Edited by Marg Gilks
Cover Art by Sophie Brunet
A division of Binky Productions
Stardust Destinies I: Variate Facing Copyright © Celinka Serre
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except in the case of the reviewer, who may quote brief passages embodied in critical articles or in a review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Publsihed by Binky Ink
Edited by Marg Gilks
Cover Art by Sophie Brunet
Milu and Seb
This book has seen a lot of changes before publication was possible. The journey of these five main characters began when I was only 19. Ideas were fresh, but like our Telorian friends, the journey of writing would soon take me to more places, allowing the story to ripen.
On this journey, there are many people who helped and contributed to making this publication possible.
The first person I'd like to acknowledge is my teacher and mentor from CEGEP, Gary Plaxton at Dawson College, who has sadly since passed away. He read passages of this book, saw a scene become a video in class, and encouraged me to keep writing and to one day publish. Gary was my mentor for several years after I graduated and many of his teachings have inspired me and motivated me throughout the years.
I also need to thank my mother, who was one of my very first test readers. She is the person who has seen me working on this project the most and who has always pushed me when I needed a nudge to pursue this dream and to never give up.
My husband is another person who has seen me work on this, and then talk and talk and talk about it. Simply having someone with whom to bounce ideas around for my publication plans was a great help and motivation when I encountered any challenges along the way.
Next up, when I began searching for an editor, I knew I wanted someone who would be on this journey with me for all my books and who would enjoy editing the story as much as I've enjoyed writing it. Marg Gilks ticked all the boxes and we clicked right away. As my editor, she was able to enhance the story in the way that it needed, and at the same time, preserve its authenticity in the way that I needed.
Someone else who is a part of the team is my cover artist. I've known Sophie Brunet since I was very young, both our mothers being long-time friends. I remember speaking to her about doing my cover art way before I had completed writing the story itself. I've always admired her style of painting and knew that together we would be able to shape the book with creative imagery in a way that would reflect the symbols found within its pages.
Last but not least, I must thank all those who helped with promoting this book, friends and family alike, and everyone who has become a devoted reader over the course of this publication process. Our journey has only begun, and the future of our shared experience is written in the stars and prophecised by the dragons themselves.
Table of Contents
Welcome to the Great Ocean Valley, where magic reigns and the dragons rule the prophecies. I invite you to take a look at The Stardust Destinies Appendices that accompany this book to familiarise yourself with this new realm, because the world of Stardust Destinies functions quite differently from many others. You will find them as a free download at http://www.binkyproductions.com/stardustdestinies.
In Appendix 1, Telorian History, you will learn how the polcs of Teloria exist, and how they measure time and age.
In Appendix 2, Kaulchèc History, you will discover how magic came to be in the lands of the Great Ocean Valley.
In Appendix 3, Counting Time, the seasons and how Telorians keep track of time are explained.
Appendix 4, Polken Talk, is a brief summary of speech and spells.
You will also find more complete maps of the Great Ocean Valley and its main countries.
However, it is in Appendix 5, A Dark Force Growing, where you will learn about all the evil that has befallen Teloria and its people, and discover the dark lord behind all the attacks—learn about his power, where he comes from, and what his dark motives might be. The power he wields is unique in Kaulchèc History. Be advised that, although you may look upon these historical texts and study the lore of this world, you should never look into the eyes of the great evil that is Mirauk, for his curse is greater than any magic that has yet been prophesied by any living being, save the dragons.
Timeline of Kaulchèc History
Our dear friend, the Great Wizardess Elina, has fallen ill again,’ said Gorthan, Chief Sword-master of all Masters and Knights. ‘I fear she may not survive the relapse this time.’
He and the two other men present in the small briefing room of the Governor’s Hall, once the Royal Halls of Teloria City, had important matters to discuss, especially now that magic was in motion again.
‘It has been nearly fifty years since her return from Mork,’ said Selemil the Governor. ‘She has managed to quell the symptoms before.’
‘We do not know the intensity of Mirauk’s curse,’ argued Gorthan. ‘It is her magic that has sustained her for so long. Sometimes I wonder if there is other magic at work.’ He shook his head. ‘Regardless, we knew that this day would come, when she would no longer be able to fight the illness that Mirauk bestowed upon her when he looked into her eyes.’
Henker the Elder sat pensive, rubbing his cheek. He stopped. ‘If these are the last of Elina’s days,’ he said, ‘then all our hope must lie in Niome, her pupil.’
‘Niome is too young still,’ said Selemil.
‘She is not much younger than Elina was when she became the best Wizardess of Teloria, even if it did take more time for her to become the Great Wizardess, officially and by title,’ said Henker. ‘All of Elina’s knowledge, all of her teachings—it all rests with Niome.’
