We introduce, with great pleasure, author Penelope Price!
The world has been on a downward spiral for awhile – even 14-year-old Hannah Brighton knows that much – but no one was really expecting it to end quite so soon. Yet on one hazy afternoon in March, Hannah, her older brother Michael, and their 102-year-old great-great-grandmother find themselves running for their lives and struggling to exist in a world on the brink of collapse.
Fortunately for these siblings, magic is real. They are the last two mageborns on Earth — at least as far as they know.
As the world descends into utter chaos they must survive earthquakes and tsunamis, maurauding looters (or looting maurauders?), a greedy empire-building bastard named Alexander, and at the heart of the destruction, an ancient enemy with an army of hungry children at her command. Their peaceful mountain valley may provide some protection but it only delays the inevitable confrontation.
Trapped between the avaricious power of Alexander & Isaac, the collapse of civilization, and an indescribable evil – Hannah, Michael, and their assembly of exiles have no choice but to fight.
It was all surreal; the tsunami, their frantic flight, the winking out of existence and dropping into wherever the hell they were, the death of Granmama. Its not like I didn’t know she was going to die, someday, Hannah told herself, wriggling her toes inside of the slippers and feeling tremendously guilty for soiling them with her dirty feet. I just didn’t figure it would be today. Then again, I guess no one ever knows when. Or how. Or anything.
Reflexively, Hannah glanced about to ensure that no one was watching her. Certain that she was unobserved, Hannah hunched her shoulders over and curled her long legs into a lazy approximation of the lotus position. Her hands lay open between her legs, palms to the sky, and she took a long, deep breath. Slowly exhaling, Hannah attempted to focus her attention and her energies.
It took several minutes before she was able to shut out Michael’s bestial grunting and the rhythmic metallic sound of his lid. A few more passed as she blocked out great-great-granmama’s whispered prayers and the natural sounds of the forest – birds and bugs and the cool breeze through the pines. Eventually, the world outside her head faded into a warm grey oblivion and she was at peace. Her sanctuary lay before her, a glorious, whimsically constructed city with a high, white stone wall and a fortress at its heart. There were iridescent spires and entire buildings made from blocks of marble ten feet thick. The streets had not been mapped out with any obvious rhyme or reason, yet Hannah knew each cobble by heart.
Her her visit had been the night her parents died. It had not been much to look at then, just a cloud-shaped castle like one she had seen on television. She remembered closing her eyes in denial and then running up a great hill to hide inside the cartoonish building. It had been filled with cotton candy and she had found solace in the Hall of Memory there; a long corridor lined with moving paintings that depicted her Mama and Papa in all of her favorite memories. Over the years, she had changed the sanctuary, molding it into a dream-like palace to protect the things that meant the most to her. Deep in the center of the fortress, locked and guarded, was the Hall of Memory. The canvases still depicted memories, though the oldest now were faded and hazy, and the hallway itself was now a great spiral that wound deep into the ground.
The city was a tool she had learned to use – after that first spontaneous journey, that is. She kept her favorite memories in the Hall, but every room in the fortress was filled with bits of knowledge she had retained, advice she had been given, song lyrics and poems and dreams. Of course, Hannah stored their magic lessons in the highest tower under lock and key. Not that there were spells or incantations, per se, but techniques and focuses, failures and successes; these were abundant and must be guarded. These teachings were rare and precious gifts which demanded that she stand eternal watch over them, lest they fall into the wrong hands.
What wrong hands? She had scribbled in her diary one day, when her frustrations about the lack of structure bubbled over onto the page. I feel like there must be wrong hands, but if Mike and me are the only mages left in the world, how can there be wrong hands? There’s only ours and its already in them. Maybe we’re not alone. Maybe she is wrong. She can’t know everything. Right?
Penelope Price: author, gamer, nerd. Though she has been writing since she learned to read, P.P. did not emerge from her coccoon to join the writing circuit until the year of Tangerine Tango. She is the crazy chick behind this year’s Incandescence and its sequel, Inferno and can usually be found plotting projects with her partner-in-crime, Jack Morgan of PunchJackMorgan.com. Get updates, gossip and geekery by following P.P. on Facebook, Twitter, and at her blog.