Progress Report…

It’s been awhile since I posted a new blog post. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but because there’s this major distraction going on in my life that eats up all my time and energy and leaves me sleep deprived, too. I’ve had to get vicious about carving out a little writing time for myself, just to keep working on Gust of Wind. But, I AM working on it and it IS coming along. In fact, I think this episode just might turn out to be one of my favorites in the series so far!

Okay, I admit it. I like them ALL. But I’m probably biased. 😉

If you’re a Star Wars fan, as I am, then you’ll know what I mean when I say “Gust of Wind” is going to be “The Empire Strikes Back” episode in the Quest of the Guardians series. That makes it extra fun because as an author, I get to really mess with the characters and make life difficult for them. After the relatively breezy experiences they had in Tav’res where they discovered they’re not as alone as they’d thought and they acquired a key ally, it’s time to throw some serious obstacles in the path of the Guardians.

With Jakin still unconscious, Malakai has decided to go after the Dai’awin Trah’ez himself. But then, the first thing that happens is—he’s separated from all of his companions and protectors. Now, determined to keep the young prince safe, Mita, Tao, and Luka are attempting to sneak into the mysterious Wind Drifter Island themselves. But accident prone Luka runs into a little problem…

Excerpt from upcoming Gust of Wind:

“Wish I could swim like that,” Luka thought, watching as Webb led them back to the lagoon along the shore of the island. Webb glided through the water as easily as the fish who scattered out of their way as they trudged after him, burdened by the weights that held them to the bottom.

Thirty minutes later, they entered the lagoon and followed Webb to the entrance of a circular tunnel. Webb paused and waited for everyone to gather around him, then he gestured that they should drop their weights and follow him into the tunnel. Luka waited for the older warriors to go first.

Luka’s air bubble tugged upwards against his head, scraping along the ceiling of the tunnel and dislodging mud that swirled around and joined the muck already disturbed by the others, making the dark water even more murky. Within seconds, the light dimmed to almost nothing and Luka’s heart began to race as he squinted into the darkness, catching only fleeting glimpses of Mita’s kicking feet through the fog his breath created on the glass…and then—nothing. Only darkness. He kept one hand on the tunnel wall while swimming faster and hoping he was keeping up with the others.

Globs of mud landed on his back—at least he hoped it was mud, as it slid down his sides. He rotated sideways, hoping the muck would slide off. The globs started to come faster. He heard pebbles plink off the glass bubble over his head. I hope there aren’t any big rocks, he thought. He reached up with his free hand and touched the crud accumulating on his glass bubble.

He swiped some of the muck off his shoulder and something slimy slid between his fingers.

It wiggled.

Luka stifled a shout of surprise and tried to shake it off but it wouldn’t let go. He dragged his hand along the tunnel wall as he continued to swim after Mita. The thing wiggled again, clinging to the palm of his hand. Luka grimaced and closed his fist, crushing and squishing it between his fingers. Revulsion welled up inside him as he swiped his hand on his leg, then reached up again to pull more of the muck off his back. His fingers found another one of the slithering slimy things. This time he squished it right away, then reached up to swipe away the mud he’d just felt landing on his arm. Again and again, he found and crushed the creatures, whatever they were, while continuing to swim through the blackness.

How much farther? he wondered, sliding his hand along the wall. Did I miss a turn? He stopped swimming and peered into the darkness, the sound of pebbles raining on his air bubble competed with the roar of blood rushing through his ears. Webb didn’t mention any turns. Just keep going.

He slid his hand along his arms and legs one last time, crushing anything that wiggled, and then continued swimming, pushing the glass bubble along the ceiling. The quiet scraping sound was oddly comforting, as the only indicator of forward progress in the pitch black of the tunnel.

Crunch!

Luka winced when his momentum came to an abrupt halt, jamming his neck. The sound of glass cracking made his heart stop for a moment, too. He reached up and felt the rock jutting down from the ceiling, then ducked his head and kept swimming. A moment later, a soggy weight shoved him to the tunnel floor.

“Oof!” Luka exhaled as the ceiling collapsed, flattening him on his chest. “Mita!” he yelled. He tried to lift his head but the mud was too heavy. How much time? he wondered, recalling that the air stones only last two hours.

He tried to pull his knees forward and under him, but to no avail. He couldn’t pull himself backwards with his legs, either. He tried to move his arms and felt the mud pack in around them more tightly. Outstretched in front of him, one of his hands was still free. He moved it up and down, waving and wiggling his fingers. I’m here! I’m here!

Okay, just calm down and think. He took a deep breath and then exhaled. The others will come back for me when I don’t come out of the tunnel behind them. I just need to be patient.

A drop of water trickled down the side of his face.

Please be sweat, he thought.

One of the slimy wiggly things landed on top of his hand. He waved his hand up and down as hard as he could, trying to shake it off. It wiggled across his knuckles and made its way toward his wrist.

Touching…tapping…wiggling…

Luka willed it to turn back and go between his fingers where he could crush it. It stayed on top of his hand, exploring…touching…tasting.

It bit him. Luka winced and shook his hand up and down even harder. It wouldn’t budge. His heart raced as panic welled up inside him. He tried to twist his arm enough to turn his hand over, but the tightly packed mud held it in place.

One landed on his ankle and start slithering up his calf. And then another on the bottom of his foot, tickling him as it explored his toes.

He clenched his toes and it squished between them. Ha! Gotcha!

Soon they were slithering all over his exposed hand and lower leg. Tickling him…teasing him…biting him.

“Mita!” he screamed. “Tao!”

Where are they?

He tried again to lift himself, adrenaline boosting his strength. The muck settled, filling in the gaps and squeezing tighter around him. Another drop of water dribbled down his face.

Has the tunnel collapsed on everyone, or just me?

Luka pushed away the terrifying thought. It’s just me. I’m accident prone. Just like Alastair says. They’re searching for me right now.

He heard the glass crack again and the drops of water trickling down his face started to come faster. He squeezed his eyes shut. Don’t think about it.

His mind drifted to Saffron. He focused on her and tried to shut out the creatures creeping across his foot and making him want to scream. I should have given her a token to remember me by.

Something crushed his hand.

“Ow!” He muttered as it pivoted, grinding his hand into the pebbles on the tunnel floor and causing the bones in his hand to crunch together. He tried to take a deep breath, but the crushing weight of the muck compressed his ribs. “Mita? Tao?” he croaked, unable to yell.

It disappeared.

He lifted his hand, flapping it up and down as hard as he could.

Fingers wrapped around his and squeezed.

Relief flooded him as he squeezed back in response. Please hurry! He lifted his cheek out of the growing puddle in the bottom of the glass bubble…

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