It's the weekend.
You're quarantined and trying to remain COVID-free.
You've binge-streamed every show and movie that your heart desires, and you're looking for something new to pique your interest.
Well... Joi Miner to the rescue!
Welcome to Sneak Peek Saturday! Every Saturday, I'll share a snippet of one of my novels... either upcoming, or already available for you to enjoy.
This week's pick:
It was a time of unrest in the Elemental Kingdom. The tension was heavy, and the Kingdoms were making their final preparations for Serah, the bright time, when the Orange Star outshone the moons and caused disruption in the balance of their Realm. Each Kingdom had to make provisions to protect itself, all but the Fire Kingdom, which thrived in this time because they so closely resembled the Orange Star.
The Land Kingdom had been in negotiations to ensure that they remained properly hydrated. Too much heat from the Orange Star would dry the land and cause it to crack open, along with its occupants, who were primarily composed of clay and stone. In return, the Land Kingdom provided wood, stone, and sand to protect the Water Kingdom from evaporation. The Wind Kingdom had a long-standing alliance with the Water Kingdom that allowed them to maintain their moisture and the ability to mist and move freely throughout the heat. These were necessary concerns and had kept the Royal Families locked in discussions for some time now. The Fire King presided over the discussions and offered suggestions, as his kind were well-versed in the Star, its dangers, and abilities.
Everyone was moving through their tasks and fear hung thick as fog. Beings were skittering to their respective corners of the Realm. The memories of the last Serah, sixty-five million Earth years before, and it leading to chaos, extinction of the Large Lizard, and near complete destruction of the Earth that the Realm governed, were on every tongue. Everyone knew that the slightest disagreement could lead to another war. So the discussions remaining amicable was paramount to the existence of all. The turmoil could even be felt on Earth, stirring up claims of Governmental climate control machines and other conspiracy theories because of the odd weather patterns, marine maelstrom, and tectonic plate shifts.
When the day ended, everyone rushed to their homes. The Realm, known for its parties following the completion of their tasks, was dead silent. An eerie silence draped every corner of the Realm. A silence that would remain until the Announcement Ceremony following the Courtship of the Three, when Water Prince Kai would court and choose one of the three Princesses and honor the Treaty through their nuptials. The weight of the Realm rested on this young Prince’s shoulders.
Kai stared out of the window. His broad, dense frame sat solidly on the ledge of the windowsill. He wasn’t himself. His eyes were puffy from lack of sleep. He’d been in a sullen mood. His pain draining down onto the Earth as unexpected rain showers. He hadn’t even finger-combed his flowing clear tresses with Sand powder to give it his classic spiked look.
Danksha was his favorite time of the day. He loved to watch the dual moons rise, playing a cat and mouse game, their dim light casting varying shades of blue across the Elemental Realm. Normally, he’d rush to complete his chores, so he could sit and admire the beauty of it. But today, he had dragged through his tasks, setting the weather cycles haphazardly, missing his usual chill time with Kari that caused the waves to rise and fall. The Earth’s oceans instead, rested and rippled in a somber calm. He’d dragged his feet to his room, leaving puddles all over the place.
Tonight was the last Danksha before the Serah. Kai had been told about this for as long as he could remember. The last Serah had caused uproar. The Elemental Realm had almost been destroyed. He was born during the upheaval, his mother Ava in hiding, while his father, Suavai, led the Water Warriors in battle against its three neighboring Kingdoms. He was the first of four other births that day, royalty in each Kingdom. Second was Shanira, a fireball and heir to the Fire Throne. Third, were Makani and her twin brother Kari, Fraternal twins, the spirited descendants of the Air Kingdom. And lastly, Lurra, the sound-minded heir to the Land Kingdom.
News of their births had caused a ceasefire, all of the kings wishing to live for their children, and not destroy the Elemental Realm that their offspring would inherit. A treaty had been formed, Kai being the foundation. It was his duty, Ava had explained, to marry one of the Princesses to maintain peace. Suavai had urged that he selected either Shanira or Lurra, because they were the most powerful, and trade with them could bolster the strength of the Water Kingdom. The pressure of it all, not having any real say in who he would spend his days with, stirred a tsunami in the pit of Kai’s center. He was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he didn’t even feel Kari blow past him.
