Dalya Book 1
by Katie Zaber
It gives me chills to stand in front of the forest that morphed in front of my very eyes. I’m hesitant to walk through the tree line and down the path. The last time I walked down a path for leisure was a week ago. We had planned a picnic. Something simple, always easy to organize and do. It wasn’t hard planning our walk to Brynjar’s cabin today. What could go wrong?
I try hard not to think of all the possible outcomes—from returning to Earth to traveling to a completely new world.
Sarah and Dana were able to walk by without stopping to take notice or reflect. Ciara paused for a moment and then smiled gleefully, saying she had a good feeling.
I don’t. I feel dizzy, angry, and like I need to vomit. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to go into the woods that changed my life, I don’t want to meet Brynjar, and I don’t want to go back where it all started.
Below Dark Waters
Dalya Book 2
Princess Megan, who never had a reason to assume she was anything but human, has been on the run, protected by her friends. With each step toward the city of Delmont, she hopes they will have time to regroup before setting sail to the Ka’Pamau Islands, their final destination. Instead, her bad luck shadows her and chaos continues to ensue everywhere she goes—including a new part of the world that most air breathers have yet to explore. Confronted with another royal family and a smitten prince whose advances turn cold, she faces another life-altering decision with ramifications she can’t possibly begin to guess at.
Back on land, Lilly reveals more of her secrets, her story, and her goals. Monumental changes and challenges are headed her way as she embraces her new role in life.
On the sea, Aunt Carmia is stirring up trouble while continuing her hunt for the treasure she most desires. She experiences upheavals, but she is always prepared for the unknown.
As their stories unfold, they remain unaware how fate connects them in the world of Dalya.
There’s no point in me lying in bed all night. It’s not like I’m trapped in a Dalya dome. At least there’s a bar for me to sit at while I can’t sleep. Moving as quietly as possible, I change and sneak out of the room. Kilyn is fast asleep and Mana is either asleep or is pretending to be. The hallway is still. There are no voices coming from the other rooms, so I’m going to assume everyone else is asleep.
Downstairs, Meeka sits at a table, chatting with another white-haired man. Two other tables are occupied, but there are at least ten empty tables to choose from. By the fireplace, a low fire crackles and I decide that a seat by the fire is not what I want. It looks inviting but reminds me of too many dark things. I shudder and take a seat on a stool at the driftwood bar. There’s one other man at the far end of the bar, cloaked in shadow, not bothering to look up from his drink as I sit down.
Heda comes from the back of the kitchen with a mug in her hands. She takes a sip before setting it down on the counter. “Can’t sleep, dear?”
“No. Can’t remember when I did,” I say. “Got anything to help with that?”
She gives me a sly smile. “I think I can help.”
Heda slides bottles out from under the counter and starts pouring them into a glass. Most of them are clear, except two. She adds a drop of amber and green liquid. I can’t say if it’s alcohol or not. Last, she takes out a glass jar and takes out a pinch of ground orange powder.
I’m not sure if I should drink this otherworldly concoction.
“Here you go. You’ll sleep till sunrise and feel refreshed, guaranteed.”
I stare down at the eight-ounce glass of mystery. “What’s in it?”
“A bit of everything, plus a little something extra. I make it for Meeka when he can’t sleep.”
“Are you normally this busy at night?” I ask.
“Sometimes. Sometimes busier. The regulars are here, plus an unfamiliar face or two.” She scans the room, glancing over at the two I suspect are new.
The one man her eyes stop on has long, scraggly black hair past his chin and an unkempt beard. He is wearing a hat that reminds me of a witch; it even has a pointy top and wide brim. With his back to us, he faces the fireplace with his shoulders hunched. The other man is the one at the other end of the bar. Neither looks talkative. Good. I’m not in the mood for a conversation either.
The door swings open. A scowling human woman stands in the threshold wearing a brown buttoned-down blouse and pants tucked into calf-high boots. At her hip is a dagger, on her back is a quiver secured tightly to a harness, in her hand an unstrung shortbow. Strands of messy brown hair unravel from a semicontained braid that I’d guess hasn’t been paid attention to in at least a week. Her clothes also reveal that she hasn’t changed them, and the smell confirms she hasn’t bathed. She searches the bar and lands on me.
She dashes across the tavern and my heart pounds. This is it. My father sent her to kill me. I made it easier for her by coming down here all by myself. I have no clue if Mana can sense what’s happening or if I’m too far away from him. I’m not sure if he cares right now.
However, she steps past me and gawks at Heda, who is already mixing another drink. In the few seconds that passed, I didn’t realize that I had held my breath. I let out a lengthy sigh of relief and inhale fresh air that tastes slightly sweeter than before. Relief will do that, especially when moments ago, death seemed so imminent. To help calm myself, I decide to take a sip of the strange drink Heda made me. Surprisingly, it has a peach sangria flavor, like a fruity, potent wine, with maybe a shot or two of something stronger. I could get used to having a drink of this at night, if it helps me get some sleep.
Heda leans across the bar, passing the traveler a drink. “Rough journey?” she asks. “Where are you going?”
“Nowhere fast,” the woman replies. Her scowl melts away as she cracks open a smile and laughs full-heartedly, throwing her head back.
Katie Zaber is originally from Southern New Jersey. Her childhood home is just minutes from the Long Beach Island Bridge. When not writing, Katie can be found at wine tastings, sun bathing at the beach, going for hikes, screaming at Six Flags, reading, or in her favorite place, her kitchen, baking desserts and breads. She currently lives in Morris County, New Jersey with her boyfriend.
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