The Lily Cafe is thrilled to present author Celinka Serre and her YA High Fantasy novel Stardust Destinies I: Variate Facing!
Title: Stardust Destines I: Variate Facing
Author: Celinka Serre
Publisher: Binky Ink
Publication date: May 3, 2019
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Prompted by a cryptic message from her deceased master, Niome, a young wizardess, embarks on a journey to discover many truths. Leaving her country, Teloria, behind, and accompanied by her brother, his best friend, her brother’s master and his best friend, she discovers the prophecies that were written in the stars and dictated by the dragons. Being the guardian of the remaining safe magical book of spells, the Compliment Book, Niome and her companions quickly realise that they must go to the dark lands and retrieve the stolen Book of Enchantment from the evil lord who wishes to rule over all the lands. It is there where their Stardust Destinies are revealed.
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.’
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,’ he said. ‘Perhaps Elina left us, but her spells did not go with her. Niome Fairhaven was her apprentice and knows much. In time, she will become a great wizardess herself, so worry not for the future of Teloria—it lies in capable hands: Niome for great magic, and Selemil, our wonderful governor, who has kept us away from harm for so long.’
Selemil rose. ‘That is correct,’ he said. ‘And I have been preparing a secret hiding place for us, if ever we are in great danger. So do not fear, my friends. We are safe from the people of Mork, as long as we stick together and help each other.’
The words gave the Telorians a little more hope. Their discord turned into loud rejoicing.
Selemil smiled and stepped forward. ‘Telorians, your attention once more!’ Their voices died down and they focused on the tall polc’s long face. ‘This won’t be easy and it requires everybody’s cooperation. We need each and every one of you to train as a fighter. Most of you have swords or a weapon of some sort; it’ll do. We must get together and make as many weapons as we can, but most importantly, we must rebuild the last section of our barrier, the wall around our country, where I intend to put more watchmen than before. Those who can see far into the distance will sound the alarm when they spy the enemy. That is when we will hide and wait for the perfect moment to ambush them.’
‘How will they not find us?’ asked an elder.
Everyone looked on in awe until, in a flash, it all disappeared.
‘We must work in haste. Whoever wishes to assist me today, you may, but I only require your help two days from now.’ Selemil glanced at Gorthan and stepped back.
Gorthan dismissed the people. A few hung back to help Selemil organise the repair plans for the wall; the others returned home.
* * *
Though baby-faced Meysah was younger than the sister he resembled by five polken years, he was almost more rational than her. After the meeting he rushed home, only to discover Niome wasn’t there. He went to the Magic Lab. She hadn’t been at the meeting and it was crucial not to miss one, especially in this case, especially because she had been the Great Wizardess’s apprentice. It was almost a disgrace. He needed to find out why she’d been absent.
He found her sitting at the desk, looking through one of the books from a pile beside her. Meysah rushed over and grabbed the book from her hands. ‘What are you doing here?’ he demanded.
‘What does it look like?’ replied Niome.
‘Perhaps you forgot something?’ suggested Meysah. ‘Someplace you had to be?’
‘I deliberately missed the meeting. I have no time to spend on anything but this,’ she said, reaching for the book.
He held it out of her reach. ‘Anything but what?’ Meysah asked suspiciously, yet his interest in Niome’s work grew as she explained.
‘When Elina died, she whispered these words to me: “Soû lagar andë roc, hëaûbo rede lari verei!”’ Niome stood and walked towards Meysah.
Niome grabbed it and put it in her cloak pocket, where the small book fit very well. ‘That’s what I thought at first, but then I discovered that the words were in the ancient tongue of the Kaulchèc people. How did I know? I looked through the language books and history books because I thought it was an ancient version of our tongue, but it’s not at all ours. In fact, I read that thousands of years ago, the people who marked their place here among the Telorians, the Kaulchèc, knew great magic, which of course is why we know it here today. The Book of Enchantment was a gift from them, before they left.’ Niome began to pace as she spoke.
‘I know my history, Niome,’ said Meysah, crossing his arms and giving his sister a lopsided smile.
‘Then you know that they used our tongue to create new magic.’ Niome picked up a large book. Not to be outdone, Meysah picked up another. ‘It says in this book that our spells, our customs came from a merger between our ancestors and the Kaulchèc. So I looked in the Book of Ancient Tongues and started decoding.’
Meysah looked at the cover of the book he held; it was the Book of Ancient Tongues, an old book with a dusty brown cover embossed with golden scripts. He handed it back to Niome almost reverently, as though it was too ancient and invaluable for him to hold. Right away she opened it, sat back down, and silently continued her decoding. Meysah waited until she finished and leaned back. He looked at her with anticipation. Niome put down her quill, still staring at her page.
‘Well . . . ?’ he coaxed. ‘What does it mean?’
‘“Under the Great Rock, by the river”,’ she replied. Ignoring Meysah’s puzzled expression, she continued to think aloud. ‘The Ortim River has one distinct rock. It’s huge, for one thing, and stands out because of the greyish-red streaks in its centre. I think there might be something hidden there.’