Thinner than Kai, he was swifter on his feet. He was as light-hearted in frame as he was in nature. His head was bald. He had no time to bother with hair, it interrupted his fun. His eyes were wide and full of life and wonder. He rubbed his head, not liking the energy in the room.
“What’s bugging you, Bruh?” Kari asked, startling Kai out of his thoughts.
“You know,” Kai responded, giving his friend a frustrated look.
“Awww, come on, man,” Kari grinned. “You’ve got your pick of three fine Princesses and you’re upset about it?”
“Man, this is a lot of pressure. How would you feel if you had the weight of the Realm resting on your shoulders? One wrong choice, and we could be back at war again. And why aren’t you bothered by the fact that one of those fine Princesses is your sister?”
“I feel you, Kai,” Kari said, uncomfortably. He hated showing emotion, “and I’m not worried about Makani, because I would rather her end up with you than some other whack ass jackass.”
Kari burst into laughter at Kai’s side-eyed expression.
“Lighten up, my friend,” Kari offered, halfway seriously. “It’s your birth right. We all have a purpose. Yours just came with your pick of heiresses. If you want, I can test ‘em out for you. All but Makani, of course.”
Kai’s saddened expression concerned his friend. They’d known each other since the treaty and Kari didn’t know him to be the kind to worry about things like this. He knew there was something more to it. This was a heavy burden to bear and he’d been groomed for it for as long as they could both remember. But, the time actually coming when he would have to make a choice made it more reality than myth. More than a rumored tale that was told in passing.
“Have you met those Princesses?” Kai posed the question, although he knew the answer. They’d all grown up together.
“Yeah, man,” Kari nodded. “You’ve definitely got some choosing to do. Shanira is so hotheaded. She doesn’t think before she acts. Total abuse of power because she knows we’ll clean up her mess. And Lurra, I don’t even think she likes men. She’s been Shanira’s lapdog for so long, I think she’d rather be her pick than yours.” He smiled at the thought.
Kai nudged him back out of his inappropriateness.
“And Makani is such a free-spirit, I wouldn’t want to harness her…”
“You can’t harness her,” Kari corrected.
“Yeah and my parents don’t want me to marry either Earth or Fire. Said that Wind didn’t have enough political pull to make a partnership in the best interest of the Kingdom,” Kai explained, not thinking before he spoke.
“Oh really,” Kari gusted, angry that everyone thought the Kingdom that he would one day rule was the weakest of the four.
“Kari,” Kai tried to explain. “That’s not how I feel, that’s how my parents feel, and you know how caught-up in tradition they all are.”
“And how do you feel, Kai?” Kari asked, frustration moving him through the room, he was morphing into a tornado.
“How do I feel?” Kai asked, becoming uneasy with his friend’s tirade. “You’re my best friend, Kari. You and I do everything together. You’re more integral to this Kingdom than Fire or Land would ever be. We do everything together.”
This made Kari calm down. He settled in and looked at his friend. He’d heard all his life how weak and useless the other Kingdoms felt he was. But he knew better. Fire needed air to breathe. Earth needed Wind to carry its seeds so that it continued to blossom and flourish. Although it bothered him how his family was disrespected, his sister and Kai, the ones that mattered, made sure he knew where he belonged.
When he thought about this, he really began to feel for his friend. Soon, Kai would be caught up in the processes of being groomed for the throne. He would be married off to one of the Princesses and had no say in the matter. He wanted to help his friend. Say something to ease his mind. But he couldn’t think of anything.
“How about I help you pick?” Kari finally asked, “I know you better than anyone, right?”
“Yeah,” Kai answered.
“So, how about I chat them up. Then, I can watch your dates and even eavesdrop on them afterwards to see what they say,” Kari offered, getting more and more excited about his own plan.
Kai smiled. He really liked the idea of having an extra hand in making such a heavy decision.
“But,” he paused, “won’t you be biased towards Makani?”
“Makani can stand her own ground. She’s my big sister, remember, she beat me out,” Kari laughed at the thought. “And,” he added, “she’s not thrilled at the thought of having to spend time with her little brother’s stupid friend.”
They both laughed and planned to meet later to plan out the details. This eased Kai’s mind, just a little. He sat, enjoying the remainder of Danksha, knowing that he had a true ally in Kari.
Click the image to grab your copy!
If you want to read more, head on over to Amazon and grab your copy!
See you next time, loves! 'Til then, be kind to yourselves and each other!