My Fairy Tale Academy series continues with the next installment:
The Wish Giver!
This is a Fairy Godmother retelling mixed with the Snake Prince.
I didn’t use any fairy tale for the Fairy Godmother. Instead I incorporated some Eastern lore for her story. Exploring that was fascinating. I had a great time writing it and I hope you love it!
You met the snake prince, Prince Kawbra, in The Monkey King. He’s back and still the only snake who can roll his eyes.
Here’s my inspiration photo for Nakusa. She’s from a little village that no one has heard of. No one there treats her with respect. She’s at the Academy to become a fire caster, but things don’t go quite as she planned.
Official release day is Wednesday, March 20th!
Because I’m so grateful for all of you, I’ll have the price at 99 cents on release day. A sort of fan appreciation day.
Here’s the first chapter. Enjoy!
Nakusa stood next to the other fire casters, who lined up shoulder-to-shoulder at the edge of a ring of sand. Flagstones covered the ground beneath their feet.
The trio watched as Solomon marched to the pit with his shoulders back and his nose in the air. When he reached the rim of black rocks in the ground, he stopped and peered down at the single flame coming from a coal, as if daring it to disobey him.
“Remember, Solomon,” said their instructor, Rulcan Lunaignis, “you need a will of iron to command fire.” A thick scar covered half of the older man’s face. He wore the sleeves of his white shirt rolled up to his elbows, and black pants and boots. His dark hair lay cropped against his scalp.
Solomon, a first-year student at the Academy and grandson to the most powerful fire caster in recorded history, shrugged a shoulder.
Nakusa wanted to hate him. She did hate him, but it would be easier if he wasn’t so handsome. He stood a head taller than she did, with creamy white skin and light-brown hair. His green eyes shone as he narrowed them at the flame.
The instructor continued. “Fire responds to commands, not suggestions. Yet you need it to flow, almost like water, but it will not naturally go where you want it to.”
Marianne, the oldest mermaid princess at the Academy and their premiere water caster, gave the older man a tight smile. Her long blonde braid curled around her red school jacket.
S’ula, a first-year sea witch, snorted. Despite the extra weight on her body, S’ula wore the school uniform—a white shirt with a red-and-blue plaid scarf and plaid skirt—without apology. Her dark skin and eyes shone in the firelight, and her short, spiky black hair with red tips almost looked like it was burning.
Solomon ignored the instructor and raised his hand. He uttered the word “grow” and clenched his fingers into a fist.
The flame sputtered. The blue-and-white center flared before the fire roared to life, reaching three feet into the air.
Nakusa and the other two fire spellcasters stepped back.
Marianne and S’ula held their hands up, ready.
Solomon opened his hand and lowered it. As he did so, the flame went back to the size it had been before.
“Good!” Rulcan said. “We need to work on your control, but good.”
Solomon looked down his hooked nose at the older man and sneered. “Yes, sir.” Nakusa’s breath caught in her throat as Solomon walked back to stand at the other end of the line. Sunlight caught the green in his eyes, and he almost smiled.
The instructor turned to the three remaining students. “Let’s see if you’ve all been paying as much attention. Next!”
The boy next to her gave Nakusa a little shove.
She stumbled forward and into Rulcan’s line of sight.
“Nakusa.” The instructor motioned her to the spot where Solomon had stood. “I hope you’ve been practicing.”
Nakusa walked across the sand, the ground moving beneath her feet, and stopped at the edge of the ring of flat black stones.
“Remember, you must be firm.”
She nodded and stared at the flame. Fire casters should be able to feel the flame like an extension of their bodies. Like a finger or a toe. They should be able to command the fire with the same control as an appendage.
“Go on,” the instructor said.
Nakusa sighed and held her hand out. She closed her eyes and opened her mind.
Everyone, even non-magical races like humans, left a magic imprint. Nakusa had mastered feeling that on her first day. Find the magic around her. Feel the power as it moved through the earth, the water, the air and fire. She could do all that. Unfortunately, that had been the end of her easy lessons at the Academy.
A fire caster should be able to connect with the fire, but Nakusa could not. Feel it? Yes. Connect to it? No.
That didn’t stop her from trying.
Power built inside her, like water gathering behind a dam. Her skin buzzed. Nakusa waited until she had enough magic, then released it.
The power rushed out of her, and Nakusa cracked an eye open.
The flame remained as it had ever been, brightly dancing in the middle of the stones.
“Try again,” the instructor said in a strained voice.