Meysah caught his sister’s drift. ‘But the Ortim River is more than a week’s travel to the north, and then we have to find the rock,’ he objected. ‘In this time of approaching peril, Gorthan and Selemil will never let you leave, let alone Mom and Dad.’ He again crossed his arms at the mention of their parents.
‘I’m still going. No one will stop me.’
‘I’m going!’ Niome glared at him, her mind set.
‘Then let me go with you.’
Niome lifted her sword and slipped it into the sheath at her belt. Looking her brother in the eyes, she shook her head. This mission was hers and although she wouldn’t mind the company, worrying about his safety would only be a distraction to her at the moment when she needed to focus the most.
They heard the outer door open. Meysah turned around and Niome rushed behind the desk and stuck her head into a random book just before Gorthan entered.
Gorthan stalked over to the desk and lifted the book slickly out of Niome’s hands. ‘Why were you not there, Niome?’ he asked in a stern voice as he set it down. ‘I am disappointed. Selemil was planning on letting you speak.’ He waited.
‘I apologise, but I needed to figure something out before it was too late,’ she answered after a long pause. ‘Look!’ Niome showed Gorthan the notes she had taken. He studied them carefully. ‘I believe whatever lurks there can help us,’ she added.
‘Well, perhaps once the construction is done we can take a look, but right now, no explorer can leave,’ said Gorthan.
‘That’s okay, I’ll go alone.’ Niome started packing her bag.
‘No,’ Gorthan said. ‘There could be spies out there.’
‘Then send someone to accompany me.’
‘We need all our best polcs.’ He turned to look at Meysah. ‘Even our apprentice knights. I mean, it’s over seven days’ travel to the Ortim River.’
‘Not if I don’t stop for the night,’ Niome was quick to answer, her words overlapping the end of Gorthan’s sentence. Even if he was the chief, she knew that she needed no one’s permission to leave. She only wanted the support of a trusted friend and teacher, out of courtesy.
‘And then you’ll have to find the Great Rock, then return to Teloria without running into trouble,’ continued Gorthan. ‘If all goes well and you find allies and explore the region, you could be away for several weeks, at least.’ He shook his head. ‘No, I won’t permit it. It’s too dangerous.’
‘I can do this! I know how to take care of myself!’ Niome exclaimed.
‘Can you defeat an army of Morkans if you’re on your own? You don’t know what they’re capable of. You were not in the front lines, as I was during the Big War.’
‘I won’t meet any Morkans,’ Niome insisted. ‘I’ll avoid them! I don’t understand why I have to stay here. I can’t do Teloria any good if I don’t know what I should know. Elina told me that for a purpose! Why can’t I—’
‘I don’t want what happened to Bahvley to happen to you!’ shouted Gorthan.
Gorthan was right. Even if Niome was correct about the importance of Elina’s words, Gorthan knew the dangers better than she could imagine at this time in her life. With danger approaching Teloria, there was no way of knowing what was out there or how soon it was going to come. Even if Niome had other authorities’ consent, and even though she need not tell anyone her intentions, if Gorthan said no, it was no.
‘You’re young, Niome,’ Gorthan said in a gentler voice. ‘Even with what you know, you’re incapable of defending yourself against an army of fully trained warriors—most of us are, alone. Besides,’ he added with a sympathetic smile, ‘I need you at my side. You’re the one who knows the most magic.’ He laid Niome’s notes on the desk.
Niome stayed silent. She lifted her notes and sat down with a sigh. Gorthan stood silent a while, then glanced at Meysah, who had a sad look on his face at the mention of Bahvley’s name. With a last look back at Niome, Gorthan walked out. Casting a sympathetic smile at Niome, Meysah followed Gorthan out, leaving his sister to her thoughts.
* * *
Meysah woke at daybreak to find a note on the bed beside his pillow. He sat up and opened it. It was from Niome. All it said was Cover up for me; I’ll see you sometime—Niome. Letting the note drop, Meysah leapt from his bed and ran to his sister’s room. Flinging the door open, he scanned the interior. Though it looked intact, he recognised the absence of what she valued most. She had taken her things. She’s gone. He ran down to the barn and ran along the aisle, looking into the stalls. One of the horses was missing—her favourite mare.
He let out a long sigh. ‘She can’t survive on her own. I have to help her—somehow.’
Excerpted from Stardust Destinies I: Variate Facing by Celinka Serre, Copyright © 2019 by Binky Ink.
About Celinka Serre:
Celinka Serre is an indie writer and video producer, working in freelance and having fun sharing content on YouTube. She believes in the freedom of creativity and has never let up in pursuing her dreams. Having begun Stardust Destinies at age 19, the novel series is but one of her many endeavors, being also a writer of fan-fiction, various indie film screenplays, and a few collaborations as well. (photo credit: Michael Cojan)
Get your copy
Connect with Celinka Serre
The author of this book, Celinka Serre, retains all rights to the excerpt published above, which may not be copied, reproduced, modified, sold, or distributed without the author’s express permission. To contact Celinka Serre to request permission to utilize the above excerpts, please send your inquiry to Kat via the Contact page.
Thank you so much, Celinka!