Book Spotlight: Excerpt of “Wings Beneath Water”

After our interview with author Yaasha Moriah  yesterday, I’m sharing an excerpt of her novella. Take it away, Yaasha!

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Chapter One

They say if you see wings beneath the water, you get a second chance to live. If that is true, I may live yet. If it is not true, my blood will stain these waters within moments.

The marsh mists swirl around me like transparent hands, chilling the sweat on my forehead as my footsteps explode through the murky waters. I pause, catch a gnarled branch, and lean gasping over it.

The surface of the dark waters shows the face of a boy, with round cheeks and frightened purple eyes. Will the Karagi have mercy if they see me as a child?

No. They know what I am, and they will not waver. They will remain at a safe distance, and shoot to kill. They are master bowmen. I should know. They trained me.

That was before they knew what I am.

According to the wise woman, some say it only happens when you are born to the marshes on a moonless night. Others say that it begins when a child looks into the waters and, unknown to him, the Siyeen looks back at him from beneath the surface of the waters. Still others say it is a gift given to the one who seeks truth above all else.

If a gift results in your death, is it not a curse instead?

I have lingered too long. Even as I move, some instinctive twitch saves me, for a death-breeze fans my chin and a crimson ribbon opens across my collar-bone, the warning of a razor-sharp arrowhead.

I turn, and they are there, emerging like ghosts from the mist, their long dark hair loose around their lean faces, their leather vests leaving bare their muscled shoulders. Emotions stab my stomach, for Uraun leads them, the scar upon his right cheek lit in silver by the wavering moon.

“A child?” one hunter asks, glancing quickly at the foremost of the men.

“It is an illusion,” Uraun says darkly, and draws his shaft to the corner of his lips.

I cannot outrun his arrow. I have watched too many times the stumble of a woodland buck, stricken while in mid-flight by Uraun’s skill. I am also tired, too tired. This hunt has taken all my strength, all my heart.

How do you run away from someone you love?

“Uraun.” My voice carries across the waters. “Please.”

So long as he holds his breath, he will not shoot. Experienced archers release only at the exhalation.

I stand upon a small hillock of marsh weeds. The waters beyond my feet ripple like black silk, for I have come to the edge of the deeper waters, where the bottom is invisible and the feet find no purchase. Many things that have been lost to the deep marshes.

“Uraun,” I say again. The corner of my vision snags upon something, a glimmer in the water, like light reflecting upon an outstretched wing.

It is here.

Then Uraun’s jaw tightens, and, plunging, I give myself to the waters. The arrow’s shaft pierces my side and my instinctive gasp fills my mouth with liquid darkness.

Something smooth slides beneath my grasping fingers, then jaws clamp around my ankle and pull me downward, deep. I struggle, panic-stricken. Have I misunderstood? Did I see a wing, or only the glitter of a marsh eel’s serpentine body?

I spiral downward until my mind becomes as dark as the waters around me and my breath burns and explodes in my head. Then light births, broadens, shimmers, and I rush toward it. Am I swimming down? Or up? I cannot tell.

That is when I see the face staring back at me from the other side of the water.

My face.

I know it is my face because only I among the Karagi possess eyes the color of wild irises. It is the mark of my separation.

 

Author Interview: Yaasha Moriah

Ella Font (EF): Good morning wherever you are. This is Ella Font if the Interdimensional News Network. I’m here today with Yaasha Moriah, another of our 21st Century Authors. Yaasha’s work was popular throughout the first half of the century.

Yaasha, thank you for joining us today. What have you brought to share with us?

Yaasha Moriah (YM): Thanks for having me! I am sharing about my fantasy novella “Wings Beneath Water.”

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EF: Beneath the water? Sounds interesting. Can you tell us a bit about it?

YM: Certainly!

Brother.

Ever since Risha was found on the shores of the river and adopted into the tribe, he and his brother Uraun have been inseparable. But when a neighboring tribe ignites war, killing the boys’ father, their lives start on a path that begins to divide them.

Siyeen.

As the tribe goes to war, Risha’s gift awakens. He is the Siyeen, capable of reading a person’s true nature—and in Uraun’s nature, he reads only vengeance.

Fearing that his gift will endanger Uraun, Risha flees to the marshes. To save his brother’s soul, Risha must learn the secrets of the first Siyeen and seek the redemption that will grant his brother a second chance.

EF: Fascinating. That doesn’t sound like a typical fantasy. Does it fall into one of the other categories?

YM: “Wings Beneath Water” is a sort of “native fantasy.” Think native peoples, all mixed up with supernatural dragons and shape-shifting powers. One of my ARC readers said it had “deeply spiritual themes” and was more in-depth than my other books, which he liked better.

EF: I don’t think I’ve seen many fantasy novels told from the perspective of native people. Can you tell us more about your main character?

YM: Certainly.

Discovered as an infant in the marshes, Risha bears distinctive purple eyes. As he grows up with his adoptive brother Uraun, Risha seems like a normal boy. He trains with the tribal warriors, hunts deer with Uraun, and swims in the river.

Risha cares deeply about his brother Uraun and about the truth. Sometimes the two things conflict, so Risha struggles with the implications of his choices, especially when the power of the Siyeen awakes in him.

EF: He sounds like a complex person. Many of our viewers are curious about how much authors invest in their own characters. Are there any characteristics you share in common with you main character?

YM: Risha and I share a deep love for truth, even hard truths. If you look for comfort instead of truth, you will eventually end up with neither. If you look for truth, even truth that makes you uncomfortable initially, you will eventually find both truth and comfort.

We also share a fierce loyalty to family, even despite conflict. Risha makes hard choices in order to protect his family and, although my choices aren’t nearly so dramatic as Risha’s, I’ve done the same. Family is worth fighting for!

EF: Indeed it is. Let’s see if any of our viewers would like to ask you a question. First up?  Amanda Rekkonwif from Tombstone Colony on Europa. Amanda asks, “If your character actually had pockets, what would be in them?”

YM: Twine to fix a fishing net, arrowheads for his arrows, a knife, a sinew for his bow… Odds and ends that help him survive in the marshes.

EF: I can understand that, but those are definitely not things you’d find in most people’s pockets. Next up? A question from Jerry Mander calling in from Wiggle Road on Charon. Jerry wants to know, “Can you share a line from your work?”

YM: “They say when you see wings beneath the water, you get a second chance to live.”

EF: So you sourced the title from your book from one of the lines in the book. That’s a good way to do it. Tom Katt from Litter Pan Colony on Ganymede. Tom wants to know, “If your character existed in main life, would you be friends?”

YM: I think we’d get along splendidly. Risha would teach me about survival in the wild and I’d teach him how to read and write. An excellent trade, I think.

EF: Where can our viewers find your work?

YM: It just released on March 31st. I’m so excited to share it! You can find it on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Smashwords, and my own website YaashaMoriah.com.

I’m always busy on my website at YaashaMoriah.com. I am also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as Yaasha Moriah. I love interacting with people about all things speculative fiction, so people are always welcome to introduce themselves, tell me about their favorite sci-fi or fantasy book, and why they like it.

EF: That’s great. I’m sure our viewers would like to connect with you online and share about their love of science fiction and fantasy in the early 21st Century. Thanks for joining us today. [Looks into the camera] That’s all we have time for today. Please stop by Yaasha’s internet hangouts and chat if you have other questions about her amazing work. Stay tuned tomorrow when we’ll have an excerpt of “Wings Beneath Water.” For now, this is Ella Font of the Interdimensional News Network. Back to Bob Frapples at the news desk. Bob?