Max and the Spice Thieves
by John Peragine
(Secrets of the Twilight Djinn #1)
Publication date: April 20th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
When his mother goes missing, Max Daybreaker’s world is turned upside down. Luckily, a crew of Spice Pirates, led by the mysterious Captain Cinn, help Max on his dangerous mission across the three seas.
Along the way, an unlikely alliance aids in his search—a teenage warrior queen, a three-eyed seer, and an assassin spy.
Their journey takes them through treacherous lands while facing shapeshifting bears, an ancient witch, harpies, and the nightmarish Djinn, who will stop at nothing to enslave the world.
With every new challenge, Max unlocks the secrets of his unsettling past. Powers awaken within, forcing him to question everything he knows.
Is Max who he thinks he is? Only time and destiny will tell…
We were escorted across the main marching grounds to Renure’s quarters. Two of the tallest guards I had ever seen stood still as statues on each side of his door. It wasn’t until we were closer that I realized they weren’t men standing guard but colossal winged creatures with long spears. These were the Witch Queen’s daughters—the harpies.
Small tusks protruded from their lower jaws. Fine black hair covered their bodies, including their faces. Their backs had folded wings. The harpies flexed their wings a bit as we approached, and they looked like they were made of soft leather.
Each harpy held a spear in one hand that looked to be eight feet long, and in the other hand, a shield with the sultan’s sigil, which I realized was a depiction of the harpies.
Captain Renure’s eyes opened wide, and he shifted his gaze immediately to the floor as he passed them. His quarters were spacious, with a table at one end. Prince Abad was sitting in an oversized, throne-like chair, eating from a large platter of fruits and meats.
“Come, sit down. It is such a pleasure to see you all again,” said Abad with a dazzling smile.
We sat at the far end of the table on chairs with high barabond-wood backs that were ornately carved with all manner of animals.
“And I see you brought friends with you. My maid, a fishmonger, and a girl whom I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting—but my captain of the palace guard has such great things to say about you.”
Linzy’s face remained neutral.
“Can we cut the pleasantries?” said Cinn. Captain Renure punched Cinn in the stomach, and he let out a loud “Oof.”
“Now, now . . . Let us not be rude, Cornelius,” said Abad. “You’ve made a fool of me in court with your escape. My men are going through the city, and I’m sure they will find your crew soon. You must be getting soft, because I’ve now captured you twice in less than a week.”
“Technically, you only caught me once. Captain Renure caught me the second time,” said Cinn as he stood straight with his head held high. Renure’s fist was balled up, and he drew back as if he was going to strike Cinn again. The prince raised his hand, and the captain relaxed his arm.
“Now, back to you, young lady. Would you mind telling me who you are?”
I felt the serpent rise in my belly, and a heatwave covered my skin.
“Leave her out of this. She’s nobody,” I growled.
Both Abad and Renure coughed and choked. The doors swung open, and the harpies swooped in and pointed their spears at me.
“Sssstop, young cub. Letsss them goesss,” said one of the harpies. Her tongue looked like a snake’s, flickering when she spoke. The spear was mere inches from my face. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths, and pushed my power back down.
Abad and Renure gasped and took a couple of deep breaths.
“Now, you know why I brought my harpies. I suspected you were using magic on me in the carriage, and this time I’m prepared. The harpies are born of magic, and so you’ve no power over them. If you try your little trick again, they will kill you.”
John Peragine is an author of over fourteen books. The Secrets of the Twilight Djinn series was written as a bedtime story for his son Max to cope with medical issues he was facing as a little boy. John is a full-time ghostwriter who lives with his son, wife, and a menagerie of animals on his vineyard overlooking the Mississippi River.
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