Authors note to the reader: In the second chapter of the book, the reader is introduced to a second Sprite, Helia Eradica. Helia has been banished from her world of Forestlight after she was purposefully poisoned with a deadly virus. Exiled from her family and kin, she is forced to search for a means to prevent the joining of parallel worlds of humans and Sprite, and to stop the environmental calamity. In this excerpt, Helia flees a deadly mechanical being that has just killed her sister.
One minute her sister had been alive and then not. It hurt—a sharp, bitter, and painful thought to dwell upon, even for the briefest moment, and Helia banished it from her mind—as quickly as her sister’s bloodstains washed away in the current….
….She was in the safe grip of the river’s flow. Occasionally, Helia bumped against a protruding rock but continued unharmed as the limpness in her body absorbed any shock. She tumbled gently in the turbulence and swirling eddies, but eventually she sensed the flow of the current weaken as the banks of the river receded. Her view of the riverbank and its bottom disappeared, veiled by the turbidity of the water. The flow of the river continued. She closed her eyes and put herself in a trance, although she remained ready to move—quickly—if needed. She was inanimate, inert, inorganic, and without thought. Her deep brain—the reptilian and instinctive part of her mind—stayed ready to react, even while her conscious self rested.
Suddenly, she tasted the hint of saltiness on her lips, and she opened her eyes. Her body floated just above a layer of saltwater, and she noted the different ways that light refracted through the two types of water. It produced a visible boundary between them. It reminded her of the mirage in the desert she had seen many years before. Fresh water and salt water were two fluids that couldn’t mix, some of her kin would reiterate—a wisdom drawn from the old Sprite allegory—yet the tendrils of translucent salt water entrained themselves upwards into the clear fresh water above, and the two diffused into each other. It had been a tale that had fallen out of favor during an earlier time when the variety of Sprites had mixed and pursued common goals. But the urgency of reinforcing difference had come back into dominant influence again, and myths had become resurgent. “Observation and rationality had to supersede myth and faith,” Helia thought as she watched the threads of saltwater roiling and erupting upwards into the freshwater.
Helia’s muscles and body came to life, and she swam down into the warmer seawater beneath. Almost immediately, she could sense the lack of ocsaigin in the slack waters. Her skin prickled on contact with the salt water, and the thin cuts in her skin stung. She couldn’t stay for long in the depths of that foul water. Helia soon found what she was looking for. She spied a fish struggling below her, a perch that had been carried along with the fresh water in the river and then overcome as the salty, poisoned water had reached upwards from below. It did not notice her—perhaps blinded by the chemiae of the seawater—and she severed its head from its body with a razor-sharp blade. Helia had needs, hunger amongst them. With the fish’s body in one hand and the knife in the other, moving upwards in the rapidly diminishing plume of freshwater, she made her way to the bank of the river.
She left the water cautiously, with as little sound as possible, under the temporary concealment of a thicket of twisted branches and branchlets.
Title: At The Sharp End of Lightning
Author: Nicholas Bates
Genre: Epic Fantasy / Magical Realism
AT THE SHARP END OF LIGHTNING. The interwoven fantastical tale of family, of loss and sacrifice, of unexpected gifts and coping with disability and new abilities set against the backdrop of climate change occurring across parallel worlds. In Oceanlight, Yalara Narika, a winged Sea Sprite, searches for her lover over immense seas only to find catastrophe and realization that her world is in turmoil. Meanwhile in the safe suburban normality of North Wales, Einion Morgan Alban, a restless youth afflicted by a disease of the blood, is nearly murdered by a man in a white suit. Yalara and Einion must discover the causes of their near-deaths and their as yet unrevealed connections as they both face upheaval to their lives and their worlds. Book One of the OCEANLIGHT series.
NR Bates was born in London, grew up in Wales, and lived in Canada and Bermuda. He shares his life with his wife and his house with seven cats, one dog and the subtropical wildlife of lizards, wolf spiders and ant colonies that seek out a better life indoors. He is an oceanographer and scientist, and has published more than one hundred and thirty scientific papers on ocean chemistry, climate change and ocean acidification. He is a Senior Scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and Professor of Ocean Biogeochemistry at the University of Southampton, UK. His novels focus on epic fantasy and magic realism, and inspired by his deep love of the ocean and environmental sciences. He has also recently published a small book of short-stories set in Paris, entitled “The Fall of Icarus (The Elevator, The Fall of Icarus, and The Girl)”.