Happy Sunday, Parliament Patrons and holiday ghouls! Today, you can read the first two chapters of P.S. Malcolm's upcoming novella, STARLIGHT—book 1.5 of the Starlight Chronicles series!
Starlight, by P.S. Malcolm
A treaty upholds the peaceful lands of Ersarence— who have suffered from the spilt blood of their humble goddess, Titania, which stains the hands of the ruthless Urenphians. Julian Rancewood— a small town delivery boy— wishes he could afford to save his dying mother. He never imagined a larger life for himself until he meets Adrina Hesfetter, the village seamstress's daughter. After striking a deal with the elusive King's advisor and joining the royal army, he finds himself helping to search for a missing, unknown heir. Against all odds, Adrina and Julian soon meet again within the palace walls. When Julian discovers Adrina’s fire magic— an impossibility among non-royals— they uncover a scandalous secret that will cause whispers of a Urenphian rebellion to travel through the kingdom. A thirst for revenge and a passionate romance causes the two villagers to set the events in motion which will bring down the entire Starlight Kingdom. A Starlight Chronicles Novella.
I grabbed my worn jacket from the stand and did my
best to pat out the creases. There were poor stitches every‐
where from various holes I'd tried to mend over the years, and I desperately needed a new one—but replacing any of my clothes was also my last priority right now.
Looking over my shoulder across the cramped single room I
shared with my mother, I said, “I expect to be home just before
My mother shakily sat up in her bed, the light brown sheets
gathered around her. My eyes widened with alarm.
“Don't get up—you must rest!” I nearly shouted, reaching
out to stop her and crossing the room in a couple of quick steps.
I gently coaxed her to lie back down, and she patted my arm
with her frail hands. Her blue eyes crinkled as she broke into a
“Oh Julian—my sweet boy, don’t you fuss over me,” she
replied sternly. “Don't you come home with that ghastly medi‐
cine either, you know it won't do any good!"
I grimaced, but said nothing. Mother was always telling me not to spend my hard earned coin on herbs—that they could be put to better use. There was very little money to begin within
our household and meals were scarce between us. She was
always insisting that I needed to eat more and that my bones
would grow weak and cause problems for my job as a delivery
boy; but being a delivery boy didn't require a lot of strength, as
it was rare that I ever handled a small package, let alone a heavy
one. I handled mostly letters, really.
“Just get well, Mother,” I said as I took a step back. I could
see the disappointment in her eyes—we both knew I would
come home with a pocket full of nothing but lint and a vial of
bitter tonic that only delayed the inevitable, but didn’t quell the
pain or illness entirely.
We had yet to 5nd a cure for my mother's sickness; none of
the healers in our village fully understood what was wrong
with her—and we certainly didn’t have the money for them to
spend time 5guring it out. Every day she grew weaker, her
cough grew worse, and her skin grew tighter around her frail
bones. She could barely stomach a single meal these days—
broth was about all she could keep down.
“I put some leftover broth on the bench in case you get
hungry. I'll be back soon,” I promised, and squeezed her hand
reassuringly before heading out of our creaky front door. With
a parchment in one hand 5lled with delivery instructions and a
sack slung over my other shoulder, I made my way down the
street and into the bustling village.
The village seemed livelier than usual, which was
odd because there was no special occasion in occurrence, nor
were there any reason for the excessive increase in people. I
passed many travelers: noblemen and even soldiers among the usual crowd of the township. As I passed them all I couldn't
help but wonder why they were all here. I managed to thread
through them, crossing the busiest square in our little commu‐
nity to get to the sellers stall I sought.
No matter how many orders I had, or if I had an important
nobleman waiting on me, I never did anything until I got my
mother's medicine from the local healer. The tonic he brewed
contained ginger, honey and thyme—as well as a rare 9ower
called a rochashe which sourced from the riverplains south of
here—and it was the only thing that seemed to be slowing the
e:ects of my mother's illness.
She used to be so lively before she fell ill—selling hand‐
made jams at this very same market and always telling me
bedtime stories. The smell of her cooking used to 5ll our house,
and I missed it terribly. Nowadays, she spent most of her time
resting, 5ghting fevers, chest pains and a horrendous cough that
left her weak and struggling to breathe.
Most of my pay from work went towards paying for this
medicine—and though I knew she wouldn't ever return to that
lively person she'd once been, I would do anything to keep her
alive for as long as I could.
Leon, the healer, was waiting as per usual. Our agreement
was that I would pay half price for the tonic and a quarter
percentage for the ingredients—he knew of my dire situation,
and I stopped by regularly enough that the arrangement had
worked out. As long as I paid on time, he would reserve the
herbs for the tonic. Otherwise, they went towards other medi‐
cines for other customers.
