Grim Nora and the Secret of the Skull
by A.M. Albaugh
Genre: YA Fantasy
When Nora Youngblood’s father dies on her sixteenth birthday, it’s the end of everything she ever knew. But a new journey begins with a skull-shaped pocket watch – the last gift from her father, a professor of archaeology. Where did this mysterious trinket come from, and why would a warlock named Kabos now be hunting her for it?
Nora, now an orphan, finds protection under a wizard named Malachi, his handsome apprentice, Aidan, and a brother she never knew she had. As she learns the truth about her family’s mysterious past, Nora seeks to uncover the secret of the skull, which leads to both a powerful and dangerous weapon. With the fate of the skull in her hands, she’s lured into the hidden world of Dubhgail to combat the treacherous Kabos – who has kidnapped her brother. Can she sacrifice herself to save her brother and her friends?
In this fantasy novel, a teenage girl discovers her magical heritage and soon finds herself facing the might of an evil warlock in another world.
On the tenth morning, Nora awoke to see dark clouds on the horizon. Olav sounded the alarm. They were approaching a storm, and Malachi summoned a meeting in the captain’s quarters.
“We will be entering the Dragon’s Triangle soon,” Malachi warned. “A tsunami is likely to happen, which is crucial for the maelstrom and the speed of the water that we need to breach the barrier and enter the waters of the void to reach Dubhgail.”
“And how do we know for certain we will make it?” asked Hedda.
“We don’t,” Malachi answered ominously.
“Have a little faith,” Michael reassured Hedda. “Idris wouldn’t let Malachi drown, that would be too easy.” He winked at Malachi.
That night, Nora could feel the storm in her bones. She lay awake in bed, wondering if the potion Kamaria had made was wearing off. A loud crash of thunder sounded. She sat up, and heard a whisper from an invisible source in her ear. She nodded her head, and lay calmly in bed with her eyes open. At exactly five in the morning, Nora walked out onto the deck in the pouring rain and met Malachi at the helm.
“It’s coming,” she said.
“Yes,” Malachi concurred. He rang a bell.
Large waves began to form. Nora steadied herself as the boat began to sway.
“You should head below deck,” Malachi warned.
“No,” she answered. “I’m staying. Idris told me to look after you.”
Malachi was stunned by her answer, but did not protest. The ship began to gain speed, and Malachi held onto the wheel tightly.
“Brace yourself,” Malachi advised.
Lightning struck all around them, and waterspouts formed. Nora watched intensely as the choppy waves became steep and the ship moved faster. Then she saw a large whirlpool swirling before them with a thick waterspout in the middle. Nora grabbed onto the wheel tightly. The ship was violently tugged into the rushing vortex. As lightning crashed all around them, Malachi let go of the wheel and Nora held onto it with all her strength. Water poured onto the deck. Nora heard Lena scream from down below. The ship began to lurch sideways, and as it neared the middle of the whirlpool, Malachi stood still with his eyes closed and a soft white glow emanated from the crystal on top of his staff. Malachi steadied the ship and the wind seemed to pass by them with little effect as they entered the funnel. To Nora it seemed as though Malachi had slowed down time. There was a bright flash of green light. Then everything went dark.
A. M. Albaugh is an award-winning poet and photographer. She studied anthropology and communications with an emphasis in film and television at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Favorite authors include Hermann Hesse, Dostoyevsky, J.R.R. Tolkien, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Lao Tzu, Kurt Vonnegut, Knut Hamsun, and Kahlil Gibran. She also enjoys writing code.
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