THE SPARKS SAGA
by RS McCoy
IN CELEBRATION OF THE RELEASE OF BOOK THREE OF THE SPARKS SAGA...
RS McCOY WOULD LIKE TO REINTRODUCE YOU TO...
“Everyone in the world has a Spark, a light inside that guides them, keeps them alive.”
Starting school is supposed to be a fun and exciting time for any new student. But for Lark, a skilled archer and fledgling mind-reader, it’s a creative form of torture. Locked in rooms and hallways with both friends and enemies, bombarded by the thoughts and feelings of his peers, Lark is a prisoner.
On a quest to master his Spark, Lark’s mentor–his one ally–is anything but helpful. What Lark fails to realize is the value of his rare ability, and just how far some are willing to go to have control of him.
I ran over to her as soon as I saw her, but the blank expression she wore made it clear she wasn’t all that pleased to see me. It had been months, and I'd almost thought she'd gone home, or hadn't had a bright enough spark after all. I could have jumped and yelled from excitement to see her.
“Lark, have you met my mentor Mathias?” She turned to look at a middle aged man who stood behind her. I couldn’t get a read on either one, though it was hard to tell in the commotion of the training area. He wore the gray coverings that all mentors wore, and despite the age on his face, his golden hair matched the yellow pendant about his neck; which itself was inlaid with a black stone spider.
“Where have you been all this time?”
“Training, of course. Haven’t you?”
“Well, yes, but—Why haven’t I seen you?”
“Mathias is responsible for all my lessons.” She was cold and dismissive, almost as if I bothered her. I couldn’t believe it. Why is she being so weird? I only wanted to make sure she was safe, that she was taken care of. What happened?
With a wave of dismissal she walked past me to challenge Parvani and I was sure my mouth dropped to the ground. Does she have any idea what she’s doing?
“Is she crazy?” Micha asked. He seemed more worried for her mental faculties than her general well-being, though I couldn’t disagree.
They stood and faced each other as Sinha commenced the fight. Khea was at least a full foot shorter than Parvani and looked like she could be her toy. I didn’t imagine Parvani was going to let her down easy.
In a moment of what must have been suicidal desire, Khea lunged, blocked a punch, and landed her fist square on Parvani’s cheek before the larger girl dropped onto her back on the ground. It was the most impressive display I had ever seen. Once she knew what she was up against, Parvani put in real effort to fight, and for a while, it seemed as if they were evenly matched. The final blow came when Khea grabbed Parvani's wrist, spun around her, and forced her to the ground. “Yield,” Parvani let out, defeated.
Without a word to me or Micha, Khea walked back to Mathias and he led her away. It was all I could think about the rest of the day, and into the next morning. What happened to Khea? Where has she been all this time and why is she so distant now? And since when was she some sort of combat master?
The next day Khea returned alone and challenged Shaz, a move that made me feel that Micha might have been right. Unlike Parvani, Shaz only lasted a measly few minutes before the pain in his leg prompted a yield. That time I was able to catch her before she left.
“Hey, Khea. What’s going on? Why won’t you talk to me?”
“I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to.”
“You’re not allowed to? Says who? That Mathias guy?” It seemed outlandish that anyone should be prevented from seeing me, particularly Khea.
She nodded before she replied, “I’m not supposed to talk to you. Please leave me alone.” Right then a boulder fell from the sky and crushed me. I just wanted to make sure she was alright. Why would someone prevent that? What made it worse was that she went along with it. She hadn’t fought against it or refused to follow his rules. My insides ached in a new kind of pain.
She began to walk away, but she turned around suddenly and leaned in close. “Meet me at the gardens after dinner,” she whispered. A wide smile pressed into my cheeks; my friend was in there somewhere. Mathias may have convinced her to follow him publicly, but somewhere and in some small part, she was still my friend.
"Loving her was easier when I thought we were going to die."
With a new home on an island that prizes human sacrifice, Lark finds that reading minds is not enough. As he battles the tragedies that haunt him, his queen insists on the continuation of the violent practice, and he is powerless against her unrivaled Spark and uncompromising authority.
In order to stop her, Lark needs to learn the secrets of the spirits of the world. Only there isn’t much time. War looms just over the horizon.
“Lark—” Khea’s hand stroked my sweat-covered chest like she did on so many nights. My eyes fluttered open to find nothing but more darkness. After a moment, I could make out the faint hint of moonlight around the edges of the thick velvet covering the east windows.
