Azaria M.J. Durant
(Darkened Destiny Saga #1)
Publication date: July 29th, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
An ancient power long kept dormant stirs in the shadows once more as one boy embarks on a quest to earn his freedom and the freedom of his world!
Magic has turned to myth, the Vaelhyreans of old to legend, and the power wielded by the ancients has long been forgotten. However, with Ealdred, a mere half-breed slave boy, myth becomes real, the forgotten remembered, and the power of legend is reborn within him.
Ealdred is merged into a world of mystery, brimming with deceit, where the remaining Vaelhyreans are in a desperate fight for their very survival. When Ealdred is kidnapped by the power-mongering dark lord Zeldek himself, he must make a choice; to commit his newfound magic to Zeldek’s service or die. But when he meets Bellator, clever yet treacherous servant of Zeldek, an alternative is presented to him: to escape from Zeldek’s stronghold and embark on a quest to find a cursed arrow and free the Vaelhyreans from the spell that keeps their powers at bay.
Yet how can he survive in a world where magic is illegal, half-breeds are hated, and the four countries are on the brink of war?
“Zeldek is coming for him.”
As he says these words, a raven screeches from the rooftop and soars into the air, disappearing beyond the thatched peak of the building next to us. Dread washes over me, and I look up enviously at the raven that can fly away so freely. Zeldek. The name sounds vaguely familiar, but it is meaningless to me.
“Why now?” Banner’s voice is tremulous, yet resigned. “He could have come for him at any time. What is he planning?”
“My source was unclear. Simply that he plans to capture the boy himself.” The old man shakes his head. “I must inform the council of this development. We may not have the numbers to wage war against him, but we can distract him while you get the boy to safety. We will reconvene at this location at midnight. Be sure he is with you then. If Zeldek gets to him first, I fear he will be beyond our help.”
Banner nods. “I will protect him with my life.”
“I know you will, little brother,” Ulmer says, resting a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “I must be off.”
“All speed to you,” Banner returns, lines of worry sinking into his brow.
Ulmer pulls the hood down over his eyes and slips into the crowded street outside.
No sooner has he gone than I feel a tugging on my shoulders, and I am jerked back into the wall. Next thing I know, I am once again breathing in the heavy air of the scullery, the flames of the fire dangerously close to my face. I stumble backward, my eyes stinging from smoke. My foot catches on a loose brick in the hearth, and I hit the floor before I even realize I’m falling. All air flees my lungs.
When everything comes back into focus, the alley is gone.
The scullery, on the other hand, is too real. All five of the maids have stopped their work and are staring at me, agape, as if expecting me to sprout wings or turn into a worm.
“What’s it doing?”
“Stop that! Stop that, you hear?”
“Loretta, do something!”
Beads of sweat form on my forehead – whether from mortification or exhaustion is hard to say. A wave of nausea overtakes me and I feel suddenly very weak. I run my sleeve over my face, widening my eyes in a futile attempt to clear my vision.
“Sorry,” I mumble, trying to scramble to my feet.
My knees wobble and buckle underneath me. An awkward pause hangs in the air while the maids hang back, motionless.
Come on! Get up! It’s a dizzy spell. It’ll pass.
If anything, more of my strength is draining away.
“Are you alright?”
Stunned, I crane my neck in search of the owner of the kind voice. Faces swim before my eyes, only adding to my confusion.
And now I’m hearing things. Maybe there is something wrong with me.
The voice comes again, louder this time. “Are you alright?”
The face of a girl appears above me, genuine concern in her clear grey eyes. Even through the fog in my mind, I know her. She’s the maid that was hired yesterday. The strange, quiet girl with the pure white hair, like that of the aged – though she’s still quite young.
“May I help you?” she asks.
I stare at her, bewildered. “M-me?”
She laughs, a soft sound, like the strings of a harp. “Who else, silly? The pheasant?” She nods her head in the direction of the roasting bird, a wide smile on her face. “I don’t think I’d be much used to him now.”
I begin to answer, but stop myself. I know the rules better than anyone. People who fraternize with half-breeds tend to get hurt, as do the half-breeds they associate with. I won’t see her get in trouble on my account.
“Sorry, miss,” I mumble, bowing my head, “but I can help myself.”
“Are you sure? You look a little pale.” Her voice isn’t so light now.
Pretending not to hear her, I grab the edge of a nearby table and pull myself to my feet. I fall into it, knocking a bowl of leeks onto the floor. No one moves to retrieve it.
“Did you pass out?” the girl persists. “Maybe you should lie down.”
“Please, miss,” I hiss, my gaze darting to the other maids in the room. The lot are eyeing the girl with collective suspicion and disgust. “Let me alone. I can take care of myself.”
She steps back, her brows furrowing. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I was only trying to help.”
“Annalyn!” barks an unusually deep, raspy female voice from across the room.
The girl jumps at the sound of her name and backs away as a thin, sour-faced hag with a long, skinny neck and a terrible under bite charges toward us.
Azaria M. J. Durant is a young, passionate writer of fantasy with plans to branch out into sci-fi and dystopian. She enjoys writing stories with action, adventure, unexpected plot twists, and fleshed out characters that challenge gender roles and expectations.
Azaria lives in Atlantic Canada with her family, cats, and dogs, and her big dreams to travel the world. In the moments when she isn’t writing, she is sketching concept art for her stories, participating in community theatre, or curled up with a good book and a bag of mint chocolates.