Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

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

0
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

"Mama?”

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

diabolka: This book is a fascinating twist on mythology, fantasy and romance genre. The author has done a fantastic job combining Greek mythology with a modern day twist, tying in a plot that offers twists and turns that are both expected and unexpected. The hero, Ross, and heroine, Antara, are complex, ...

catd69: Karim is a very talented writer. When I started reading his journey it took me into the book and I was in the story till the end. I've never felt this way with any other writers stories. If you want to read a gripping adventure, this will be the one book I would suggest you pick.

Marijana1: The melancholy present throughout this story has the power to influence and etch into the minds of the readers, to stay there and refuse to leave even after they have finished reading the story. This is a deep, powerful story, making the readers wonder about everything – about love, about their e...

tsolaidowu: I want a continuation dammit....I loved this book and the 1st one. I can't believe this is it. I'm not ready to say goodbye to Jeff and Lorie; and the gang. Great book and storyline. You're a genius Madelyn.

the unedited writer: It's a guilty pleasure. The characters are brought to life and you find yourself loving them worrying for them and so on. The plot was serious but at the same time it had a light tone that didn't make you depressed as other drama genres. 5 stars for me

Dave Baxter: Generally, a good story. The plot was a bit predictable but not overly so. The first bit might have been better if it instead focused on how the main character becomes a host and not with how humans first interact with the aliens. This might allow more recognition of the various transitions sh...

mitchreed519: Truly fantastic, I would buy this book and any other prequels or sequels there after. An empowering and intriguing novel, and well written. Best literature I've read in a while, beats out published books as well.

Alex Rushmer: This was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot Malfoy was always one of the characters that I liked a lot, so I like that a lot of this happens between him and Colette. I read the first couple chapters, and I enjoyed your writing style and am excited to see where you take this story. My com...

CookieMonster911: The story overall was an adventure that is appealing to any age. The way the characters develop adds a more human characteristic to the novel. The writing style itself is amazing because you can learn every character's thoughts and emotions. The awkward love triangle and jerk moments adds to the ...

More Recommendations

William Po: Enjoyed the characters and story of the USAF during WWII. Author seems knowledgeable about planes and situations faced by bomber personnel. Also the suffering the air war caused on both sides to civilians.

ynez2005: I LOVE THIS BOOK SOOOOO MUCH!!!!Though you really need to make another book,more Princesses!!! Whoooo!!!Girl Power!!!Mabey it could even be Devona's BFF???That would make it even better!!!Plus can you pleeease make Akki come back,together with Thea and Authur amd the whole family is back!Other th...

Dru83: This is the second or third time I've read this one and I just love it. It has just about everything you could ever want packed into one scifi story. It still has some parts that are a little rough in terms of grammar, punctuation, and word usage, but it's still an awesome story. I love how detai...

Krupa Kataria: the detailing is really awesome ....the characters, ur plots jst too Awsm ,m waiting for the further chapters please do complete it ...like m really craving for those ones ...great job with words too ..please complete the further parts ...

ArgyrisMetaxas: Thrilling story which builds layer ontop of layer. A few mis spellings every few chapters. What I found special was that it took a modern day problem and took it to its logical conclusion and plays this realism with gritting precision. I'm always on edge ready to shout from adrenaline. This is gr...

Lydia Walters: I really enjoyed this novel. It gives us a view of what could be if we really tried.Also that there's nothing wrong with loving our LORD and our fellow humans. couldn't wait to get to each new chapter (mission). Thanks, Joe!