Escape to wondrous worlds

Nicole Murphy & Elizabeth Dunk

Nicole Murphy & Elizabeth Dunk

I wrote the opening scene of Power Unbound with three different POVs, to decide which was best. Shauna’s won but here are the other two.

ASARLAI

The potion blubbed once, twice, then it was still. Brian Mochrie bent down and studied the glass beaker, from one side and then the other. As Asarlai watched, he stood straight and she noted the slight twist of his lips, the beginning of a smile of triumph. But when he focussed his attention on her, his face was blank – no sign of emotion or expectation. She was glad he understood he did not yet have the right to feel accomplished.

‘It’s ready,’ he said.

Asarlai came forward and bent over the beaker. The mixture inside it was black, with a slight purpling of the bubbles on the surface. She breathed in deeply and nodded. There, as she expected, was the sweetness of the smellwip, along with the spiciness of the pepper and between it all, a foulness that drew at her soul. ‘It looks and smells as it should. Now, let’s see if it works.’

Brian nodded and reached over to pick up a syringe. Asarlai tilted her head and noted the small hair inside the glass vial. Slowly, he drew some of the potion up into the vial, muttering something under his breath. The word, she hoped, and nothing more.

He walked across the room to where Shauna Connell held a gerbil down on the counter. Asarlai watched as her students carefully injected the animal.

The gerbil screeched and squirmed, but Shauna held it still until the vial was empty. Then she put the gerbil back into its cage.

Brian turned and nodded to Asarlai. ‘It is ready.’

‘Give it some time to take affect. You can clean the laboratory.’ Asarlai walked over to the armchair and sat down. She watched her apprentices move around the room, putting away ingredients, equipment and books. After several weeks working with the young people in the League of Purification, she’d decided on Brian and Shauna as the two best suited to her needs.  They were young, smart, and passionate about ensuring gadda purity from humans and they were the second child in their families, so they were expendable.

They’d had been under her tuition for several weeks now, and were doing very well. Already, they had exhibited power and abilities beyond their third order status. It was good to see such determined and deserving gadda benefiting from her teaching.

When Shauna reached for the beaker of potion, Asarlai said, ‘Pour half into another container. Do not discard any of it.’

She did as Asarlai said without hesitation, then turned to look at the gerbil. ‘Do you think it’s time?’

Asarlai nodded. ‘Brian, say the word.’ She’d chosen an apt word for this test - it meant lord or master, what the gadda were destined to be.

Brian glanced at Shauna, and smiled. Their competitiveness was also playing a role in the increased development of their skills. He said the word clearly. ‘Muireadhach.’

For a moment, nothing happened. Then the gerbil began to twitch, and then shake, the small body staggering around the cage. It fell onto its side, shook one last time and then was still.

Brian looked at Asarlai, who nodded. ‘Test it,’ she said. The young man stepped forward and prodded the gerbil. There was no reaction. Then he picked it up and squeezed it. Nothing.

‘It worked.’ He swung around and smiled at Asarlai, his eyes shining. ‘It really worked. The gerbil is dead.’

BRIAN

Teeth clenched, hand shaking, Brian Mochrie slowly extended the dropper over the beaker of dark grey liquid. This was it – he would know with this next action whether he’d followed the instructions properly. He would know if he had successfully used the texts.

Nervous much?

**He flicked a quick glare over his shoulder at Shauna Connell, who leant against the bench with her arms folded across her flat chest. All right for her, he thought to himself as he turned his attention back to his work. She hadn’t tested herself before Asarlai yet. She didn’t know the fear of failing their teacher.

Just wait ‘til she did.

He squeezed the rubber and three drops slipped into the emulsion below. Stillness, and the pain of failure flashed through his mind. Then the liquid began to bubble and steam, turning from grey to a purple so dark it seemed black.

His lips started to twist into a smile but he fought that down. Asarlai hated her students to show triumph before she’d announced it. He put the dropper down and turned to face his teacher.

‘It’s ready.’

Asarlai stood and walked over. Brian noted the unfamiliar lines and grey hairs on a face that was well-known to most gadda. He felt a burst of pride that of all the people she could have chosen to impart this new knowledge to, she’d chosen him. She saw something in him that others didn’t.

They would regret their mistake.

Asarlai bent down and looked at the beaker, then leant over and smelt it before she nodded to Brian. ‘It looks and smells as it should. Now, let’s see if it works.’

Brian picked up a syringe, tilting his head to note the small hair inside the glass vial. Slowly, he drew some of the potion up into the vial. As the purple-black potion touched the hair, he murmured, ‘Muireadhach.’ Gaelic for lord or master.

The mixture in the vial bubbled.

‘Shauna, bring the animal over,’ Asarlai said.

Brian watched his fellow student reach into the cage next to her and pull the rodent out. The small creature screamed and wriggled in her hand, trying to regain freedom. Brian hoped she’d lose control of it and be forced to crawl around on the floor of the laboratory to retrieve it, but Shauna kept a firm hold.

Brian took hold of some loose skin around the animal’s neck and pushed the needle in, slowly injecting the potion into it. The gerbil screeched and squirmed, but Shauna held it until the vial was empty. Then she put the gerbil back into its cage.

Brian turned and nodded to Asarlai. ‘It is done.’

‘Give it some time to take affect. You can clean the laboratory.’ She returned to the armchair that sat in the corner of the room.

He and Shauna started to clean and put away everything that he’d used to create the emulsion. As Shauna picked up the beaker with the left-over potion, Asarlai said, ‘Don’t throw that away. Divide it equally between two containers.’

Brian looked at Shauna. The woman shrugged and did as she was told.

When everything but the extra liquid had been tidied up, Brian turned to look at the gerbil, peacefully eating in it’s cage. ‘Is it time?’

‘Try it,’ Asarlai said.

Brian went over to the cage, Shauna right behind him. He took a deep breath, then spoke the word. ‘Muireadhach.’

For a moment, nothing happened. Then the gerbil began to twitch, and then shake, the small body staggering around the cage. It fell onto its side, shook one last time and then was still.

Brian stared, the sudden and violent death shocking him. He’d known what the potion was supposed to do, but seeing it in action made him uncomfortable. Wary.

‘Test it,’ Asarlai said.

Brian opened the cage and touched the animal. It didn’t react. He poked it harder. Nothing.

‘It’s dead.’

Recent release

Much Ado About Love

Trix Leon has put her heart and soul into Messina, and now it could all be taken away from her. Ben Anthony seems to have the ability to save her but while she trusts him with her pleasure, will she trust him with her love? Based on the Shakespeare play 'Much Ado About Nothing'.

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