Monday, March 14, 2016

continuing the story of Zora's Light

It's Monday again, and it's been a busy week for me. I'm still working on two stories concurrently, and I'm starting to rough out not one but two non-fiction. I'm almost ready to release Cassie's Story. And I'm getting back into Zora's head. 

Zora only recently found out that she is a Defender, of a family bespelled by the fairies generations ago to aid in protecting humankind from rogue werewolves. In Zora's world the supernatural community goes unknown. Vampires and werewolves live among humans, and do not kill. However there have been, through the centuries, rogue werewolves that prey on humans. Zora is unimpressed to be a Defender, and even less impressed to find out that Powers, a man she thinks little of, is her Guardian. They share a telepathic bond which Zora also resents.

Here's the next part to the story in book 2. The link for book 1 is here. It also contains a prequel that gives more of the backstory to Zora and Powers.

Turning her head Zora looked to her right and stared in amazement. How had she missed it? There, looking so close she could reach out and touch it, was one of the pyramids.

“It’s the great pyramid, the pyramid of Khufu. We are so close that is the only one you can see, but once we are in the hotel you will be able to see more.” Even though she must have seen the pyramids many times before Shax spoke in a hushed voice. “It’s stunning isn’t it? No matter how many times I see it, it still takes my breath away.”

Zora stared. It was so much bigger than she had imagined. The car swept around the curve of the drive and pulled to a stop in front of the imposing entrance to the hotel.

Axel was already there, while the rest of their cavalcade pulled in behind them. Once everyone was out on the footpath the doorman waved them in, while at the same time waving another man across to collect their luggage.

“Although I have stayed in the main building before, it suits our purposes better to stay in the newer wing, which is located down the hill from here. Wait while I sign in for us all.” So saying Axel walked over to the imposing reception desk, talking easily in Arabic to the man who was waiting to serve him. Zora realized belatedly that of course Axel as a fairy would know every language there was.

After a short time he returned to their group and waved his hand expansively to the door. They all filed out, none of them saying much. Zora could see that Sunny and Sara were swaying with exhaustion. No doubt she looked as bad as they did, she certainly felt it. Jetlag she supposed, wondering if she would be allowed to sleep for a few hours.

They were taken to the other building in golf buggies, Zora for one glad she didn’t have to walk. The man who opened the door to her room bustled in and pulled back the curtains to the balcony doors with a flourish. Zora gasped, not even noticing Powers entering the room after her as she stared at the view of the pyramids that was revealed. The man smiled, opened the balcony door and ushered her over. Not needing a second invitation Zora walked out onto the balcony and drank in the view. The pyramids were so close that it looked like she could walk to them.

“You can, they are only 700 metres away from the front gate.”

She turned to Powers who had followed her onto the balcony. “They are incredible.” Shivering, she added, “But it’s very cold, let’s go back inside.”

Powers grinned and waved her through the door. He said something to the man who was standing waiting and walked to the door with him. Zora sighed, surely she wasn’t the only one in her group who didn’t speak Arabic. Then she focused on the twin beds and lost interest in what Powers was doing. She would just lie down and test the mattress and pillows. Powers came back just as she settled down with a sigh – it felt so good to lie in a real bed.

“Come on Zora, up you get and go have a shower. Axel said we should sleep for five hours, and then meet up for breakfast. Go shower, I promise you will feel better if you do.”

Groaning, Zora allowed herself to be pulled to her feet. She rummaged in her bag for pyjamas and headed to the bathroom. She did it all on automatic pilot, not noticing anything about her surroundings. Back in the main room she accepted the bottle of water Powers handed her.

“Remember to always drink bottled water while we are here Zora, you can’t drink the tap water or you’ll get Pharaoh’s Revenge.”

“Is that the Egyptian version of Bali Belly?” Zora opened the bottle and drank, realizing as she did that she was very thirsty.

“Exactly, so always carry a bottle of water with you. Now you can sleep, I’ll wake you in five hours.”

Zora lay back in her bed. “How come you don’t look tired, is that some sort of shifter thing?”

Powers laughed. “No, I’m tired. Maybe not as tired as you but I need to sleep. Five hours is all any of us will need, we will recover from the jetlag much faster than ordinary people. You may have a few days of odd waking times, but you will adjust fast.”

