Monday, July 20, 2020

Now on Tour Djinn by Niki McAlister with Exclusive Excerpt #exclusiveexcerpt

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Serving the Scales
Niki McAlister

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Niki McAlister
Date of Publication: August 1, 2020
Number of pages: 132
Word Count: 45,690

Cover Artist: Niki McAlister

Tagline: From Silver Spoon to Silver Tongue

Book Description:

Born into a wealthy family on the west side of the Naga Kingdom, Djinn De’monte has always lived a life of undeserved luxury. He parties every night courtesy of his father’s money and, with a flick of his hand, can bed any woman he chooses.

Why would he ever give any of that up to settle down and work a regular job? Everything he needs is right at his fingertips, but when an unexpected tragedy strikes the rug is suddenly yanked out from under him. Djinn is forced to sink or swim.

Join him on his forced pilgrimage as he reluctantly discovers that there is more to life than having everything served to you on a silver platter. Will he learn just what he stands for, or will he be swept up with the rest of the garbage?

In this short prequel we travel back to Djinn’s youth to find out exactly what transpired before he met a very unusual servant girl. This story can be read before Serving the Scales, after, or by itself. Though Djinn’s story isn’t part of the Serving the Scales Trilogy, it is an important part of the history that took place in Iruli.

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Exclusive Excerpt:

“You’re probably wondering why an elf like me is able to leave the kingdom so easily.” Jerry said slyly, once we were on a set path.
I rolled my eyes. Not really.
“It’s because I have this!” He whipped out the little notebook I’d seen before.
I offered him a tight-lipped smile. “Nice.”
His face fell slightly as he turned back to the road, fiddling with the reigns for a minute. I began to settle down in the wagon, trying to prepare myself for sleep of some kind when I heard him sigh.
“See, I had to get this little booklet that marks me as property of the naga kingdom.” He continued as I withheld a growl. “I’m given a time limit of course, to get the goods to the city of Kijul and return with payment—but I’d never try to run. Do you want to know why?”
I remained silent, trying to stay as still as possible in the hopes that he’d think I’d fallen asleep. Around us the marshes smelled like rotten eggs. The sounds of frogs and crickets were so much louder up here, but not loud enough to drown Jerry out.
“It’s because my master treats me so well. Truly he does!” Jerry chuckled. “I’d had so much fear in me about being beaten or abused when I came to the kingdom but my master is the best!”
He continued chattering throughout the night. Every time I thought he’d ran out of stories to tell about his five years in the kingdom I was wrong. Eventually I did pass out, losing myself to exhaustion as the wagon bounced along the marshes of the naga kingdom. The elf allowed me to sleep until the sun started to peek over the trees. I awoke to him shaking my shoulder and shoving a piece of bread in my face.
“Hey! Come look at this sunrise, it’s gorgeous.” He exclaimed with his mouth full.
I scowled at the crumbs that hit my face, but took the bread because I was hungry. It was stale, but was better than nothing as I struggled to produce the saliva to wash it down. Jerry was already going off about his journeys to Kijul, elbowing me every so often to see if I was paying attention. I hunched over in the wagon, looking out at the sunlight illuminating the marshes in the morning. From below it was impossible to see the beauty of it all. I’d spent so much time believing that everything aboveground was either ruins or a war zone that I’d never thought to see it for myself, but as the fog rolled off the shallow water to reveal flowers and wildlife waking up I found myself understanding why Jess had wanted to see it. A little red bird hopped along the ground, pecking at the moss and fallen branches as it hunted for breakfast. All around us dew-covered spiderwebs hung like delicate tapestries from the thick-trunked trees that covered the area. In the distance I saw a deer grazing on the moistened grass, a white-speckled baby following closely behind.
As we traveled east the trees began to thin until we turned right, onto a well-worn road. I looked over at Jerry quizzically, as we were now heading south to somewhere unknown instead of to Kijul.
“Don’t worry my friend. My route has me going to Ranpur first to drop off some vegetables in exchange for some of their famous smoked fish and medicinal powder. You ever been to Ranpur?”
I shook my head, following the flight of a small black bird as it fluttered along in the grass with us.
“I don’t blame you. Ranpur isn’t exactly a friendly town. It sits alongside this lake they call Siren Lake. Weird name right?”
I began to realize that I wasn’t going to get a proper sleep in until Jerry and I parted ways. As we traveled the trees began to thin until we turned onto a well-worn road. Jerry talked the entire way to Ranpur, and at some point I figured out how to tune him out—turning my attention instead to the scenery. We were closer to the southern coast of Iruli now, and I could almost see the ocean if I squinted, though the thick stench of cow shit was the only thing I could smell.
 As we neared the town I spied a body of water on the right side of the road. Something about the stillness of the water set me on edge, heightening my senses as I took in more oddities in the land surrounding the water. Large boulders had been planted around every inch of the water’s edge that was visible through the trees. The formation didn’t appear to be natural, as the rocks were stacked evenly atop each other in patterns along the water’s edge. The trees all appeared to be leaning in toward the lake as well.
“Jerry, what is that body of water there?” I asked, elbowing the chattering elf.
 “That’s Siren Lake, like I told you.”
“Siren Lake…” I echoed.
  Jerry instructed me to stay in the wagon, leaving me behind as he carried crates loaded with cabbage, carrots and peppers into the small building we were parked in front of. I spotted some of the locals eyeing me from various vantage points of the main road. A young centaur filly was pulled inside by an overweight mother as she eyed me suspiciously. A couple of older elves sneered at me warily as they stood up from their creaking rocking chairs and shuffled into their home. Everything I could see of Ranpur felt old and untouched, as if they were cut off from the rest of Iruli. The buildings were remnants of older human homes, made of logs with metal roofs and long, sprawling porches. It had a unique beauty to it but the more I looked around, and was looked at, the distinct feeling of something sinister lurking amongst the townspeople became impossible to ignore. By the time Jerry returned with his crates of smoked fish I was itching to get out of here. I helped him load the crates onto the wagon and curled myself around them, resting my torso on the back of the driver’s bench.
“Coming along to Kijul then eh?” He laughed, cracking the reigns against the horses lightly to get them going. I shrugged.
“Does it always feel like that?” I asked, looking back at the town as faded from view.

“Yeah, usually. Sometimes the townsfolk aren’t there when I stop by. I can hear them out at the lake having some sort of festival. They’re pretty strange.”

About the Author:

Niki McAlister is an avid reader of romance and fantasy. She’s always lived in a little world inside her own mind, often getting herself in trouble while daydreaming. She currently resides in Tennessee with her husband, two boys, and many pets.

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