Happy Monday guys, hope you all had a good week. I said I'd keep you informed about the Kindle Scout enrolment for Cassie's Story, and then I forgot to!
The book was accepted for the campaign and has been running for a few days. If you want to go take a look and nominate it I'd be grateful. Anyone with an Amazon account can nominate, and if the book is selected for publication you get a free digital copy.
Take a look here: Cassie's Story Kindle Scout campaign
Ok, onto Zora's Light, and this week's episode. I'm giving backstory as I go, so you can follow even if you haven't read Zora's Dawn. If you want to read it, the link is here:
And here is the next episode in the story:
They met outside the front entrance to the hotel. Staring up at the grand façade Zora realized that she didn’t even know its name.
“It is called Mena House Hotel little Zora, and many famous people have been guests here. It was once a royal lodge and changed hands a few times until it was opened as a hotel in 1886.”
Zora nodded, not even registering any more that Axel had read her mind. As the fairy who had bespelled her ancestors generations before, Axel had a special link with her. Powers as her Guardian also had access to her thoughts, however Axel had taught her how to control the link between them.
Zora was relieved to be able to keep her private thoughts private, from Powers at least.
She jumped when Axel leaned down and whispered in her ear, “Don’t worry little Zora, I do not intrude on your private thoughts.” Grinning, he straightened again and, clapping his hands, gained the attention of them all. “Shall we go? I think as we are so close that we can walk there, don’t you all?”
Everyone made affirmative noises and the group set off through the grounds. Zora followed Axel as he turned left, walking along the roadside. As they ascended the hill men with horses and carriages, and others leading camels approached them, but a simple gesture from Axel was enough to turn them away. They continued up the hill, all of them slowing as they saw the great pyramid looming in front of them. Axel left them together to go and arrange tickets, and they all stood staring at the massive structure. All except Shax and the fairy guard. They were looking around at the people milling in all directions.
Zora pulled her attention away from the imposing sight long enough to look around them. There were people of all nationalities wandering about, most of them in groups and led by local guides. Shax was standing with her hands on her hips, Frenchie at her feet. The five fairy guard were facing in different directions, studying the tourists. Just as Zora started wondering if she should do something Axel returned with a handful of tickets and gestured for them to move forward.
They moved off as a group, Axel in the lead and the fairy guard walking on the outside. Shax was walking with Jake, Frenchie snuffling along beside her. Sunny had been silent, staring with wide eyes at the pyramids and the city they could see to one side. Marcus walked close to her, ignoring the baleful glare of Sabrina. Sabrina seemed unimpressed with having Marcus so close, and not for the first time Zora wondered how their fledgling relationship would cope if Sabrina decided she did not like Marcus.
Watching Marcus, Zora decided that Sunny was likely the main reason he had chosen to come along instead of staying back at the hotel. Even though she knew he could handle the sun – being a very old vampire – she was sure he was not comfortable. Sara and Joe were walking behind Axel, their bond evident in the way their footsteps matched. Zora looked at her own feet and those of Powers next to her. They were matched too, and in a small fit of rebellion she changed her stride to make it different.
The sight of the grand pyramid looming above them made her forget everything else. As they got closer she reached out and touched one of the blocks, feeling a tingle of power right down to her toes. Axel had stopped at the base of the steps and was standing to one side as their group ascended.
When Zora passed next to him he murmured into her ear, “The power of Gaia runs through these stones little Zora, you can feel it I think.”
“I think so Axel, I felt very small.”
“Gaia has reached out to you little Zora, not many defenders receive that blessing.”
Zora swallowed, she was not sure Gaia noticing her was a good thing. Trying to put it out of her mind she began scrambling up the steps, doing her best to ignore the tingles and focusing instead on the doorway looming in front of them. They waited at the entrance for Axel, who again took the lead, waving away the local guides who jumped forward to assist.
Inside was a series of narrow ramps, necessitating single file walking. Zora stood back, insisting that Powers go ahead of her. With a knowing look he grinned and acceded. This was better in that she didn’t feel his eyes watching her rear as she went up, but it meant that instead she got to watch his. She shook her head in irritation with herself. Here she was, walking inside the great pyramid, walking inside history in fact, and she was fixated on the backside of her guardian.
The climb became steeper and Zora was beginning to feel over warm in her jacket. Cold though it was outside, inside the pyramid it felt stuffy. Zora was pleased she didn’t suffer from claustrophobia, she had not realized how narrow the passage would be. The room that they emerged into was disappointingly empty, only an opened sarcophagus with a broken end sat inside. Even though she knew from photos what to expect, she still felt deflated.
