Having spotted the cover for this book a while back and having my interest piqued, I’m very excited to bring you an awesome little excerpt from Rosalyn Kelly’s Melokai, a grimdark fantasy. Blurb and excerpt to follow!
Legendary warrior Ramya has successfully ruled as Melokai for longer than most. Prosperous, peaceful, and happy, her people love her. Or so she thinks.
Ramya’s time is up. Bracing herself for the gruesome sentence imposed on all Melokais who have served their purpose, she hears instead a shocking prophecy.
Is the abrupt appearance of a mysterious, eastern cave creature the prophesied danger? Or is it something darker, more evil? And what of the wolves? Will the ferocious war with their kind oust her from power?
Suddenly Ramya must fight threats from all sides to save her mountain realm. But while her back is turned, a conspiracy within her inner circle is festering. Ramya and her female warriors must crush an epic rebellion before it can destroy her and devastate her beloved nation.
Check out the first chapter of Melokai by Rosalyn Kelly below!
Ramya liked her tongue. She wasn’t ready to give it up, not yet. The Melokai rolled it around her teeth, touched it to the roof of her mouth and brought it down with a satisfying cluck.
She glanced at Chaz. The scholar’s mottled black and white hands cupped his face, his body rocking with the movement of his horse, eyes glazed. They continued through the circular streets of the city in silence, both soon to lose the ability of speech, but neither with anything to say.
Most Melokais ruled for a decade, Ramya had ruled now for two years longer than most. Your time is up! She was certain this was the cats’ message. They had been frantic all morning. Their mewing, trilling, yowling sounded different. Urgent, worried. They had scuttled about under her feet as she limbered through her daylight dances, slapped paws at the goat’s milk in her washtub rather than lapping at it, and as she had dressed, they clawed at her fur cloak, looking up at her with knowing marble eyes. When she had left her chambers to head to the busy dining hall, a swarm of squalling, hissing fur had trailed behind.
Ramya had made the oath, she knew what happened to old Melokais. Her tongue would be taken and she would be banished by the Stone Prophetess Sybilya, cast out to wander the mountains alone. Sybilya cautioned that those who had tasted power were reluctant to relinquish it, and forever strived to wrench it back, causing unrest, violence and war. Without speech, old rulers cannot poison the minds of others and bend them to their will, and out in the wilderness there was no one to corrupt. The Stone Prophetess knows best, she lived through the Xayy atrocities after all.
Ramya had made this trip to see the Stone Prophetess every week for the past twelve years, since she was sworn in as Melokai of Peqkya. She couldn’t shake the feeling that this would be the last.
The end of her rule was upon her, and she was dreading it. Melokai no more.
She found her tongue, formed words. “It will happen today.”
Her counsellor and Head Scholar jolted out of his reverie. “I expect so, my Melokai. The cats…” He didn’t need to finish, it seemed Riaow’s entire feline population had emerged from every cranny to chitter at them as they passed.
“The Stone Prophetess will proclaim, ‘It is time’, and name four women to participate in the Melokai Choosing Ceremony and I will relinquish the title, be muted and banished.”
“Yes,” he replied, shoulders hunched.
Chaz, and each of Ramya’s counsellors, would also be muted, as was custom, but they were permitted to stay in the city. Ramya’s jaw clenched. Losing a body part was one thing, but gnawing at her insides, pummelling at every organ with vicious blows, was the banishment part. Ramya feared loneliness. She had no desire to go back to the solitary days of her childhood, where her volatile anger had scared off any would-be friends. She had learned to control it by throwing herself into warrior training, or leadership, or anything that kept her busy. As Melokai, the love of her people was a close friend. One she did not want to part with.
“You have achieved a great deal, you should feel proud.” Chaz swept his hand to indicate the thriving city.
They passed rows of colourful dome-shaped huts fashioned on the first people’s nomadic tents. Ramya had constructed homes for every Peqkian and ensured every Riat had a job, built the House of Knowledge, a centre of learning and documenting with a library open to every Peqkian, including the peons. She had set up the fresh waterflows with channels for drinking and to fill new public baths, as well as improved the underground sewers.