Leon's services were always in demand, and he was too
cheap to seek a scavenger, so if I didn't reserve the ingredients
in time I would have to go without the tonic, and I couldn't
a:ord to let that happen.
“Good morning, Julian,” he greeted, tipping his head at me.
“Here you go.” He held out a clear vial with a milky liquid kept
within. He handed the vial to me as I began to 5sh out the coin
from my pocket. He cleared his throat, and I paused to look at
him again. His eyes seemed . . .hesitant.
“Listen Julian,” he began, his eyes turned toward the
ground. “I have to tell you something . . . there is a competing
healer in the next town, and he's been attracting lots of busi‐
ness. I'm going to need to raise my prices to keep business going
—and I wanted to let you know in advance, seeing as . . .”
His voice trailed o:, eyeing the tonic and my hand-counted
coins. My blood ran cold, and I stood there like a statue for
several, just staring at the merchant.
“You can't be serious,” I said with my jaws clenched tightly
together, my expression twisting into a glare. “I'm a regular . .
.can't you make just one exception?”
He grimaced, turning his eyes back toward me. “I have a lot
of regulars, Julian. If I make an exception for you, everyone else
will start to complain and demand I make exceptions for them,"
he replied. His tone was apologetic, but it did nothing to
change my feelings. My 5st clenched—more out of frustration
than anything else, and sheer horror ran through my veins.
How would I a:ord to pay for the tonic? I barely made
enough as it was—I would have to 5nd more clients. Or 5nd
another job, but such was much easier said than done.
“I'm sorry, Julian. I sincerely hope you can 5gure something
out,” he said, pushing the tonic towards me. “There's a little
extra tonic in the vial today, to make up for it. I know how
important this is to you—”
I cut him o: by slamming the coins onto the counter.
“Forget it,” I muttered, turning my back on him. Nearby
customers glanced my way, but I ignored them as well as I
pocketed the tonic and turned away.
Whatever relatively good mood I'd been in when I left the
house had completely shattered to utter despair. The very
thought of how many orders were waiting for me today 5lled
me with dread. No matter how quickly I completed them, it
wouldn't make a di:erence. I would be paid the same, and I
would return home with not nearly enough payment to save my
My mother was dying.
I needed to save her.
I'd been so consumed in my thoughts as I stormed across
the square that I didn't see the angel until my chest smacked
into his. Stumbling backwards, I shook my dazed head and
spotted a re5ned royal army uniform—not polished silver
5ghting armor; but a proper, tailored uniform with medals.
Panic rushed through me.
I could only assume he was somebody important. Perhaps a
commander. Angels weren't seen very often around here—as
part of the royal army, they were always tending to their own
duties and business. Though I'd spotted a few once or twice
passing through, I'd never seen one so close—or interacted with
one for that matter.
His wings had 9ittered slightly as he swiftly regained
balance, though he'd barely stumbled in comparison to myself,
and I was left sheepishly ducking my head in apology as he
frowned at me.
“My apologies, I wasn't watching my step,” I said quickly.
He grimaced, then shook his head.
“No harm done,” he replied, eyeing me thoughtfully. His
blonde hair gleamed in the sunlight, which wasn't unusual.
Most angels gleamed or glowed in some way. He turned his
back on me and crossed to the front of a store. Stopping in front
of a wooden post, he began to hammer a notice into it. I
watched him curiously, then looked around the square at the
many travelers and nobles once more.
Another thought occurred to me—was there a ball being
planned at the palace? It didn't happen often, but it wasn’t an
impossibility. If there were such an event, it would explain the
increase in travelers and nobles passing through—not to
mention the soldiers. If there was a ball, that would be exactly
what I needed to make more money. Balls meant clothes—fancy
clothes. Which meant special, tailored orders and fast deliver‐
ies. More and more people would be looking for delivery boys—
and more deliveries is exactly what I needed right now.
The angel 5nally 5nished nailing the notice to the post and
moved onto his next spot a way down the cobblestone pathway,
thus allowing me to step closer to the post and read it.
Attention to all citizens.
The royal court is seeking new recruits for the
general army to protect the royal family in regards to a
special, upcoming occasion. Anyone who wishes to join
will be granted immediate training, and a large sum of
money for the families of all members. Those who do
well will be o!ered extended work after the course of the
event, and will be prioritized for better training, the
opportunity to receive promotions, and protection of
their families in any immediate emergency.