“You had a nightmare again,” she added, as if I didn’t know. In fact, there was no denying they were getting worse. It had been at least a month since a night when I was free of the torment. Beside the haunting visions, my Spark gave me greater insight to the events, offering the pain as Micha felt it, the fear of death and leaving Isuet alone which he experienced in his final moments. My chest still burned from the heat of his blood even as Khea’s hand moved back and forth to calm me.
The familiar shame crept up into my cheeks. I missed Micha. I loved him as my lost friend, but it didn’t make it any easier to endure the night terrors or admit how lost I had become. And I hated to show how much his death affected me in front of Khea.
A man should be strong. A man should protect his wife. Even without the Affinity to keep us bound together, I felt the strong urge to protect her courtesy of the trace of my mother’s Spark which lived within me. Technically, we weren’t really married and, according to Nakben law, we never would be. Even with a child in our future, the queen could never take a husband—though that hardly changed the reality of our relationship.
The only defense against my disgrace was the thin band of copper I wore on my left hand. Khea had charmed my father’s ring with a hawk’s image to keep out Readers, but I doubted my recent use was what she had in mind. It was quite clear she hated it.
I moved my arm to wipe the beaded moisture from my brow and attempted to roll away from her. My love for Khea was eternal and transcending, but I didn’t want her to see me at my weakest. Despite the rise of my shoulder off the feathered bed, a small yet strong hand pushed me back down.
“You can’t avoid this, Lark. Talk to me.” The wall sconces burned with light that hadn’t been there a moment before, the sudden flames a clear sign of her resentment at being pushed away. The light illuminated the black band of tattoos wrapped around her upper arm, a repeating pattern of iconic suns representing the queen she had killed to save our lives and earn her title. Not only was it a horrific reminder of that night our friends were murdered, but it was also a barbaric and permanent mutilation of an otherwise perfectly beautiful young woman.
“Keeping them alive was harder than I ever thought possible.”
The devoted lover and proud father Lark is on the verge of losing it all. His abilities are slowly fading without reason and his enemies are looming ever closer. He has mere days to prepare for war and earn the allegiance of the Nakben tribes, none of which are eager to fight for a foreign queen.
With his life and family hanging in the balance, Lark enters enemy territory, but he doesn’t realize just how weak he’s become.
Keeping them safe was harder than I ever thought possible. After all, Khea and I were two of the most powerful people to grace the planet in generations. Like anyone else, we also had our limits.
But today wasn’t the day to worry about that. Regardless of the enemy only a day’s voyage from the coast, eagerly awaiting our deaths, there was something we needed to do first.
Though Khea didn’t know it yet.
“Don’t go in too far,” I warned her, still nervous of that power she held over me. Despite all my growth, despite all the gifts I’d earned, she still had more.
My stunning Khea, queen of Nakbe and mother to our strong son, sat on the edge of the massive bed and nodded. In the hours since my return and the birth of our son, I’d kept the ring on for the most part. I still didn’t trust myself to keep the darkness at bay, to keep her safe from the looming anger I couldn’t seem to quell. If anything, I’d only become better at hiding it.
Sun streamed through the long velvet curtains where the wind toyed with its edges. While I would have liked to think the slight breeze the mere effect of the morning heat on the island, I knew better. If nothing else, Khea was a Puffer with a talent for wind that bordered on the unnatural. She was just too damn good at it.
Today, that little breeze was an easy sign of her nerves, of her fear I would recede into the darkness again. I was all too aware of how long I would have to pay for my absence. “I have a surprise for you, that’s all,” I told her, hoping to calm her fears but still knowing she wouldn’t quite believe me.
Kneeling before her, my hands gently stroking the smooth skin of her thighs until they contacted the pale blue wrap across her hips, I kissed our son’s head where he lay in her arms. “After today, I don’t have to put it back on. You just have to stay where it’s safe.”
If she could heed to the boundary between control and darkness, this just might work.
RS McCoy didn't ever plan on being a writer. With a career teaching high school science, writing is the last thing she expected. But life never goes the way you think it will. While battling cancer, she picked up her laptop and let the words flow out. One year later, her first published fantasy novel was released on Amazon followed by her second novel six months later. She is a wife, mother of two, a scientist, baker, gardener, and life-long science fiction and fantasy addict.