Uncharted by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred launches April 17th, 2017. We’re celebrating the release by hosting an online launch party, live Q and A, live reading, and giveaway on Facebook. You can RSVP here:https://www.facebook.com/events/345964425805281/
While you wait, here’s an excerpt from this upcoming fantasy/ romantic comedy:
Noiseless on slippered feet, Meredith darted swiftly to the oversized double doors of the Celestial Chamber. She glanced once quickly over each shoulder to make sure she was still alone in the Great Hall before she gave the wide gilded handle a tug and felt the latch give way. With a grimace of effort, she pulled the heavy door open just enough to allow herself to squeeze into the chamber beyond.
Expecting darkness, moonlight dazzled her senses. The silvery light pooled in the middle of a wide and perfectly round central platform, serving to bring focus to the reason for this room’s existence: an ethereal-looking blue bowl lined with silver and filled with glittering water.
The Celestial Bowl beckoned to Meredith from its place on the solitary stone pedestal in the centre of the chamber. The sound of rushing water from the underground river that surfaced briefly in this room filled her ears as she let the heavy door fall quietly shut behind her.
I shouldn’t be in here, a small voice in the back of her mind reminded her, even as she took a step toward the glittering artifact. It’s only that I just can’t help but question if this life is for me. I want a family, a home…and a husband. I owe the Order for what they’ve done for me, but if I stay here and become a Priestess, I can’t have any of those things.
If I can just have a look at my destiny tonight, then maybe the path I should take will become clear. Besides, she countered the nagging sound of her conscience, if I wait until tomorrow’s ceremony to see my future, it will be too late to change it.
Her decision made, Meredith closed the distance between herself and the bowl with purpose, crossing the small, railless stone bridge spanning a gap over the rushing water beneath. As she neared the bowl, she kept her eyes fixated on the calm, reflective surface of the water within, not wanting to chance missing even the slightest bit of whatever vision it might grant her. Moonlight glinted off the silver interior of the bowl, making the room seem brighter than it actually was. As if in a trance, she lost herself in the beauty of the dancing light and that was when she saw it.
A man, no…only his torso, wearing a dark grey suit coat buttoned over his left breast. He stood with pride in his bearing, but beyond the grey coat and a single purple flower in his lapel the image cut off at the neck and didn’t show his face. Meredith leaned forward, trying to get a better angle.
The vision, if that’s what it was, continued and she saw herself from behind, unmistakeable with her lengthy waves of chocolate brown hair cascading over the hood of her light grey Priestess cloak. The vision of herself flung herself at this man and his arms reached up to hold her. Engrossed now, Meredith leaned directly over the bowl, determined to get a glimpse at the face of her mystery man when the image in the silver-lined water abruptly disappeared.
What? No! I wasn’t finished. I didn’t see his face!
Meredith stared into the reflective water without blinking, willing the vision to return or resume. The reflection of her own face stared back at her, but beyond it she thought she saw something else. Focusing on the anomaly, she realized it was a reflection of the bowl itself, seated as it was in real life atop its stone pedestal in the centre of the Celestial Chamber.
What does that mean?! she exclaimed in the silence of her own mind. How can the bowl show an image of itself? It doesn’t make any sense.
She looked back down at the bowl and its stubborn reflection of itself, then turned her head upwards to the moonlight as if to make sure it was still there when it dawned on her. Ugh, I put my head in the way! I interrupted the vision!
She tried several times to recreate the circumstances which brought her the cryptic glimpse of the future, but nothing she did seem to bring the bowl’s power back to life. I guess that’s it! Meredith threw her hands up in defeat. I should get out of here before I get caught.
Turning from where she stood on the small bridge that led from the pedestal’s platform to the double doors she’d come in by, Meredith made to sprint for the exit, only to smack bodily into a dark shadowy figure she hadn’t known was there until it was too late.
She let out an ‘oomph’ as the wind was knocked out of her and she was flung backwards a few steps.
Over the by now familiar sound of rushing water, Meredith noted a somewhat metallic clatter moments before her ankle rolled over something round at her feet. Set off balance, she stumbled and spent a few steps trying to right herself. She might have succeeded, too, if it wasn’t for the fact that she’d gotten too near to the edge of the narrow bridge. She cartwheeled her arms a few times, trying to right herself, screamed in hopes that whomever she’d run into would see her plight in time to catch her, and then unceremoniously went off the side of the stone bridge into the cold rushing water below.
(For the rest of the prologue, tune into our facebook launch party April 17th, 6pm EST: https://www.facebook.com/events/345964425805281/)