or the plan she had been devising for as long as she'd been forced into slavery.
 The adrenaline filled her belly making her hold onto the reigns so tightly that her palms began to bleed. Winter sucked in a breath. Her own white wings were pulled back, useless. One day...she would fly again. She was determined.
The tears streamed down her face now. Tears so cold that they made her cheeks sting. Winter hoped Finn wouldn't be too severely punished. She hoped that when the sun went down, and the humans woke up that they wouldn’t notice the missing tetra until Finn had escaped as well.
Winter shuddered. She knew that Finn was too afraid to leave. He would be there, waiting for his lashings. 
The poor, obedient, fool, Winter thought.
 She sobbed and leaned into the tetra's sparkling silver white. She could hear its heart beating, loud, but steady. Her stomach twisted into knots. 
She was free. 
She was alone.
Winter looked up at the red sun and wept silver tears. They trailed down her bronze skin, leaving white marks on her smooth cheeks. No slave had ever escaped before. She would be hunted down, and probably killed, but she didn’t have a choice.
The red rays beamed down on her face and she directed the tetra higher into the clouds. Her white hair whipped around her body like long ribbons. She felt safer in the clouds. They gave her a place to hide while she tried to figure out where to go next. 
Mama had told her about the Old World. The Old World was said to be a lush land full of magic...and danger. Winter didn't care. It was her home.
Separated from New Genesis by the Wild Lands and the sea, Winter knew that was where she needed to go.
She looked down at her sun dial. The gold sparkled and revealed a glow that warmed her face. There were at least nine more hours until the humans woke up. 
The sun was too bright for their weak bodies. She figured that was enough time to gain a lead on Master Blakeney’s guards.
The manor would be in chaos once they found a slave had escaped.
Winter couldn't help but grin then, even though she feared for her life and that of Finn's. She imagined the look on Master Blakeney’s face. His favorite toy had finally outsmarted him. 
Winter hadn’t drank the potion the night before. He expected her to still be in bed with him, but no, Winter had one of the kitchen slaves to replace her potion with seltzer.
Winter thanked Yeltza for helping her. Mama had always said that slaves must help each other, but she knew that most of them would hate her for escaping. They were too afraid to escape. Most of them had never been outside of the manor’s walls.
But Winter knew there was another world out there. A better world. Mama hadn’t been born a slave.
Until the age of four, Winter and her mama lived freely, in the forest. The night they were captured changed everything. 
  Winter’s people were no longer free. The humans found her ancient race after their world had split. The spirit realm mixed with the living, and the enchanted folk of Morai were discovered. 
  The secret world of the Morai had been exposed, and the humans, with their technology, guns, and potions took control of the weaker race.
Winter thought of how her people had lost most of their powers when they were exposed to the humans and their diseases. She vaguely remembered a time of peace.
Winter patted Dancer on the head. She could smell a hint of the sea. Her eyes brightened. She was so close.
 “Good boy," Winter purred. "Just keep up above the clouds and we’ll be all right.”
The tetra hummed. She smiled. That humming sound meant that the tetra understood. It was nice to have someone agree with her for a change.
The air was cold at that altitude, but Winter didn’t mind. She welcomed something other than the blazing hot sun. Her bronze skin glistened under its light.
Winter closed her eyes and outstretched her arms as the tetra soared through the sky. Her smile widened until her white teeth gleamed. She threw her head back and let her hair fly.
“Freedom,” she squealed with delight. “How divine it is to be free!”  
Winter grinned. She touched her neck. The color drained from her face. Somehow, someone had shot a dart into her neck.
"Fly faster,” she said to Dancer. The moment she said those words a shock was sent into her neck and she barely had a chance to cry out from the intense pain. She closed her eyes as her body slipped from Dancer’s back, and began the long descent to the harsh rocky terrain of the Wild Lands.

To be continued...

A thrilling tale of magic, betrayal, and a fantasy world you've never seen.

Winter is a Morai, an ancient race with fairies and nymphs as ancestors. After the humans entered their world and enslaved them, the Morai faced the endangerment of their species. Winter is the only one that can save her people...but will the son of her former master be her ally, or her enemy?