Writers On the Ridge: “The Light Prince: Grail” by J.C. Alexandre
The following is a selection from “The Light Prince: Grail”, the debut fantasy novel by J.C. Alexandre. To read the full story, check out his novel on Amazon in e-book and paperback. Follow the links below for more details.
Chapter 1: An Elven Rescue
Through the forest of the night silently strode Johanna. Although the slender she-elf was 355 years old, her youthful appearance was similar to a human woman in her early thirties. Her pointed ears held back her hip-length golden hair, which shimmered in the moonlight. She clung to the cloak draped over her head. Around her olive gown flew a Chinese-style dragon, stitched in golden thread, complementing her lithe frame. A silver belt circled her waist. From her left hip hung a katana. Her fur slippers carried her over the ground as silently as a ghost, which she could have been mis-taken for with her milky complexion.
Noticing a cluster of toadstools growing among the roots of a tree, Johanna knelt on the loam, opened her satchel, and began picking. As a healer, she knew that the mushrooms were a vital ingredient for an elixir.
A harsh cry echoed above the forest.
Startled, Johanna dropped a mushroom in her medicine bag and averted her gaze upward. The she-elf threw her cloak over herself and crouched close to the ground. The fabric faded around her, turning her invisible.
Two creatures, a pegasus and a wyvern, flew over the for-est. The girl riding the flying horse fell from her mount and a sword tumbled from her grasp. She fell through the branch-es of the trees and struck her head against a bough before plummeting to the ground.
The girl would have splattered upon the forest floor had Johanna not leaped to catch her limp body with open arms. The child’s sword landed on the ground near the elf’s feet. An arrow protruded from the girl’s back, and from her fresh wound trickled blood, staining her shirt red.
Although Johanna was compelled to save the fallen child, she was amazed by the shape of the girl’s ears. All elves had pointy ears. This girl had round ears. She was no elf.
Johanna lay the child against the tree. As a healer, the she-elf sensed life remaining in the girl, and confirmed it by taking her wrist and feeling a pulse. The child was alive, but just barely.
The elf noticed the sword lying on the ground nearby, the moon reflecting in its blade. She picked up the weapon and examined it. She gasped at its semblance to the mythical sword Grail. Was this that very same sword of legend?
Overhead, another harsh cry echoed. With sword in hand, Johanna threw herself over the girl, concealing them both with her invisibility cloak.
A dark creature swooped through the treetops. The wyvern, ridden by a knight, landed a short distance from the elf’s hiding place. Clad in ebony armor, the knight wielded a sword as tall as himself. The wyvern flapped its dark, leathery wings as it landed, unleashing a gust that nearly blew the cloak off Johanna.
The rider dismounted and surveyed the forest. He stepped forward, leaves crunching under his iron boots. Amidst the dead foliage, he picked up a green leaf and examined it. He collected other green leaves littered among the older, crisper ones and then glanced up at the broken branches in the trees above him. He pinpointed the precise location where the girl had fallen, which was presently where he knelt.
As Johanna watched him study his surrounding environs, she shivered under her mantel. The she elf shielded the child. Her heart raced. Her breathing intensified.
The knight stood. He returned to his steed, mounted it, and jerked its reigns. The wyvern roared as it flapped its wings and leapt into the air. It flew over the elf, who clung to her cloak.
Johanna lay on the ground. She waited, listening for silence. Cradling the girl in her arms, she rose on one knee and stood. A rustling sound in the distance startled her, compelling her to crouch and shroud herself once again.
A pegasus, pale as the full moon, trotted through the for-est. A fairy hovered by his side. She glowed with a dim pink aura.
“Amber! Amber!” the fairy cried out. “Where is she? Do you suppose Infidel found her?” She gasped. “Oh, how awful that would be. What would become of Arden? Who else would wield Grail?”
Johanna peeled off her cloak. The pegasus whinnied and reared on its hind legs. The fairy gasped but then breathed a sigh of relief.
“Amber!” she exclaimed. Her face blanched when she saw the wound in the girl’s back blotched red and bleeding.