‘There are other, more qualified wizards in Teloria,’ said Selemil. He leaned forward and tapped the table with a forefinger to punctuate his next words. ‘We cannot expect a young girl to know how to save our country.’
‘Not so much girl as woman,’ Henker corrected him. ‘The polc has come of age.’
‘Not much younger than . . .’ Gorthan trailed off. He looked at the other two. ‘When Elina and the team of Telorians left for Mork to take back the Book of Enchantment, many of them were not much older than Niome is today.’
‘And did they return?’ asked Selemil. He closed his eyes and shook his head. ‘Whether from spies, messengers, or rumour, there has been no word from Mork. If any from that team still live, they have surely been lost to the darkness of Mork. That mission cost us a slew of talented knights, and our Great Wizardess’s health. She is the only one who returned—empty-handed.’
‘May I remind you that Elina has taught Niome how to guard the Compliment Book? Should the Morkans come for it, she is prepared and knows what to do.’
‘The Morkans better not come before the repairs on the wall around Teloria proper are complete. The Big War caused much damage and loss.’ He turned to Gorthan. ‘Any word from the guards on the wall?’
‘The area at Telor is nearly finished,’ said Gorthan. ‘The tower at Lani has been reconstructed after long delay. That entire side has been completely undone and rebuilt and is stronger than the rest of the wall. The only area with a few remaining breaches that have yet to be patched is in the south.’
‘Has it truly taken us fifty years to rebuild the entire wall around our country?’
‘Recovering from the Big War took us fifty years,’ said Henker. ‘I have never seen such devastation before—the destruction, the famine that followed, the grievous hardship; all that came after. We tended the people, lifted their sorrow. We gave them hope back then.’ His gaze grew distant. ‘We must give them hope once more. Teloria is no longer vulnerable. Anyone who was imprisoned in Morkan encampments has been rescued. Yet the people of our country still grieve; they remember, they know, they fear. They fear the army that left fifty years ago has all but perished and they have begun to come to terms with it, but without hope, they will fear that Teloria will fall to Mirauk and his reign of terror over all the lands.’
Henker looked at Gorthan and Selemil. ‘The Morkans have left us alone for all these years, but everyone in this country knows as well as I do, they are planning something, perhaps something even bigger than the last time—and they fear.’
‘I have no doubt that Mirauk is planning another coup,’ said Gorthan, ‘and I have trained my knights and masters accordingly. But what is he planning? That is cause for much speculation and much of the fear, as well.’
Henker leaned forward, placing his elbows on his knees. ‘With Elina ill again, no one knows what the future holds, not even our best prophets. Not even me. But if we can bestow hope again, then Teloria can win.’
‘I hope you’re not suggesting we go after the Book of Enchantment and send more Telorians to Mork,’ said Selemil.
Henker shook his head. ‘Despite everything that has happened to Teloria, despite everything that was lost, and everything that is yet to come, there is one who holds that hope.’
‘Niome,’ said Gorthan. ‘She is determined to save us all from evil, even if she has to do it alone. Her valour is admirable, but it is unnerving.’
‘Perhaps, but she is young, powerful in magic, optimistic, and determined. She can convey those attributes to the rest of the people,’ said Henker. ‘Let us give hope to the people of Teloria. Let’s let Niome share her strengths.’
‘She holds much responsibility,’ said Selemil, ‘but she is not alone.’ He nodded. ‘We remain here and wait for Mork to attack. We are strongest here. And we let Niome inspire with her knowledge and magic, and together, we can devise the best plan, should Mirauk attack us again. I’ve been working on a magical shelter I believe could help us. I think what our people need is purpose.’
‘With Niome’s aid,’ said Gorthan, ‘I’m sure we can achieve what has seemed impossible for years.’
‘Are we all in agreement, then?’ asked Selemil.
Gorthan and Henker nodded.
The old polc gripped his cane and stood. ‘Let us go speak with Elina. If her final days approach, then we will need all the insight she can give us.’
The other two stood. These were grave times; they had been for generations. But magic was in motion, and things were about to change, for ill or for the better. Best they ensure it was for the better.
Niome Fairhaven was a young polc of ninety with beautiful long, dark hair that glistened in the light, and bright eyes of golden green. She most often wore a purple dress that her sorcery teacher Elina, the Great Wizardess of Teloria, had made her. She felt very close to her master and now that Elina was ill again, Niome felt compelled to wear the dress, almost as though it would keep Elina on their earth longer.
As Niome looked through the ancient scrolls that she was studying, her father, Ceymi, bustled into the room. When Niome looked up and met his dark eyes, she saw the sadness upon his face.
‘Niome,’ he cried, shaking his dark head, ‘it’s Elina! She’s . . . her illness, it’s worse than ever.’
