Today’s Sunday Snippet is from Paranormal and urban fantasy Skyseeker Princess (Si’Empra: The Storyteller and the Webcleaner Book 1) by Miriam Verbeek. It was independently published by the author on the 3rd of May 2017 and has 369 pages. It is currently available as trade pub (POD) (ISBN 9780648024507), e-pub (ISBN 9780648024514) and kindle (ISBN and 978064024521). It is also available as an audiobook.
Synopsis of Skyseeker Princess (Si’Empra: The Storyteller and the Webcleaner Book 1) by Miriam Verbeek
Ellen, a young highborn woman searches for her identity in the face of betrayal and abuse by those she had come to trust. She’s feisty and talented and, with a little help from friends, gets up when knocked down, though she struggles silently to bury the deep emotional scars. Ellen’s been trained to look to the welfare of others and she’s drawn into adventures that have her trying to rescue people and, Robin Hood-like, hoodwinking the rich to feed the poor.
The book is set in contemporary times but the Antarctic island setting has a special history, with the first ancient settlers driven underground for protection against the weather and accepting the help of island guardians. Later settlers, to which Ellen belongs, have come to an accommodation with these underground people but, at the beginning of the book, this accommodation has broken down, with increasingly tragic consequences.
Much of Ellen’s dilemma is accepting the task of reuniting the disparate societies. This first book of the Si’Empra series is Ellen’s introduction to the consequences of raising expectations and making promises that should never be made.
Chapter 17: The Guild Masters
Message: “I am Lian Ellen. Daughter of the half-caste Constance and Ülrügh Briani of the ruling house of Skyseekers.” She did not know which words of power the virigin would repeat so she chose her words carefully, not wishing the virigin to distract from her speech until she wanted it to. “My grandfather was the Ülrügh Devi who, angered by the intransigence of the Guild Masters and then with the Cryptals for denying warmth to the city of Si’Em, invaded the Cryptal tunnels and engaged in the wholesale slaughter of Cryptals and Crystalmakers. I am the mistress of the glasaur Rosa, gifted to me by the Cryptals. In bestowing the glasaur to me, the Cryptals importuned me to help Crystalmakers and Skyseekers alike. It has come to my attention that Crystalmakers will face a winter of hunger. I have come to offer my assistance to broker a deal which will provide Crystalmakers with the provisions they need. For this I need the crystal and cloth that you, Guild Masters, have the power to provide. I stand before you ready to be of service.”
She made sure her facial features remained impassive but authoritative as she observed the confusion her words caused the Guild Masters: almost as one they had started when she revealed Ülrügh Devi’s motivation to engage in The Destruction; their jaws had dropped at the mention of the glasaur; they had looked sideways at one another when she revealed the implicit pact she had made with the Cryptals; and they now stared at her.
Thil released her arm.
“Glasaurs no longer exist,” the Guild Master of Memory stated, breaking the silence in a reedy, ancient voice.
Ellen fixed her gaze on the speaker, waited until she was sure the Guild Master had nothing more to say, and returned: “You are wrong, Guild Master of Memory. Glasaurs are creatures fashioned by Cryptals and can be created at any time by the Cryptals.”
“There has been no glasaur for centuries – millennia!”
To this, Ellen needed to say nothing.
The Guild Master surged to her feet, bringing up her arm and pointing. “Your tongue speaks the falsehoods of Skyseekers! What plot is this that the Scourge of Si’Empra now brings to our world? Your plot is to destroy us entirely!”
The Scourge of Si’Empra. Ellen wondered who that might be: Redel? Skyseekers in general? She watched as the old woman turned to her fellow Guild Masters. “She will destroy us entirely. We must hold her and destroy her.”
The other Guild Masters were clearly taken aback by their colleague’s outburst but, perhaps to show solidarity, they hastened to their feet and confronted Ellen with stern looks.
“There are indeed a number of factors that we must consider,” the Guild Master of Crystal said. He waved a hand dismissively in Ellen’s direction, directing a command to Thil.
“Leave us now …”
“Leave, leave, leave,” echoed the virigin, interrupting him. Joosthin shot it a venomous glance. “We will call you when …”
“Call, call, call.”
Joosthin’s lips closed into a thin line. Colour flooded his face.
And you should blush, Ellen thought. Fancy you, Guild Master of Crystal of all people, forgetting how to use a virigin to emphasise rather than interrupt your directives.
Before Thil could touch her, she turned on her heel and indicated with a slight nod that she was ready to follow him.
He led her to a small room not far from the entrance to the main chamber. He did not come in with her but held the curtain aside and dropped it closed as soon as she entered, plunging the small room into darkness. Ellen groped her way to a seat. “Well,” she murmured to herself. “That was short and sweet. I had wanted to make an impression but it seems like I may have overdone the impression bit. Do they really not know about Rosa? Is there such a divide between Webcleaners and other Crystalmakers? Well, at least that’s interesting to discover.”
She swung her backpack off, rummaged around for her torch and wound it vigorously to charge the battery. She shone the torch around the room. Unlike the grand chamber, the walls here were relatively bare. She felt around in her pack again, looking for a purse in which she kept a stock of lozenges and other sweets. Even though the mylin in the chambers was faint, it was beginning to irritate her throat. She remembered Elthán’s warnings about overdosing on mylin and wrapped a scarf around her mouth and nose.
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