Nakusa closed her eyes and repeated the process. This time when she released her power, she opened her eyes and watched the flame, hoping it would help her focus.
Again, nothing happened.
Rulcan let out a frustrated snort. “Have you been doing the additional exercises I gave you?”
Nakusa lowered her hand and looked down. “Yes, sir.”
“You are a fire caster, are you not?”
“All of my people are fire casters.”
He took a step closer. “Then you need to work harder.”
Shame burned Nakusa’s brown skin, and tears gathered in her eyes.
“Get back in line.”
She nodded and walked to her place, refusing to look up.
“Next!” the instructor bellowed.
The student next to Nakusa squared his shoulders and spoke under his breath. “I wish I could beat Solomon.”
Rulcan went through the same instructions, and Nakusa blinked her tears away and forced herself to watch. To figure out what she was missing.
The student, a blond boy named Svin from the far north, held out his hand and closed his eyes.
Nakusa studied every inch of him. His feet. His stance. The way he leaned forward before he said “grow.”
A strange sensation twisted in Nakusa’s stomach.
Power poured from Svin and into the fire. The flame sputtered and almost went out, then exploded. It shot high into the sky, the apex rising above the nearby magic building.
“Control it!” Rulcan yelled.
Svin’s already light skin paled, but he kept his hands out and spoke. “Diminish!”
That should have calmed it, but instead the fire became thick, like molten rock.
“Get back!” S’ula bellowed.
“Diminish!” Svin yelled again. The geyser of magma ignored him and turned into a fountain, spewing fist-sized comets of glowing, acrid death everywhere.
Nakusa, Solomon, and the other boy scrambled away. Nakusa stumbled, suddenly dizzy.
S’ula and Marianne held their hands out and spoke a word. Water poured from their fingers, giving the glowing red magma a cool bath before it hit the ground.
Svin cried out in pain and crumpled.
Marianne left S’ula to the shield and turned toward the ring of smoking stones. She whispered something, and a single line of water sprang from the ground and wrapped the base of the flame like a rope, then tightened. The air sizzled and steam rose, but the water didn’t evaporate until it had strangled the flame back to its original size.
Rulcan waved his hand, and all the pieces of fire that had reached the sand dimmed and disappeared. Some had turned the sand to hazy glass.
Solomon shook his head. “He needs to learn some control.”
Nakusa frowned; Svin had the best control in class. Why had he suddenly lost it?
The instructor and Marianne rushed to the fallen Svin. The mermaid princess put her hands on him and closed her eyes. A moment later, she opened them.
“Healing crystal,” Marianne said to S’ula.
S’ula reached into an inside pocket, pulled out a small blue crystal, and tossed it to Marianne. Then she turned her dark, angry eyes on the rest of them. “You all okay?”
“Of course,” Solomon said.
Nakusa nodded, as did the other boy.
Solomon moved to Nakusa. His green eyes looked down at her, and for the first time, she found a bit of compassion there. “What do you think about when you cast?”
Nakusa’s mouth went dry, and she had to swallow before she spoke. “Uh, the fire.”
“Just the fire?” He stood only a few feet away. His eyes continued to study hers. His lips pressed together in concern.
She blinked. “Sorry, what?”
“What else do you think about?”
“I, uh, I do exactly as Rulcan instructs us. I build the power, focus on the flames, then let my power out.”
His lips pulled into a frown. “So it should be working.”
Now she ducked her head. “Yes, it should.”
Solomon sighed. “Well Nakusa, perhaps you should rethink your assignment as a fire caster.”
Her head came back up. “What?”
“You’ve only had the one experience with fire casting. It might not be your calling.”
He placed a hand on his muscled chest. “Where I come from, magic is a calling as much as it is anything else. If the magic hasn’t chosen you, it will not heed you.” His hand moved to her shoulder. The weight of his arm took her off balance. “Most fire casters are men. Perhaps this is too much for you.”
Nakusa, whose insides turned from raging hot at his touch to freezing cold at his words, looked at him in horror. Was he saying she should quit?
A groan from Svin pulled Solomon’s attention away from Nakusa. He dropped his hand. “Is he all right?” Solomon asked.
“He’ll be fine,” Marianne said as two students on the security detail appeared to haul the now awake Svin to the medical building.
Rulcan wiped sand off his pants and walked to the other students. “I’m afraid that’s all for today. We’ll have to get to you next time.”
The last student didn’t seem disappointed.
The instructor eyed Nakusa. “And we’ll give you another chance.”
“Yes, sir,” she said.