Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

Free copy left
You can read our best books
MJGallagher would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

Axtelera Ray: The Chronicles of Astrone (Preview Edition)

By MJGallagher All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy

Prologue: The Birthstone

Simla, Punjab, Northern India

9th August, 1923


Robin Windsor’s squeaky voice echoed in the entrance hall as he pushed open the rosewood doorway to his home. The cool air of the grand foyer was a much needed relief from the sticky heat of the sun, immediately soothing his tired skin. In the estate grounds behind him, the palm trees sulked in the warmth of the Indian summer, their leaves drooping lazily to cast long shadows across the driveway.

The Hindu month of Ashadha would soon be over, and he looked forward to Shraavana Amavasya - the new moon night of Shraavana - as it signaled his birthday was close.

Despite his young age, Robin already knew about the differences between the traditional Hindu lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar that most of the world used. His father was British, but often encouraged him to learn about his national culture and the wonderful customs it held. He did not want to disappoint.

“Mama?” he called again, impatiently kicking off his sandals and leaving them sprawled on the Persian rug beneath his feet.

“I’m up here, my darling,” his mother’s somewhat hushed answer floated from the first floor.

A wide grin spread over the boy’s face as he heard her gentle voice, and he broke into a sprint, his short legs carrying him to the sweeping staircase. His khadi danced around his knees, the thin fabric bouncing freely as he galloped up the steps almost two at a time. On the walls, prominent figures of his royal ancestry watched him as always from their antique portraits. Robin paid them no heed, especially the creepy one of Queen Victoria.

Daylight shone through the windows at the top of the stairs, reflecting on the crystal chandelier to create a kaleidoscope of wonderful colors. Turning right, he darted along the corridor towards Aryan’s bedroom, unable to contain his excitement as he burst through the door.

His mother smiled affectionately from across the chamber. She was clad in a purple sari embroidered with silver stitching, and was seated on a wooden rocking chair, cradling his baby brother in her arms. Aryan was wrapped snugly in a shawl of fine cotton, his tiny face nestled against her bosom. With a free hand, she brushed aside her flowing black locks and held a finger to her lips, then welcomed Robin to join the peaceful moment.

Subduing his eagerness, the boy tiptoed across the polished floor, around the cot at the center of the room. The curtains that veiled the window fluttered briefly in the afternoon breeze as he passed.

He peered outside, his eyes moving from the lawns of the colonial estate to the unending tea fields that lay beyond. Workers were dotted around the rows of the plantation, cutting leaves with their sickles and collecting them in large woven baskets. To the north, the hulking snowcapped peaks of the Himalayan Mountains loomed like a great fortress, grey and distinct against the cloudless sky.

Nearing his mother, Robin finally sighed with satisfaction, and allowed himself to collapse into her embrace.

“And how was your day?” asked Shilpa, pulling him tight.

He giggled. “Hmm…okay, I guess.”

“Your father is not yet home from attending to his business,” she said, “so that makes you the man of the house for now.”

“But, mama…I’m only four.”

“Yes, but one day you will grow up to be big and strong. And handsome. Just like your father.”

“I don’t want to be big and strong.” Robin frowned, glancing up to meet his mother’s gaze. “I like being four.”

“Is that so?” Shilpa chuckled, mussing his hair in comfort. “Then, I suppose we better have fun before you turn five next week.”

Robin said nothing more for a minute, instead focusing on his sleeping brother. Shilpa observed with interest as he leaned forward, investigating the gold chain she had earlier placed around Aryan’s neck. It was small but intricate in design, and bore a locket with a deep blue sapphire. Reaching under the collar of his khadi, Robin pulled out a similar pendant, his own complete with a ruby.

“Aryan has a stone too?” he queried.

Shilpa nodded. “That’s right.”

“Just like mine?”

“Almost like yours.”

“But, why? What’s it for?”

“Inside each of your lockets is a special gem called a birthstone,” began Shilpa, stroking her son’s face as he stared curiously at his own gleaming red jewel. “It’s our tradition for them to be given to you shortly after you are born. They are very important. They have mystical abilities that bring you good luck, and sometimes can even help you to heal.”

“Really?” Robin whispered with intrigue, slowly turning the charm between his fingers.

“You should never take it off,” his mother instructed, her tone soft but sincere. “You are bound to your birthstone, and it to you. It is part of who you are.”

“What about Aryan?” asked Robin.

Shilpa did not answer immediately: a strange sensation had washed over her.

Only the casual sway of the curtains broke the silence of the bedroom as the pleasant draft swept around her bare ankles. She looked down upon her youngest son, so pure and innocent. He yawned in his sleep, scrunching up his endearing bronze features. As he wriggled, the sapphire pendant fell to one side, disappearing from sight.

After a few moments, Shilpa returned her attention to Robin, offering him another smile as she cuddled him once more.

“I have a feeling that this birthstone will one day be very special to him.”

Continue Reading Next Chapter
Further Recommendations

summerstone: Seriously this is one of the best books I've ever read. The plot is intriguing, I love the narrative style. Its very descriptive and unique, with minimal cliches. It makes for a great read and the sequels are amazing. Totally worth reading. ^^ That's me trying to be professional. But in all hones...

Steve Lang: I thought this story was imaginative, and well thought out. I also think it was an original piece, and not a rehash of previous scifi stories I've read in the past.Thank you for the effort put into this tale, and I look forward to reading more of your work!

ernbelle: When I first started this story I was a little unsettled by all of the information that appears in the prologue, and wasn't sure if I would continue. However, I am very glad I did. The plot was very well thought out and really interesting. There were not any page breaks or markers to acknowledge ...

Usagi Kita: This story is emotional from beginning to end. You get to watch the characters struggle and grow, maturing in different ways so that they come to be the people they are meant to be. Inea is insanely adorable, and his antics made me laugh more than once, and Kaedon is perfect for him in so many wa...

Alice Liu: Whoa! I've been wondering how would the Maurauders react to Harry's life and here we go! YOU ARE THE BEST! All the characters are consistent with their personalities shown in the book! I love how you compare Lily with Molly and it's definitely true for her being a mother! I wish Peter comes have ...

Felisa Yoder Osburn: I really enjoyed the story. Civil War stories are some of my favorites and the intertwining of the past with current times was wonderful. I look forward to reading the next stories.

Olivia N J Hamel: I want this book. I love it so much. It is so enjoyable to read and to have a copy of this always, I would be very happy, to always be able to come back and look at it again.

skippybash12: This story has engaging characters that you care about and a plot that is unpredictable and exciting. It is well written with a believable voice. Great weekend escape and if there was a sequel available I would buy it today -

Lacey Schmidt: The Trouble with Super is that you can't stop reading it. Mr. Barrett's characters are all to easy to relate to even if you don't have a super quirk of your own, and their plight is both heart-rendingly funny and heart-warmingly sad at the same time. It's a bit like Office Space meets the Matri...

More Recommendations

PurpleInkling: Hippocrite is spelt hypocrite.Also it is an awesome story! A good one after so long. I was hoping someone would write a good fanficiton playing off what Ron said at the station. You are doing a remarkable job. It would have been interesting if Albus had also ended up in Ravenclaw though that mig...

Nymeria: Really can't get enough of this story. It flows well, it captivates the reader from page 1, and throws you into such a well-written, well conceptualized world that you'll believe it's real. Everything in the book is meshed together really well. From character backgrounds to plot twists, you can t...

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral stories!

FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"

The Cyneweard

Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral story!

Ro-Ange Olson: "Loved it and couldn't put it down. I really hope there is a sequel. Well written and the plot really moves forward."