Nicole Murphy has written a free novella continuing the story of her Dream of Asarlai trilogy, and she’s given us an extract and a little intro to share with our fellow Voyagers:
It’s been twelve months since Rogue Gadda hit the shelves and the Dream of Asarlai trilogy came to an end.
It was a happily-after-ever ending. But it was never my intention for everything to go back to normal. That’s not how life works, when major events occur. Things change. We change. The fate of the world shifts and new possibilities and threats rise.
That meant that there was room for more. More about the guardians. More about the world of the gadda. More about the tension that arises from trying to keep your existence secret in a world where you’re the clear minority.
The first of those stories, answering the ‘what happens next’ question, is a novella ‘The Festival’. It was released on July 12, an auspicious date as it marks the Festival of the Star, the greatest day in the gadda calendar.
With the blessings of Voyager – I’ve self-published it and until the end of July, it’s available for free.
So if you’ve not been game to try the Dream of Asarlai trilogy – here’s a chance to do so without it costing you anything. I’m pretty confident that once you’ve read it, you’ll be running out to grab the other books and see how this story began.
IT’S BEEN A YEAR SINCE ASARLAI WAS CAPTURED, BUT THINGS ARE FAR FROM SETTLED IN THE GADDA WORLD…
If you were the member of a secret magical race, how would you hide from humans?
The bardria and its guardians have decided to hide in the open by showcasing the gadda stronghold
The purists, however, believe the best solution is to remove the gadda from all contact with humans. The Festival of the Star, the biggest celebration of the year, is the perfect place to begin their campaign.
The guardians are sure they’re ready for anything the purists throw at them. But are they ready for the resurrection of an old enemy?
WARNING: The Festival contains spoilers for the Dream of Asarlia trilogy, and hot steamy sex.
July 11, 8pm.
It was time.
The meal had been superb. Many bottles of wine had been consumed. The atmosphere around the large table was convivial, with laughter and raised voices and the occasional thump on the wood to punctuate a story.
Councillor Robert Yarrow gestured to his butler, who left the room. The councillor stood and waited for the noise to die down and for all attention to come to him.
With every head that turned, Yarrow’s back got straighter, his shoulders more relaxed, his chin higher.
“My friends,” he said, smiling at the twenty faces that looked at him. “My most wonderful friends. Your sacrifice will be lauded for generations.”
Twenty faces took on varying hues of green and white as they recalled why they were here.
The door opened, the creak shocking in the silence. The butler came forward, bearing an ornate silver bowl on a matching tray. He placed it on the table before Yarrow and then stood at his master’s shoulder.
Yarrow lifted the lid and the rank odour assaulted his senses. He fought to maintain a stoic appearance—he wouldn’t convince anyone to eat if he showed the scent alone was this terrible.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one close enough to smell it. Lisa Jane gasped and held her napkin to her face.
“We can’t eat that,” she said.
Everyone leant forward, the people at the far end of the table standing to do so. All recoiled, although Yarrow knew they couldn’t possibly all smell it.
“I understand your concern.” As he spoke, Yarrow used a pair of tweezers to pick up one rancid piece of beef. The green coating on the meat was foul. He lay it on the pile of cheese slices that rested on the other side of the silver tray and pulled the corners of the top slice around the meat. “But we agreed that your food poisoning be natural rather than an incantation, so the guardians won’t suspect a plot.”
He rolled the morsel between his palms so the cheese encased the meat. Then he dipped the ball in a small tureen of mustard, before laying it on a small plate and handing it to the person on his left. As he made more, the plates were passed around the table until everyone had one. Meanwhile, the butler refilled the wine glasses.
All twenty of Robert’s guests stared down at the poison pill before them and their thoughts were clear on their faces—dread, fear, disgust.
“We do this to save Sclossin and all gadda,” Yarrow said quietly. “We do this to ruin the festival and so reveal how terrible the plan to invite humans into our village is. You will be revered for your actions tonight.” He lifted his glass in a toast then swallowed, both to mask the smell with the bouquet of the wine and to hide his smile. He was so glad he wouldn’t be eating the meat.
As one, his guests picked up the poison and swallowed. None chewed, and each grabbed their wine and used it to wash the horrid meat down their throat.
“Now, I suggest you all go home and make yourself as comfortable as possible. I pray that you will not suffer too much tonight.”
One by one, they transferred away, disappearing from view in the blink of an eye. Yarrow put the lid back on the silver bowl and his butler took it away to safely dispose of it. No one in the Yarrow household was to be harmed by the tainted meat.
Yarrow went to his study and sat in his armchair. His port was open, a crystal glass standing ready. He poured himself a drink and sipped it slowly, easing into the leather upholstery with a relaxed sigh.
Everything was in order. Each of his different groups had their task and combined, they were going to spell disaster for the festival tomorrow. The bardria would have to re-consider making the town of Sclossin more accessible to humans and the next step in cutting all access to humanity would be taken.
Yarrow shook his head. It astounded him that it wasn’t clear to all gadda that for the sake of their survival they needed to cut ties to the human race. At the human population bloomed and their technology improved, the chances of them discovering that in their midst lived a secret race with powers beyond imagining grew.
It would be disastrous. Everyone agreed on that. Either there would be gadda who would use their power to try and rule humanity, or there would be humans who would find a way to use vulnerable gadda for their own vices.
Some people thought the answer was to hide in plain sight. Be right in amongst the humans. People wouldn’t conceive of the concept that their neighbour, workmate, friend wasn’t human.
Robert’s entire being quaked with the stupidity of that idea. The only salvation was to leave the humans to their lives, their world and hide the gadda away.
It was the right way. Tomorrow’s decimation of the festival would prove it. And the best part of his plan was the guardians couldn’t stop it.
Robert Yarrow downed the last of his port with a smile.
Thanks Nicole. You rock!