Please contact your nearest guard o"cer to register
Andrew Kingston, Commander of the Royal Army.
I reread the notice multiple times, thinking it over
Recruits? I highly doubted I was suited for such a thing. I could carry parcels, but wielding a sword was another thing
Still... they were oering money, and payment from the
royal family themselves had to be decent enough.
I was still heavily debating the notice after I'd walked away
to start my daily deliveries. It 9oated in my mind as I went stall
to stall, collecting parcels and goods that many nobles and
households were waiting on. Once my sack was full, I trekked
to the fancier neighborhoods and gated estates to deliver all the goods—passing them along to servants and maids in most
instances, and collecting new orders for the following day. It
continued like this as I made my way down the list, the sun
moving through the sky above me. Finally, as a late afternoon
sunset shifted the blue sky to red and pink, I reached my 5nal
The Carston Household—or rather, Sir Edward Carston
himself. He had placed an order for a shirt with an unfamiliar
seamstress. I frowned tried to 5gure out where this new seam‐
stress was. I ended up having to walk back to the village square
and ask around, but it appeared that very few other people had
heard of this seamstress.
Finally, I spoke to an elderly woman at the fruit stall who
knew who I was talking about.
“Oh, Seamstress Hesfetter,” she said brightly. “Oh yes,
she's quite talented. But rarely heard of—she specializes in
garments and clothing for the royals and their wonderful occa‐
sions. She works from her residence in the middle-class neigh‐
The elderly lady pointed me in the right direction, and I
thanked her before hurrying on my way. With luck, I could
pick up the shirt from the seamstress and have it delivered back
to Sir Carston before sundown, which might put some extra
coin in my pocket for tomorrow.
Once I knew where to go, I found the Hesfetter household
quite easily. There was a wooden sign hanging out the front
with Hesfetter Embroidery elegantly carved into it. It very
nearly blended in with all the other woodwork, but luckily I
knew to look out for signs of a shop, so I'd spotted it.
I approached the house. It was double story, with potted
plants out front, and a nicer front door than most households in
the middle-class neighborhoods usually had. I wasn't sure
whether to knock or not, but I caught a glance of a shop-like
interior through the window and decided to just enter. Pushing
the door open, a bell tinkered above me.
From behind the counter, a young girl looked up, and our
I was immediately trans5xed.
She was beautiful. Her brown hair was pulled into a loose
bun, and her green shirt bought out the color in her emerald
“Good day, Sir,” she greeted politely, standing. “How may I
I quickly regained my composure, straightening my stance.
“Yes, er—I'm here to pick up an order for House Carston.”
Her eyes lit up with recognition.
“Ah, yes! Just a moment, I'll grab it,” she said, and disap‐
peared into a room behind her. I stared at the place where
she'd disappeared for a few moments, rather entranced in the
memory of her beauty, before 5nally shaking o: the thought.
Swallowing hard, I examined the shop whilst waiting for her
to return.. There were display materials on one side of the
room, along with samples of thread. On the other were
completed shirts and gowns, robes and pants, all in various
styles and sizes. Each and every one of them was more beau‐
tiful than the last, with intricate detailing and delicately sewn
She returned with a large package wrapped in brown
“Will that be all today?” she asked, and I nodded.
“Wonderful,” she beamed. “Well, I hope it's to his liking.”
I nodded again. I couldn't seem to form words, and she let
out a single, awkward laugh as I stood there. I quickly tore my
gaze away from her as I felt the blood 9ow to my face.
“Thank you. Good day,” I said in a rush, moving quickly
towards the door. It wasn’t until I was outside once more that I
managed to focus. I could still hear the bell above the door
tinkling in my ears as I stood in the street, clutching the
What was wrong with me?
I began making my way towards Sir Carston's residence.
Seeing the sun continue to fall down, I knew I didn't have time
to waste. Thoughts of my poor, sick mother swam back into my
head. I thought of the posted army recruitment letter again—
just for a moment—but it felt like an unreachable dream. I
disregarded the thought.
In that moment, the delivery was all that mattered.
I arrived at the Carston Estate just before
sundown as I had hoped. I was escorted inside by their house‐
keeper who took the package from me.
“Very good. The master has been waiting for this,” she said
5rmly, scurrying down the hall to pass it along. I waited in their
foyer, which was stunning as always. The walls were made of
marble, and the 9oors were polished. It looked like the palace—
or at least, what I envisioned the palace to look like. I'd never
set foot near the palace, let alone inside, but I knew it certainly
didn't look like the tiny wooden shack I shared with my mother.
The housekeeper returned moments later, wearing a grim