Excerpt: Mahalia by Moira Katson

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mahalia by Moira Katson
A YA LGBT fantasy

Mahalia spends her days in the gilded cage of a noblewoman’s life, hiding her interest in magic and dreading the day that she is married off for a political alliance. But when a fire demon is released into her oasis, destroying her home and decimating her tribe, Mahalia’s sheltered world is turned upside-down. Her people have always been different, worshiping other gods and practicing arcane magics – now, they are blamed for the disaster, and mysterious robed prophets appear from the deep desert, naming the tribe as demon-born, cursed by Heaven itself. As a strange illness begins to claim members of the tribe, Mahalia steps up to become ailahafeeza, protector of her family – and perhaps the only person who can save them from an enemy who has lain in wait for centuries…

Sounds like a great read, right? Here's an official excerpt to get you interested ;)

“Oh!”  Faseira clapped her hands.  “I almost forgot.  Do your bones tickle?”
Mahalia cocked her head to one side. She could feel nothing.  “No. Why do you ask?”
“Huh.” Faseira chewed her lip, absently. “No one else can feel it, either. I hoped you might be able to, though.”
“Do you know what it is?”
“Oh, I haven’t the faintest idea,” Faseira admitted, with her usual earnest honesty.  “It’s nothing I did,” she added hurriedly.  “I don’t think so, anyway. But it feels peculiar, like magic, and I was thinking I’d go to the Academy and see if maybe it’s something they’re doing. Joran told me about some big experiment they’re doing, all the big mages and everything. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could feel it?”  She shook her skirts out, apparently satisfied with the lack of dripping water, smiled brightly, and headed for the door.
“Wait,” Mahalia called, and Faseira poked her head around the door.  “You’ll tell me what it is if you figure it out?”
“Of course.  Do you need another book yet?”
“Not yet, I’m still working on the last one. Would it be difficult to get a copy of his earlier works, do you think?”
“It shouldn’t be.  I think he’s kind of obscure, though, the librarian looked at me oddly when I asked for this one.”
“Well, it isn’t strictly pyromancy.  There’s some talk about ice magic as an offshoot of the waterseer’s practices. Actually, I think you’d be fascinated by it,” Mahalia said, warming to the topic.  “He points out how the lines of magic run in the landscape, through water but also through the movements of the air, so that when you call – “  She broke off, seeing that Faseira’s eyes had begun to glaze over.  “Oh, go on.”
“Right. Bye!”  Faseira escaped with a barely-concealed look of relief, and Mahalia sighed again.  Faseira was really the only one she could talk to about magical theory without a lecture on ladylike behavior, duty to family, and the dangers of frivolous pursuits, but Faseira also had more interest in creating balls of fire than in knowing how balls of fire were created in the first place.
Mahalia rather thought that, to be fair, if she had any talent in calling fire, or making storms, or freezing water, she would also find the execution of spells more interesting than the theory. In order to free herself of the initial disappointment, Mahalia had decided that it was just as well, really, for she was sure that her parents would never have let her study magic at the Academy, and in any case it was much easier to hide books than scorch marks or water stains. 
Still, was it too much to ask for someone who would want to talk with her about these things?  Someone to rescue her from the utter boredom that was being a proper young lady? Someone to distract her from the fact that she was going to be sold off to Rafil like a horse?
Mahalia felt her throat tighten. She had thought she wanted to tell her cousin about the news, but she was glad that Faseira had not thought to ask about her day.  What could Faseira do to help, in any case? No one could help.
Mahalia sank her head into her hands again. No one could help.

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