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The Light Prince: Grail – Tyler’s Journey by J.C. Alexandre

The Light Prince: Grail – Tyler’s Journey

by J.C. Alexandre

Tyler doesn’t have an easy life living in a family of success stories. His mother is a doctor. His father is a lawyer. His older brother went to college on an athletic scholarship. And his younger brother always makes the honor roll. Yet the only success Tyler ever had was with video games.

With the start of a new school year, Tyler hopes to turn his luck around. He aspires to make the team and make the grade. He even made friends with the new girl in town, Amber. Will she be able to help him achieve the same success as the rest of his family? He’ll need to overcome temptations from some real losers at school to do so.

*****

Recap: During his first day of high school, Tyler reluctantly has lunch with his former friend group. While he takes the start of the school year and his future college career seriously, his old acquaintances couldn’t care less. They’d much rather goof off than study or prepare for their future. Tyler then decides to have lunch with the new girl, Amber. While talking about how she’s adjusting to her new home and school, Tyler notices a bulletin for baseball practice. It’s then that he decides to join the team at an attempt to gain an athletic scholarship.

Chapter 4: Crossing the First Threshold

The ivory stallion galloped at full speed through the dark forest. The hero gripped his reins. His fairy friend flew alongside in a pink streak. The pitch-black night and thick fog clouded their path but did not hinder their progress.

“Hurry, brave hero!” The fairy fluttered her wings like a hummingbird to keep pace with his galloping steed. “The Dark Lord Blackgaard’s castle lies on the other side of these woods. We must make haste if we are to stop his wicked machinations.”

A sudden protrusion from the earth halted their path. The horse reared on its hind legs, tossing its rider off. Landing on his feet, the warrior drew the Sword of Heroes.

An armor-clad skeleton rose from the mound. Dirt and debris fell from its skeletal frame. It took a fighting stance and drew its weapon. A shrill cry escaped its boney maw as it struck its shield with its sword.

Other skeleton warriors arose from the ground. Each brandished their weapons and gave an ear-piercing shriek. Nevertheless, the hero remained unperturbed. His ghoulish foes charged at him with their wicked blades raised.

The hero lunged at a charging skeleton. His blade cut through its ribs and severed its spine, making it collapse into a pile of bones and armor. He wheeled around to counter his adversary charging behind him but only struck its shield. The skeleton sprang forward. The hero evaded the attack, and, in another swing, fell his foe.

He turned and swung his sword in an arc, but missed as the skeleton summersaulted away. 

Landing on its feet, it ripped off its head, bouncing it in its boney grasp, and tossed the skull as it burst into flames. The hero batted away the fiery volley with his blade.

*****

Tyler’s aluminum bat missed the ball by a mere inch. It flew into the netting behind him.

“Shoot!” He kicked the dust under his feet.

Friday afternoon after school was an opportune time to practice his swing, and the batting cages at the local arcade and miniature golf course were the best place. But after nearly a dozen pitches and not a single hit, his swing had no more improved then when he first started.

“You know, it probably helps if you swing at the ball,” Paul told him from behind the netting.

The young boy otherwise sat quietly on the bench reading his book.

Tyler glared at his younger brother. “Remind me again why I dragged you along with me?”

“Mom’s still working double shift at the hospital, and Dad’s away at his lawyer’s conference,” Paul replied, casually flipping a page. “Since we’re home alone, you have to watch me until Mom gets home. Believe me, I’m not psyched about it either.”

Tyler ignored him and resumed his batter’s practice.

“I can help if you want,” Paul said without lifting his eyes from his book.

“You don’t play baseball.” Tyler missed the ball again.

“No, but I learned a formula you can do in your head while playing,” Paul replied. “You can figure out where the ball’s going by calculating the curvature and trajectory of its throw. That’ll help your swing and your math homework.”

Tyler sneered. His bat grazed the ball and launched it sideways. “I’m taking algebra, not geometry. I don’t think that’ll help me either way.”

Paul shrugged. “Just wanted to help.”

Tyler leaned on his bat. “You want to help? Take my wallet out my backpack and get me a soft drink. And while you’re at it, spend the rest of my money on whatever you want to eat and play some games.”

Paul cocked an eyebrow. “You want me to spend your allowance?”

Tyler shrugged. “If it’ll get you out of my hair until I’m done practicing.”

Paul reached into the bag and pulled out a wad of cash.

“Suit yourself,” he said as he left for the arcade building.

