I’ve been meaning to share a chapter excerpt here, and the Instagram fam agreed that I need to share an excerpt from Destiny Seeker: The Defender. If you’ve been waiting patiently to hear what happened to Ilsi, Reshma, and Tyk, then hopefully, this chapter gets you hyped for what’s to come.
Thanks for your support, and please enjoy this excerpt! Remember, it’s my work, so it’s protected under copyright and can’t be used, copied, or stolen. It is also subject to minor changes before publication.
Please enjoy this audio version if you’d rather hear me read the chapter to you.
Duri’s eyelids fluttered open and she saw a cloudless, blue sky. She reached out with her hands to each side and felt grass sweeping against her arms and hands. At first, she thought she was alone and nervously gathered her robe closer around her. She was encircled by a sea of green grass, a border of tall trees, and a brilliant blue sky. The Pearl Kingdom princess sat up and realized she was still wearing her nightgown and her thick robe. She flexed her bare feet in the grass and took in a few deep breaths.
It wasn’t a dream. She was actually free.
Duri realized someone was watching her and flinched. A woman emerged from the trees and approached the princess, carrying a bundle close to her chest as she walked along. The woman had smooth, olive tan skin and deep green eyes. Her bushy, brown ringlets were cut short and danced ever so slightly on her shoulders. Underneath the bundle of curls were two pointy ears. She wore a pair of forest green britches with a brown cotton shirt. A green tunic fell over her shoulders and a belt slung around her waist. A sword, safe in its scabbard, tapped lightly against her thigh. She walked barefoot.
The woman cocked her head slightly to her left and smiled a little. She sat and folded her arms on top of her propped-up knees. As she shoved a folded set of clothes towards Duri, she smiled wider.
“I think we’ll move faster if you’re not in your nightclothes,” she said, “I don’t think I’ve properly introduced myself. I’m Deidre.”
“You’re the princess,” Deidre finished, slightly bowing her head. “A deep pleasure to meet you and rescue you from your castle. It’s good that you’re awake. We had to make a quick stop for a rest and to find you new clothes. We should be on our way soon.”
Duri’s heart raced at the memory. The night before, she readied herself for bed. When she was finally left alone, four elves riding a dragon came to her window and helped her escape. She knew she was desperate to escape her brother’s suffocating watch over her, but she never thought escaping with perfect strangers would be part of the plan. Ladala was creative, Duri could give her that.
She inquired, “How did you know to rescue me?”
“Ladala’s orders,” Deidre said with a smile. “You’ll know how to lead your people better if you’re away from Althod.”
Duri was anxious to meet Ladala and couldn’t stop thinking about it. Althod had full control over King Seth, Duri’s brother, which gave him full authority over her kingdom. She was raised to be the second daughter and nothing more; what could she do against her own kin and a monster like Althod? She knew what powerlessness felt like already; her duty to free her people felt impossible.
Duri was about to speak but soon heard more rustling in the trees. Two more figures emerged from the trees and into view.
“Ah, so the little Pearl princess is awake?” another woman asked. She wore an identical uniform but had laced boots over her feet. Her hair was pale blond and cut short. She insisted, “Well, speak.”
“Yes, please call me Princess Duri,” the princess answered cautiously, looking up at the woman. “Thank you for risking your lives to save mine.” Duri quickly rose to her feet and brushed grass off her nightgown. The woman walked shoulder to shoulder with a dark-skinned man with bushy black locks and a trim beard lining his jaw; his clothing matched his other companions.
“A pleasure, Princess Duri,” he nodded, his hands folded behind his back. “I am Basim.”
“And I am Liselotte,” the blonde woman added, giving Duri her hand to shake. The princess inserted her hand into Liselotte’s so the elf could kiss Duri’s hand, but Liselotte grabbed her hand and shook it firmly instead.
“How does it feel to away from Lord Althod?” Basim asked quietly. “Do you feel better?”
Duri sighed. “I’m not sure. While I’m relieved that he doesn’t watch my every move in my own home, I’m worried about my people. I doubt my brother will help them.”
“Everyone is uneasy with his power over the Pearl Kingdom,” Deidre explained. “You’ll be able to meet a lot of other leaders who will help you regain control. It’s in everyone’s interest to take power away from him. More and more people are forced to join his Yildirim army. If we don’t step in, he’ll be able to take control of other independent nations.”
The thought made Duri’s stomach churn. If her relatively short life could be spent getting rid of him, it will have been worth it.
“Where is Roan with that dragon?” Liselotte asked, looking to the skies. As if to answer her question, the trees quaked and shuddered under the white pearly beast approaching the clearing. A man with fiery red spikes for hair clung to a rope around the dragon’s long neck as the beast stomped about, digging up dirt clods with his talons. White hot steam streamed from the dragon’s nostrils as he knelt to the ground. The rider fought expertly to stay on the beast and motioned for the others to stay back.
“Your Highness, put on these clothes so we can leave,” Deidre said, motioning to the trees. Duri started to move but hesitated when no one followed her.
“Will either Deidre or Liselotte assist me?” she asked feebly.
“In what?” Liselotte returned. “We haven’t much time.”
Duri fled into the trees and fumbled nervously with her buttons. Everything was upside down ever since she left her home. She heard more stomping and tried to move her anxious fingers. She ran out into the clearing without boots and looked to Deidre for help.
“I request a pair of sturdy shoes, if you please,” she said.
“Here, princess,” Liselotte called, throwing Duri a pair of boots. “These should fit, I’d wager.”
“I also request that one of you assist me in putting on my boots,” she added. The women looked at each other, but Deidre fell to her knees to slip on a pair of stockings and the boots. At this point, Deidre wore her own boots. She worked quickly with the laces and pulled Duri to her feet and they ran towards the large dragon.
Duri couldn’t help but feel like a nobody. Without her ceremonial makeup and hairstyle, her simple clothes made her feel invisible. She hoped it would give her more time to escape whoever Althod or Seth sent to find her.
“Is it safe?” Duri yelled over all the noise.
“Of course. We wouldn’t have made it here alive if it wasn’t,” Deidre yelled. A few of her companions snorted. “Of course, that wouldn’t be possible without Roan at the reins.”
Roan, Basim, and Liselotte were already secured on the dragon’s back and waiting for Deidre and Duri. It was hard to boost her up because of dragon restless movements, so Duri tentatively extended her arm to receive assistance. Basim offered his hand to Duri and Deidre simultaneously boosted her up from below. Duri grabbed tightly to Basim while Deidre climbed up beside her.
“Okay,” Basim called, “Let’s get going already!”
“Where are we going?” Duri yelled out over the dragon’s flapping wings. “And why couldn’t we just travel by carriage?”
“Carriages don’t breathe fire,” Roan called out with a laugh. “But I can tell you that this dragon’ll help us secure and rescue another prisoner.”
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