“She is still alive,” Johanna replied. “If we make haste to my tent, I can tend to her wound.”
The fairy offered a sigh of relief. “You are a healer?”
The elf nodded. “Yes. My name is Johanna.”
“My name is Fiona, and that child is Amber.” She motioned to the pegasus. “Hermes can carry her for you.”
The elf set the girl on the steed before mounting it herself.
“That way,” the elf pointed into the distance.
The pegasus broke into a trot as the fairy flew alongside him.
Johanna raised the sword. “This blade, is this—”
“Yes, it is,” Fiona answered. “And Amber is the Grail-wielder.”
Chapter 2: Upon Awakening
Amber ’s eyes fluttered open. She was lying on her belly, her face buried in a pillow and her body covered by a fur blanket. She tried to move, but her back throbbed with a dull pain. Lifting her head, she saw the tiny figure of Fiona sitting inch-es from her face.
“You’re awake!” the fairy chirped. “Oh, praise be to the Light Prince you are alive. I knew you would make it.”
Amber glanced around the dimly lit yurt.
“Where are we?” She croaked with a dry throat.
“My tent,” answered an unfamiliar voice. “Safe from harm.”
Near Amber’s feet sat Johanna. The elf was grinding herbs into a mortar with a pestle. She sat next to a small pit of embers with a brass teapot set atop it, glowing crimson at the bottom and releasing wisps of steam from its spout.
“I saw you fall through the treetops,” the elf continued. “Thank the Light Prince I was there to catch you before you hit the ground.” She continued grinding herbs until the teapot billowed steam. “I saw that man who was chasing you wander through the woods earlier, but he did not see either of us.” She picked up a wooden cup and poured the freshly muddled herbs into it. “I have not seen sight of him since. He may have given up and figured you dead.” She took the teapot off the embers and poured its boiling contents into the cup. “Fortunately, I ran into your fairy friend here. The pegasus is hitched outside my tent, safe as well.”
The elf finished filling the cup, set the teapot on the ground, and presented the steaming beverage to Amber. The girl raised a skeptical eyebrow.
“Do not worry,” the elf replied. “It is tea mixed with some medicine.”
Amber sat up, only to have a sharp pain rip through her back. She clenched her teeth and gripped her shoulder, feeling the bandages wrapped around it and her upper back. She clung tightly to the blanket once she realized it was the only thing keeping her decent.
“You are a very lucky girl.” The elf offered the cup to Amber, who accepted and drank. The warm liquid was the first thing she had consumed in a long while. “Had that arrow struck your spine, heart, or lung, you would be dead. But it only struck your shoulder and tore through some ligaments and muscle.”
“She’s a healer,” Fiona exclaimed.
Amber did not understand, so the elf demonstrated. She raised her hand, which glowed with a light blue aura.
“I practice white magic, the art of healing.” Her hand ceased its glow. “I was a healer in my old village. I removed the arrow from your back and healed most of the torn tissues. It is only a flesh wound, but a deep one. You will need time to heal. That medicine you are drinking will hasten the healing process.”
Amber consumed half of the tea—weaker than sweet tea, stronger than green tea—by the time the elf finished speaking. The girl took one last sip before bowing her head.
“Thank you,” she replied.
The elf bowed in return. “My name is Johanna. And I know your name is Amber. Your fairy friend has told me many things about you and your journey. But I would like to hear about them from you—if you have the strength.”
Amber thought for a moment, gazing into her tea, then back at Johanna. “All right. What do you want me to tell you?”
“Everything,” Johanna replied.
Amber mulled over her thoughts, wondering where and when to begin. After collecting her thoughts, she began to share her story with Johanna.
About the Author
Ever since he could pick up a pencil, J.C. Alexandre has been passionate about expressing himself through the written word. He has enjoyed an illustrious decade-long career as an award-winning journalist. He now hopes to jump into the world of fiction with his debut fantasy novel, The Light Prince: Grail, now available on Amazon in e-book and paperback: https://amzn.to/3bFTCfG For more information about him and his work, visit his website at: http://jcalexandre.com/