“This is the kings chamber, and we climbed up here via the robbers tunnel. I know it looks disappointing, but think how long this sarcophagus has been here.” Shax’s voice was reverent, her touch gentle as she ran a hand along the side of the sarcophagus.
Their group filled the room, each of them wearing the same look of awe as they studied the room and one by one touched the sarcophagus. Zora went and ran her hand down the broken edge. She felt nothing but a slight tingle in her palm and wondered if Gaia had finished with her today. Once everyone finished studying the room they filed out again and down the ramps. Outside Zora was careful navigating the stone steps, having seen a tourist slip on the smooth edge of one when they were going up.
Once they were all on the ground again Axel suggested that they stay together while they explored the rest of the site. There was still a lot to look at – the Sphinx of course; the boat museum that housed an ancient boat, now restored after it was found broken into a thousand pieces and buried; the Eastern and Western cemetery, and the other two large pyramids.
The afternoon was so fascinating that Zora forgot the real reason they were there. It was only when Shax pointed out the desert behind the pyramids, and how spread out the area was that she was reminded of the rogue werewolf.
“You see Jake? It would be very easy for the rogue to grab someone and take them back here. And I’m sure even you can feel how special this area is.” Shax glared belligerently at Jake as she spoke.
Jake glared back, but was forced to agree. “I do see Shax, but still if she is to strike at the concert she will need to get her victim back here without anyone else seeing anything.”
Shax tapped her foot in the desert dust. “That would be easy, she would just be a girl walking off with a guy at a concert. It would not even register with the other concert goers.”
Zora heard the truth in those words. Shax was right, nobody would pay any attention to a couple wandering off during a concert.
“What about security? There would surely be heavy security at a concert here, with all this around.” Sara waved her hand in the general direction of the pyramids.
“I do feel that if she wants to kill at the pyramids the concert would be the perfect time to do it.” Axel tapped his chin in thought. “Perhaps we will come here to the sound and light show in the next couple of nights. We can assess the situation better I think at night, with an audience present.”
That seemed reasonable to Zora, and she was curious about the sound and light show. Shax screwed up her face at the suggestion though.
“Do I need to come to that Axel? I’ve seen it before and it doesn’t change.”
Axel smiled at Shax, an apologetic smile. “I would wish that you do Shax, you will be studying the area in a different way, given that we suspect a crime will be committed here.”
Shax sighed. “You’re right Axel. Okay, I’ll come along.”
Sunny leaned closer to Shax. “The show is not as fun as it sounds?”
Snorting, Shax shook her head. “You’ll find out.”
“Right folks, I think we are done here, shall we go back to the hotel and decide our next step?” Axel had one eyebrow raised, waiting for the expected assent from them all. Everyone made the right affirmative noises and they began the walk down the hill. Zora turned to look back at the pyramids, still awed that she was there, and had touched them.
She turned, seeing Powers waiting for her. “Yes, thank you. I just can’t believe I’m really here.”
“I know, I feel the same way. Even though our mission is serious, I still feel like a tourist.”
Her foot slipped on a rock as she walked, and Powers took her arm to steady her. Tingles of sensation raced up her arm and over her body at his touch. Zora was glad she was wearing her jacket so her physical reaction was hidden. Powers seemed unaffected, dropping her arm to open his water bottle and take a drink. They walked in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. Zora was wondering where they would go next, and what the sound and light show was like. She was also thinking about the expanse of desert behind the pyramids and the western cemetery. It was a maze of tombs, an area that seemed to her to be a good spot for a ritual killing if it was not guarded at night.
Back at the hotel, they went to their rooms to freshen up before meeting Axel in the restaurant for a light meal while they decided the next move. Axel told them that he had been in contact with the local defender who was anxious to meet with them all. She and her guardian would join them for dinner later that evening.
“So, we will meet back here in three hours. I think it easier tonight if we eat here, tomorrow we will go to Cairo. I am hoping that the local fairies can find out where Daciana and her entourage are staying, I believe they will be arriving soon if they are not here already. Even though we all have our strengths that make jetlag easier to deal with, still I believe you all could use a rest.”
Understanding that they had been dismissed the group began to disperse.
“Not the fairy guard just yet, I have messages for you all from my mother the queen.”
The five fairy guard obediently sat, their faces revealing nothing. Zora wondered what the messages were and if this was a normal thing or not. She sighed, no doubt this was more of the fairy ‘need to know’ policy that meant she would never find out.