The Eldritch Crown, an Excerpt
By Mahdia Tully Carr
This is a taste of the very beginning of my characters’ journey, and I hope you enjoy it.
“Did you leave out the apples again?” Aerilyn called from the kitchen.
“No,” Dalia responded. “Why?” Dalia appeared in the doorway, broom in hand. Her curls were already freeing themselves from their braid at the temples.
“Something must have gotten into them. They’ve got holes again,” Aerilyn explained.
“How could there be holes? Nothing is alive in this weather. It’s too cold to even go outside,” Dalia whined.
Aerilyn smiled. Her sister had never been one for household work, or for cold weather.
“I wish it was warm again.”
Aerilyn pulled her shawl tighter around her shoulders. “And you wonder why I have all the responsibilities this time of year. You always get cranky in the winter.” Aerilyn dusted off her hands on her apron before untying it from around her waist.
“You’re just older. Grandma never trusts me with anythi–” A knock sounded from the front door. Aerilyn and Dalia exchanged glances. “Who could that be?”
“I–I’m not sure,” Aerilyn admitted, moving towards the door. Even with the fire crackling behind her, it helped little when the cold rushed in. Aerilyn’s mouth dropped open.
The woman on the poster looked exactly like Aerilyn. They had the same nose, the same eyes, the same dark curls and brown skin. The woman on the poster was Aerilyn. Or at least she could be.
Beside her, Dalia’s face had gone pale. Only yesterday everything was normal: the skies had been winter gray, the air had been cold, though not painfully so, and people still acted as if time was precious—and it was, with the first snow sure to arrive any day.
Taking Root: The Girls Write Now 2022 Anthology
For more than two years, our young writers have weathered an adolescence shaped by an ongoing global pandemic. But a harsh climate can also produce work of rare depth, complexity, nuance and humor. The Girls Write Now mentees in this collection have found new ways to build community and take root. This anthology is a catalog of seeds—each young writer cultivating a shimmering, emergent voice. In short stories, personal essays, poetry, and more, they reflect on life-altering topics like heartbreak, self-care and friendship. The result is a stunning book with global relevance of all this generation has endured and transformed.
But today there were five women in full suits of armor in the square of Wallo Village. Their hair had been cropped short, and most of them were not from the Jann Province, some even appearing to be from Murto, the Province directly north. At the very least, they weren’t from Wallo. Winter held strong in the village, yet the women hardly seemed cold in their suits of armor. Most didn’t even wear scarves. Aerilyn tried to contain her jealousy for their warmth, but the circumstance of their arrival only compounded it. They seemed so important, so carefree. Aerilyn crossed her arms as a shiver ran down her spine, the cold seeping into her bones.
“I-I’m not sure what to say,” the dark-haired woman got out. The soldiers looked over Aerilyn and her sister Dalia.
“I can’t blame you. I’m sure you were not aware. May we come in?” One of the women asked. She was a light shade of brown, lighter than most got in Wallo, even during the winter.
“Of course.” Aerilyn stepped aside to let them pass.
I began writing this book before I started Girls Write Now. The whole idea came along as I wrote, but the original goal was just to finish something. I’m not very good at committing to one piece of work for a long period of time, so that was the challenge. The characters came first—Aerilyn and Dalia, as well as other characters that don’t show up until the back half of the novel. In a way, this story formed itself, and I was just a guiding hand.
Mahdia is a podcast lover, book enthusiast and singer-songwriter just trying to find her way in the world. She’s been creating for as long as she can remember: stories, cardboard dollhouses courtesy of hot glue guns and songs. Creating fuels her. She has traveled to three of the seven continents (though she did cross the bridge in Istanbul so she’s been to Asia on a technicality) and lived in both Europe and America. Mahdia expresses herself mostly through music and is excited to eventually share some of this with the world.