Zora mumbled something, she was already almost asleep. Smiling, Powers leaned down and brushed her hair from her forehead. It was such a fiery red that the strands seemed to glow as they clung to his fingers. He sighed, his feelings for this woman were enhanced by the bond, he knew, but still he felt a tenderness that he was sure would not be approved of by Axel if he knew.

As promised Powers woke Zora exactly five hours later. “Come on, time to go and meet Axel. You can have a nice big pot of tea. Come on Zora, wake up.”

Zora groaned and hugged her pillow, it was too early to wake up wasn’t it? As awareness began to clear her mind she looked around, momentarily puzzled about her surroundings, but after a few moments of confusion everything clicked into place. Sitting up, she focused on Powers.

“Did you say tea?”

Powers grinned. “Yes, we are to meet Axel in the main dining room where we will have lunch and discuss our first move.”

“I like the first part, the second part not so much.”

Grinning again Powers pulled back the bedcovers. “That’s our life, good and bad in the same sentence.”

Zora screwed up her face at him, grabbed the water bottle and took a drink before standing and stretching. “I just need to change and I’m ready to go. I’m starving!”

They headed down to the foyer of the building together, meeting Shax, Sunny, Sara and Joe there. Neither Frenchie nor Sabrina were in evidence, it having been decided that they should stay in the rooms. Zora was sure animals were not normally allowed at all so Axel must have done some fairy hocus pocus. She looked outside, wondering if they should give the familiars some exercise later on. Now that she was more aware of her surroundings she was curious to see the grounds, but of course now was not the right time for that.

“Would you like to walk to the main building, or get a ride on a buggy?” Powers raised his eyebrows at them as a group.

“I’d like to walk, I need to stretch my legs.” Sara looked at Zora. “If that’s ok with you Zora?”

Zora smiled and agreed while the rest of their small group nodded and smiled.

“Ok, walk it is. Let’s go guys.”

Powers took the lead and the rest of them followed him out the door and up the path. Zora gazed around her at the well-kept grounds. It looked like any upmarket hotel, except for the pyramids in the background reminding her that they were in Egypt. This close she could even see the doorway into the massive structure, and the people going in and out. She couldn’t help a thrill of excitement – she was in Egypt, walking in the shadow of the pyramids! How quickly a life could change.

Over lunch talk stayed casual, with Shax and Axel fielding the excited questions and comments about the pyramids. Zora tried and failed to damp down a buzz of excitement, it seemed inappropriate when their task here was so serious. Wondering how her companions felt she looked around at them: the five fairy guard as always alert and watching their surroundings, Shax looking nothing like a witch and everything like a harassed tour guide, Axel the fairy prince also looking faintly harassed, Sara who was the other Defender and Joe her Guardian who were both staring at the pyramid in awe and not appearing to listen to a word, Marcus the vampire looking tired and irritable, Sunny her friend and apparently also a witch sitting beside him and trying to persuade him to smile, Jake the werewolf (but a good one), and lastly Powers. Zora sighed as she turned her gaze to him. Powers, her erstwhile work colleague who she had always preferred to ignore, and who now was unveiled as Guardian to her Defender.

Sensing her gaze he turned his head and smiled at her, a smile that sent tingles right through her body. Cross, and wondering how she could control this unwanted and bond stimulated attraction, she turned her head away, staring instead at the great pyramid that dominated the scene through the dining room windows. The people going inside it looked like ants in comparison, which made her wonder about the size of the blocks that made up the structure. Hearing her name Zora tuned back into the conversation.

“Little Zora? Is that ok with you?” Axel was watching her with one eyebrow raised, as he waited for her response.

“Sorry Axel, what did you say?”

“I was saying, I think we should rest for today, and begin our search tomorrow. We know the concert is not for a few days, so I think we would all be better able to begin our search refreshed.”

Zora nodded in agreement. “I still feel strange Axel, I guess it’s the effects of the jetlag.” She glanced at Jake as she said that and was unsurprised to see his lips thin in annoyance. He didn’t think she was good enough to be the Defender for this quest. He had been quite upfront with his criticism just before they left, and as a result was almost not allowed to come. Axel wanted them all to be united against this threat, a sentiment with which Zora wholeheartedly concurred. The problem was that she felt Jake had a case, and she may not be enough to defeat this rogue werewolf. Dismissing the werewolf from her mind – she probably would never be good enough for Jake until she defeated the rogue – she focused her attention on Axel.