Worry fell upon Niome’s heart, for she had been Elina’s apprentice for over thirty years. Dropping the scroll she’d been reading, she brushed past her father and ran to Elina’s house.
Everyone, it seemed, was gathering at Elina’s door; she saw Gorthan the Chief, Henker the Elder, and Selemil the Governor among the villagers; even the tall Telorian who was her and her brother’s sword-master was there. They all know Elina is dying, Niome thought. No! Niome could not conceive that notion yet—the death of her master, the person she trusted most and who trusted her most, the person who was the most versed in magic in Teloria.
Niome entered the house and closed the door quietly behind her, then walked into Elina’s bedroom and stopped beside the bed with her head bowed low, trying to remember the few healing spells that existed.
‘Niome,’ Elina whispered with difficulty, ‘you must protect the Compliment Book. Do not let it get into Mirauk’s hands. Teloria’s destiny lies with you now.’ Niome nodded. ‘No spell can heal the curse that has been set upon me. Mirauk’s evil was too strong for me alone to destroy.’
‘I will find the Book of Enchantment,’ she replied.
Elina smiled and whispered strange words in her last breath: ‘Soû lagar andë roc, hëaûbo rede lari verei!’
In tearful sorrow Niome bowed her head even lower, and repeated the words in her head several times to remember them. Whatever Elina said was important and had great significance, Niome knew that much from experience. Then she blew out the candle that sat on the night table. She knew what she had to do to bring hope back to Teloria, but first she had to go out there and announce the bad news to everyone.
No doubt there would be a meeting with the council, and a great gathering to figure out what to do, now that the wisest and most powerful of them had passed away. Everyone was supposed to be present at the meeting, but Niome decided that she would be absent. She couldn’t stand those political gatherings. She wanted to be alone and do research of her own, especially now that she had a sentence to decode; that would help a lot more.
Niome left the bedroom and crossed to the door, where she paused with her hand on the latch. Drawing a deep breath, she swung the door open and walked over the threshold and outside.
* * *
A spiritual ceremony in Elina’s honour marked the day when everything changed forever. It was the eighty-fourth day of the year, at the very end of Winter. The Telorians grieved for a full week before the council meeting took place.
They gathered in the Governor’s Hall, a great, dimly lit room large enough to hold all Telorians, young and old alike. Gorthan the Chief, the Sword-master of all Masters, chaired the meeting, which was attended by Telorians from all of the surrounding villages, even those from the far south and wizards from the far corners, for this concerned the entire country.
Gorthan stood before the people, with Henker the Elder seated on one side and Selemil the Governor on the other. The great hall was filled with chatter that echoed the people’s fear, but when Gorthan stepped forward onto a little platform, everyone went mute, their impatience and agony hanging heavy in the silence that invaded the room.
Gorthan finally spoke in a deep, loud voice. ‘Polcs of Teloria,’ he said, ‘this has been a mournful time for us all, but we must not lose hope. I know that the warriors have been gone far too long for us to expect their return, but nothing tells us they are dead. Although Mirauk himself announced that he killed them, several did escape and I am hopeful in my heart that some of those brave polcs are alive still. They are powerful and skilled and whatever dangers they face will become nothing but a fleeting moment to them.’ Gorthan paused, wishing he could believe his own words.
‘If that is so, why haven’t they returned?’ shouted one of the younger Telorians, standing next to another young polc.
‘Because they are warriors,’ replied Henker the Elder. ‘They are explorers bound to find peace.’
The boy gave the other a discouraged look.
‘There is always determination and curiosity,’ Henker finished.
‘But what more could they be curious about?’ yelled the boy.
‘The land, other cultures, making allies. These knights know what they are doing,’ said Henker.
‘I know that!’ the boy retorted. It was the same story that Henker told again and again. ‘But what makes you so sure they are still alive?’
‘Six hundred twenty-eight years will get you far in knowledge and wisdom, young polc,’ Henker replied.
The teenage boy stayed silent for a moment, then said, ‘Hey, I do know a thing or two about the dangers of travelling. I also know a thing or two about magic. I mean, I am a Fairhaven, after all!’
‘Meysah,’ said Selemil, ‘everyone knows your parents are Ceymi and Latua.’
‘And Niome’s brother.’
Some of the other teenagers cast annoyed looks at Meysah for his boastfulness, but the young polc next to him only smiled in sympathy.
Selemil continued. ‘But you still have much to learn concerning—’
‘My brother was the second captain!’ interrupted Meysah. ‘I think I’m entitled to my questions.’
‘Indeed,’ said Henker, ‘indeed, and it is understandable, but you see . . .’ He paused as the three leaders vainly searched the room for Niome.
Gorthan continued for Henker. ‘All is not lost