Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Excerpt: The Prologue of The Phoenix Prophetess


Usually I share the first chapter of my NaNoWriMo novel on the NaNo site. This year, I didn't do that because I wanted to share it here. I know a lot of people say you shouldn't have a prologue, but whether you call this "prologue" or "chapter one," I will fight for this chapter to stay in The Phoenix Prophetess. Otherwise, I worry what Apenth might do to me, if I don't. Hehe! I hope you enjoy!


The Island of Mournia
23 Day of Inasham
Year 2500 AUC

The newborn baby lay limp upon the table, a thin cloth separating her from the wood. She was a perfect girl, except for one thing:  she was dead.

Apeth had waited five hundred years for this child’s birth. His bunched muscles across his shoulders and back relaxed. Breath flowed from his nostrils and rustled her dark hair. The midwife had placed her in this room away from the grieving parents. The small crib sat discarded in a corner. A doll peered at him with coal-black eyes. The wails from the other room sent pain through his ears. They didn’t know he was here, watching, waiting for an opportunity to save their child. His hand hovered over her heart.

One touch would change everything.

“Stop, my son.” A wrinkled and liver-spotted hand seized his wrist.

He cursed his lack of foresight. Shouldn’t he have known Postera, the goddess of the future, would try to stop him? He was the god of prophecy, after all! Her bony fingers gripped tighter with a strength he didn’t know she possessed. With a sigh, he lifted his head and focused upon her clear blue eyes, so like his own.

“Mother, she’s the one. I have to continue Amora’s prophecy.” He gently pried her aged fingers from his wrist.

“No. You can’t go against the Fates again. The gods are displeased.” She reached into her dress’s folds and revealed the severed darkening thread of the baby’s lifeline. The yarn of life pulsed around her dark robes. “It’s too late. Her life is forfeited, and her soul shall reside in Hupogaia’s realm.”

His heart sank. The detached thread swayed like a pendulum in the darkened room. Was it too late to revive the child? His body curled closer to the baby girl. Her chance for life was slipping through his fingers with each passing grain of sand in the hourglass.

This girl had to be the sixth one.

“You know what will happen if I don’t do this.” He jerked away from her grasp. His eyes flicked between the blackened thread and the baby. If he didn’t save her, who would foretell the prophecies? Who could stop Fate? Her future was fading into the dark depths of the Underworld, and he wouldn’t allow her to be one of Hupogaia’s eternal children.

“I know what may come. Who taught you prophecy? I did.” Postera blew air through her nose. “You can’t keep meddling. Don’t you see my wrinkles, my white hair? I don’t want to see Kisa curse you like she has me. Remember Hupogaia protested against you in front of the High Council. They said grave consequences will come if you save another one.”

He couldn’t forget the council’s words. But visions of the Kingdom of Amora in flames flashed through his mind. He could taste the ashes, like burnt charcoal, and hear her people’s screams. The prophecy of the kingdom’s destruction brought sour bile to his mouth. The other gods, including the queen goddess Kisa, may be willing to turn their backs on their loyal people for Fate, but he wasn’t.

Then, there was this infant in front of him. She reminded him of his daughter. His mortal family resided in the Underworld, but he couldn’t let this child.

“I have to save her.” He ripped the threads from his mother’s hands and joined the thread of death with the yarn of life. The piece sizzled, reattaching to the other, and transformed to blood red.

“No! You can’t do this! Think of the consequences.”

He was, though. They both knew what would happen.

Ignoring his mother’s shrieks, Apenth leaned over the lifeless baby. His lips pressed against her ashen forehead. It was already too cold. Was he too late? Postera clawed at his arms, but he shoved away her hands. Nothing would stop him from completing Amora’s prophecy, protecting the city named after his love.

“You are mine, little prophetess.” His hand pressed over her heart. Electric heat flowed from his glowing fingertips. They tingled, nearly burning his flesh, but his hand remained steady. Luminosity brightened around them, further blocking out Postera’s pleas. The room filled with the blinding white light.

“Live.” His command, his plea. Let it work one more time.

The light imploded into the child. Her flesh glowed for a moment before the room’s shadows returned. A tiny strawberry-colored birthmark in the shape of a phoenix blossomed upon the flesh over her heart. The baby’s lungs filled with air, and a cry broke from her lips.

The Phoenix Prophetess was reborn.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

He's probably toast, but he knew he was making that sacrifice.

jaybird said...

Great exerpt Cherie! Sad but beautiful- sacrifice to save a child.

Summer Ross said...

This is terrific- I'm very curious to see where it leads next. You portrayed a deep character right away with his own voice. Well done!

Laura Clipson said...

This is great, the perfect prologue; it really draws the reader in!

Rebecca Green Gasper said...

I like! Great excerpt. But why no prologue? I guess I'm out of the "what not to do with your writing..." loop. :) I say if it works...go for it!!!

Unknown said...

"His heart sank. The detached thread swayed like a pendulum in the darkened room. Was it too late to revive the child? His body curled closer to the baby girl. Her chance for life was slipping through his fingers with each passing grain of sand in the hourglass."

Oh my goodness lady! Some good stuff in here... loved it.

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic! I can't wait to read it again. :)

Jennifer Lane said...

Great opening paragraph!

Cherie Reich said...

Rebecca, prologues have been overused and so many writers misuse them, so the consensus is that most books don't need prologues. I say this one works, though. :)

M Pax said...

What an emotionally charged scene. Great atmosphere, too.

Nicole said...

Lots of good drama going on here!

Golden Eagle said...

I think this is a very effective prologue. I hope the consequences for him weren't too terrible!

Anonymous said...

The prologue argument... But so many books have them??
Yours is intriguing. Well done.

Heather R. Holden said...

I've always loved prologues, so screw everyone who says they shouldn't exist! ;)

As for this, intense! I can only imagine how large and devastating the consequences will be, since bringing someone back from the dead is always a major thing. I already want to read more, I'm so intrigued!