Tyler sighed and inserted another token. He adjusted his helmet, tapped his bat on the base, and raised it over his shoulder. He fixed his eyes on the pitching machine. The red light changed to green, the machine launched a ball. Tyler swung and

“Yo, Tyler!” a voice yelled from behind him. “What up, my homie?”

—Missed!

Tyler grunted and craned his neck. Sitting on the bench behind him was T-Man holding a pair of drumsticks and Katie with her face hidden behind a magazine.

“Hey, T-Man.” Tyler sighed. He concentrated on the barrage of balls firing at him. “What brings you here.”

“You know me, dawg.” T-Man beat an impromptu drum solo on a trash can. “No better way to start the weekend that with a round of games at the arcade.”

Despite the new set of distractions, Tyler focused on trying to land a hit. “I’m surprised Hannah isn’t here.”

Katie lifted her eyes away from her article—or rather, its pictures. “She, like, wanted to be alone this evening. Like, it’sone of those nights where she locks herself in her room, lights a few candles and incense sticks, and prays to the never-ending darkness in her soul.”

Tyler missed another ball. “Why am I not surprised?”

T-Man ended his drum solo and put away his sticks. “You practicing for the tryouts?”

“How can you tell?” Tyler swung at the next pitch without connecting.

“Why else would you be out here at the batting cages?” T-Man shrugged. “You must really want to make the team.”

“I want to make any team, really,” Tyler replied. “Any sport will do.”

“Like, you must really want to get into one of those hoity-toity Ivy Leauge schools,” Katie hazed him, her eyes and nose fixed on her magazine.

“Of course,” Tyler said. “Who wouldn’t?”

“Well, I don’t,” Katie scoffed as she turned a page. “I don’t even care about going to a state school. I’d settle for community college. At least that would be cheaper.”

T-Man chuckled and shook his head. “I don’t even want to bother going to college, man. Once I graduate, I’m done with school. Period! I ain’t doing any more learning.”

Tyler glowered at them. “Don’t either of you care about having a good job? Making good money? You don’t want to be stuck flipping burgers at a fast-food joint, do you?”

T-Man twirled his sticks in his fingers. “Why do I care? As long as I make enough money to earn a decent living and play my music on the side.”

Katie glanced up long enough to cast a wry smirk. “Yeah, and I’m, like, going to Hollywood to be an actor or a model. You don’t need to know much to be either of those things. As long as I can read a script and balance my bank account, I know enough already.”

Tyler shook his head and scoffed. “You know, sometimes I envy you two. Neither of you have any real ambitions, and both of you are happy enough.”

“You know—” T-Man rose from his seat “—if you really want to make the team, maybe I can help.”

Tyler glanced at T-Man. “You don’t play baseball.”

“Nah!” T-Man clutched the netting and leaned against it. “But I know some guys on the team. And I know a guy that helps them with their game. I think he can help you, too.”

Tyler raised an eyebrow. “What is he? Some sort of coach or tutor?”

T-Man shook his head. “Nah! But he does fix them up with something that helps them out real good.”

Tyler dropped his bat, a ball flying past him, as he cast a perplexed expression. “You don’t mean steroids?”

“Shhh!” T-Man raised his fingers to his lips, his eyes darting back and forth. “You don’t want everyone to hear about it. But, yeah, I know a guy, Tiny, who gives the players some juice. If you bought it from him, it’d be at full price. But I can get it for you at a discount.”

Tyler shook his head and waved his hand. “Uh-uh! No way. I’mnot taking steroids. And I refuse to believe anyone on the team is taking them either. There’s no way the coach would let them.”

“Why not?” T-Man shrugged. “The coach doesn’t bother testing them. That’s above his pay grade. What nobody knows won’thurt them. Besides, you want to make the team like the others. Why not do what they do?”

Tyler picked up his bat and inserted another token. “Because that would be cheating and it wouldn’t be fair.” He lifted the bat over his shoulder. “If I’m making the team, I’m doing it fair and square. Thanks, but no thanks.”

“Suit yourself, dawg!” T-Man shrugged and turned to walk away. Katie followed him, still reading as she walked.

Tyler swung. His bat sent the ball flying clear to the other side. Finally!

###

“Tyler’s Journey” is a side-story to the fantasy novel, “The Light Prince Grail.” The story follows Tyler’s life before he and Amber ventured into the fantastical world of Arden. It details his many personal struggles and how they influenced his decisions in the novel. His story will help readers learn more about themselves as they do about him.

“The Light Prince: Grail” and “Tyler’s Journey” are available in paperback and e-book on Amazon. For more information, visit the author’s website at: jcalexandre.com

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