Book 1 of the Albion Quartet by Elijah David
INTRODUCTION—Albion Academy by Elijah David
A young adult fantasy
Is a Djinni just a trickster? Can a wizard only learn magic? Must a Valkyrie always ferry the dead?
For Mortimer, Merlin, and Bryn, it seems the fates have already written the ends of their stories. When Mortimer asks unorthodox questions, the Djinni Elders exile him to a human school of magic—Albion Academy. Merlin’s friendship with a mortal only increases his mother’s determination for him to live up to the heritage of his ancestors. And Bryn’s prophetic sisters outright declare that her fate is tethered to Mortimer, Merlin, and the mysterious door in the school’s basement.
As the three of them struggle against the constraints of their families’ expectations, they find themselves inexorably drawn into a conflict that encompasses rogue Faeries, dangerous mortals, and sorcerers hidden in Albion Academy itself. Defying their fates might be the only way they survive their first year at Albion Academy.
ALBION ACADEMY by Elijah David — EXCERPT
Wishes are curious things, capable of great wonder, yet so easily twisted by those who grant them.
“I wish to become human,” I said to the Elders, the twelve oldest Djinn who had any desire to rule and weren’t in the bottle. They sat, reclined, or floated around the perimeter of the small chamber, encircling me, each close enough to touch.
“Why, Mortimer?” asked a female Elder behind me. I turned to face her. She wore no illusion and took to form but her own—an almost human shape with lavender skin and the eclipse-black eyes common to our people. In the darkness of the cavern, lit only by ghostlight, her pale skin took on a ghostly pallor. The small black pentacle on her chest blended with the darkness.
I forced myself to meet her gaze and said, “Because the stories say that since Tariq’s departure, any Djinni who’s searched for him has been destroyed by the journey.” Would invoking the Djinni Ancient’s name so early help or hinder my cause? Seph had cautioned me to make my case carefully, but dodging the Elders’ questions would only make me more like them.
A large, lion-shaped Elder to her right snorted. “That is because they all found the bottle, youngling,” he said. “Tariq is gone.” He slapped a large paw down against the rock on which he reclined as though stamping out my rebuttal before it was made.
“What can you hope to accomplish in this search that others have not?” asked an Elder in the form of a cloud of pale smoke surrounding a small flame. The other Elders turned to face the flame with expressions of curiosity, anger, and confusion. A growl began in the lion’s throat, but a harsh look from the lavender Elder silenced it.
“Answer,” said the flame, its glow pulsing in measure with the word.
“A human may survive where a Djinni would not,” I said, forcing myself to sound certain. Picturing Jasper cheering me on helped. “It is whispered that you know the method by which we may become human.”
“A persistent lie,” said the lion Elder almost before I finished speaking, “but a lie nonetheless.”
The lavender Elder leaned into the circle, speaking firmly but with a measure of motherliness. “It is not becoming for a Djinni, even one so young, to say he wishes to throw aside his race and heritage for a lesser form. You association with the humans at Cooper School is devilish enough.”
The other Elders nodded or whispered agreement. The flame flickered silently behind it’s smoke.
“I only ask to be made human in order to find the source of that heritage,” I replied, pushing down the urge to change into a smaller form and hide from their attention. Why did they persist in turning me from my goal? What did they fear in letting me find the first Djinni? “Tariq’s absence has weakened us.”
The whispers turned to murmurs. My words trod dangerous ground. Perhaps Seph’s gentler approach was appropriate.
“Do not the stories tell us of days when we achieved great wonders by working with mortals and wizards?” I asked. Playing to their egos might make them more amenable. “We were known for our power and truthfulness. Now, we are servants or caged demons at best, if we’re known at all. We are feared for our deception and trickery.”
“It is no sin to turn a lustful mortal’s wishes against him,” the lion said. “Even Tariq approved of that.”
“But not of twisting a man’s harmless wish into a nightmare because his words were vague,” I replied. “Tariq would never—”
“It is enough,” said the flame, flaring to silence the room. “Speak no more of matters beyond your knowledte, Mortimer.”
The other Elders were silent for long minutes afterward, communing through the mental link that bound them. I looked at each of them, trying to discern their attitudes. The lion’s tense shoulders and hungry grin told me he was just as inclined to devour me as grant my wish. Despite her doubt and adamant denial of her neighbor, the lavender Elder regarded me with something like kindness. Pity, perhaps. She was alone in her opinion. The rest of the Elders, save the one of smoke and flame, looked at me as though I were no more than human already. The flame at the heart of the smoky Elder dimmed all the while, its light seeming fainter for its earlier blaze. Likely he, or she, wished to distance himself from me.
“Mortimer,” the lavender Elder said at last.
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AUTHOR BIO—Elijah David
Elijah David works as a copywriter and content editor at a Chattanooga advertising agency. He holds an MA in English (UTC) and is a member of the Chattanooga Writer’s Guild. An avid reader of fantasy, he started writing Albion Academy when a trio of fictional characters grabbed his attention and wouldn’t let go. He is currently working on the second of four planned books in the world of Albion Academy. In addition, he edits and contributes to the Tolkien journal Silver Leaves. As far as he knows, Elijah’s only magical ability is putting pen to paper.