He was watching Sara who was still staring at the Great Pyramid and who clearly had not heard a word of the conversation.


Sara swung her gaze to Axel, blushing as she realized she had not been listening to him. “Axel, I’m sorry, I was so distracted.”

Zora fought a brief internal war before flicking her gaze to Jake. He was smiling indulgently at Sara and Zora began to steam. It was ok for Sara to zone out but not her, that seemed so unfair. Pushing down her resentment she resolved, again, to forget about Jake.

“Sara, I was just saying that I think we should all use this afternoon to rest and acclimate. We will start our search tomorrow. This will also give the fairies who reside in Cairo time to do some digging for me. So, I was thinking, perhaps we should all go to the pyramids and take a look around before the concert. What say you?”

Registering the old fashioned way of speaking Zora realized for the first time that Axel spoke contemporary English, even though he as the fairy prince was several hundred years old. She supposed that speech patterns changed easily with the times when you lived that long and wondered if the little slip meant that Axel too was feeling the effects of the long journey.

Sara, meanwhile, had begun to glow, her eyes shining with excitement. “Really? We can go today?”
Zora felt the same excitement, it was impossible not to thrill at the prospect of visiting the structures that were so close. She looked at Sunny and was not surprised to see her jumping up and down in her seat. Friendly, smiling and easy going, Sunny was the closest thing to a human labrador she had ever seen. It astonished Zora that someone as transparent as Sunny had been able to keep secret her identity as a witch.

Axel was smiling at Sara. “Yes Sara, I think it would be good for those of you who have not been to walk around the area. It may be vital during the concert that you all know where you are going.” His smile became a grin. “Besides, it’s the pyramids, older even than me. I could not deprive you of the chance to be a tourist when we are so close.”

Sara squealed with excitement, the mood of the entire table becoming lighter. They were all relieved to postpone the grim nature of their quest Zora supposed. She wondered if the fairy guard considered them frivolous, but when she looked they were all smiling. Perhaps they too wished to be tourists. Did fairies like being tourists? Were they ever? She sighed at all the gaps in her education about this supernatural community in which she still felt like an imposter.

Lunch broke up after that, everyone keen to get to the pyramids. Axel told them to go and get ready, and when asked agreed that the familiars could also come. Zora briefly wondered about how that would be possible, but then remembered that even though he was over six foot tall and impressively muscular, Axel was a fairy and well able to deal with minor logistical issues. She hurried with the others back to their rooms to change into more suitable clothes. Even though it was afternoon it was still chilly, much colder than winter in Mackay, and she was feeling the need for a heavier coat.

Back at their room she forgot even her discomfort at sharing with Powers – an edict issued by Axel so that she was protected at all times – as she hurried to get ready. Knowing that Joe and Sara were also sharing did help her to put that into perspective, although they did not seem to have any problem with an unwanted attraction. Perhaps that meant that over time she would be able to control the way her heart sped up whenever he was close, or the disturbing thoughts that she was constantly suppressing these days.

She grabbed her phone, the only camera she had thought to bring, and slipped it into her bag. Powers was sitting in a chair, waiting patiently.

“I didn’t know you owned any sensible shoes.”

Zora looked down at her feet, clad in pale blue trainers instead of her preferred stilettos. “Of course I do, I’m not a complete idiot.”

Standing, Powers frowned slightly. “I never said you were, just that you usually wear stilettos. I like them actually, but they aren’t suitable for tramping around the pyramids.”

“You don’t say Captain Obvious.” Stomping to the door Zora wondered at her bad luck in getting Powers as a Guardian. That fact that he irritated her so much (conveniently forgetting here how much she had leaned on him for support in the preceding days) proved to her the attraction she felt was only due to the bond. She made a mental note to ask Axel about that, and then pushed thoughts of Powers away. She was about to see the pyramids, she was going to touch thousands of years old blocks, absorb the history, and forget about the annoying man of the present.

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